The Real World – Theater Edition: Imagination as Power

The other day I had the good fortune to join local playwright, Veronica Tjioe, in being interviewed by Jovelyn Richards on her radio program, Jovelyn’s Bistro. We talked about the SF Olympians Festival and the plays we were writing as a part of it. I had a fantastic time being a part of the conversation, which you’ll be able to check out on KPFA’s website, under the Cover to Cover archives.

One of Jovelyn’s questions really got me thinking about our role as writers and creators and the power we have to invent new worlds, new language, new characters, relationships, and modes of being. I’m paraphrasing, but she asked our thoughts on the importance of inventing new language and constructing new narratives in order to respond to what we’re not seeing represented. If I could underline, highlight, put in bold, and make 64 font anything, it’d be this idea. And the heart of it, for me, is within the question Jovelyn asked.

As writers (but honestly this could span to the other roles we play as well), it’s more than just the recognition that we have this ability to see and imagine new worlds and possibilities — I would say we have a responsibility to promote and enact them to the fullest of our capacity. And — good news! — if you are creating, dreaming, and envisioning, you are already doing that. Here’s one step further, if you have articulated this vision to another person or written the idea down, you are already working towards implementation. This is a huge step closer to seeing a new possibility as a reality and creating it.

When I started writing plays some of it was a response to things about the world that I found more nuanced than what the mainstream version of that idea was. I see these unspoken rules that are often hypocritical, yet we’re expected to live by them. For instance, with one of the first full length plays I wrote, It’s All in the Mix, I really just wanted to create a play about DJs because I wanted to see that on stage. Rob Handel of CMU would often tell us to write the play you would go see. But in this world I was seeing these rules and ideas that tended to collide and overpower each other.

Everyone can be a DJ if you learn how and pursue it with passion and skill.

Skill and technique talks.

Okay, well, what about women are they good DJs?

I feel like all I hear is no, but I’m a woman and I like DJing so am I doomed to being bad?

Oh, I saw this DJ who’s a woman and she was really good!

But other male friends didn’t think so? Can’t articulate why?

I don’t get it.

For me in this instance, it starts with this feeling like something I’m experiencing isn’t being represented, or is minimized, shut down, and ignored. So I want to test if this is true. I started with using plays in order to see the characters relate to each other and how it unraveled. I’m using gender in this example, but this extends into race, ethnicity, income level, backgrounds and abilities of all types, who you love, what you look like, how you live your life, and what you believe. There is so much out there beyond what has become a standard for a protagonist or story. We just need to create it and if people aren’t going to make it – then we need to help each other make it.

I think now I’m in a different space with writing – I see gaps in what characters or stories the entertainment world and I’m looking to fill that gap if I can. And if I can’t, I want to support someone (or multiple people!) who can. It starts with the recognition that I can do something. One of my gifts may be writing or storytelling. Others have other gifts or other ways they express those gifts. We can all learn so much from each other as we continue to imagine different worlds than what we’re seeing and support each other in making them real.

Barbara Jwanouskos is a local writer. Blog’s over here. THANATOS, the play she is writing with Julie Jigour and directed by Christine Keating, is being read on October 15 at EXIT Theatre in San Francisco.

Incidentally, if you want to put that imagination into practice – check out the SF Olympians Festival’s call for submissions! The Real World – Theater Edition: Imagination as Power

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The Real World – Theater Edition: A Couple Words

Barbara Jwanouskos, speaking up.

So, it’s been a while since I’ve written more of an editorial for San Francisco Theater Pub instead of conducting an interview with a local theater maker, but I thought I’d write down a couple words this week because I’ve been thinking.

I’ve been thinking about how our artistic systems are set-up and how we engage in them. I’ve been thinking about how we develop our craft and make connections across communities. I’ve also been thinking about all the barriers that come about when you’re trying to make art. And why even make art in the first place and not something useful like a chair? Though it seems even chair-making is a becoming a lost art.

Barbara: Writing is hard!

Barbara: Writing is hard!

I have been extremely fortunate to have been able to connect with other people making theater, help them out, get them to read my stuff and give me their feedback, submit to stuff, have people I don’t know give me recognition, have my writing bolstered by being a part of development groups. Not everyone gets these chances. And I feel very lucky that they’ve come my way.

At the same time, I’m writing my plays and as much as I can I go see theater and be a part of my community (though it’s not been nearly as much as when I was younger since I had less that I was responsible for then). And then something happened. I stopped doing that as much as I was.

Why?

When you look at how we put on plays, you usually have three choices:

1) do it yourself – self-produce
2) make friends with people who can put on your play, like a theater company
3) send it into the ether and hope that your writing holds weight against anyone else out there doing the same

(We haven’t even gotten into the question of how to get people who are not your family or friends to see your plays or pay attention to you in anyway.)

So, these things are hard, which is not a reason not to do them, but something about this process felt icky and off. I felt overly attached to the idea that someone else knew more about what I should create, why I should create it, and whether it was any good. Everyone needs feedback – you can’t live in a vacuum. BUT.

I was thinking to myself at some point this year – why do I do this? It’s extremely painful. There are so many other things I could do with that time that may be more enjoyable and relaxing. Maybe even more rewarding. Why do I keep coming back to this? And the simplest answer that I could come up with is that I do it because I have to do it.

I don’t have a deeper answer than that. I wish I did. Because then I could keep reminding myself of that when it gets hard, when I feel like my writing sucks, that I suck, and that it will probably always be that way. It’d make it so much easier. Maybe this is why I can’t be motivated by money or even pushing to a greater good – though I do think my role in that realm is partly enacted through writing.

A couple months ago, I started looking for ways that I could get in between 5 minutes to 1 hour of writing regularly. Everything that I did was based off a deadline, but it usually went something like, do nothing, do nothing, do nothing, deadline approaches – note that, do nothing, freak out, do nothing, freak out to the point of breakdown, turn inward, do nothing, start doing some mindless task that has nothing to do with writing, deadline is around the corner, freak out, and then finally write something. Suffice it to say, I procrastinate. And I’m a perfectionist. It’s a winning combination. ☺

Anyway, I was trying to break that cycle so I figured, well hey, if I can do a little tai chi every day and get after what I want, then I should just shut up already and figure out a way to do it with writing.

I had this blog that I wasn’t using. Guys, it was the equivalent of a rundown old warehouse that had bug problems or something. Totally useable space that needed some work.

At first, the idea was, “Oh, I’ll just share these short plays and snippets of scenes I write”. But it gradually morphed into a space and time where I could very casually explore creativity through writing without boundaries or rules. I made a goal – write and post something on there every day – so it’s been mostly poems and short stories (WHICH I NEVER WRITE) and then most recently, a little scene popped out the other day.

I was like, “Oh, hello, friend. What’s this?”

The whole shift towards devoting time to this space was to take the power to create back in my own hands. To say, hey, I don’t need anyone to give me a grant for this, welcome me into a development program, say I’m a good writer, buy a ticket to see a play of mine, or pay attention to me in any way at all – and I can STILL write good shit every so often. Honestly, I personally find something of value in everything I put down in words. Some resonate with me more than others, but everything has helped.

A strange thing happened – a small group of people started paying attention to me. No really, like 10 people. But, even though it’s a small group – I don’t know any of them personally. Not a one. All of them live all over the world. Occasionally I get a comment that I restored their faith in online poetry or something – which real Barbara is like, “wtf, me? Really? Are you sure? Cuz I’m just winging it and going with the flow…” And online Barbara is like, “omg thank you for reading!”

My point is that in being able to remove my attachment to any sort of outcome with where my writing should go or what it should do or whether it should make me money or open up any doors, it is in some small way giving people a little joy or inspiration in their day and for me, it’s opened up a huge door of possibility. I’d never fully considered/believed before that I could write a book, or even in theater – that I could get that fellowship or teaching appointment or have my play produced and developed by X, and now, I’m like, “Oh, well, I would just need to set it up as a goal and start training.”

I want to share this because so often as artists we are told no or that we’re missing the mark or that we’re confusing and people aren’t going to get it or that we’re not going to make any money and survive by our art alone. And I just want to say, I think that’s all bullshit and that if you burn with a desire to write, then just write stuff and fuck everyone else who will give you a prize or a pat on the back. They’re cool too sometimes, but it starts – it ALWAYS starts – with what you love. Do that and then if you have a goal you can chip away in some small way every day.

Eventually you will reach a height you hadn’t dreamed of. And eventually you will be working with such speed and proficiency that you wouldn’t recognize yourself five years ago or even five months ago.

And for the people out there that have keys to doors we don’t have – remember why it is that you do what you do. You have the power to open up opportunities for lots of people who are very passionate about what they do. All it takes is a second to listen and a little patience as someone reveals what they are capable of. Know that they have to reveal it to themselves before they can reveal it to anyone else.

Official Babs Headshot

Official Babs Headshot

Barbara Jwanouskos is a local writer. She has a blog called the Dynamics of Groove, which if you go to, know that the bio is still under construction. She is co-writing a play about the Greek god, Thanatos (think the Grim Reaper only less scary) with her friend and fellow writer, Julie Jigour. It will be presented through the San Francisco Olympians Festival on October 15, 2016 at EXIT Theatre. For more information, click here.

Everything Is Already Something: Realistic TBA Conference Panel Ideas

Allison Page is clearly looking forward to the TBA conference on Monday.

Berkeley Frappe: Which Theatre Companies Have The Best Snacks

We Hired Only Local Actors for One Year & Our Theater Didn’t Burn to the Ground

The Sarah Rule: How to Produce Plays by Women (But Only if They’re Written by Sarah Ruhl)

How to Take a Selfie Good Enough to Use as a Headshot for Twelve Years

Getting Cast as a Woman Over 40 Without Playing Someone’s Stepmother

Set Designs You Can Repurpose Until They Collapse During a Performance of Man of La Mancha

Faces to Make During Board Meetings When You Want to Perish But Cannot

Audition Waist Trainers: A Roundtable Discussion

Creative Ways to Swear in Front of the Kid Playing Oliver Twist When Nancy Forgets Her Line Again

Pros & Cons: Pretending to be a Man to Get Ahead as an Actor

Fight Choreographers Wrestling Each Other for 90 Minutes

Improvising a Monologue Because You’re Too Lazy to Memorize Even One More Thing, Please God, Please

How to Watch ‘The Bachelor’ During Rehearsal Without the SM Noticing

Do Blondes Really Have More Fun (Playing Girlfriends of the Protagonist)?

Group Nap

Playwright Complaint Circle

Moving From San Francisco to New York to Get Cast in San Francisco

Producing David Mamet Over & Over & Over Again, A Guide

Stage Managing a Show You Hate with People You Hate

How to Perform on a Stage 400 Times Smaller Than This One:

Empty Theater Stage

Empty Theater Stage — Image by © Chase Swift/CORBIS

Showmances: How to End Them…Maybe, But Probably Not

How to Use a Toaster as a Light Board After Yours Gets Stolen for the 9th Time

Payment Negotiation for Actors: Get Two Beers Instead of One for a Three Year Run

Shakespeare for Dummies: Can You Get an Actual Dummy to Replace an Actor in Midsummer Night’s Dream to Save Cash? Yes, You Can.

5 Sexiest Theatre Companies Shut Down This Year Due to Lack of Funding, Hear From the Weeping Artistic Directors Themselves!

Getting Board Members to Stop Asking if You Can Tap Into the Popularity of ‘The Walking Dead’

Can You Get Away With Casting This White Male as Tiger Lily? (THIS IS A TEST)

Stage Manager & Director Speed Dating: Watch 45 Directors Fight Over 3 SMs

Costume Designing on a $6 Budget

Are You Ready to Set Every Show in the Apocalypse?

Allison Page is a writer/actor/director in San Francisco. She’ll be looking for snacks at the TBA Conference and live tweeting it all @allisonlynnpage.

Everything Is Already Something: When Playwrights DGAF

 

Allison Page, celebrating the unconstrained imagination. 

Playwrights: always tryin’ to figure out how to get produced. In 2016 that sometimes means staying within the limitations of submission criteria like “Cast of 1 or less” or “One small set” or “Can be performed in a tiny attic” and while I *get* that, because we all have the budgets we have, I always love it when playwrights have absolutely not given a fuck and/or didn’t have those limitations. And so, in honor of not giving a fuck, here are examples of things playwrights have included in their scripts, and still got them produced:

Two swimming pools (a show with one pool is like, I mean, c’mon, do we have no standards?)

Talking parrot

Working piano which comes out for 2 minutes (WHAT LUXURY. SUCH EXCESS.)

Harp strung with barbed wire (ouch)

Elephant

House with a collapsable ceiling (assuming that was written while drunk but ok)

Rain/storm/hurricane (bonus points for more than one per show, and for rainstorms that last more than 30 seconds)

City bus (Yes, a whole bus)

Everything in that Spiderman show

Really big trees (plural)

Gas chamber (for Sherlock, no less)

Dog

Chandeliers (Plural)

Talking meatloaf (okay I wrote that in high school, that was me, it wasn’t produced but I’m still laughing that I wrote a part for a talking meatloaf)

Dead body played by a living person through the entire play (maybe that sounds less crazy, but saying “Yes, hi, I’d like to include in the budget payment for an actor to just lie on the floor” seems insane to me)

Probably everything about 2666

Enormous tentacled alien

Multiple fireplaces

Cast of 25 with no doubling (SOMEONE’S RICH)

A full library

Spaghetti monster (okay, that was a sketch, but the spaghetti monster puppet was AMAZING)

Cow (moo)

The rubble of a giant mansion that’s been destroyed (bonus points for making the actors pull things out of the rubble they’ve been walking on and sitting on, over and over again)

A character who cuts off their own face (and then, if memory serves me, someone picks it up later, so you have to have a face to pick up)

Those really tall old timey unicycles

Giant 1950s computer with flashing lights and lots of beep boop sounds, and which shot paper out of itself — enough paper to go all over the room.

20 person sword fight

Working dictaphone w/ wax cylinder

Giant man-eating plant (must sing)

Car

Cuttin’ the junk off of two characters on stage

Two rats, one diseased

Pirate ship

Working kitchen

Shout out to all the people building really, really weird stuff because someone wrote it down somewhere and now somebody has to build an elephant. This is clearly just a smattering. If you have a favorite impossible piece of theater madness, leave it in the comments!

I’m going to go write something with weird stuff in it.

Allison Page is a writer/actor/director in San Francisco.

Everything Is Already Something Week 65: Artist Nightmares

Allison Page: scaredy-pants.

Halloween is approaching, and apart from the fear of being dismembered by a maniac and blended into a soup, my biggest nightmares are the artistic ones. If you’ve ever auditioned for something or watched auditions for something, you’ve probably either performed or had to watch Christopher Durang’s short play The Actor’s Nightmare. Basically a guy is mistaken for an actor’s understudy and has to go on stage not knowing any of his lines. The play was inspired by a real phenomenon that seems like it happens all the time. I have a recurring one. It’s extremely specific.

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I’m in a period drama of some kind. I’m dressed in Victorian servant attire. My face is smeared with dirt. Backstage, I meet up with my co-star (somehow for the first time even though it’s opening night) and it’s MERYL STREEP. She shakes my hand and says, “Miss Page — can I call you Allison? — Allison, I am so thrilled to work with you.” and I’m polite and calm, you know, because she should be sooooo thrilled to be working with me. Dream Allison apparently has quite an ego. The play starts. I walk onstage, alone, surrounded by a set that looks like an old brick building. I strike a fairly absurd pose, and then suddenly realize I have no idea what any of my lines are, or even which play this is. I stand silent. In my peripheral vision, I catch Meryl offstage with her arms crossed. She is shaking her head from side to side and frowning. She makes that all-familiar, neck-cutting, you’re-toast gesture. I frantically run offstage. Meryl taps me on the shoulder and shouts “YOU’LL NEVER WORK IN THIS TOWN AGAIN!” I fall to my knees and scream “MERYL, NOOOOOOOO!”…and wake up in a cold sweat.

This has been going on for 15 years. It’s less frequent now than it used to be, but it still pops up from time to time. And it’s always Meryl. Always, always Meryl.

But two days ago I had a new kind of artist’s nightmare…A PLAYWRIGHT NIGHTMARE. It was bloodcurdling.

I invited a lot of people over for a reading of something I had written. All the actors arrived (like 20 of them) and I was in the kitchen making food for them — specifically pizza and fried eggs. All the eggs were over easy so they required real supervision, and the pizza was extremely labor intensive. I had to make the dough fresh for each one, and the toppings were so particular that I had to bake the pizza for only a minute at a time, remove it, add certain toppings, and put it back in over and over again. Hours and hours passed and people were leaving left and right. We didn’t read a single word because I spent all that time in the kitchen. I finally came out with one cold fried egg and a single slice of pizza left for myself, and everyone was gone, except one actor. MERYL STREEP. She shook her head silently, then walked out of the room.

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I guess, now that I’m having nightmares about it, that I must actually be a writer. I look forward to decades of dreams about not finishing things, or being attacked by words carrying machetes.

And Meryl, today I will finish a script, just so I don’t let you down. Your withering glance is really intense.

Or maybe I’ll just never sleep again.

Allison Page is an actor/writer/dreamer in San Francisco. You can see her murder people in Theater Pub’s DICK 3 Oct. 26th and 27th at PianoFight in SF.

Hi-Ho, the Glamorous Life: Male And Female, I Created Them

Marissa Skudlarek as Everybody.

Six years ago, for the first time, I wrote a male character that I felt really, truly proud of. He was the first male character I’d created that I felt like I understood — someone not cobbled together out of bits of other male characters from other works of fiction, but a real person with flaws and virtues. Furthermore, while I can sometimes go too far in thinking that male characters need to be possessed of a certain alpha-male masculinity, this character was not defined by his gender. He was a complex person who happened to be a dude.

The secret might be that, to a large extent, I based this character, Jon, on myself. In my very first plays, I’d started from an assumption that men are not like women; men are inherently different from me. (Hence, perhaps, the predilection for writing alpha-males.) But as I grew older, I came to understand that while there are many men out there who are nothing like me, there are also men who share many of the same qualities I do. It perhaps helped that this was one of my first plays where the conflict didn’t center around romance (I was pretty sure that men didn’t experience romance the same way I did), but around themes of self-actualization and escaping the daily grind.

Jon is frustrated; he feels bored, awkward, and out-of-place in his office. He is defensive and pedantic. He tries to be self-deprecating, but it backfires. He kind of thinks he’s better than everyone else. He’s more grouchy and angry than I tend to be (probably because it’s more socially acceptable for a man to be outspokenly angry than a woman) but, to a large extent, he’s me, with all the flaws I had when I was just out of college, only in a male body.

The play containing the character of Jon is no masterpiece. It will probably never be staged. And I realize that “just base all of your characters, male and female, on yourself” is no way to develop a varied and interesting body of work. But I’m bringing this up today because it’s my way of pushing back against those people who say that men can’t write women, or women can’t write men. This idea, however, seems predicated on an assumption that all men are one way and all women are another way. No man can understand the nature of being female; no woman can understand the nature of being male. But why throw up such walls in the name of ideology, when art is supposed to promote empathy and understanding?

Indeed, criticism these days can be very doctrinaire and ideological. In the new movie Mistress America (written by Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig), a college freshman, Tracy, writes a short story in which the central character is based upon her new friend Brooke, a 30-year-old New Yorker of limitless ambitions and limited means. Predictably, Brooke eventually lays eyes on the story, and becomes furious at how her teenage protégée Tracy has “betrayed” her by turning her into a character. Brooke’s friends take Tracy to task, too. Not only has she betrayed Brooke’s confidence, but also her story paints all its female characters in an unflattering light. One woman hurls questions like “Do you believe in a woman’s right to choose?” and “How do you feel about female genital mutilation?” at a bewildered Tracy.

This scene is over-the-top satire, but the reason it’s so funny is because it captures something about the way we evaluate art in the 2010s. Brooke’s friends think it’s more important for Tracy’s story to promote a feminist message than for it to be truthful, or interesting, or complex. You can also read this scene as Baumbach and Gerwig having a laugh at themselves, embedding a criticism of their own movie within the screenplay before anyone else can make that same criticism. Although they’ve written a very smart movie with two complex female characters at the center of it, an overly ideological critic could still take them to task for writing about women with messy lives who do some manipulative and underhanded things.

Taking women to task for depicting female characters in supposedly unflattering ways; insinuating that women can’t write male characters because men are too different… it’s all two sides of the same coin, and that coin is “letting ideological considerations become so overwhelming that it’s impossible to write anything at all.”

Marissa Skudlarek is a San Francisco-based playwright and arts writer. Find her at marissabidilla.blogspot.com or on Twitter @MarissaSkud.

Everything Is Already Something Week 60: How To Be Like A Famous Writer

Allison Page is habit forming.

Every time I read an article about the habits of famous writers, I notice the same thing:

THEY ACTUALLY DO HAVE HABITS.

They have a routine. Something that I hate thinking about, because I’m not good at routines. Even the word “routine” has not-so-good connotations. It sounds boring and terrible. It sounds like you’re just doing laundry all day. But recently I’ve had trouble finishing things. Okay, let’s be real, I’ve had trouble even starting things. I don’t want to call it writers’ block because I hate that phrase, but it’s eerily similar to that. I used to just write for myself and that was so easy because my deadlines were self-imposed but now there are people who are waiting to get things from me. They need the thing, and they need it on this day, and stuff is piling up and panic is creeping up on me. So I decided to try something else: having a routine. Not only a routine, really, but an incredibly specific, strict and rigid agenda for my whole day. DOESN’T THAT SOUND FUN?! WOOOHOOO.

Okay, here’s the list I made:

7:30am – Wake up, splash some water on my face
7:45am – Go for a walk, get an iced coffee, THINK
8:15am – Eat 2 eggs
8:30am – Write for 45 minutes straight
9:15am – Take a shower
9:35am – Check email. Respond but don’t go crazy.
10:00am – Go outside. Walk in a different direction than before. Going outside is good. You won’t want to go, but do it anyway. You are not a recluse. YOU ARE NOT A RECLUSE.
10:20am – Write for 45 minutes straight.

Jerry Seinfeld writes every single day. He marks off days on a big wall calendar and says his only job becomes "not breaking the chain"

Jerry Seinfeld writes every single day. He marks off days on a big wall calendar and says his only job becomes “not breaking the chain”

11:05am – Check social media, you heathen. For the love of Groucho, you really
shouldn’t be checking it before now. You’re a writer, not a socialite.
11:30am – Do some KML stuff (Killing My Lobster, the sketch comedy company I am co-creative director of) but don’t fall down the rabbit hole of shit you COULD do.
12:00pm – Eat lunch. NOT A FUCKING BAGEL. Extra points if there are vegetables and you make it yourself.
12:45pm – Write for 45 minutes straight.
1:30pm – Put on some music. Clean something. Anything.
2:00pm – Check email.

Balzac drank 50 cups of coffee a day while writing. I don't want to know what his bathroom situation was like.

Balzac drank 50 cups of coffee a day while writing. I don’t want to know what his bathroom situation was like.

2:20pm – This is generally when you start not being able to write. You know that. It’s okay, you already wrote for two hours and fifteen minutes…BUT YOU’RE GOING TO DO SOME MORE ANYWAY. Write for 20 minutes. It’s okay if you hate it (you will)
2:40pm – Reward yourself with something. You did fine. Have a snack or take a nap. Watch TV or listen to a podcast.
3:00pm – Pay attention to your poor boyfriend for a while.
4:00pm – Read something that isn’t on the internet.
5:00pm – Dinner. Extra points if you make it yourself.
6:00pm – Print and read over everything you wrote today. It helps to have a physicalization of your work.
8:00pm – Watch The Bachelorette finale (YEAH, I KNOW)
11:00pm – Go to sleep. You did fine. You’re not a monster. Not today, anyway.

Agatha Christie had no desk and just propped her typewriter up on any stable surface she could find.

Agatha Christie had no desk and just propped her typewriter up on any stable surface she could find.

So how did it go, you’re wondering?

Sadly, IT WAS AMAZING. I got so much done. I had been sitting on about 9 pages of a one act commission since April and couldn’t seem to work on it. It’s now 30 pages long, and finished. That feels good. The guilt of not doing something when you know you should be doing it is crippling. So that’s out of the way, and the bonus is that I’m really happy with it! I actually wrote more than I had even planned (about three hours), cleaned my bathroom, made a salad, picked up my new glasses, swept the floor, and generally was a total badass all day, in the most boring sense. Most importantly, though, I felt really good all day. I woke up the next day still feeling awesome. I think scheduling, for me, is a good method. It may not work for everyone, but I felt strangely more free than usual. And forcing myself to go for a walk? That was amazing. If I don’t have a reason to leave, I could easily sit on my butt all day.

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If you want to give this a whirl, please do let me know how it works for you in the comments!

Also I totally had a breakfast sandwich from down the street instead of eating two eggs. No woman is an island.

Allison Page is a writer/actor/person with an awful lot of deadlines at the moment.