this is an update instead of a link roundup.

  1. The past month has been weird.
  2. My 89-year-old grandfather had a heart attack. I went home for three days. He is, shockingly, basically fine now.
  3. I am now on the writing staff for Limelight Magazine, which covers the local St. Louis theatre scene and it is kind of a dream come true.
  4. A Most American Terrorist: The Making of Dylann Roof by Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, GQ.
  5. Next month I am traveling to Reno, NV to visit my best friend and we have almost no plans except gin drinking and shoe buying.
  6. Shocker, having my ADHD meds get messed up by both insurance and my pharmacy and therefore delayed for several weeks makes things hard; I couldn’t figure out why I was exhausted and foggy all the time for no reason until I realized that it was not for no reason. (Everyone, do better than me to stay on your meds).
  7. A real and lovely Facebook post on whiteness, racism, and the LGBT community in St. Louis by Keith Rose.
  8. I am having a bout of relatively minor hormonal acne and though it is nothing like the horrific and borderline-disfiguring cysts I had as a teenager before I took Accutane, it hurts and is a major annoyance.
  9. Life happened the way life happens and as soon as I decided to start freelancing For Real This Time, I got promoted to full time at my job so now I have that, writing gigs, and school on top of the high level of general maintenance my life and brain require.
  10. I continue to spend many, many nights that I don’t work at The Gin Room inside of Natasha’s Cafe and it is probably my favorite place to be in the entirety of St. Louis, second maybe to the room in the Central Library where they keep all the play scripts and magazines.
  11. This blog has two (!) new logos by Tayyba Khawaja and I have some cool new headshots by Logan Corry.
  12. I think my cat is mad at me for being out of the house too much.
  13. My chiropractor told me that my boobs are slowly giving me scoliosis and pulling my shoulder out of socket, so there’s that delightful bit of news about existing in the world with a body.
  14. I’m really, really tired.

How have you been, friends and weirdos?

a chronology of cats, part 1: ashley.

I’m probably a perfect stereotype of the 21st century millennial cat lady: a single woman in her 20s, not interested in having kids or buying a house or getting a corporate job anytime soon, obsessed with her cat to the point of having a tattoo portrait, a lesbian, a self described weird girl, owner and wearer of multiple pieces of cat clothing. Until I purged my follow list last month, my Instagram feed was full of more cats than people. I have full on conversations with Ilse, my cat/needy roommate who poops in a box of sand. My first word as a baby was “kitty.”

Jokes aside, cats have been constant companions for me. I have never not had a cat, save for the year or so between when Ashley, my mom’s cat who pre-dated both my dad and I, died and when we got my first kitten, Rorey. It seems a small tribute to the cats of my present and past is in order.

This is the first in a series of eight posts for eight cats. Meet Ashley.

Ashley (pre-me – 1997)

Image description: a photo of a large, orange cat who is sitting with his body facing the left and his head turned toward the camera. He is sitting on beige carpet, and his shadow, a door, and a table are in the background of the photo.

My mom got Ashley from a friend whose backyard he appeared in. He was giant and friendly and had those amazing black nose freckles that orange cats get, and when I was a baby I would try to ride on his back. I’m sure my first word was in reference to him.

A framed portrait of him sits on a shelf right inside the door to my mom’s house, where I grew up. She has an incredible set of photos of Ashley reading (wearing her glasses and posed with a book) and Ashley drinking wine (next to a glass and bottle).

He was very old and diabetic by the time I was born, and had to be euthanized when I was still a toddler. I don’t know if I exactly remember him, but he certainly ignited my love for kitties.

 

too smart for my own good: growing up twice exceptional and girl.

Shout out to the girls who were too smart for your own good, you just need to try harder, boys don’t like you because you use big words, you’ll understand when you’re older. The girls that started out Hermione Granger, grew up to be Laura Wingfield. The girls in schools where forgetting to turn in your homework with every question right wasn’t the same as not sitting still in class, sensitive and anxious and lonely wasn’t the same as can’t make eye contact so you never got a diagnosis. Your parents and teachers saw so much potential they couldn’t see what was keeping it from showing on your report card.

In second grade, I took a test that told me I was reading at a college level. Later, took another test that told the school district I could join the gifted program. Another test convinced Beloit College to overlook my two-point-something-something GPA and never materialized final high school transcript. I could always pass tests.

No one ever thought I was “hyperactive,” but I did dance, swimming, gymnastics, cheerleading, soccer, softball, art classes, horseback riding, Girl Scouts, and clubs and clubs and clubs. Over the summer I would lose contact with the few friends I had made that school year and, after coming home from one day camp or another, check out dozens of books from the library, reading more than one a day, reading all night. Every summer since both series ended I re-read all seven Harry Potters and re-watched all seven seasons of Gilmore Girls. Rory and Hermione weren’t afraid to be the smartest person in the room and they both turned out ok.

I went through these phases where I couldn’t bear to stray from a single topic. Once it was outer space. Once it was ancient Egypt. Once it was dance history. Once it was Spring Awakening. I couldn’t stand not knowing everything about the things I loved but learning something I was bored of or never understood was torture. No one ever figured out that I hadn’t understood a math class since first grade.

This February, I dropped out of school (bipolar). Last April, I dropped out of school (depression). The March before, I dropped out of school (cytomegalovirus). Junior year of high school, I started taking classes online because leaving the house everyday to go somewhere I hated was too hard. Seventh grade, I switched from a Catholic K-8 to a public middle school. Third grade, I did the opposite. Sixth grade, I never got my spring report card after missing 3 straight weeks for a migraine that wouldn’t end.

What’s the difference between a temper tantrum and a panic attack? Where’s the line between bratty and bossy and impaired social functioning? How far is disobedience from executive dysfunction?

Continue reading “too smart for my own good: growing up twice exceptional and girl.”

rip mr. reed.

Today I found out that one of my old tap teachers, Prof. Robert L. Reed, has passed away. I haven’t been a part of the dance world in years – a catastrophic ankle injury at 15 meant it was easier to quit than do the level of PT and training necessary to ever get back to where I was before I was injured – but his passing hit me really hard today.

Mr. Reed and I in class when I was 11 or 12, me in the yellow tank top (I thought I was really fat here).
Mr. Reed and I in class when I was 11 or 12, me in the yellow tank top (I thought I was really fat here).

Mr. Reed’s St. Louis Tap Festival was a life line for me and other hoofers from Missouri to the best tap training in the country and access to first hand tap history from the founders of the art form. I got to meet people like Dr. Jimmy Slyde and take class from Marion Coles, Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards, Dr. Ernest Brown, Bril Barrett, Karen Callaway-Williams, Avi Miller and Ofer Ben, Mr. Reed himself, and countless others who have shaped the tap world, all because of Mr. Reed’s commitment to sharing the history and living legacy of tap with the next generation.

Mr. Reed taught me the shim sham, how to do wings, how to “respect the dance” as he always put it. He never put up with any bullshit in class, and would call you out on your mistakes, so when he pointed out something you did well you knew he really meant it. I think the St. Louis Tap Festival was the most valuable dance training I got as a young person trying to make it in the dance world.

And one more story. Mr. Reed always wore this really distinctive smelling cologne, and by the end of the week at Tap Fest, both classrooms and the lobby area always totally smelled like this scent he wore. I don’t know how to describe the smell at all, but even though it permeated through everything it wasn’t strong or overbearing at all. Every so often now I’ll be on the train or walking through a crowd and will catch a whiff of some man wearing that same cologne, and am instantly taken back to the hours and hours I spent dancing and watching others dance in those freezing cold rooms at St. Louis Tap Festival.

Rest in power, rest in rhythm, rest in peace, Mr. Reed.

“May the tap gods be with you, and always remember RESPECT THE DANCE. Go in rhythm.”

Mr. Reed’s family is asking for donations through GoFundMe to help pay for his funeral costs.

 

today i saw seven bunnies.

It’s been raining here, and all the plants and wildlife seem so much more alive than they do in oppressively hot and humid Julys.

Today on a ride across town with my mom we saw seven bunnies, and a pair of twin fawns and their mama.

Our house has literally become overgrown with ivy, wild grape, and something else that crawls up walls after a month of steady rain. We keep referring to our Grey Gardens situation and spraying with Round Up (blah, blah, we hate Monsanto, too; maybe I don’t like everything being extra alive, though).

A few years ago a friend and I discovered that there is a huge herd (do deer live in herds?) of deer in the cemetery near my house and ever since then I’ve gone on summer nights to see them. It’s where I learned to drive, mostly, and my grandma is buried there so I know all the roads really well. This year it seems like there are only four or five deer out and about there, but maybe we’re seeing different ones each time we drive through.

Now my grandparents drive through looking for deer too, and they report back to me almost every time I see them on how many deer they’ve seen and when. En-deer-ing.

hello from my tattoos.

If you want to get to the heart of “things that are important to Richelle,” as is the case for many twenty-somethings, a good place to start would be with my tattoos. Pretty much on face value you get to musical theatre and cats –  a set piece from one favorite musical, a line from another, and a portrait of my cat (named for a character from the first show, of course).

meeeeeow

The butterfly, a set piece from the original production of Spring Awakening, and the portrait of my cat, Ilse, are by Erica Flannes of Red Rocket Tattoo; the text piece from the Fun Home musical is by Shannon Ritchie of the same studio. Every day I’m amazed at how well all three turned out, and especially at how well Erica really captured my cat’s likeness.

I feel like “what’s the meaning of your tattoo” conversations are as boring and weirdly personal as when people want to spend way too long telling you about their dreams, so I’ll keep it short, but all three of my tattoos represent really important elements of my life.

I guess this is supposed to sort of set the tone for this blog. Hi.