Online Mating

I’m bummed to be missing tonight’s show, particularly because the theme is “Online Dating”.


Then again, when I decided to write this post to try and contribute something, I was sort of at a loss.

I’ve had a lot of experience with online dating. But the further you get away from it, the less you feel as strongly. That’s an obvious statement, but I was surprised at how indifferent I felt when trying to recollect my experiences.

Though, the truth is, they were just unmemorable. Back then I could rattle off first names and occupations, places met for first “dates”, what the last correspondence was like, if there was any at all.

And finally the mounting disbelief from not hearing from someone after having what I perceived as, A Great Time.

I went on one streak where I would plan dates back to back in one night, trying to tackle the dating scene like a bad math problem. But mounting misses over hits start to take their toll. Not to mention the exhaustion from hopping around the city.

None of us are really built for this kind of thing. I don’t know what percentage of luck to assign to those who’ve met their forever mates online, but it’s significant. In fact, I truly believe it’s the difference between those that succeed and those that fail. Unless you did something way out of character to mess up a potential relationship, it’s all a roll of the dice whether you’ll be presented with someone you could hit it off with.

I rolled the dice A LOT. I had a few short term things come out of it, including a fairly disastrous on and off non-relationship with a guy I’d messaged through the OkCupid app while drinking wine at home.

I will accept my part in why things went wrong, but at the end of the day, we just weren’t a match.

The reason it’s hard to tear yourself away from online dating even after it’s chewed you up and spit you out is because of the potential. You just need ONE chance to connect with ONE person and then stop online dating for eternity (or several years.)

It’s also hard not to enjoy the constant tiny ego boosts and small thrills at the feeling of “what if”. Sure, you can go a few weeks or months, content in not getting a text that makes your heart race, or anticipating your drink date with that super cute person you’ve been messaging for the last day or two or the bliss in recollecting an awesome date.

That’s why you should have a strategy. Mine was to not be super active and to immediately dismiss anyone who was flakey.

I can’t tell you if this worked out because shortly after initiating this plan, I met my now partner.

And it wasn’t online.

But I do think the second part is important and useful. If someone doesn’t respond or make plans or seem truly interested in the way of taking action, then they are not your person. Period.

There’s nothing to analyze or over think.

Online dating is voluntary. If it seems and feels like your only option, the least you can do is approach it by putting yourself first. I know radio silence after platitudes and overtures of genuine interest hurt. Constant rejection isn’t good for anyone. It’s almost equally disheartening when there’s mutual disinterest over and over. So the only way to take control of the situation is by creating the mindset: You are doing this for fun and will stop doing it once it’s no longer fun. Or at the very least, take a break from it.

In the meantime, try to spend your time with friends, traveling, and just doing things you enjoy.

Because once you meet your person, you might get pregnant and move in with your parents and stop doing all of the above.


Meet Our Readers

For our last show of the year, we’re tackling Online Dating with Beth Spencer, Nancy Hightower, Brittany Meyer, Gina Wynbrandt, Gina Watters, and Special Guest Co-host Alicia Swiz. Unlike some (but not all!) attempts to find love through the Internet, it’s gonna be awesome. Come see this talent-packed lineup before you go into a pie coma. It’ll give you something new to talk about with your aunt.

Alicia Swiz

SWIZ_eqHeadshotAlicia Swiz is a Jersey Girl In Chicago by way of North Carolina. A professor and a performer, Alicia uses humor and candid observation to provide insight and awareness about gender, feminism and media. A pop culture lover with a critical eye and an activist heart, Alicia draws from her personal experience and academic training to facilitate conversations about what it means to be a feminist in 2015. Find her at or watching Bob’s Burgers.

Gina Waters

Gina WattersGina Watters is a writer originally from Michigan, but has lived in Chicago long enough to remember the Washington Red Line stop and a city without a single H&M store. She has previously read her work at “Story Sessions’ Campfire Show”, “Essay Fiesta”, “That’s All She Wrote” and “Write Club”. She hates the phrase “bucket list”, but if she were to have one, it would only include two things: to ride a Segway and to hold a baby goat. Not necessarily at the same time.

Brittany Meyer

DSC_7437Escaping Florida only three years ago, Brittany moved to Chicago in hopes of finding a career and romance. After giving up on that, she turned her attention to stand up comedy and a cat named Lil’ Rue McClanahan. Brittany has written for ‘The Women in Comedy Festival’ and her own office newsletter that she mostly keep to herself. You can see her every month as producer and host of ‘Strip Joker,’ a new, body positive, comedy showcase at Gorilla Tango Theatre, tickets available now for February 11th, March 10th and April 14th through GTT’s website. See everything Brittany does on her website,

Beth Spencer

spencer.headshotBeth Spencer is a wastewater engineering librarian who spends her days researching biosolids and dewatered sludge, but she likes to cut loose at night by dabbling in comedy, crochet, and music trivia. Beth occasionally puts her undergraduate degree in creative writing to use by blogging about gum she’s purchased on clearance, sending greeting cards to celebrities, and sporadic live lit performances.



Gina Wynbrandt

tumblr_n6o0i1SKzy1qashb7o1_1280Self-described as “the Carrie Bradshaw of comics,” Gina Wynbrandt is an artist living in Chicago. Her work focuses on romantic humiliation, personal insecurities, and pop culture. She was featured in Best American Comics 2015 and nominated for an Ignatz Award. She loves sitcoms, teen pop stars, makeup, the Internet, and being the center of attention.


Nancy Hightower

photo by April O BergelerNancy Hightower has published weird fiction and even weirder poetry (possibly the result of having grown up in the South and her dad working for three televangelists). She tried to get a PhD studying Henry James, but then realized she would never get invited to another party. She switched to creative writing and got the PhD, which meant that while there were parties, there were no jobs. So she taught a very cool class on the grotesque in art and lit at the University of Colorado until she finally published a novel, then moved to NYC three years ago, where all the weird people live.

Asians On T.V.

I’m two episodes away from finishing “Master of None” and it has been one of the most refreshing television experiences I’ve ever had.

Sure, some of the acting is stiff. But overall, it’s a groundbreaking show.

Anyone who is a minority gets that, especially Asians.

And if you don’t know by now, I Am Asian.

Another show that I watched last season and have DVR’d this season is “Fresh Off The Boat”. It too has made a huge impact on mainstream television. It too is a show that features Asians as its main characters.

I know there’s always going to be criticism when programs like this air (Americans on the Internet are really good at this, ahem). One, because maybe there are actual flaws in acting, writing, directing, etc. In other words, valid arguments or complaints.

Two, there are all of the counterpoint views, some of them legit, that want to pick a part why a show isn’t doing everything it could or isn’t being sensitive enough to the community who needs it.

The latter is what’s been bothering me.

Both “Master of None” and “Fresh Off The Boat” are based on real life people. However loosely that’s interpreted, someone’s subjective story is being shared.

“Subjective” is the key word.

I actually want to start off by mentioning the movie “Better Luck Tomorrow“. For those of you who’ve never heard of it, BLT was a film that featured an all Asian American cast dealing with everyday high school life. It was distributed by MTV, which was huge at the time.

Back then, I was hanging out with people who were really into films, one of whom ran the Chicago Asian American Film Festival, unique for only showing movies that were made with the “American” part in mind. No foreign films, like all other Asian film festivals include.

So I was more dialed in than the average person. I don’t mean that I had great access or knowledge, just that my interest was piqued because of my social life.

Anyway, the director and cast of “Better Luck Tomorrow” were at the Sundance Film Festival doing a Q&A with critics. One of them asked why they would choose to make the main characters behave so amorally when finally given the opportunity to make a movie for the big screen. Roger Ebert stood up and defended them by saying Asian Americans can tell whatever kind of story they want just like anyone else.


(I watched the clip of this exchange at least three times. It’s important when one of the most well respected film critics of all times defends us. And sure, the irony isn’t lost on me that he was a white man.)

I’ve never watched “The Mindy Project”, but Mindy Kaling has caught flak because her character only dates white men. In an interview where she was asked about this, she responded with irritation by asking if it was up to her to be the UN.

A similar argument is being made about “Master of None”. Why is Dev’s girlfriend white? Why are the girls he’s interested in, white? (Save for the one Asian girl who went out with him for the free food and had only a couple of lines.) He devoted an entire episode about how there can only ever be one minority in a show, never two, otherwise that makes it a “minority show”. So, isn’t he being a hypocrite?

My argument is: No, he’s not. First, the cast of his show is made up of many minorities, including his two close friends (played by a black woman and an Asian guy.) Second, Dev is the minority in his relationship. I’m not sure why it’s up to Ansari to make sure the character of Dev dates people of all colors. If the show is based on his life, that would most likely be inaccurate, as his girlfriend in real life is a white girl.

Should Dev date a variety of minorities because we need to show more interracial relationships that don’t include white people? Or is the critic’s complaint that Ansari is doing a disservice to minorities on the casting side?

The reality for him and for many of us is that we were raised in predominantly white areas. White neighborhoods. White Schools. It’s not that we find white people “hotter” or more “desirable”. It’s all we had to choose from sometimes. Even when presented with other options, are we supposed to filter out all of the white people?

I’ve always wondered what my life would have been like if I’d grown up in California, where people who look like me are everywhere.

But I didn’t. And I sincerely doubt Aziz Ansari was around a crapload of Indian Americans in South Carolina. Perhaps if he had grown up in a large, tight knit group of other Indian Americans, the story he would be telling would be a different one.

Even if your argument is that by not showing Dev dating people of all races it implies he’s racist, that’s also not something that needs to be changed or “fixed”. Is the answer to all race relation problems that everyone should date minorities, especially other minorities but not necessarily someone of the same minority?

Shouldn’t we just date who we want? I guess my point is, if some guy came up to me and said “I don’t date Asian girls”, sure, I’d be offended. But very shortly after, I’d think “cool, I wouldn’t want to date you anyway because you sound like an asshole.”

Is it wrong if most of the guys I’ve dated are white? If I get offered a television show based on my life, do I need to change the ethnicity of the people I dated to non-white just to make sure I’m not reinforcing the belief that “white=hot”?

Also, it’s worth noting that we are still minorities. So by the very definition, there are fewer of us. If dating is math (which it kind of is), the less minorities we come into contact with on a daily basis, the less we’ll have as friends and lovers.

This is where I want to go back to the whole idea of “subjective”. This is one story. Not everyone is going to see themselves in any one character or plot line. But plenty of it may be relatable. And that’s the most important part. I’m just happy to see an Indian American guy playing an Indian American guy living, working and dating in New York. NONE OF THOSE THINGS APPLY TO ME. I am not doing anything he’s doing and yet, it’s still monumental. One of my favorite episodes is “Parents”, which features Ansari’s real life parents, and gives back stories to his and his best friend’s immigrant fathers. My parents aren’t immigrants, but this still meant something to me.

I don’t need fourteen shows about Asian Americans on mainstream t.v. But one or two would be great. I don’t need people to question shows like Seinfeld or Girls so long as there are shows featuring minorities in leading roles. Seriously, they can keep those minority sidekick/best friend/ancillary characters.

Which leads me back to “Fresh Off The Boat”. For those of you watch, you know that Eddie Huang, the story for which the show is based off of and whose book inspired it, is no longer a part of it. He took to Twitter to say he didn’t watch the show and it doesn’t look anything like his life.

He points out that an Indian American woman is directing a show about a Chinese American family.

While it’s true that her life experiences were different, there were also presumably a lot of similarities. This is also true of her audience.

In many ways, it’s enough that the Huangs look like me. My parents don’t speak a second language. I have no surviving grandparents. I’ve never lived in Florida. Culturally, Japanese and Chinese people are NOT the same.

But the show is still great and important and needs to be on the air.

We all need to see that we can relate to anyone at any time because we’re all living a life with identical basic issues, day in and day out. Funny is funny. Sad is sad. Beyond that, we need to be able to share our individual struggles, many of which are created because of the color of our skin. If television is the vehicle for understanding our fellow human more, then there needs to be more balanced representation.

I understand Huang’s issue with the direction his show took. That it feels like a lie. That at best, it’s a very watered down version of his life and that that is doing a disservice to the people watching it. But that’s where I disagree. I don’t need to know Huang’s reality to appreciate Asians on t.v. I wish he could separate himself out of the issue, though I realize that’s a lot, and possibly unfair, to ask of him.

I’m glad there’s been critique on these shows. But at the end of the day, if your issue is with the storytelling, we can’t demand changes be made to reflect our individual realities.

The reason “Master of None” and “Fresh Off The Boat” resonate with me is simply seeing an Asian doing, saying, thinking and feeling things I can relate to and knowing that all audiences might realize we have more in common than they think.


Working Girl

I haven’t had a 9-5 in over six years.

Now that I’m back in the “legitimate” working world, I have some observations.

  • I forgot how many people smoke. Most, if not all, of the people I hang out with don’t. I don’t know why, but it’s always funny to me when I see people speed walking with a cigarette in hand. It’s also sort of sad/funny to me that businesses will make having a designated smoking area a priority, but won’t think about accommodating nursing mothers. (My job has a room, which I thought was pretty awesome.)
  • It’s impossible not to want to eat out for lunch. There is somewhere to go on every block, at least two or three places. It’s also nearly impossible to eat for less than $10. A co-worker pointed out the Subway sandwich of the day, but also conceded you can only do this so much. Plus, it’s an excuse to get out of the office, which is a must when it’s 70 degrees in November.
  • Speaking of food, I’m always trying to figure out where the skinny girls go to lunch. I assume it’s salad in their to go bags.
  • Still on the topic of food, I try hard to eat at places I can’t find in the suburbs. This means I do my best to avoid Chipotle and Panera, even though they do serve things I like.
  • Why are there so many Potbelly’s and when did this happen?
  • Time becomes far too important. Not that it wasn’t before, but everything is about minutes and hours and schedules and deadlines. The train is late. Traffic is bad. Three people are ahead of you to use the microwave. The elevator is stopping at every floor. Someone on the street is walking too slow. Someone behind you gets into the same revolving door as you because they don’t want to miss their train (actually happened to me on the way home from my first day.) Everyone wants to stand on the escalator. Which, I mean, is fine, but my understanding of a moving staircase is that it goes faster when you keep moving and if you didn’t want to actually do any work you’d take the elevator. (I DON’T ALWAYS WALK UP THE ESCALATOR, YOU GUYS.)
  • The dress code at my job is casual. This is great, but I still fret over what I should wear. I used to have a job where the only person who really saw me was a baby. Then I spent over a year in maternity clothes. (Yes, I know pregnancy is only ten months.) Now I’m working downtown and can’t really show up in yoga pants. Though that would actually be OK according to policy. Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that I care way too much about it and no one notices or cares. It’s true! A cute outfit is still cute even if it’s worn more than once a month.
  • The last cubicle I had was actually pretty big and nice and I never thought I would mourn it until I saw how small my new one is. As the only girl in my training group, I of course asked if we could decorate them.
  • Because at the end of the day, working is just like high school. Who smokes, what you eat, what you wear and how you bedazzle your personal spaces matter. Not to mention, everyone looks like they’re ten years younger than me.

Mean Girls

Here’s a recording of our September 2015 show. The theme was Mean Girls. Featured readers included Ines Bellina, Mary Runkle, Julie Jurgens, and Molly Harris.


Meet Our Readers

Tomorrow night, Julie Marchiano, Kristin Mount, Kimberly Duncan, and Kelly Connell talk about sex, baby, let’s talk about you and me, let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be- sorry. How good are Salt-N-Pepa? How good and instructive is this show going to be? These are all questions, and the answer is very, very good.

Kristin MountKristin Mount

Kristin Mount has been a freelance medical illustrator since 1993, and also teaches Anatomy and Digital Illustration at a private art college in Chicago. She is also a research advisor at the medical illustration graduate program at UIC. Her writing experience includes her anatomy blog, her book, The Figure Artist’s Book of Anatomical Landmarks, and the occasional essay for online publications such as Zaftig and Yes Press. She is grateful for the opportunity to take part in a Miss Spoken event.

profile picKelly Connell

For over 20 years Kelly Connell has been teaching Sexuality Education to anyone who will listen. She holds a Master’s Degree in Human Sexuality Education from the University of Pennsylvania and completed all of her course work for her PhD in the same at Widener University, where she received a Certificate of Advanced Study in Human Sexuality- which means she ran out of money two months before her dissertation defense. When she is not teaching sexuality or telling tales about the crazy Life as a Sex Educator she is a busy wedding officiant, host of Sex Trivia, and lives in her small hometown in Michigan.

Julie-Marchiano1Julie Marchiano

Julie Marchiano is pleased as punch to be reading this month at Miss Spoken. When she’s not traveling across the country with The Second City Touring Company, Julie can be seen in Improv All Stars at UP Comedy Club, Weary Travelers at iO Chicago, and various improv, sketch, and storytelling shows around the city. Check her out on Twitter @juliemarchiano, or on her fancy website,

KimDuncanKimberly Duncan

Kimberly is an actor, dancer, singer and writer. She’s a Belgian girl raised in Detroit who loves french fries, waffles and the Red Wings. Sorry folks. Thanks to her  highly useful Bachelors degree in Theatre and Dance, Kimberly has appeared in shows across this great land of ours, but her proudest achievement, by far, is helping to create the greatest, sassiest, most independent girl in the world, her daughter, Isobel. Kimberly has told her stories at Voicebox and Louder Than A Mom. She also co-hosts Do Not Submit in Brookfield the 4th Tuesday of the month. Feel free to stop on by, but she is thrilled to appear at Miss Spoken, for the very first time, to share her Belgian version of Sex Ed.



Caroline and the towel

Somehow, between changing schools and avoiding the subject of it with my parents (for a myriad of reasons which I won’t get into now), I never had the opportunity to take a sex ed class.

This was in New York City in the 1980s. I went to public school through sixth grade, in a part of Brooklyn that you might one day see on an episode of “Girls”. Learning about sex was not on the curriculum for us. At least, it wouldn’t be until seventh or eighth grade. Apparently too late for some of the older girls who would go on to start high school a few blocks away with suspiciously round bellies.

Nobody Calling On The Phone, ‘Cept For the Pope Maybe In Rome

I’ve been listening to the radio a lot because I’m in the car more than ever.

In case you were wondering (I’m sure you were not), radio in Chicago is a sad state of affairs.

Some of you may know I went to college and graduated with a degree in radio. I had no lofty expectations of becoming a DJ, though a part of me wished I could. I loved Wendy & Bill in the morning on the original Q101. I used to record songs on cassette from Hot 97 in St. Louis. I called into stations for promotions and one time won tickets to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Radio used to be a pretty big deal. Eric & Kathy (who are apparently still around) were getting million dollar contracts for hosting the morning show on 101.9, The Mix. And yes, Kathy was making less.

But with iPods and satellite radio (once thought to be a failing fad), it’s lost a lot of appeal.

Anyway, I’m getting off track.

A few weeks ago, I was listening to the ‘Top 9 at 9’ on B96 (which is also still around) and the number one song was some guy singing about how a girl he hung out with used to call him on his cellphone.

I figured it was called “Cellphone”.

I did not know it was Drake.

Either way, I was very ANNOYED by this song, even though I also sort of liked it at the same time.

I was irritated by the lyrics.

So, you moved out of the city and this girl is hanging out with new people and wearing new clothes and drinking champagne on the dance floor when she used to stay at home and be a good girl? (You seem REALLY STRESSED OUT about these girls you’ve never seen before.)

First…seriously? Like, I get the image you are trying to paint, but…No. If she was cool enough to hang out with, I doubt she just stayed at home every night, curled up in bed calling you. Also, going out doesn’t make someone “bad”.

Second, so what if she’s wearing less clothes? Actually, what does that even mean? Did she wear sweat pants and cut them off into shorts? Is she opting out of a coat when it’s cold? Is her skirt above the knees now?


All of these changes have you worried that she’s bending over backwards for someone. Ahem. I KNOW YOU MEAN THAT LITERALLY.

Oh you “taught her things”, did ya now?

Look, I like the idea of writing a song about how someone used to call you on your phone. Because like listening to the radio in high school, I talked on the phone A LOT. I had my own line and would leave funny outgoing messages on my answering machine and stayed up until the wee hours of the morning talking to my best guy friend.

I miss those days, Drake. Even though you are eight years younger than me, perhaps you remember talking on the phone too.

But just because Rihanna, I mean, Some Girl, isn’t calling you anymore, doesn’t make her some raging party girl who is dabbling in anal sex with someone other than you.

And even if she is, THAT’S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS, SIR.


P.S. But if the DJ played this song at an imaginary club I won’t be going to because I’m old, a parent and live in the suburbs, I’d be out on the dance floor.

P.P.S. But probably not with champagne.

P.P.P.S. Unless it was free.

At The Movies with Your Friend Jasmine: Crimson Peak and Yakuza Apocalypse

I went into this movie with a crush on Tom, but was overwhelmed by admiration for Jessica Chastain. She is an acting beast, and she wasn’t chewing scenery in this movie so much as ripping it’s head off with her bare hands.

Bus Stop Stacey

I’m waiting for the Damen bus when he descends, and descends isn’t the right word because this dude is short. I don’t like to rip on height, being a stubby individual myself, but yeah he’s short and anyway you’re not gonna have much sympathy for him in about thirty seconds. Short, white, graying, maybe in his early 40s. The girl I’m sharing the bench with is maybe a little younger than me. Mid to late 20s. She’s wearing those black exercise pants everyone wears and I can’t blame her, they look good, and a strappy pink tank top and she’s pretty, chill, just hanging out waiting for the 50.

She turns to me, “Are those flowers?”

I’m carrying a bouquet of dried flowers and I promise you, my life is not as manic pixie dream girl as all that. I was sweaty and had recently finished eating several tacos, hunched over one of those picnic tables at Big Star like a blonde raccoon but their fried fish game is strong. Those zanahorias with spicy tahini sauce are pretty good too. That plus an al pastor and I’m walking slowly to the bus, surreptitiously rubbing my swollen stomach. I am no one’s spritely projection right now, unless they’re into cumin-scented bus naps.

I show my bench companion my flowers and she nods and we smile at each other.

Then he’s there, hovering at the side of the bench.

“Can I just say, you have a beautiful Afro?”

Okay. I mean, he’s right. She does have a beautiful Afro, it’s swaying gently in the late summer breeze. This is not a terrible thing to say but my hackles are already bristling because I have seen this man, he’s black or white or brown or yellow but no matter what he is, he is the worst. But maybe he’s fine. Maybe I need to chill the fuck out.

She’s smiling politely. Her face is pleasant and open. I feel all the saltiness of my recently 30 years rise up (happy birthday Rose, you feel way too old for male bullshit), the catcalls and hisses and creepy fucking conversations I’ve had with strange men who want to say something about my face, or let’s be real my titties. But maybe he’s just tipsy and flirty, and that’s not a crime. I slump back and try to be chill. He is talking and she’s nodding and then-

“So my ex-girlfriend, she was black, and she-“


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 758 other followers