Meet Our Readers

Pits. Pubes. Upper lips and legs. This month’s theme is Body Hair. We’ve got a talented crop of women on deck Wednesday to talk about it. I can’t think of a better prelude to your Thanksgiving.

Maya Marshall

missspoken_mayamarshallMaya Marshall is a Cave Canem Fellow. She co-facilitates the Vox Ferus After Dark workshop series. She was a 2013 Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Award finalist. She has led workshops for people ages 8-80 in the Midwest, Southwest, and South America. Her poems have appeared in BlackberryThe LegendaryPoetic Hustles in the Era of Hope and Change, and other publications.

Jessica DiMaio

missspoken_jessicadimaioJessica DiMaio is a graduate of Columbia College’s Fiction Writing program, who then became an esthetician because fiction writing doesn’t pay the bills. Turns out sculpting the perfect brow is as gratifying as crafting the perfect sentence. She wrote her essay while working at a ritzy downtown spa, but she much prefers the clients she has at the Benefit boutique she works for now. You can read more about her adventures in esthetics at



Alyssa Sorresso

Alyssa Sorresso is a creative non-fiction writer and performer living in Chicago. She has performed internationally and at home, including as an ensemble member for 2nd Story and at The Moth slams. Alyssa’s writing was recently published in Creative Non-Fiction Magazine and on OhioEdit. She maintains a blog at, and you can follow her on Twitter @tactless_grace. Please come say hi, because otherwise she’ll probably sit by herself and be somewhat awkward about it.

Lisa White

missspoken_lisawhiteLisa is a born and raised Midwestern girl who’s had numerous adventures and escapades writing. After moving here to attend college she fell in love with Chicago and despite a brief stint in New York returned to the city that feels like home. She cut her teeth writing about music and food around town for various outlets, including Heave, Gapers Block, IE and ChicagoStyle Wedding. She kinda went corporate for a while but like most writers never strayed far away from the clacking of laptop keys. She now is the Associate Editor at Chicagoist where she spends her days writing and editing work about all aspects of Chicago life.

missspoken_liliarissmanLilia Rissman

Lilia Rissman has enjoyed writing for a long time – one of her proudest moments was winning a trophy in fourth grade for her play about Harriet Tubman and the underground railroad.  Most of the writing that Lilia does today involves phrases like “morphosyntax” and “agent-oriented teleological modal base.” She is very happy for the opportunity tonight to pursue a more physical topic. Talk to her later if you would like to know what a modal base is.


Samantha Irby

missspoken_samanthairbySamantha Irby recently published a collection of essays called “Meaty.” You can find her blog at



Being Thankful for Stories and (Open) Books

November’s theme is Body Hair, and in the spirit of Thanksgiving we’re excited to be giving back – not body hair (ew, please don’t do that) but to Open Books, a group we think is pretty great. Here’s the deal: For our just-before-Thanksgiving show, we’ll be accepting cash donations for the nonprofit that provides literacy experiences for tens of thousands of readers each year through inspiring programs and the creative capitalization of books. More about Open Books’ mission, programs, and upcoming events can be found at the links attached to those words.

But wait, there’s more! Besides the opportunity to donate to a great organization, we’ll have stories by Samantha Irby, Alyssa Sorresso, Jessica DiMaio, Lillia Rissman, Maya Marshall, and Lisa White. Plus, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and pie. Hope to see you there.


Waiting For Something

I don’t know what to do with myself.

It’s not an entirely bad thing. It’s not stressful, per se.

But I’m essentially waiting for my entire life to change.

Soon I’ll be living somewhere else.

Then I’ll be waiting for my water to break, to start having the worst pain in my life, to go to the hospital, to give birth, all of which I have no idea how to conceptualize in any realistic way.

When that’s all done, there will be a newborn. My newborn. I will be a mom.

For now though, there is a messy bedroom. Occasionally I’ll try to assess how to pack the rest of my things. But mostly I just lie in bed trying to get comfortable.

So far tonight, I’ve tried sitting through two documentaries, both of which I didn’t finish.

I tried to read a book.

I ate a little food.

I looked at the clock and it was 7:33 PM.

I feel restless and tired at the same time. I don’t want to have to do anything, yet maybe that would help somehow. I could focus on a task that must be completed in the very near future, knowing it had to be done in order to get to the next step. That next step being “The Change”.

My guy is across town at his house and while it makes sense, for selfish reasons I wish he were here. Someone to talk to. Someone to acknowledge the weird limbo that is waiting for your child to be born. For your entire life to be turned upside down.

Instead, it’s Sunday evening and I’m idle, my last week of work in front of me. A job I’ve had for the last eighteen months. Maybe that doesn’t sound like a long time, but it is when each of those months is measured in the form of a life. A baby that was four and a half months old when I first held him to a twenty three month old toddler who runs and plays and points and laughs and is now a little person.

The end of a year in this apartment. The end of a six year streak in Chicago. The end of a life that consisted of social engagements, friend dates, performances and events.

I’m trying to come to terms with all of this. That even once this pregnancy ends, my life will be tied to another, new life. Even if I came back to everything just as I’d left it, I will be the difference.

So maybe it’s OK that I’m a little bit paralyzed, a little bit unsure of what it is I’m “supposed” to be doing right this minute.

Because this is new territory, albeit temporary, too.


Podcasts at Your Fingertips

Miss Spoken is on iTunes now, adding that much more boobs, periods, and awkward crushes to the podcast world. Follow that link above or the one in the sidebar, and experience past shows through the easy, automated magic of subscription.


I Can(‘t) Do This By Myself

Technically I’m a single mom.

This is not to rag on my partner. It’s just an observation I can’t help but make when all of the advice online and in books assumes you are co-habitating. They all suggest he give me nightly foot rubs and that we should plan a “babymoon”, as if there is an extra pile of cash lying around to take a vacation before a newborn arrives.

I’m not joking when I say, if something falls on the ground and does not absolutely have to be picked up, I’m not bending over.

I would love for someone to help me put on socks and shoes and pants.

I’d love to stop driving (though again, big ups to my guy for taking the wheel every time we’re together.) (Oh and a HUGE thank you to you parents for buying me a car at a time when it has basically become a necessity.)

I’m done with cleaning. I’d love to bathe less. I’m not into having to go outside and into the basement to do laundry.

I’m REALLY over stairs. And walking. And sometimes even sitting.

I’d love to have Peapod.

All this to say, I know it’ll be over soon. Very soon.

And on top of this, I’m two weeks away from moving back in with my parents, two able bodied, non-working people ready to lend a hand in any way they can.


I know people do, everyday. I don’t mean to sound like an asshole for even posing the question, but I am truly besides myself trying to figure out how you could do this by yourself.

I feel even luckier than women who are married, whose husbands have to go back to work. At least I won’t be totally alone. And moms who already have a kid with another on the way? I CAN’T WRAP MY BRAIN AROUND THAT.

This is probably the most helpless I’ve ever felt as an adult. Sometimes it’s hard to ask for help, partly out of being so independent for many years, but also not wanting to come across like I’m taking advantage of my “condition”. And yes, its probably painfully obvious that I don’t exactly have the means to live on my own with a new baby, financially speaking.

I am overwhelmed by everyone’s support and generosity. I’m flabbergasted by the amount of things filling my parents house and for my mom friends who’ve given me all sorts of gently used hand me downs.

I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am that I’m not doing this alone.


P.S. I promise to write you thank you notes once this carpal tunnel thing is figured out.

Don’t Worry About the Worrisome

“Try not to worry about it.”

That’s my OB/GYN telling me that despite my elevated high blood pressure and trace amounts of protein in my urine, I should not assume I have preeclampsia, though I very well may.

So for the next two days, I would research it and try not to freak out over all of the plain ol’ facts, like the one about how the only cure for preeclampsia is delivering the baby…regardless of how far along you are. The reason for this is that I could have organ failure, seizures or heart failure. The baby could be compromised because my placenta would no longer be giving him the nutrients he needs. Or put plainly: One or both of us could die.

And yes, I’m fortunate that my symptoms did not show up at week 21 versus week 31. And yes, it’s good that my blood pressure is only elevated, not over the preeclampsia threshold. And yes, it’s good that there is only a trace amount of protein.

Yet still.

We waited a little less than forty eight hours for my lab results. They checked out OK.

All that I can do now is be monitored. All I can do is hope that if I am in the pre-stages of this, that it won’t progress too quickly, that I’ll be further along in the pregnancy.

Because I’m not ready.

As much as I’ve joked that I’m “done with all of this”, what I mean is the aches and pains of carrying an extra 40 pounds. I mean I’m tired of not being able to bend over and pick things up, sleep more than two hours at a time, walk faster than .01 miles an hour, breathe normally, eat normally, HAVE A BEER OR NINE, not freak out about my ankles swelling, put on pants without sitting down first, actually fit in the bathtub.

I’m not ready to be laid up in the hospital, around strangers, getting poked and prodded and trying to mentally prepare myself to have a human being exit my body. Maybe I’ll never be able to wrap my head around that idea, but I’d still take the extra month or two to contemplate it.

And even though they don’t know why exactly some women (less than 10%) get preeclampsia, it’s nearly impossible not to take some sort of blame. I should be eating kale and using a Nutribullet. I should have done pre-natal yoga. I should drink more water. What if my liver was damaged from all of that day drinking? What if my bad diet and non existent exercise routine leading up to getting pregnant brought this on?


But it’s nearly impossible not to think about these things.

The only thing that keeps me from going into full blown panic mode is that I’m trying to keep my blood pressure down.


Measuring Life in Halloweens and Black Bean Burgers

Over the last few weeks, I read this beautiful and elegiac piece, dressed up for Halloween, and burst into tears in the bar area of Chili’s.

My boyfriend stared at me, unsurprised. I’d dropped hints this was coming: Staring into the distance in between getting sodium poisoning from Bottomless Tostada Chips. Shifting in my seat. Asking, “Where do all the books go?”, my voice breaking slightly.

We’d just sold five boxes of books at the Half-Price in Skokie. And smaller things have made me cry in public places.

I went on to blubber through some stuff about growing up in a house with too many books, which was terrible and wonderful, but the first part makes me want to lead a capsule lifestyle now (I’m failing), that I have so many shitty relationship memories, and I was thinking of this because a lot of previous Halloweens were ruined by an ex-boyfriend, who’d been really into Chili’s and that was why all these feelings really made sense right now.

He took a bite of his chicken sandwich. I wondered how I wasn’t single.

I was with someone for a long time who wasn’t into Halloween. He didn’t like costumes, or even dressing up at all. It was faking it, he said, pretending you were someone you weren’t. It was lying. Every year, we’d fight about going out and participating. He’d grudgingly put on something that was a costume, sometimes. It wasn’t even a half-assed costume. It was a quarter-assed costume, a walking reminder of how he didn’t want to do something and thought it was lame.

I ended up feeling terrible about something I loved. And there were a lot of things like that. I don’t begrudge someone for not liking something, but ruining it for someone else is pretty low.

Through exes, suburban chains restaurants, and “Learning to Measure Time in Love and Loss“, I realized that life is too fleeting to be with someone who hates Halloween. It’s too precious to convince yourself that what you love sucks, and you should apologize for it. It’s too important to date someone who doesn’t make you feel amazing, supported, and loved. And it’s way, way too short to salt your giant Diet Coke with tears of regret.

My black bean burger sat in front of me, their attempt at an artisanal bun glossy and golden. My boyfriend looked at me, his face open and concerned. I stopped talking and ate.