Family

Sibling Rivalry is Live

March’s show is up on iTunes and Stitcher — the theme was Sibling Rivalry and Leah Jones, Kenzie Seibert, Amy Eaton, Al Rosenberg, Molly Rafferty, and special guest host Carly Oishi take you through brothers, sisters, step, blood, and everything in-between.

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Meet Our Readers

Sister sister brother brother blood and step and everything in between on Wednesday with Molly Rafferty, Al Rosenberg, Leah Jones, Kenzie Seibert, Amy Eaton, and the triumphant aka I asked her and she said okay return of co-host Carly Oishi (Jasmine is taking the air in England). The theme is Sibling Rivalry and we hope to see you there.

Kenzie Seibert

Kenzie SeibertFrom the suburbs of Chicago, Kenzie trained at The iO Comedy and The Second City Conservatory. Currently, you can see her through the end of April with the amazing all-female cast of “For The Love Of”, at Pride Films and Plays, where she is a proud company member. You can also see her on Upworthy.com and the Huffington Post with her satirical film piece, “Pinkwashing for a Cure”, where she sheds light on the injustice behind booby health. She does storytelling at The iO Comedy Theater, The Annoyance Theater, and The Second City. She also performs drag as The Duchess, at Berlin Drag Club, and every month at Gender Is A Drag— the variety show she co-created and co-hosts with her partner, at The iO Comedy Theater. She is represented by BMG talent, and fueled by the Lincoln Ave Burrito House.

Molly Rafferty

Molly RaffertyIf Tina Fey and Jerry Seinfeld had a baby, Molly Rafferty would run away from it because babies are disgusting. Molly (just barely) graduated from Columbia College Chicago’s Fiction Writing program and has studied comedy writing at iO, Second City, and FemCom. Molly has read her work at Reading Under the Influence and Essay Fiesta, and she’ll also be performing at the Book Cellar with the Kates in June. An ornery educator by day, Molly spends her nights co-hosting “Smartmouth,” a feminist history tribute podcast.

 

Al Rosenberg

Alexandra RosenbergAl Rosenberg is a writer and Professional Jew. She also likes to think of herself as a professional sick person and lesbian, but she doesn’t actually get paid for that. She spends what little free time she can wring from her day reading, gaming, and being a mediocre cat mom. You can find her super sad essays and mostly sassy game reviews on WomenWriteAboutComics.com.

 

 

 

Leah Jones

Leah JonesAfter 15 years in Chicago, Leah Jones is finally willing to admit that she’s here to stay. She is a former stand-up comic, long-time blogger, and is starting to threaten her boss that she’s going to start a podcast about healthcare policy. She lives in Ravenswood with her two cats and insists that there’s always room for pie.

Amy Eaton 

amy eatonAmy Eaton has performed original work with Tellin’ Tales Theatre and is a 2-1 Write Club winner (though she swears that 1 was really a tie).She has performed as an actor with Curious Theater Branch, Thunder Rd Ensemble, Mary-Arrchie and others. She served as Artistic Director for Evanston Children’s Theater and founded Mudlark Theater Company.
She lives with her two beautiful giant size teenagers who are being homeschooled, her incredibly patient husband and three jerky cats.
She comes from the Twilight Zone. But that’s another story.

 

Meet Our Readers

This month’s theme is Mothers. I feel like mother-daughter relationships are rarely simple, and I don’t mean like Mommie Dearest (necessarily). It’s more like, to heavily paraphrase what someone once told me: “My mom has a temper, then my dad’s like let’s go watch Ancient Aliens.”

Maybe you can relate. Or maybe you’re like Rose, my mom is super chill and a program that presents hypotheses of ancient astronauts has no place in contemporary literary discourse. And I get that. Either way, you should come out Wednesday and hear stories about moms of all stripes from our fabulous line-up. Plus, I’m making cupcakes I’m buying cupcakes.

Sonia Denis

IMG_0728Sonia Denis is a Chicago-based comedian by way of Washington, DC. Sonia’s stand-up can be described as confessional, frenetic and another cool adjective.

Sonia will be performing in the upcoming Onion & A.V. Club’s 2nd Annual 26th Annual Comedy Festival and The Crom Comedy Festival. She has performed in the Bridgetown Comedy Festival, the Women’s Funny Festival, the Cape Fear Comedy Festival, and The Comedy Exposition of 2014. She co-hosts a popular Chicago open mic at Cole’s Bar every Wednesday. She’s also a co-producer of Congrats on Your Success (CoYS), a monthly stand-up showcase that has been featured in the Chicago Reader and Time Out Chicago.

Shanna Shrum

unnamedShanna Shrum is a Chicago based solo performer and recovering sorority girl.  When she isn’t writing or performing she spends many hours meditating on the question “What would Beyonce do?”

 

 

 

 

 

Natasha Tsoutsouris

IMG_2652Natasha Tsoutsouris is a Chicago based writer, actor and performer. She has told stories all around the city and is excited to be making her Miss Spoken debut!

 

 

 

Samantha Abernethy 

profilephotoSamantha Abernethy grew up on a farm and served two terms as president of her 4-H Club. She moved to Chicago in 2008, but she’s still not a bonafide city slicker. Sam has also lived in D.C., Denver, and rural Wyoming, but Chicago is her favorite. She’s been a real journalist, a blogger, and the editor of BarackObama.com. Right now Sam is a freelance writer, editor, and all-around wordsmith. She lives with her handsome boyfriend in Bucktown, and you can find her drinking whiskey, taking notes, or attempting to sing a Dolly Parton song on karaoke.

[GUEST POST] Mothers

We’ve got another guest post on moms from Denise Medina. More about her after the story, but most importantly she can be seen TONIGHT at The Alley in Highwood.

My mother passed away almost seven years ago. She was only fifty-nine. We were very close, and I was lucky to have her involved in my family’s life (hubby and two girls) on a daily basis. We were suppose to be old ladies together, because she was only seventeen years older than me.

Right after she passed, I was sort of but not really (but maybe) looking for signs from the spiritual world that she was still around. A couple of weeks went by and I was a little more sensitive, wondering if maybe spirits couldn’t read your thoughts. I don’t know the rules.

I found myself alone in the house, so I shouted out loud, “Mom, I just need to know that you still exist.”

Not that night but the following night I dreamt that my friend Helen and I were reconciling – mom knew how distraught and confused I was over our falling out – when I suddenly and softly cried, “Helen, I have to go. My mom is here.”

Mom appeared in a pink, fuzzy bathrobe, wearing knee-high cow print socks. She loved all of the kitschy, knick-knacky cow things. She was illuminated and breathtaking. I knew I was asleep but it didn’t feel like I was dreaming. It felt like I had met her somewhere. I wasn’t dreaming of my mom in the past or the future. I don’t remember any scenery, inside or out. There was just blackness and space around us. We hugged, and I could feel her body, solid in my embrace.

As I held her, I lingered in that hug with my eyes closed. Relishing the strong physical touch, I remember thinking, “Hold onto this moment. Don’t let go because you don’t know when you will ever get to hug her again.”

Then I spoke to her, something to the effect of “Can you believe this shit?”

Not, “Hey, how is Gramma? Have you seen Jesus?” No. There were no profound questions about the afterlife or heaven. I didn’t know how much time we had.

She simply replied, “Yeah, I know.”

We held on for awhile, and then I woke up. I remembered everything, every detail, every feeling.

Two months later, I received a phone call from Helen.

Denise Medina was born and raised in Chicago. Although she currently resides in the northwest suburbs, the phrase “You can take the girl out of Chicago but you can’t take the Chicago out of the girl” totally applies to her. She performs stand-up comedy in the city and surrounding suburbs at such places as The Lincoln Loft, Improv Playhouse, Madame Zuzu’s, and the Kates.

Blood Is Thicker

Three days ago I got back from an eleven day road trip. Nine of those days were spent in North Carolina, where the majority of my partner’s family lives.

I was meeting them for the first time.

Somewhere in the middle of the trip, he asked me how I thought it was going.

Other than it going exceptionally well, there was something that I was struggling with.

The baby came on to the scene automatically related to all of them. A new grandson, nephew and cousin. I, on the other hand, was still only the baby’s mother. While I would never assume to instantly be viewed as family just because my partner chose to be with me in that moment, I still felt removed, separated somehow without the proper titles.

Not because I was being treated differently. If anything, I was welcomed with open, kind and loving arms. I felt comfortable and safe and didn’t mind long stretches alone with them.

I think that I was just a little bit sad to not be an aunt, sister or daughter-in-law. My son got a new family, blood related to a group of wonderful people just by being born. And the only way I can “earn” the familial bond is to be married.

It’s total crap and yet it was another example of how being someone’s wife is recognized above everything, almost more than being a mom in some ways.

It’s something I didn’t consider at all until I was in the situation and found myself wondering exactly where I fit in.

Again, not because I was made to feel like an outsider. But because my being a stranger was only slightly elevated due to being one half of the reason this baby exists. Sure, no small feat. Still somehow less because he was born out of wedlock.

In the confines of my relationship, I’m content in knowing I’m bonded to my partner because of our child. Whatever that relationship evolves into is yet to be seen, but we are forever tied.

In the eyes of the outside world, however, we are two unmarried people with a kid and for outdated, old fashioned, yet still acknowledged social reasons, don’t get to hold certain titles unless we say “I do”.

I’m not sure what my dad thinks of my partner, but it was just easier to tell the AT&T customer service rep that he was his son-in-law instead of his Daughter’s Baby Daddy. I mean, I get it.

For the time being, everyone goes by their given name. Maybe one day, when more years have passed, I can call these fine folks my nieces/nephews/sisters/brothers/mother/father-in-law.

Until then, I’m happy to have met my son’s family, who he is certainly lucky to have.

-Carly

Mother’s Day Weekend Guest Post

We’d like to welcome guest writer and former reader Tori Szekeres for today’s topical post. Thanks, Tori! More about her at the end.  -Rose

My mother is really open about sex.

It was never to the point where she’d slip a condom into my bag if I were going out – she encouraged me not to make the beast with two backs until I had a ring on it – but as a kid, she made it clear she was a sexual being and someday, I would be one too.

As a result, she would embarrass me because she would talk about that part of her relationship with my Dad sometimes. I didn’t want to think about my parents doing the horizontal mambo, and as I grew up, I didn’t want her to think about me getting my freak on.

But as we edge ever closer to Mother’s Day, I want to tell you about an accidental gift she gave me last Christmas.

We were going to the ultra chi-chi Sundance 608 Theatres in Madison, WI on Christmas Eve to see Wild with Reese Witherspoon. We sat in our seats, popcorn and bottles of water at the ready when the trailers began. A cover of Beyoncé’s “Crazy In Love” began to play, and a young twenty-something sat nervously in a reception area in a corporate office.

“Mr. Grey will see you now,” an assistant said to the young woman.

Uh oh uh oh a no no no no, the music said. I found myself whispering, “Oh my god.” It was the Fifty Shades of Grey trailer! I haven’t read the books, nor am I into kinky stuff, but I know the story. Who doesn’t? “What is Mom going to say about this one?” I thought.  My mind raced. Would she ask if I was into S&M? This is the woman who has encouraged me in front of my entire family not to engage in anal sex – anything was possible.

Just then, she turned to me and said, “This is like The Love Machine by Jacqueline Susann.” I nodded and the trailer ended. We watched the movie without incident.

Thanks, Mom. For this and everything else.

-Tori

Tori Szekeres is a stranger from a strange land. You may have heard of it; it’s known as Wisconsin. She ventures into the city from the Northwest Suburbs to do stand-up and storytelling with venues such as Zanies, Guts & Glory, Just Dickin’ Around, the kates, Beast Women Rising, Flabby at the Abbey, and Serving The Sentence.

Blow Bill Blow

Minnesota summers are hot, and when I was 12 my parents’ bedroom was the only place in our apartment with air conditioning. I’d taken to hiding out there whenever I could. I’d watch sitcoms or Xena on the television next to their bed or read whatever I found around the house when I ran out of books. This happened often. I was a fast reader, and didn’t have a ton of friends. 

One bored afternoon that whatever was Time. I didn’t usually go for that but I was desperate, and by desperate I mean lazy: I’d plowed through all the old issues of Funny Times and Mad, and the boxes of books in the basement seemed very far away.

The cover showed a pretty, dark-haired woman with red lipstick hugging the President. Only his back was visible, a long gray suit jacket topped by white hair. The crowd surrounding them was smiling and laughing, but the Special Report seal and title (“Why She Turned…What He Can Do”) let me know something scandalous lurked between the pages. I was intrigued. 

I was about two pages in when my mom opened the door. She shut it quickly so the precious cold wouldn’t escape, then plopped next to me on the bed.

“What’re you up to, kid?”

“Reading.” I showed her the cover.

She made a face.

“How much do you know about what’s going on?”

I shrugged.

“Okay. I’m going to tell you what it’s all about.”

I closed the magazine.

“A young woman was dumb and slept with the President. She kept a bowl of condoms by her bed. I don’t know what she was thinking. He was dumb. They were dumb. They fooled around and did some things with a cigar. There was a dress with a stain on it. Then he lied about it. Now it’s getting blown up by a punitive asshole named Kenneth Starr.”

I stared at her, trying to find a good reply. She had hit most of the points I was curious about, except:

“Are they going to impeach him?”

She snorted.  “No.”

I nodded, relieved.

“He was a good President. He was just an idiot.”

Later, I searched through tiny clear drawers for a pin from years back. I found it: a large square, smooth and shiny, showing Bill Clinton playing a saxophone on a red, white and blue background. It was from his 1992 election. Blow Bill Blow, it said along the bottom.

I picked it up, looked at the trash can by my desk.

“He was a good President. He was just an idiot.”

I propped the pin on my dresser, close to the front.

-Rose

A Little Something for Uncle Gerhard

My aunt and uncle were jerks, I thought. Lecturing us about our bad attitudes and terrible posture over lunch, but hugging us tight and whispering in our ears that they loved us when they’d send us home with all of the leftovers and sometimes a $20 bill each, folded and pressed into our hands, on holidays.

Double Teamed

“Look at her,” he snickered, “hey man, look at her.”

The mid-July sun beat down on my bare shoulders, which were rising towards my ears. I stared down at the magazine in my lap, concentrating harder than ever on anything but the two guys a few feet away. Their whispers got louder, and then:

“Look at her. Look at the little whore.”

Tears blurred the words on my lap. I clutched my copy of Bust tighter, pretending to read. I didn’t know if that had drawn their attention, or if it was my tank top and short skirt, or big chest and long hair. Maybe all of it. Maybe none of it. Maybe being a girl between the ages of 11 and death hanging out by myself was enough.

“Little whore.”

It occurred to me just then that reading alone at a big amusement park wasn’t the best way to blend in. But I was an awkward 13-year-old. I’d brought Bust with me because I couldn’t read it at home. Not after what had happened with my dad.

I’d walked in to him raging around the kitchen, manic and self-righteous in his fury. Bust lay on the kitchen table. I tensed up. I didn’t know what was coming, but it wasn’t going to be good. A small part of my brain flickered angrily, wondering why he was reading my stuff, but I silenced it. Being quiet was my best defense – he’d logic you out of anything until nothing made sense and you weren’t sure who you were or what had passed. He was good at it.

“I found this lying around the house.” He waved the magazine slowly in the air, then plopped it back down. He was big on dramatic effect. I mentally rolled my eyes but my stomach clutched with anxiety, head and gut at war.

“Okay.” I placed one foot over the other.

“And I saw a section,” he inhaled, “Called ‘One-Handed Reads’.”

Ohfuck I thought, jolted. Butwaitbutwait, my brain raced, why are we talking about this?

Kiddie Ride

Here’s a story about that time I pushed Robin Williams’ son off a coin-operated horse. Written originally as a submission for Chicago’s Biggest Liar Contest (I didn’t get in). It’s bittersweet in the wake of his death, but beyond that I think it’s funny and a little ridiculous. Which I think he would have liked.

Also, come to the show tonight.


There are different types of lies. There are lies of omission, where you leave a small or large but definitely crucial part out of a story, creating something 70 or 80 or 90% accurate but really, 100% dishonest. There are the mutual lies, where one person is telling a lie and the other person is telling themselves they believe it: a mutual dishonesty. And there are the straight-up, simple lies, where you make something up that never happened.

There are ways that you can tell when someone’s telling a lie. Lack of eye contact. Poorly timed emotions. Hands touching the face, throat, and mouth. Unconsciously placing objects between themselves and the audience. Cameos from celebrities and their children, and actions that infer an aggressiveness and confidence not often displayed in adulthood.

Anyway. When I was five, I pushed Robin Williams’ son off a horse.

Not a real horse. It was the kind that moves when you put coins in it. Two quarters. The golden pony in question was located in an ice cream parlor on Clement Street. The inside of the ice cream parlor was a riot of color, plastic and rubber and wooden toys lining the turquoise walls from counter to ceiling. The horse bucked wildly amongst a thousand boats and ducks and Mickey Mouses, throwing me and Robin Williams’ son back and forth. The ice cream had made me thirsty. I felt the four Dixie cups of water I’d drunk slosh in my stomach. I had to pee, which made me more impatient than normal. I didn’t want to share the horse.

And so I pushed him off. I was three and he was five, but I was more aggressive, if not physically stronger. The horse’s name was Caramel, and for a moment that ride was all mine, until I felt my my mom’s death-grip on my arm, pulling me away.

Mom was mortified, forcing me to her side. “I’m so sorry,” she said, “Can I pay for another ride? Or get him an ice cream?” She fumbled in her bag for change.

Robin Williams looked bemused: “Lady, do I look like I don’t have money for horsey rides or ice creams?” He sounded like he meant it, and well, he probably did have enough money for both those things. “Don’t worry about it. Really.” He was nice.

He walked out with his son Zack, leaving my mom embarrassed with a sullen, sticky-faced blonde kid. I didn’t get it, or maybe a tiny part of me did, but didn’t care. He was taking too long. His turn was over.

A series of events had brought us to this point. My parents, East Coast born, had met in San Francisco, dated, lived together, married, had a kid. Dad had been a sound editor on Apocalypse Now. Mom had worked on Harvey Milk’s campaign. Dad worked for Sony now. Mom was an art teacher at a public school.

Robin Williams’ son was born to Robin Williams and Valerie Velardi. Robin Williams’ marriage didn’t last. My parents’ marriage didn’t last. Despite this, neither of our fathers had kids out of wedlock: to my knowledge, Zak, me, and our siblings were born within the bonds of matrimony. My parents lived in San Francisco. Robin Williams and his then-wife and son lived in San Francisco.

Our paths were bound to cross. It was fate. And this story is a lie — the straight-up, simple kind. The horse’s name was not Caramel. It was Butterscotch.