Meet Our Readers

This Wednesday, we’re talking about you. The theme is Gossip and the readers are Jasmine Davila, Anjali Waikar, Josephine Yales, and Takelya Weathers. You heard it from them first.

Jasmine Davila

Jasmine DavilaJasmine Davila is the fast-talking, thoroughly charming co-host of “Vital Social Issues and Stuff”, a podcast about pop culture from a lady’s point of view. She has read in venues small and medium sized for shows such as Tuesday Funk, 20×2 Chicago, That’s All She Wrote and this very show. You can find Jasmine on the web by Googling “Jasmine Davila” and on Twitter as @jasmined.



Anjali Waikar

Anjali WaikarAnjali is thrilled to be back in her hometown of Chicago after living on the east coast for the past two decades. She was a member of a comedy improv troupe in college until she quit to play Division 3 tennis until she quit to join a hip hop dance troupe until she quit to volunteer in Guatemala until she quit to find herself. She believes in trying everything once. She’s a virgin storyteller to the stage, but regularly practices the art of storytelling in her day job as a lawyer.



Josephine Yales

Josephine YalesJ[osephine]. M. YaLes is the author of ‘A Coven in Essex County’, a writer, a poet, and ex-museum educator. She currently lives in Chicago after a life time in Wisconsin and a brief stint in Utah.





Takelya Weathers

takelya weathersHailing from the south side of the city, Takelya “TK” Weathers is an eternal dreamer with the heart and soul of a poet. She’s an avid writer who can oftentimes be found with a pen and paper in hand. While writing and theater are her first loves, she comes to us as a graduate of The French Pastry School’s L’Art du Gateau program and a lover of all things deliciously sweet. In her spare time, she works on building her MsBijou Sugar Artistry brand, being a student of the Second City Theater Training Center, and dreaming in full, living color.


Before and After

Sometimes I ask myself if I miss the days before having a kid. Or more accurately, do I wish I was childless now.

It happened again last night on the drive home for our show.

I got pregnant a couple of months before our debut, so I don’t even know what it would be like to stick around and drink more and see where the night took me.

Which is what I used to do. Stick around. Drink more. See where the night took me.

I felt like a wet rag packing up my things for the drive home to a nameless suburb, lamenting my early wake up call and reciting my absurd commute time and schedule to a new friend.

I can be acutely aware of being without freedom. I feel the resentment rise and then I tell myself as calmly and plainly as possible that “this is no longer about me” and it becomes easier to accept.

Because it really isn’t about me at all.

The practicalities have overtaken everything. The ones that probably should have pre-kid. The voice that would tell me it was OK to show up to work tired and hungover is silent, replaced by a louder one that chides me into calling it a night at the earliest time possible.

Upon further examination, I realize that my kid is less a barrier to my fun than the distance I am from many of the things I love and care about. Though I suppose, the kid is the reason I’m so far away to begin with.

When I decided to have him, I also knew it most likely would not be in the city. Not out of choice, but out of necessity.

We probably could have made it work. Perhaps it would have been fine. But I’m mostly assured after having an unexpected C-Section and  a newborn that living with three people to help was better than one. And while I know I could have asked friends in the city to help and they would have, it’s not the same as your parents making unexpected trips to Target to buy you a table for your breast pump to make things easier.

In a world where I’m paid enough to live in the city with my kid (a number that feels astronomical at this point in time), I could see people after my kid went to sleep or invite them over to my easily accessible apartment.

(My utopia would be living in a commune like setting near all of the people I loved. Every new, cool person would build their own house in the next plot of land. There would be plenty of privacy, but also a community building where people just came and went. There would always be potlucks. There would always be a few people sipping wine or having a nightcap and chatting. There would always be kids running around and exploring. We would help each other with as much as we could, especially the important stuff like child rearing and elder care. And of course, orgies. [Haha…] Wait, am I describing a cult? A polygamous cult? Possibly. Oh well?)

Thinking about it more, I remind myself of those nights in my 20’s and early 30’s. The nights I pushed myself to go out. The ones when I stayed out too late. The ones I hardly remember.

But It’s not hard to forget the absolute loneliness and emptiness I felt coming home to no one.

It’s also not hard to forget that most of those nights were not all that worthy of being remembered or fondly looked back upon.

Not necessarily because of the activity or the company, but rather the undercurrent of desperation to make something of things, to want it to be more.

If I could have stayed last night for one more drink or on to another bar would that have been better than getting in my car, driving an hour to my house, talking with my partner about how the night went and going to bed?

It would seem so because in the moment, that’s what I wanted to do.

In the bigger picture, though, I know that in the old days, every time I was out, I was looking out of the corner of my eye, aware of the strangers around me and hoping maybe they would become something more to me. Even when I was with friends whom I loved dearly, I knew they would never be mine, all mine.

I know now that the rush I feel in meeting a new person and wondering if they will become my friend is that same initial reaction I used to have. Only now I know the limitations.

I know the limitations because even when I was single and untethered, the effort and time it takes to really be in someone’s life is a difficult task. Sometimes it felt like I was spreading myself too thin. I kept meeting people and wanting to swoop them all up and carry them with me. And of course they would slip out and become small blips on my social media radar.

All of that time I kept wanting to be wanted. That’s the twinge inside of me whenever I’m around someone new or old. “Want me.”

But what I really need is to be needed.

Sometimes that’s scary. Sometimes I resent it. Sometimes I want to run away. But I know in the end, I’d be running away to find it again.

There is a baseline now, a foundation, a layer, that’s been built. It’s the longest piece of a triangle. Every thing above it is a little shorter, takes up a little less space, demands a little less attention.

It grounds me. It humbles me. It reassures me.

It is part of me.

And I wouldn’t give it up to go back in time just to see where the night might take 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.


alone at home with jasmine

The other day at the opera I was sitting behind a woman who wouldn’t stop shushing. She wasn’t shushing me but rather the two little girls who, with their families, made up the happy little party we formed that afternoon at a matinee of Rossini’s “Cinderella”.

The two little girls are six and a half and 7 years old, respectively. Their mothers are, like me, in their late 30’s/early 40s. This is an age that I’ve come to think of as “probably too old for Tom Hiddleston, definitely too young for… whoever the 50-something version of Tom Hiddleston is”.

Meet Our Readers

Our theme this month is Mean Girls. We’ve got Ines Bellina, Molly Harris, Julie Jurgens, and Mary Runkle talking popularity, power games, and pretty.

Recently at a party, I brought up the topic with a friend. I expected she wouldn’t have much to say about it – she’s tall, thin, beautiful and poised. Cool and elegant, like a glass of water or auburn-haired greyhound. No one would make fun of her. No one would dare, and where would they even go with it? I was so wrong. Her memories of targeted cruelty were vivid and intense, as much as a nerd goob like myself. My experience with her got me thinking about mean girls, assumptions, and appearance, and eventually formed the basis of my story.

What I’m saying is, it’s gonna be so fetch.

Ines Bellina 

tumblr_npzsneLRyJ1tekaq6o1_500Ines Bellina is a writer, translator and performer. She is the co-host of the monthly Live Lit show, Is This a Thing?, and has read at Loose Chicks, Serving the Sentence, Tales from the Office, the kates, The Marrow, and other events around town. Ines also writes YA fiction and her work-in-progress has received a Letter of Merit from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She recently launched a podcast called XX, Will Travel, which is geared towards independent women travelers. When she’s not overscheduling herself, she sings love songs to her bulldog, Charlie.

Mary Runkle

Mary-Runkle-headshot-6Mary Runkle ( is very pretty. She decided to try standup comedy after a fair-weather friend stood her up at The Comedy Bar in 2013 and the comics were all super nice to her. In the 2 1/2 years she’s been telling jokes, Mary’s had the privilege of performing on a bunch of fun showcases, was featured at the 2015 Chicago Women’s Funny Festival, and recently did a weekend at The WIP Comedy Theater. Mary co-produces Foot Fetish Open Mic, Wish You Were Beer Open Mic, and After Party Podcast (, where she and her co-host drunkenly attend and review the independent comedy showcases in Chicago. Mary loves compliments, especially when they’re complimentary drinks!

Julie Jurgens

11162464_10152736312812187_8300885484702922696_nJulie Jurgens gets bored easily, which is why she does everything from storytelling to stand up comedy to playing the pocket trumpet (not a euphemism). Her accomplishments in life include publishing one awful poem in college, being the owner of the worst cat in the world, and making really good banana bread. She has a master’s degree in library and information science and has the student loan debt to prove it. She’s always available to eat tater tots, nachos, or nacho tots. THESE ARE HER STORIES.


Molly Harris

headshot (1)Molly Harris is a riddle, inside an enigma, wrapped in feminine wiles, nestled in a soft, human skin suit with a blonde wig on top. She arrived in Chicago from the wild cornfields of Indiana and spends most of her time talking about science fiction and glitter and puns. She aspires to be a mean girl in all that she says and does.





King Spa

Last Sunday, I caught a glimpse of my half-naked body in a mirror and grimaced, a flash of disgust at the extra weight around my middle. I couldn’t even think spare tire because that made it sound practical, when in reality it was weighing me down in every sense of the word. Way to deal with your problems by pounding cheeseburgers, I thought, that’s working out well for you. Keep up that beer and couch therapy.

I shook it off and kept stripping down, pulling off socks, bra, underwear. I was among friends. And a lot of naked strangers. I was at King Spa.

King Spa is located just northwest of the city, but it feels like you’re in another country – and actually, that’s not true either. It feels like a sanctuary in that it’s removed and peaceful, but it’s more like a Chicago United Nations, black and white and brown people chilling out in a series of pools and saunas.

No one wears clothing in the gender-segregated pool area. I can feel you squirm, but hear me out.

Meet Our Readers

Bee Eff Eff. According to Urban Dictionary, BFF has two definitions, the most common of which is: Best Friends Forever. The other is the complete opposite and is: Big Fat Fuck. We’re going with the first one. Probably. Either way, we’re doing it with the ladies below. See you tomorrow night. Details on the sidebar.

Naomi Huffman

Huffman_picNaomi Huffman is the editor-in-chief of Curbside Splendor Publishing, and an editor at Featherproof Books. She’s the curator of the Book Fort, a roving interactive book fair that this year will appear at Printers Row Festival and Pitchfork Music Festival. Her work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Newcity, Bookslut, and elsewhere.


Tori Szekeres

photo-2Tori 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.


Danette Chavez

DCDanette Chavez is a culture writer and editor but she took the scenic route getting there, spending over ten years in the hellscape that is newspaper advertising sales. She’s been published in the Chicago Reader, Chicagoist, Literary Chicago, XOJane, and the A.V. Club.




Catherine Eves

971549_10200982378339686_824572717_nCatherine Eves is an editor for Curbside Splendor. She was born in Australia, but basically grew up in Iowa, and now she lives in Chicago. She likes to read and sometimes likes to write, mostly nonfiction scribbled in the margins of her date book that will probably never see the light of day.


Lauren Hooberman

LH_PicLauren has called Chicago home for over 14 years. Her favorite job in the city has been a bartender, but she makes the big bucks in education. Lauren recently completed an all-women’s comedy class called Feminine Comique, and is looking forward getting more experience! In her free time, she rides her bike in the city and practices martial arts. She lives in Lakeview with her anxious and neurotic cat, Jen.

Carry On

I leave for Ireland tonight. I will be gone for nine days.

The friend that I’m traveling with just texted me a picture of what she’s packing and it’s literally a dress, four shirts, and a pair of pants. The backpack that she’s using as her single piece of luggage is as big as the hiking shoes I plan to wear onto the plane to save space in my backpack, which is about the size of my apartment.

I have sports bras and diabetic friendly socks. Do I bring one Lantus pen or two? Can I bring my 70’s revival flares and clogs so I look taller, or settle for looking like Humpty Dumpty in jeggings that take up less room in my bag.

boys worth having

I hand the phone to S. so they can catch up, occasionally yelping “I JUST WANT TO KISS K.S. ALL OVER HIS CUTE FACE” while I look up more boys, more men, on Facebook, LinkedIn (not suggested), YouTube, even our alumni directory.

birdday girl

I’m going to keep this kind of short because it’s my birthday today (WHAT) and apparently the weather is nice so I’m going to leave my house (I took the day off work) and do something.

I didn’t plan anything for today. I’ve already had such a nice weekend. LET ME TELL YOU ALL ABOUT IT.