Sunday, October 30, 2011

A short thought

There is something to be said about the way it makes you feel to be called beautiful by someone who has seen you when you've looked your worst...ish.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

30/30/30 - Day #7: Submit a headshot/res or audition for something

So, I realize I've been absent from the blog for a few days.

Ya know?  Sometimes life just gets heavy and you have to deal with it before you can move on to your other stuff.  So I apologize, but I'm happy to announce that not only am I back, but I'm back feeling better than ever AND I was motivated to complete another item on my list:

Day #7 - Submit a headshot/res or audition for something
Status: Completed

This is me as a tot.
(AKA I didn't have any other pics
for the blog post.)
Today, I mean literally an hour ago, I sent off my headshot and res to a casting agency.  Now, it's mainly for work as an extra, but it's a start.  Plus, it was an easy thing to cross off the list.  Why I waited so long to do it, I have no idea.  Fear?  Perhaps.  A false idea that I was unable to do so?  More likely. 

I have so many things left on my list and only about 17 more days to do them.  I'm coming to the realization that I might not get to everything on the list.  While I'm a little bit saddened, I also just know that I've still got time so I'm not giving up. 

What shall I do for tomorrow?!  Video journal my whole day?  Could be fun.  Maybe I'll write those letters to people.  I just need to get on the ball.  Any ball.  In a big way.

Well, okay...not just any ball. 


(Sorry, I couldn't help myself.)

Friday, September 30, 2011

30/30/30 - Day #6: See a concert

Day #6 - See a concert
Status: Completed

I went to see Garfunkel & Oates at the Mayne Stage.  I discovered by accident that they were having a contest, the winner of which would receive an autographed poster from G&O.

What was the contest?  Well, in honor of Chicago being named Most Mustache-Friendly City, best mustache (real or fake) at each of the four performances would win said poster.

I knew immediately that I would be coming home with a poster Friday night.  Why?  Because:

I know, I know.  It looks natural, right?

Best part?  I was scared shitless to stand around wearing a huge fake mustache.  I wasn't sure if I'd be the only one or not, but instead of catering to that fear, I got my tickets from the window, and promptly applied my giant 'stache, wearing it with pride until the show started.  I got a lot of smiles, points, and giggles.  But most of all, I had a lot of fun wearing a giant mustache in public...while drinking PBR tallboys.  (Talk about a challenge.  I had to find a way to get the can to my mouth without incident.  Eventually I hatched a plan that involved putting the 'stache on my chin.  Like a mustache beard.  It worked like a charm.) I'd proclaimed the moment I heard about the contest:

It's a major award!

I won.  I totally won.  


Thursday, September 29, 2011

30/30/30 - Day #5: Cook dinner for Laughs

Day #5 - Cook dinner for Laughs

Status: Completed
Chicken Paprikash.
100% Hungarian.
Made by a 50% Hungarian.

Wednesday night after work I came home and cooked up a family favorite: Chicken Paprikash.  I'm half Hungarian and this was kind of a staple in my family.  I was super excited to try my hand at it, as I've never cooked it before.  Lo and behold, it turned out pretty damned good.  The only things I'd change: smaller, thinner dumplings (when they said "walnut-sized" I was unsure if they meant shelled or unshelled.  In hindsight, I'm pretty sure they meant unshelled.), and since the chicken was boneless (ack...I can't eat meat off the bone.  Harf.), I would have let it simmer in the sauce for about 5 minutes less.

I also probably would have used smaller plates.  

I do know I'll be making this dish again.  As well as attempting new stuff.  Cooking is actually pretty fun, guys.  In case you were unaware.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

30/30/30 - Day #4: Karaoke Performance

Day #4 - Do karaoke, but actually have stage presence
Status: Completed
For a woman who has spent the better part of her life on stage doing plays, singing, and now improvising, it's probably surprising that when it comes to regular karaoke (a hobby I've had since I was 18 - yes, I snuck into a bar.  Our friend was the bartender.  And hey, I only drank alcohol there ONCE(ish).  Anyways...)
...when it comes to regular karaoke...I am the biggest chicken shit in the world of chicken shits.  Sure, I'll sing.  Heck, I'll even belt it sometimes.  But when it comes to looking like I'm having a great time on stage (even though I am---or thought I was), I fail miserably.

Because truth be told, I'm afraid.  Of what, I don't know.   It's karaoke, not some sort of twisted "Sing for your life!" torture method.  Maybe it's of being judged.  Maybe it's of sounding bad and not wanting to have to admit it.  

Maybe it's just some rare form of stage fright that only occurs at bars.
I don't know.  But this is precisely why I added "Do karaoke, but actually have stage presence" to my list.

And last happened.  
Laughs and I had plans for a night in my neck of the woods on Tuesday night.  (He's really great about sharing the back and forth, which makes me one happytastic gal.)  
We decided to hit up my favorite hole-in-the-wall for some karaoke.  (Which, by the way, because this needs to be said: The man can sing. I mean,  Yeah.  Laughs has some rad pipes.)

As the night wore on, I knew I needed to make good on that list item.  I knew I needed to push past my fear, and get out there and perform.  Not just stand on the stage, hiding, with a mic up to my mush.  But rock and roll and have fun, not caring about what the heck anyone thought.
"If you're gonna fail, fail big."  Words of advice from a smart guy.  And so I just kept repeating that over and over.  Until finally, "Next up, we've got Tiff singing..."

This was it.  The moment of truth.  The moment of accomplishing something else on my list. 
The moment of I might piss my pants out of adrenaline and nerves but who cares.

I walked up, grabbed the mic, and sang Let's Get it On by Marvin Gaye.  Not only did I sing but I walked around, I danced, and at one point the music got into my muscles and bones and I jumped around like a fool.
A very happy fool who was having so much fun.

When the song ended, I walked back to where Laughs and I were sitting, feeling like a new person entirely.  I also wondered how for so long, I did this thing I loved for over a decade without having THAT much fun.  And sure, I crossed something off the list, but more than that I discovered that I need not be afraid to fail.  That what should be driving me is a passion for what I'm doing, and the desire to make everything I do as enjoyable as I possibly can.  Whoa.  Mind blown.
I had to thank Laughs for reminding me that it's okay to fail, especially if you do so in the biggest way possible.  Luckily that night, I didn't fail.  But the truth is, I couldn't fail.  Because I had already succeeded in pushing past my own silly barrier just by making the attempt and following through.

After my song, Laughs went up to sing.  And he too sang his song in the middle of the room...and tore the place up.  (Do I remember a little air guitar in there?  I think I do, L.  I think I do.)  
And in that moment, not only did I appreciate the fact that I had just challenged myself and succeeded, but here I am with this guy who supported me in my nerves and fear, and is now performing his karaoke song to the crowd as well (and killing it). 
I'm hoping that lesson sticks, and not just with karaoke but with everything I do or hope to do.  
I mean, I know it'll stick with me for karaoke---it was so much fun to be silly and free, why would I ever go back to the alternative?!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I'm going to have to double up!

I failed to complete any of my list items yesterday -- however, that doesn't mean the day was spent doing nothing.  As a matter of fact, it turned out to be rather busy.  Aside from catching up at work, I also managed to take Max to get his 6th grade immunizations in the morning, go grocery shopping, make Hungarian Nokedli (dumplings), and tidy up and do laundry.

I went non-stop from 7:15am until midnight.  Let's break it down a bit, shall we?

Immunizations -
Max requested that I take him to get his shots.  I don't know if it's that he feels less scared when I'm around, or if he knows I'll do my best to diffuse the situation with humor as often as possible.  As we sat in the waiting area, I could tell he wasn't looking forward to the nurse calling our number.  As a matter of fact, the whole ride there he kept asking, "How many minutes until we get there?"

I remember that feeling.  I hated shots.  In 5th or 6th grade I remember knowing a week in advance that I'd be getting a physical for volleyball that included a round of booster shots.  That whole week I pinched my arms in a last ditch effort to try and desensitize my arms to the pain of the shot needles.

I also remember wearing a t-shirt that was spackled with puff paint and had fringe on it.  Gross.

So when they finally called our number, I made it a point to keep things light.  And we ended up playing an improv warm up through all three shots.  We both laughed.  Heck we even got the (very busy) nurse to giggle after she was all done.  Max was super brave, and honestly, the whole thing was probably scarier for me than for him.

Grocery Shopping - 
God bless Aldi.  $26 for like 7 bags of groceries?  Yes, please.  Thank you.  (Also, their generic Oreos are awesome.  I had 12.  TWELVE.)

Hungarian Nokedli -
Only 50% Hungarian, but I felt 100%! Boom.

I'm Hungarian, and I want to make dinner for Laughs this week.  So I thought I'd get a jump on things by making the dumplings I need for the dish ahead of time.

Plus, I had Max to help me.  They turned right.  Best part was making a mess with flour and dough.  I might have to attempt the dumplings again when I cook the actual dinner later this week though.

Bottom Line - 
Sure, I didn't hit anything on my list today, however, I still got so much accomplished.  So I don't feel super terrible about it.  I mean, I can always catch up.  The real goal here is to try and accomplish as much as possible before 31.  Especially the things I really want to experience.  And I'm gonna keep on truckin' with it!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

30/30/30 – Day #3 – Spontaneous and Unplanned

Day #3 – Do something spontaneous or unplanned
Status: Completed

This worked out swimmingly.
This challenge, coincidentally, just kind of spontaneously came to be.  

It started with Laughs spontaneously joining me for my drive to rehearsal - just because (which I thought was the best), and followed with one rehearsal being switched to a hang out day last minute.

After that, I had some random hang time with Laughs (and football), before heading back home, where the spontaneity culminated with one of my best girls randomly seeing what I was up to.  She ended up stopping by for some girl talk and just a nice evening of catching up to cap off the weekend.  

Might not sound super exciting, but in my world, being spontaneous can be difficult.  It was nice to randomly have a day where the planning was almost nonexistent and I got to just let things happen and enjoy them.  I need to try and incorporate more of that into my life, or at the very least be grateful for the sparse moments that it happens.  

Saturday, September 24, 2011

30/30/30 - Day #2: Five Compliments

Day #2: Give at least 5 random compliments to people (friends or strangers)
Status: Completed

You ARE beautiful, by the way.
This challenge didn’t initially start as a challenge.  It started with a compliment to Laughs randomly early in the afternoon.

As the day wore on, I realized that of the items on my list, it was unlikely that I’d be able to complete anything else.  (Laughs and I had gone to see Drive – great flick, by the way – and then we both had shows later in the evening.  So there wasn’t a whole lot of time for me to sneak in some other item on the list.)

So as I walked to my show, trying to think about the list and what I should cross off, I remembered the earlier compliment I gave and decided to find four more opportunities to give someone a genuine compliment about something I noticed and appreciated.  

I ended up using the four remaining compliments in the following ways: I thoroughly enjoyed a fellow teammate's work in our show, so I let her know.  I let another teammate know that I am always impressed by his natural ability to be hilarious on (and off) stage without really trying.  I let another teammate know that his laugh is absolutely infectious and awesome.  And finally, I shared with another teammate that his support on stage and in rehearsals is absolutely amazing. 

Maybe it wasn’t the most epic of challenges, but I will say this: it was nice letting people know the positive things I see in them, and so I plan to make sure that I do that much, much more often.

Oh, you're probably wondering what I told Laughs, aren't you?  If you must know, that initial compliment was that he has a great voice.  Because he totally does.  :) 

Friday, September 23, 2011

30 Things/30 Days/30: #1 - The List

Day #1 - Compose a list of 30 things to do in 30 days while I'm still 30
Status: Completed

(In no particular order)

1. Make List
2. Write a song (BONUS: Perform it in public)
3. Give at least 5 random compliments to people (friends or strangers)
4. Host an improv show
5. Cook dinner for Laughs
6. Submit headshot/res or audition for something
7. Do something kind for a stranger
8. Clean out my closet
9. See a concert
10. Watch Citizen Kane
11. See a friend's improv show
12. Write a poem
13. Write a short story
14. Get a pedicure, manicure or facial (etc.)
15. Do something special for Maxwell randomly
16. Wake up early and enjoy coffee and the morning on the patio before work.
17. Do karaoke, but actually have stage presence
18. Enter something into a writing contest
19. Do something nice for my parents randomly
20. Go to a haunted house
21. Play as a guest with a friend's improv team or do a jam*
22. Save $50
23. Write one chapter of either book idea I have
24. Dress up nice and go out to dinner - either alone or with someone
25. Visit an art museum
26. Create a video journal of a single day and post it
27. Draw something
28. Do something spontaneous and unplanned
29. Karaoke in Chicago
30. Send handwritten notes to friends**

*For #21 I'm going to need a little help.  Improv friends, if you have a show that incorporates guest performers, let me know!

** Want a letter?  email me your address (

Day one is down.  29 more to go!

And again, share the blog.  It'll keep me motivated to conquer this!

30 Things in 30 Days while I'm still 30 - The Prologue

Okay guys, this might be quite a challenge.  I just thought of it this very second, so I have absolutely no plan in place - but fuck it, I''m doing it.

Doing what?  Oh, yes, some information would probably help. 

Today is September 23, 2011 - exactly one month until my 31st birthday.  It's the last month that this blog will still be relevant (although, with a little creative tweaking, I could probably just continue posting here throughout my 30s...but I kind of have other ideas.  Look at me, getting off track and ahead of myself.  GAH!)

I'm pushing off the dock and really setting sail into my 30s.  And I'm absolutely stoked about it.  I have loved 30 a butt ton.  I have always wanted to be 32 - been looking forward to it since I was in my teens.  (Weird, right?)  And this year, 31, is the bridge that leads to 32 and the rest of my 30s.  It's the first real step into actually entering this epoch of my life. 

30 was like just sitting on the shore waiting for the boat. 

In a month, that boat arrives and my ass is setting sail into the Ocean of Awesome (aka My Thirties).

I realize I didn't do all the things I had planned to do with this blog.  Which is actually a good thing.  It means that I was actually busy living my life during 30.  And I think that recently I've been pretty good about posting fairly regularly.

However, there were many months where I was severely lacking.  So here's what I plan to do to make up for it AND to make sure I live the shit out of the last month of 3-0.

I get a girl boner for lists.  True story.
I'm going to create a list of 30 things that I want to try, experience, or accomplish in the last 30 days of being 30.  (That's one per day, folks.)

So for the next 30 days, there will actually be a daily blog post.  Might not be anything exciting.  Might not even be interesting.  But it might be the most mind-blowing blog post the world has ever known.  Two sides to every coin, right?

I need to create my list, because like I said, I just opened up Blogger and this idea popped into my head.  I will post it later.  Which means that the first thing in this list will actually be to create the list.  That's some meta shit right there.

Holy balls.  This could be either really awesome, or really terrible.

But probably it will be TERRIBLY AWESOME! 


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Express Yo'face

For most of my life I've been told I have an "expressive face."

My face...*might* be composed of 75% rubber.
And I totally agree with this.  In recent years, due to performing and improv, I've become far more aware of my face and its expressiveness.  Heck, sometimes in a scene I don't even need to say a word because the darn thing just speaks volumes for me.  (It's okay, my vocal chords appreciate the rest.)

However, there is a catch: my face doesn't always inform me when it's being so damn expressive.  It just kind of has a mind of its own. 

Or better yet, it doesn't have a mind, but rather it disconnects itself from my mind and just kind of does its own thing.

Case in point:  Last night I was in a show, having a great time, just playing and performing with one of my teams.  The show was pretty good, and very fun.  Wasn't our best work, but we had a good time and learned some things.  The audience also seemed to enjoy it which is always a nice bonus.

After the show, I met up with a friend who had watched from the audience.  He and I are on another team, so I gave him a ride to our rehearsal which immediately followed that particular show.  While we walked to the car he was telling me that he enjoyed the performance, and that I was funny in the piece (always good to hear), but then came..."But..."

As an improviser, it's always imperative to take any type of criticism in stride.  Besides, I could live a life free of criticism if I chose to - I mean, if I never wanted to accomplish or try anything ever


I'll take my chances of being criticized, thank you.

So I welcomed what was about to follow my friend's "But..."

"But," he said, "I noticed you making this face while you were standing on the sides."

He proceeded to imitate the face he was talking about.  It was part stink face, part deep in thought, part "WTF?!" 

And I totally didn't have a CLUE I was even making it.  I do remember getting into character on the sides, as one of my team mates signaled to me that he would be pulling that character out again soon, so to the best of my knowledge, that must have been what I was doing. 

God forbid my face was judging the scene.  My brain sure as hell wasn't.  In fact, my brain was actually having a lot of fun watching my friends do awesome things up there yesterday night. 

It was even trying to remember stuff it liked so I could use it later in the piece.

But my face...MY FACE!  It just went ahead and did its own thing. 

What worries me is that I know this is just one instance of many.  And it's one of the rare instances that someone actually mentioned it to me.  So today I've just been sitting here, thinking about all of the times I've probably been trying to feign some sort of emotion or attitude for whatever reason (Oh. Come. On.  We've all done it...), and my honest, mindless, expressive face outs me every time. 

My face is really like a feral wallaby who has wandered into a heavily populated metro area.  It wants to fit in and understand (and, much like a wallaby, it's pretty darned cute, right?  Maybe? Whatever.), but you can't take the wild, ravenous beast out of a feral animal.  Not even a wallaby.  And when the mood hits, it will undoubtedly twist and contort and jerk itself around with reckless, albeit expressive, abandon.

But you know what?  I'm cool with it.  Because although I haven't mastered its power, I have learned to be able to use it in my improv work.  And it makes me uniquely me.  (Look, at almost 31 I've learned to see the value in not being like everyone else all the time.  It's actually a pretty great thing...being who you are, flaws, weird habits, oddities and all.)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Autumn (okay, still technically Summer) in New York

I thought writing about my first trip to New York would be easy.  The whole time I was there, I filed memories and moments away specifically for this very purpose.

But now I sit here in front of the computer, and I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed and at a loss for words. (Which, for a writer, is a terrible feeling.)

But let’s just see where this goes, shall we?  I’m just going to start writing with the hope that the right words come pouring out eventually.  Like a bout of constipation finally dislodged from the gut. 
Speaking of which, I’ve discovered that my body is odd when it comes to traveling.  I didn’t take a shit the entire time I was in NY.  I guess the change of routine really threw off my regularity.  So weird.  So gross.  So true.

I had anxiously awaited September 16, 2011.  I mean more than I anticipate my birthday, which as some of you may know, I begin counting down to sometime in July or August.

But this was a trip.  And actual trip on a plane.  Not to mention my first trip with Laughs.  So, I mean, lots of cool stuff going on all around, am I right?  I over packed, of course.  My bag weighed 34 flipping pounds.  And because I’m terrible about knowing what I want to wear in advance, I even ended up buying an outfit in Brooklyn.  

I could go through all of the details, moment by moment, but I think you’d get bored reading it all.  So I think the best course of action would be to summarize. 

I had a wonderful time.  I laughed a lot.  I smiled a lot.  I ate…A LOT.  I saw things I honestly never thought I’d have the opportunity to see.  (Like, well…New York, for example.)  I think before this whole trip came about, I had convinced myself that I was not allowed to experience things that other people get to experience.  Like traveling or vacations.  For some reason, I’d fallen into this pattern that my life is still on hold in the same capacity it was on hold when my son was an infant. 
(I mean, for Pete’s sake, I have a child, but I just realized I will no longer be shopping in the children’s section of a store.  He’s in men’s sizes now.  It’s a SUPER WEIRD thing to wrap your head around.  I have a man-child.  Holy balls.  HOLY BALLS.  It’s absolutely nuts to think about…so anyways…)

But the truth is, it’s not.  Sure, I can’t up and leave for 2 weeks straight without some massive planning and prep.  And true, I can’t just keep planning vacation after vacation or leave on a whim.  But I can visit places.  I can take airplanes to places.  I’ve started to gain a little more freedom in that respect.  And the coolest part?  There is so much I have yet to see that as time goes on, my options remain pretty much endless. 
New York: There's a lot of walking.
The other thing I noticed is that I have this deep appreciation and awe for places and things I’ve never experienced.  I felt like a child in some respects: wide-eyed and eager to take it all in.  I didn’t take a single sight, sound---or smell---for granted.   It was incredible.  It also didn’t hurt that I had a rather funny and knowledgeable tour guide with me. 
I even learned how to use the subway.  And being that the station near our hotel was closed and the trains weren’t running for THAT WEEKEND ONLY, I was pretty proud of myself and Laughs for owning the shit out of the MTA despite the odds being mildly stacked against us. 
I couldn’t have asked for a better experience—in all respects.  Between seeing NY, hanging out with some of the best people around, eating the most awesome food, and having so many moments that will forever be etched in my mind and heart, it was truly unbelievable. 
Moreover, it changed my perspective.  Like I said, I realized that I’m reaching a point in my life where I’m slowly getting a little more freedom to explore this life.  Sure, they’re just small bites, but they’re small, delicious bites. 
Admittedly, I’ve gotten a bit emotional about the whole trip since coming home.  Part of it might be a mild case of post vacation blues, but there’s another part of it is that I'm just so incredibly grateful to have had the experience that I can’t help but get a little teary thinking about it. 
Like I said, until this point, I’d never really considered visiting NYC (or anywhere really) an option.  I’d basically just kind of filed those dreams away somewhere in the recesses of my very busy brain, and didn’t think much of them.  I’d gotten so used to just believing that my path didn’t have those types of beautiful detours.

So when I realized that I had just conquered my first weekend in NY, and my first actual trip since 2007, it was like I had taken my very first breath.  I went to bed the Thursday before one person, and woke up Monday morning a different one.  A more energized one.  A more confident one.  One who realized that it might have taken many, many years, but I’m slowly taking my life and making it all of the things that it has the potential to be. 

Of course, finally seeing Max again after 4 days I also realized that part of that is being a good mom.  And it’s finding that balance that’s been a challenge.  This trip showed me that I can have that balance.  That I DO have that balance.

I feel like I absolutely need to end this post by abundantly thanking Laughs for making this trip more than just a trip to New York.  You made it an experience.  You made it fun.  You made my face hurt from laughing.  You made it a memory that I will never forget.  You made something I didn’t think I’d ever possibly do in the foreseeable future, absolutely possible.  So thank you, Laughs – it means so incredibly much to me.  More than I can even express. 
Additionally, you also made me want to get closet doors for a closet-sized bathroom. 

Something happened, Hoyt-Schermerhorn.  Something happened.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

My Brain Isn’t Built for Math – Literally.

I’ve always had a problem distinguishing left from right.  I mean, I know the difference, but not in the sense that if you say, “Go left” I would automatically turn to my left.

I typically have to take a decent amount of time to process it, run mental tests, and then make sure I’m about to actually turn to the left.  

In other words, that knowledge is not innate.  It’s a constant struggle to remember. 

I’ve always just assumed this was some sort of weird quirk, one that I should just add to the pile of other countless quirks I possess.  But after doing some late night Googling, I discovered something that was not only amazing, but most definitely would have been beneficial to know when I was growing up.

Seems legit.
Because I have an English degree and I like to write and do all sorts of other creative things, I typically joke that I’m just plain bad at math.  In the sense that because I excel at these other things, there’s just no room in my brain for math, hence my inability to do even the simplest problems.  (I mean, I literally have issues with basic subtraction.  No seriously.  And carrying numbers over?  Forget it.)

I have to write even the most elementary math problems on paper, or better yet, use a calculator.  You see, I can’t visualize numbers.  It’s as if my mind’s eye is blind to them.  Put it this way, if you were to say, “What’s 100 minus 37?” and asked me to mentally tell you, I couldn’t—at least not in a reasonable amount of time. 
When I go to think about it, the numbers sort of just fade out from the mental picture.  It’s kind of like mathematical Whack-a-Mole in there.  The numbers just fade in and out until I just finally grab a sheet of paper and write them down so I can plainly see them.  

Additionally, I’ve always had a harder time reading analog clocks.  I remember this issue clearly in about Kindergarten when we were learning to tell time.  I couldn’t freaking do it.  And many times to this day, I transpose the time (mix up the big and little hands), or have to count by 5’s to know what time it is if it’s not on the 12, 3, 6, or 9.  Thank goodness for digital.

So what do knowing my right from my left and not being able to do math have to do with each other?

It’s a learning disability called Dyscalculia or Math Blindness.  It’s basically Dyslexia, but with numbers.    

Well, not just numbers, also sense of direction and time, and a bunch of other things that I’ve always had issue with, but just thought it was because I was just kind of, well, uncoordinated or bad at.  

For example, in high school I was a cheerleader.  I always hated learning new cheers and moreover I hated learning the choreography for the yearly dance number.  I had a hard time following the moves.  More often than not, if the instructor would do a move with her right arm, there my left arm would go, flailing about, sticking out like a sore thumb.  It used to drive me crazy---and when I’m trying to learn a new workout routine, it STILL drives me crazy.  My brain just can’t pick it up as fast as other people. 

Another trait of Dyscalculia is not being able to put names with faces.  This is why I typically fail to introduce people to each other, because I fear I won’t recall their names properly.  Dyscalculics will typically call people the wrong name, but will remember the first letter of the name (for instance, referring to a guy named Bob as “Bill”), which I find myself doing quite often.

Wanna know a secret?  I’ve been on an improv team for over a year, and I STILL have a hard time remembering the Toms and the Tims.  Even though I know these people super well.  And I avoided calling Laughs by his first name for quite some time because I was afraid I’d screw it up.  Of course, once I truly get to know people, that issue goes away, but they’ve gotta be a regular fixture in my everyday life for that to happen. 

Of course, I’ve self-diagnosed my Dyscalculia.  Firstly because when I was in school, no one really knew what it was and secondly because I see no reason to actually take myself to a doctor and get a note.   So unless I find myself in a job or situation where this information would be helpful to me being successful or for a boss or  partner to be aware of it, I’ll probably just remain self-diagnosed.  

The funny thing is, I actually feel better knowing that there’s a legitimate neurological issue at play, and not that I’m just absent-minded, forgetful, or incompetent.  In high school Algebra class, I felt like the biggest idiot in the room.  No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t get it.  Especially with tests.  I remember my teacher looking at me some days, like, “What the fuck is wrong with you?!  How are you not getting this?  Are you not trying?”  

But I did try.  Until I finally just gave up.    I mean, I’d tested into the non-credit math class.  

I wanted to blog about this because it took 30 damn years to figure it out.  And also if  we’re ever hanging out, and I motion to the right when I’m talking about my left…just let it happen.  I can’t really help it.  But feel free to point it out so I can correct myself.  

If you’re interested in reading more of the symptoms, I’m putting them below.  I have all of them, with the exception of the last one (although I couldn’t take stats or keep score at a baseball game.  But chess?  Dude.  I rock at chess.  Believe this.).  And if you know me in real life, you'll recognize how many of these do apply.

The cool thing is, I just look at is as something that makes me inherently me, not a disability, but more like, the Universe wanted me to focus on my strengths, like writing and creativity, so my brain wasn't built with the ability to comprehend math and such as strongly.  And if that's not a cue to follow my dreams, I don't know what is.

  • ·  Normal or accelerated language acquisition: verbal, reading, writing. Poetic ability. Good visual memory for the printed word. Good in the areas of science (until a level requiring higher math skills is reached), geometry (figures with logic not formulas), and creative arts.
  • · Difficulty with the abstract concepts of time and direction. Inability to recall schedules, and the sequences of past or future events. Unable to keep track of time. May be chronically late.
  • ·  Mistaken recollection of names. Poor name/face retrieval. Substitute names beginning with same letter.
  • ·  Inconsistent results in addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Poor mental math ability. Poor with money and credit. Cannot do financial planning or budgeting. Checkbooks not balanced. Short term, not long term financial thinking. Fails to see big financial picture. May have fear of money and cash transactions. May be unable to mentally figure change due back, the amounts to pay for tips, taxes, etc.
  • ·  When writing, reading and recalling numbers, these common mistakes occur: number additions, substitutions, transpositions, omissions, and reversals.
  • ·  Inability to grasp and remember math concepts, rules, formulas, sequence (order of operations), and basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts.
  • ·  Poor long term memory (retention & retrieval) of concept mastery- may be able to perform math operations one day, but draw a blank the next! May be able to do book work but fails all tests and quizzes.
  • ·  May be unable to comprehend or "picture" mechanical processes. Lacks "big picture/ whole picture" thinking. Poor ability to "visualize or picture" the location of the numbers on the face of a clock, the geographical locations of states, countries, oceans, streets, etc.
  • ·  Poor memory for the "layout" of things. Gets lost or disoriented easily. May have a poor sense of direction, may lose things often, and seem absent minded. (Remember the absent minded professor?)
  • ·  May have difficulty grasping concepts of formal music education. Difficulty sight-reading music, learning fingering to play an instrument, etc.
  • ·  May have poor athletic coordination, difficulty keeping up with rapidly changing physical directions like in aerobic, dance, and exercise classes. Difficulty remembering dance step sequences, rules for playing sports.
  • ·  Difficulty keeping score during games, or difficulty remembering how to keep score in games, like bowling, etc. Often loses track of whose turn it is during games, like cards and board games. Limited strategic planning ability for games, like chess.

    For more information on Dyscalculia: