What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stranger

Life Lessons in the Small Print October 26, 2018

There are certain things people don’t remember to teach you. Like don’t put the lash glue on your eye, put it on the lashes. Turkeys and chickens are not the same. Don’t give birds soda.

All kinds of little life lessons we have to stumble through as a right of passage on our path to true competency.

One lesson I had to learn the hard way was about sunscreen.

I was probably fourteen, so still a respectable age to be this dumb, and I was going to the ocean on a summer camp trip. The plan was to spend the whole day on the beach, including a picnic lunch. We had been woken up at some ungodly hour to be put on a bus and had all fallen right back to sleep. The counselors woke us back up when we were about five minutes from the ocean and told us to put on our sun screen now, then take only our beach towels off the bus since they were taking care of water and lunch.

I was young and dumb and followed their instructions. I slathered on my sun screen, left everything but my towel behind, and as soon as the bus stopped I ran right for the ocean. I kicked my shoes off and dove right on in.

Sounds like an idyllic scene from a movie, right? (more…)


The Secret of Life (Rated PG-13) July 10, 2018

Gather round and listen to my words of wisdom on how to succeed and find joy in life.

Don’t be a dick.

Really that’s what it boils down to.

People need help? Don’t be a dick, lend a hand.

Person is having a terrible day? Don’t be a dick, see if you can cheer them up.

You having a bad day? Don’t take it out on other people, that counts as being a dick.

See other people having a good time and not hurting anyone? Don’t be a dick, leave them alone.

It’s really simple: look at a situation, see which course of action makes you a dick, pick something else to do with your time.

Now, everyone is human. Believe me, I get it. We all slip up and pull a dick move at some point in our lives.

But you know what? You can do something truly non-dickish and apologize for being a dick and work really hard on not being a dick again.

It’s like magic.

Or the Golden rule.

Don’t be a dick to others, because it sucks when people are a dick to you.

So in those moments when the waitress is busy, when traffic is bad, when you feel like you should possess world domination but your place is as a lowly minion: don’t be a dick.

(We could toss in things about spreading love, working hard, and living your life so you’ll be missed when you’re gone, but let’s not get complicated here.)

Bottom line: Don’t be a dick.


Just a Gig April 27, 2018

Filed under: Tales of Humanity's Imperfections — meganorussell @ 12:30 pm
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I learned a very important lesson a lot of years ago. A job, no matter how beloved and how consistent, is nothing more than a gig.

What can a gig do?

  • Pay you
  • House you
  • Provide artistic fulfillment
  • Allow you to excel in your field
  • Maybe—if you’re super lucky and found a unicorn job—give you health insurance

Those are all pretty great things. I mean, food and housing are vital to life. Assuming you’re working in a field of your choice, getting a chance to work is great, and delving deeper into your profession is excellent.

But here are the things a gig can’t do: (more…)


Life Lessons with Megan February 16, 2018

Filed under: Tales of Humanity's Imperfections — meganorussell @ 12:51 pm
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Right now, in my current state of life, I am living on a tour bus (traveling through Texas with no A.C. at the moment) working on a ton of book projects, trying to figure out what my post-tour life is going to look like, and dealing with all the real life things that being an adult requires. It’s crazy, and exhausting, and can be absolutely amazing.


And can leave you scrambling to find a battery-powered fan for when the bus gets too hot for your weak little Lupus lungs to handle.

But in general, it’s all workable. Day to day, sleeping under a bus seat, answering a ton of emails, writing a new book, trying to be a good friend and relation, it can be done.

Here’s the thing. (Please imagine me pulling my soapbox out of my suitcase)

You may not take out your trauma, drama, bad day, or illness on other people. You can’t.

You can ask for help. You can ask for understanding. You cannot use others as a scapegoat, emotional punching bag, or vomit sack for your own problems. (more…)


A Problematic Pie December 17, 2016

Sometimes the biggest deal can happen over the smallest thing… like pie.

One of my summers in beautiful Alaska, our food situation got strange. There were issues with different companies, such as who owned what building, but the end of the mess found us all eating family dinner at the theatre every night. It was awesome! The chef for the theatre made us a special meal, and we didn’t even have to go anywhere for it!

A bit into the summer, the chef decided to give us a treat and ordered us some pies. And the pies became a bi-weeklyish tradition. They came in a variety pack. I don’t remember all the kinds, but I know that the one we liked best was the cookies and crème pie. We would save that one for last or use it for someone’s birthday. It was great, a super awesome treat we all looked forward to. Until the sad day the cookies and crème pie was missing. (more…)


The Teacher and the Ticket April 25, 2015

Hello again! This is Christopher Russell posting for Megan today. She’s not feeling well and hasn’t been for a couple of days, so I’m letting her sleep in while I take over once again.

In high school, I spent almost all of my free time with two teachers: my choir director and my theatre director. I was constantly in plays or getting ready to perform some concert either with my regular choir or with the show choir (and I wonder why my mom thought I might be gay). Anyway, some of my best memories stem from those relationships. As do some of the best stories I have. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to witness this event first hand, but I think you’ll enjoy it all the same.

My choir director, who we’ll call Mrs. E, and her daughter were driving back from a rodeo. (I grew up in Tennessee, and her family was really into everything to do with horses.) They were singing along with the radio, which was cranked up about as high as it could go, and eating ice cream. When Mrs. E came to a stop sign, she did a bit of a rolling stop, not quite coming completely to rest before pressing on the gas again.

She and her daughter continued on this way for a while until Mrs. E looked up into her rear view mirror and noticed flashing lights. She had no idea even how long she had been followed by the officer but pulled over obligingly.

The officer waddled out of his car and over to her window. She rolled it down, all the while giving her most winning smile.

“Ma’am, do you know why I pulled you over?” The officer asked.

“No, sir,” she politely replied.

“Well, you’re supposed to come to a complete stop at a stop sign, ma’am.”

“I’m sorry sir, you’re absolutely correct, and I didn’t realize that I hadn’t.”

After this, the officer wrote something on a little pad of paper and then handed to Mrs. E. She took it, and all appearances of politeness washing away said, “Two-hundred dollars?! Is that your quota for the day? Can you go have your donut now?!”

I have since been pulled over five times while driving, usually for things like licence plate lights being out, but I’ve never been ticketed. Thanks for the lesson in how not to talk to a police officer, Mrs. E!


The Leadership in the Leads February 9, 2015

Filed under: Hi-Ho the Glamorous Life — meganorussell @ 8:32 pm
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All right, folks. It’s time to air my bitter, old chorus girl. I’ve been in a lot of shows. I’ve been on stage a lot of times. I am overwhelmingly grateful for all the shows I have been privileged enough to perform in and all the wonderful actors I have been able to work with. Even the shows that I never, ever want to do again put me where I am today.

But there are some actors I could live without. Surprisingly, it has very little to do with dancers who are bad at partnering or singers who insist on belting every note in a show. It’s the divas. The leads who ruin a production. (more…)