What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stranger

The Chatty Husband May 15, 2018

I have this thing about being in public. Sometimes, strangers talk to you. It’s a real problem for me.

I’m not an introvert by any means, but I don’t want to chat with the person behind me in line who compliments the voicemail I just left my mother. I don’t really want to know why the person on the plane next to me is flying to D.C. And I really, really don’t want to know why the awkward stranger in the coffee shop really loves any song.

I’m happy watching people without interacting. I’m totally fine with chatting with patrons after a performance. But I have a strong stranger danger button.

My husband, however, really likes chatting to people. All the damn time. We get stuck in hotel lobbies, waylaid by elderly women who want to detail exactly what we should try at the continental breakfast the next day. We spend extra time in rest stops hearing about how the gas attendant has never left their home state.

I mock him for it, I grumble at him when we run late because of it. But—and I really hate to admit this—every once in a while, he meets someone really cool.

I’ll let him tell you about it.

I stood in line at a Starbucks in Chicago the other day when a gentleman in his 50s or so cut the line. (more…)


Hear Me Roar! January 30, 2018

Filed under: Tales of Travel — meganorussell @ 12:30 pm
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Once upon a time, I had the best day ever in Dublin.


First of all, Dublin is great. There’s a big garden, tons of history, museums, great theatre. And Viking tours.

The husband and I were walking through Dublin when suddenly we heard these people roar. I squeaked and searched for the source of the sound. It was a duck boat filled with people in Viking helmets. I knew at that moment I needed to be on a Viking boat. I needed to roar on the streets of Dublin.

But the duck boat of Vikings drove away, and I didn’t know where they’d gone.

I resolved to continue with my Viking-less life, but my husband found wifi and Googled the starting location of the tour. I basically ran there, ready to give the man however many euros he wanted to let me on the boat.

The duck boat was actually from WWII. Like, Rosie the Riveter made the boat, which starts the whole thing off on a super awesome note. (more…)


Bumpersticker Besties May 7, 2016

Have you ever fallen in love at first bumpersticker? It happens to me all the time. Not like romantic love — I am married after all — but like you are my soul mate and we should backpack around the world together.

I see a bumper sticker of a pink ribbon that says “fight like a girl,” and I think, “Yes! Girls fight!” I agree with you. Be my friend.

I see a stick figure with six dogs, and I want to go play with their dog. Your car supports the politician I like: I want to have coffee with you. That Disney annual pass holder magnet means we should spend our whole lives in Disney world together.

If I’m stopped behind you at a red light, I start imagining the conversations we would have.

You like world peace?

I like world peace, too!

And then we jump in happy circles together. It’s amazing. It’s instant kinship!

If the red light is really long, I start imagining our lives together. We go sailing because that’s where you’d rather be. Then we drink beer because we both like that brewery. It’s a meaningful relationship.

Until the light turns green and you drive away, leaving me shattered, thinking of the things that could have been as you leave me behind. But then someone has a Mickey Mouse antenna topper, and I forget all about you and start all over again.


True Beauty for the Birds (Or Why Professional Actors Giggle) April 18, 2016

Life upon the wicked stage can sometimes be hilarious. I know that’s not how the song goes, and I probably shouldn’t find such extreme joy in things going wrong onstage. But I’m a terrible person, so I do.

Not when people get hurt or something costs the theatre thousands of dollars in damage. That’s not funny. But it’s the little things that bring me joy. Like fake birds playing dead onstage.

Right now I’m doing a show that has a big showgirl-style number with all of us in “bride” costumes. I have giant flower baskets on my hips, there’s a headdress that’s more than two feet tall on one of the girls, and one of the ladies has birds.

She has a birdcage on her head with two little (fake) white birds in it, and two white birds on each wrist.

We all tipped on at the beginning of the number, and everything was going fine, until the first time Bird Girl had to move her arms… and her birds got stuck together. All of us were posing prettily, and she had gotten handcuffed by birds. Of course, I had been trying desperately not to giggle already. To free herself, the Bird Girl ripped her wrists apart, tore the birds off of one of her gloves. But the birds didn’t fall to the ground. No, no. They got caught on the feathers hanging from her glove. And they stayed there, upside down, clinging on by their dead little feet while Bird Girl danced.

We got to a section where we were posing again, and in that stillness, the dead birds gave up on life and fell to the ground with a dull thunk. (more…)


Live Fiercely April 13, 2016

Filed under: Tales of Humanity's Imperfections — meganorussell @ 10:00 am
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I’m not perfect. I know it. I have an Irish temper and Polish determination. I’m not afraid of fighting for the people I care about and for what I believe in. And that makes some people mad.

Some people would rather live with a lie their whole lives than take an honest look in the mirror. Rather have a half-relationship with someone than risk a little pain to know someone all the way.

It’s tragic. Really horribly tragic. To be more attached to your entirely false sense of security than to the people around you.

Sweep things under the rug long enough, and you’re just going to trip over them.

I have a wonderful husband and family. I have friends who have become family, and faraway places that have become home. And do you know what knowing that many different people teaches you? That you can’t ignore truths. You can’t pretend there is no crack in the wall. That’s how the demons get in.

What does all this have to do with anything?

Live fiercely. Get messy. Love someone too hard. Dance in the spotlight, run through the rain. Hug a person you love and love them warts and all.

And if someone isn’t willing to love the honest you, walk away. Life is too short for pretense.

Find a story that is beyond exaggeration, and make it your own.


Of Love and Soup March 5, 2016

Filed under: Starting Off Strange — meganorussell @ 10:00 am
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The husband and I got together when we were super young. So young, in fact, it’s a little amazing that we still like each other so darn much.

We met freshman orientation week, and other than one moment of temporary insanity on his part, we have been together ever since.

And it’s mostly because of a can of soup.

I’ve never claimed to be able to cook. In most cases, I’m considered a hazard. Since I spend so much of my time studiously trying to avoid anything kitchen-ish, I don’t usually travel with kitchen things, and this habit started all the way back in college. I had a full meal plan and only a mini-fridge in my room. So other than cereal and one unfortunate run in with a jiffy pop, I let the cafeteria ladies do the cooking.

Until my boyfriend got sick. He got one of those throat-rattling, fever-inducing colds that seem to thrive in college dorms and cast houses.

There was nothing the campus health clinic could really do for him, so he just had to wait it out, suffering in his room.

I knew that he was feeling awful, so I decided to bring him a can of soup from my emergency supplies. I even had a bowl and a spoon! And they were clean! (more…)


A Contraversial Conundrum February 27, 2016

Filed under: Tales of Humanity's Imperfections — meganorussell @ 10:00 am
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Sorry, guys, this one is about to get a tiny bit controversial.

I was raised in a Christian-ish household. Not that it was ever something that really needed to be declared or memorized (like my address and phone number in kindergarten), but I was sent to Sunday school and to church camp. I went to a Methodist university and made it through a whole semester of liturgical dancing before I had to run away from the flowy white costumes.

But here’s the thing…

I just don’t get it. I don’t get why Christians need to fight over denominations. I don’t get why Protestants need to fight with Catholics. That would be like One Direction saying that Michael Jackson wasn’t a pop singer. He was there first. Why try and take a word away from him?

I don’t understand why symbolism that was taken from cultures far older than western religions needs to be argued about. Does it matter if it’s the crown of the sun god or if a halo is an absolutely original creation? Winter solstice and Christmas were made to line up together, so why hate solstice?

Condemning what someone else believes doesn’t actually make your beliefs any stronger. You pray the rosary, your neighbor prays to Mecca. And? Where does the problem come in here? (more…)