When It Happened To Me

Content warning: The following post discusses sexual assault in detail.

It was July 2015. I was living in an apartment with a roommate I had met online. Things were going fine between my roommate and I. About a week or so before this, he had a friend come stay with us. I say a week or so, because I can’t remember specifically when he first came to stay with us. Funny how that happens, isn’t it? Dumb details like that get lost.

I vaguely remember what I was doing that night before I came home. I know I was hanging out with friends. Years later, and I can’t remember which friends I was hanging out with the night it happened. I know I was drinking. And I know I must have come home in a strange mental headspace. I know this because when I got home, instead of going right up to my room, I stayed downstairs and chatted with my roommate’s friend. He was drinking and offered me a shot and I said yes. We chatted for a little while longer. I remember flirting a little bit with him. I figured it was harmless.

I remember getting tired and going up to bed. I remember taking my contact lenses out. I remember getting into bed and falling asleep.

What happens next is extremely hard for me to talk about. So instead of writing it out and reliving it again, I will simply leave you with the text I sent my best friend in the world afterward.

“I know it wasn’t rape”. “…gonna go to the hardware store to see if there’s a way to put a lock on my door.”

Right there. I was already blaming myself for not doing enough or not doing more. Instead of leaving or talking to the authorities, I just wanted to put a lock on my door. I was scared. I was so scared that my immediate first thought was “What can I do to not let this happen again?”

Luckily, so so luckily, I was in therapy at the time. I called my therapist that day. Without her help, I would have never been able to truly recognize what happened to me. Without her help, I would not have understood that I did not give consent and that I was assaulted. She encouraged me to share what happened with some of my friends that I wasn’t planning on telling. I was planning on telling a very select number of people about this and then I was going to take it to my grave. I was so ashamed and embarrassed. I thought I should have done more to stop it. I thought I should have fought back or said no. All I did was freeze and let something happen to me.

My therapist is the one who convinced me to move out of that apartment. That’s how frozen I was. I wasn’t even going to move out of the apartment where I was assaulted. My therapist is the one who convinced me to go to the police. I wasn’t going to because I thought that they would tell me because I didn’t say “no”, that I gave consent and was trying to file a false police report. I thought they would try to get me in trouble.

So if you ever find yourself asking “why didn’t she report?” Please remember me. Remember that my fear of not being believed ran so deep that I thought the police were going to turn around and try and charge me with something.

Walking into that police station was one of the hardest and most terrifying things I’ve ever done. I was lucky that a friend of mine came with me and sat with me through the entire thing; reassuring me that he believed me and that I was doing the right thing.

The police listened to me, took my report, and took any “evidence” I may have had: the text messages I may have sent, my sheets from my bed, and the underwear I was wearing that night.

I had to go give my report and statement at another place for sexual assault victims. It was like a therapist’s office but more formal and daunting. I can’t remember the name. I hated that I had to relive that moment over and over in the hopes that people believed me.

I moved out of that apartment within 72 hours of my friend finding out what happened. Over those days, I found it within myself to share what happened with a few more close friends and family members. I did not tell my Mom or my step-dad. I couldn’t bare the thought of putting my Mom through that.

So why am I writing about it now? Why am I airing what was perhaps the worst thing to ever happen to me? Because I am sick and tired.

I watched CNN for 9 hours yesterday. I watched Dr. Christine Blasey Ford recount what was the worst thing that had ever happened to her. And I saw Brett Kavanaugh lie and yell and lie again. I watched Republican senators spit in the faces of Dr. Ford, myself, and every other person in the world who has survived sexual assault. And now, they move to elect this man into the highest court in our country. It is shameful.

Oh, I should mention what happened with my police report. From what the police told me, they tried to question the man who did this to me and he immediately got a lawyer. Because of that, they weren’t able to question him like they wanted. About a year or more after I filed the report, I got a call from the Detective on my case saying that the Prosecutor didn’t feel there was enough evidence to press charges. I couldn’t prove hard enough that this man assaulted me. The only thing that brings me a shred of comfort is that this is now on his file. So god forbid, if he assaults another girl, and she is also brave enough to go to the police, my report will be there. Hopefully it will give her enough evidence to get the justice she would deserve.

Dr. Ford is being punished as well for not having enough “evidence”. She has testimony from her therapist and her husband corroborating her story but it’s not enough. Her house has two front doors because she doesn’t feel safe when she doesn’t have easy exits from her own home.

It is now more important than ever that you vote. Mid-terms are coming up and I beg of you: do not let what Dr. Ford did be in vain. Let your representatives know that this is unacceptable. And let them know that if they stand by while this administration moves to take a woman’s agency away from her, that you will vote them out of office. I beg of you. For Dr. Ford’s sake, for my sake, and for every person who has had the nightmare that is sexual assault thrust upon them, please do something.

Register to vote here

For Sexual Assault Victims

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How Dungeons and Dragons Keeps Me Sane in 2018

Guys, this administration sucks. I wake up every day with an immense sense of dread, wondering what the man who claims to be President has done to push us further and further away from sanity. My stomach turns every time I hear “Did you see what he tweeted?” “Did you hear what he’s doing now?” Every day, I clench my teeth wondering which marginalized group he’s going to go after next. I donate money that I’d usually spend on food or bills to the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, RAICES, or whichever Democratic representative I feel will actually try to stop this man (What up Kamala Harris, Chris Murphy, and Aunt Maxine!). I am so overwhelmed by everything that it MAKES ME WANT TO SCREAM AND TAKE A BASEBALL BAT AND GO LEMONADE ALL OVER EVERY SINGLE PERSON WHO IS ENABLING THIS MONSTER.

Okay. Sorry. Taking a breath.

Everyone talks about taking steps to self-care during times like this. But it’s hard to care about your own self when innocent children are being ripped away from their parents. It’s hard to care about yourself when people of color are being shot for no other reason than their skin color. I am a privileged, white, (albeit disabled) woman. Oftentimes, I feel like my self-care shouldn’t matter. I’m not going through the trauma of being separated from my family. I’m not getting called names in the street by angry, piece of shit racists. I’m not being denied basic human rights because of how I choose to sexually identify.

But, I do feel myself getting worn down. I feel myself getting exhausted from the constant barrage of bad news. And that’s when I see the importance of “self-care”. Because the minute I, or anyone else, gets too exhausted to care is when we lose the fight. That can’t happen. So, I’m going to share with you my absolute favorite, all time greatest self care method: I get together with 5 of my friends and we all sit around a table and pretend to live in a world of fantasy for 8 hours every weekend.

Dungeons and Dragons is saving my sanity in the wake of this administration.

About a year ago, my best friend, and top 5 favorite human of all time, Chris, told me he was going to start playing Dungeons and Dragons with another friend of ours (Cullen).  He asked if I wanted to come too. “Um, okay, but I have no idea what I’m doing or how to play”.

I tweeted this the first night we played almost a year ago.

Chris reassured me that no one else really knew what they were doing and that we’d all figure it out together. He told me that D&D is basically long form improv with dice and fighting. He explained the basic mechanics of the game to me which I will now attempt to explain to you:

You pick a race you want to play. Your choices range from elf, human, dwarf, halfling, tiefling (which are basically demons), orc etc. There are more but I feel some of you getting bored already so I’m going to move on.

Next, you pick a class which is basically your occupation or what you’re good at.  Want to wield magic and cast spells to crush your enemies? Why not be a sorcerer! Want to worship a mythical God and in turn, have that God grant you blessings and powers?  Cleric! Want to sneak around and murder people and steal things?  Go forth and be a Rogue, my friend!

And then you get a bunch of bonuses and stats depending on your class and race. So let’s say you’re a super charming Bard. Your charisma stat will probably be insanely high. So you’re probably going to be very good at persuading people to help you and give you things. But, you may not be the strongest player on your team because you want charisma to be your highest score. So maybe you have a +10 to charisma but -1 to strength. So let’s say you’re trying to convince a guard to let you talk to a Prince in some big city. The Dungeon Master will say “Make a persuasion check”. So you roll your 20-sided dice and you get a 6. That’s okay because you have a +10 to Persuasion so a total of 16! It works and the guard lets you talk to the Prince! The higher the roll, the more chance you’ll be successful at whatever you’re attempting. On the flip side, let’s say you get mad while drinking in a tavern and decide to try and flip the table. The DM will have you make a strength check. You roll a 6 again but you have a -1 to strength. So…5. You do not flip the table.

Okay Okay Okay! I feel you getting bored again!  Here’s a picture of Idris Elba being attractive:

Okay. So. Then, you create your character’s personality and backstory. One of my favorite parts of the game. In the year I’ve been playing D&D, I’ve created five different characters: a Halfling Rogue named Hythwandar, a Half-Elf Ranger named Khione, an Aasimar Barbarian named Winnie, a Halfling Druid named Echo, and a Halfling Ranger named Chase (my personal favorite of the five). Some of these characters I’ve only played for a one-shot game (Khione and Winnie) and then others I played (or am currently playing) for a few months (Echo and Chase).

So, you get to create this character and give them any sort of personality traits you want. And then you get to play them!!! As an actress, I’m in god damned heaven when I sit down and get to pretend to be Chase for six hours. But I feel like anyone could enjoy this aspect of D&D. For example, Chase doesn’t know about November 2016! Chase doesn’t have an electricity bill! Chase has a pet panther named Nox! Chase is LIVING MY DREAM. Is your dream to be a very confident human who hates authority but is also a master martial artist?? You can do that!!

And this is why Dungeons and Dragons is a great way to self-care. It’s extremely freeing to spend hours pretending to have completely different problems. And not only different problems, but different strengths. If Chase is sad, she can literally cast a spell called “Speak with Animals” and talk to her pet panther. Do you know what I would do to be able to talk with my dog and have him talk back when I’m sad?!! Do you know what I would do to have a pet PANTHER?! I would not speak to 90% of you ever again to get a pet panther. Don’t tempt me!!

Dungeons and Dragons is all about coming together with a group of people and doing whatever the hell you want. You could go around the “world” and simply try to help people. You can go around and simply just try and collect as much gold as possible and buy yourself so much cool shit.

D&D gives you such a sense of control and freedom when you might otherwise feel helpless in real life. One of my favorite things that happened during a game of ours is when we freed an entire population from enslavement. Our Tiefling Barbarian, Hell’ena (played by Roxy), discovered that an entire town was being held prisoner and traded as slaves. She informed the rest of us and do you know what we did? My Halfling Druid, Echo, freed the people as our Sorcerer and Bard (James and Chris, respectively) ABSOLUTELY OBLITERATED the bad guys. We left a town better than we found it. For a moment in our lives, good triumphed over evil! It felt fantastic even if it was just a moment of pretend in a fantasy world.

D&D also helps keep my personal demons at bay. I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression for reasons I won’t get into here. But since I started playing, I’ve noticed my demons have slightly quieted down. Not totally, but they don’t come around as often. I’ve taken some of my own issues and slightly given them to my characters: Echo, and more so, Chase. It kind of tricks my brain in a way. Instead of my brain saying “oh, *I* have this problem”, my brain says “Okay, Chase has this issue, how can she get through it?” And then I’m figuring out how to help Chase through it without overtly realizing that I’m helping myself through it.

And, to be honest, the greatest thing D&D has given me is a new family. I already considered Chris family, but I got a bonus of even more time with my friend. And I got to discover a new and hobby and game with him. I knew our Dungeon Master, Cullen, and his fiancée, Brooke, through friends and work. I’d see them at parties and gatherings but, until D&D, it never really went beyond that. Then we started playing and now they graciously let me spill things in their apartment every weekend. And, let’s be real, none of this would exist without Cullen. He puts together a story for us to play every weekend. He takes time to create a world for us to live in.  I will be eternally grateful to him for gifting us this game. Unless he kills one of our characters, then ALL BETS ARE OFF, PAL.  After we had been playing for about a month, Cullen invited his friends, James and Roxy, to play with us. I was SO nervous the first time I met them. I was so protective of our little game and outsiders made me want to wrap our game in a little bubble for no one to see. After the first night of playing with them, I remember Chris and I saying on the drive home “they were really nice!! I like them!!”. Now the six of us have played 34 sessions together. Roxy has become my D&D (sorority) sister. And James is one of my favorite people to interact with in game. He’s my buddy, Larry. We’ve all laughed together, cried together (my fault, sorry, Rox), and slayed monsters together. My life is infinitely richer having them in it.

I could honestly write 4,000 more words about what D&D means to me. I mean, I could write 2,000 words alone on how good it feels to buy new dice. And then I could write another 5,000 words on the show “Critical Role” and how that has changed my life. Critical Role is a show where a bunch of nerdy-ass voice actors play Dungeons and Dragons and the first campaign is all on YouTube if you have 400 hours to spare. We recently started streaming our games on Twitch if you’d like to check them out.

(This blog post was not at all meant to be a plug for our channel. To be honest, I forgot about it until about 40 words ago).

Anyway, I hope you have something keeping you sane during these frightening times. And if you don’t, I recommend getting together with a few friends, order some pizza, drink some beer, and pretend to fight a cloud giant for a few hours. You’ll feel better after you do.

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Hey Dad

Hey Dad,

It’s been a minute. Hope things are going well with you, wherever you are. I hope you’re somewhere with Grandma and Papou eating fantastic food. Maybe you meet Gordie Howe for lunch every once in a while. Maybe you and Soupy Sales host a radio show on Sundays. Or maybe you’re just gone and I’m talking to the void. But, even if I am just doing that, I’m going to keep at it because it makes me feel better. 

A lot has changed since you left. We had a black president. He was great. This next guy can rot. Everyone has a cellphone now. And we text message instead of doing that Nextel walkie talkie thing you were obsessed with.

Eddie works for the NFL. He’s worked for almost every single pro sport which is insane. He works so hard. He’s grown into a great man and an even better brother. Since we were kids, it’s often felt like us against the world. I am so grateful to have him in my life.


Oh by the way, the past three years, I’ve gotten really into basketball. I wish I had discovered my love for the game sooner, while you were still around. I wish I could sit with you and watch games. Maybe this past Christmas, we would have sat together and watched the Warriors/Cavaliers game. If I had to guess, I think you’d like Steph Curry. I mean, it’s hard not to. 



Eddie surprised me this year with a floor seat to a Warriors/Pistons game in Detroit. See what I mean about him being a great brother? It was in the top five best nights of my life. I love basketball so much now that I kick myself daily for never getting into sportscasting. It’s fun for me to discover a passion that you were passionate about too. Seeing shades of you in Eddie and I brings such a unique feeling of pride and sadness. It’s all we have now. Just shades and memories.

I told my friend, Bridget, the story about when we were at the bank, and a truck cut you off and you yelled “Nice cut, Chevy!” out the window. Hands down one of the most embarrassing moments in my life. But, in turn, it also made Bridget and I howl with laughter. So I guess my momentary embarrassment was worth the joy that story brought us.

Eddie, Shane, Britt and I are still as close as ever. You, Aunt Krysty, and Grandma and Grandpa really nailed the whole extended family time together thing.


 I’ll never forget that the minute you passed away, the only person I wanted to hug was Brittany. She’s one of the only people I tell everything to. You’d be so proud of the woman she’s turned into as well. We really fucking lucked out in the family department. Sorry for swearing.

There’s a new rapper named Chance. I really love him and I think you would too. Well, you’d like his third album. Probably not the first two. Anyway, there’s a line in one of his songs that goes “I got angels all around me; they keep me surrounded” and sometimes (even though it sounds super saccharine), that’s what my life feels like.





I don’t have a Dad anymore and that sucks. But I am lucky to be surrounded by so many people who love me. I hope that wherever you are, it brings you some level of comfort to know that. Also, I laugh so much, Pops. Like…so much.

I would shave years off of my own life if it meant I got to spend one more hour with you. I miss you and love you every day. “Oh, I can’t wait to see you again…it’s only a matter of time.

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How My Mom Became a Hillary Supporter and Other Thoughts

When I first sat down to write this morning, I planned on writing a post about becoming a late in life basketball fan. I was going to write about how much Klay Thompson, Steph Curry, and Andre Iguodala mean to me. But that can wait. That’s not what is important right now.

What’s important right now is Tuesday. On Tuesday, our country will decide who the next leader of the free world is going to be. If you’re reading this and you’re planing to vote for Hillary: hi! I like you. If you’re reading this and you’re planning to vote for Trump: um, hey. Are you okay? If you’re reading this and you’re undecided: Oye. You need to get your house in order and choose.

When it was announced that Hillary Clinton would be running for President, my hype was real. I even wrote a post about how excited I was to vote for the first female President of the United States. I dontated $3 (I’m poor, okay?!) to her campaign that very day. Then along came Bernie Sanders. My hype train switched rails and I was all in on Bernie. Then, our dude lost, and my hype train lost a bit of steam. “Ah, shit”, I thought watching Bernie’s concession in the kitchen of my Mom’s house in Michigan. But, I licked my wounds, and got behind Hillary. Because that’s what Bernie wants me to do and because I believe she will be a great President.

Our house has always been somewhat politically divided. My step-dad, Randal, has always been a far leaning liberal. When Obama first came on the scene, I’m pretty sure all of Randal’s Christmas gifts that year were Obama themed. I got him a calendar. A few years before that for Christmas, I got Randal “An Inconvenient Truth” on DVD. My Mom on the other hand, has had a tendency to lean Republican. She usually votes for a person more than a party. Randal and I tried desperately to get her on the Bernie train. Our family group texts were filled with pro-Bernie links, begging she and my brother to get onboard. When Kasich dropped out, she wasn’t sure what to do until one morning, on that trip home, I came groggily downstairs in search of coffee.

“Have you seen?!” she attacked me before I even entered the kitchen.

“What?” I said, probably still half asleep.

“Have you looked?! Did you know?!” She said, her volume raising. She was fuming with the righteous Mom anger that is only brought out for very specific circumstances.

“Mom, what are you talking about?”

Then her volume lowered but didn’t lose any of it’s fervor. “Have you seen what that man’s children do for FUN?!”

“Wha–” I was trying to rack my brain. What man? What children?

“There are pictures of Donald Trump’s children on one of those hunting trips in Africa holding a dead cheetah and elephants!!!” She paced around our living room; holding her phone. Her disgust could probably be felt within a 100 mile radius of our house.

“Oh. Yeah. I saw those a few months ago.” I stood on a stool in the kitchen finally pouring myself a cup of coffee.

“That is HORRIBLE. What kind of person does that? They think that makes them manly?! Shooting innocent animals for fun?! How DARE they. You want to be a real man?! Yeah, go to Africa without a gun and try and kill one of those animals for fun. Let’s see you do that.”

I couldn’t help but laugh to myself. My mom has always had a bleeding heart for animals. In her life, she’s probably rescued 10 cats, adopted a dolphin in Florida, and let my dog come live with her when my life in LA proved to be too hectic for him to stay here.

“RANDAL!” she yelled to my step-dad who had just come back into the house. “For the first time, we’re voting for the same candidate!!!”

She exited to our basement to get laundry and Randal looked at me puzzled. “She saw the pictures of Trump’s kids in Africa with the dead animals.”

“Oh.” Randal and I smiled at each other. We got her.

That’s how easy it was. All it took was one offense against something my mom truly cared about to convince her that she could never vote for that man. I’m sure, if she hadn’t seen those pictures, something else would have convinced her. Maybe it would have been Trump mocking the disabled reporter since she is the mother of two disabled children. Maybe it would have been when Trump called Alicia Machado “Miss Piggy” since my Mom is a woman who cares about other women. Maybe it would have been Mike Pence trying to jail gay men who try to obtain marriage licenses since my Mom has always been a supporter of the gay community. Maybe it would have been this or maybe it would have been that. I do not have time to list all of the horrible and vile things those men have said and done.

So, if you are still planning on voting for Trump, it tells me that you have listened and read all of those horrible things and none of them matter to you. As a woman, someone who is differently abled, an LGBTQ ally, and all around somewhat decent person; that hurts me. It truly does. I am so sorry if you are so unhappy with your life right now that you think a billionaire (maybe? where his taxes at?) can solve your problems. I truly am. You are willing to let a racist, ableist, narcissist with NO PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE be our President.

I love unresolved murders and mysteries. I listen to at least 4 different podcasts, I read all I can on them, I am an avid lurker on r/UnresolvedMysteries. I think I have a pretty good hold on how cases operate, what goes wrong, and how evidence should be handled. But keep in mind, I am an actress with a Theatre and Creative Writing degree. Let’s say your brother or sister goes missing. You are worried and don’t know what to do but you have a choice: you can go to the police and detectives who have YEARS of experience with these kinds of cases or you can come to me. Who would you rather let handle this case?

That’s not a strong example but it’s what I can think of. Yes, there are some corrupt detectives, but there’s also an entire group of people around to keep them in check. Or you can let me, a girl with no previous experience who loves to be the center of attention try and solve the case. Why is it that hard to see the right answer?

You can have your problems with Hillary. One candidate will never be able to represent every individual accurately. But what I don’t understand is how you can excuse the behavior of Trump and Pence. You are spitting in the face of immigrants, LGBTQ people, women, disabled people, veterans, etc. I am begging you. Show those groups and the rest of the world that we, as a nation, are on the right side of herstory.

 

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On the “M Word”

For whatever reason lately, the word “midget” has been cropping up all over the place. I feel like we had a good year where I didn’t hear it as often (once SNL’s “Stefon” skit was off the air) and I thought we were finally making some progress. Nope.

Every time the word comes up, little people (and average height advocates) like to say “Oh, it’s like the N word for little people”. First of all, let me start off by saying No. It is absolutely not. The N word has a violent, horrible history. The mere fact that I can write “midget” and not write the N word should prove that. (A point that will be reiterated further down). But I understand the desire to equate the “M word” with something. People need a way to explain what that word means to us and why it’s so hurtful to use.

I have a 27 year history with “the M word” and I am here to tell you that I have never once heard the word used in a positive light.

Whispers from children when I would run errands with my parents. “Oh look, it’s a whole family of midgets.” “Oh look at her, she’s a midget.”

When I was in elementary school, kids would taunt my friends and family with it. My cousin, Brittany, probably got the brunt of it or at least, she’s the only one who would tell me about it. “Oh, your cousin is a midget!” they’d say to her on the playground. This was always met with righteous anger from Brittany. “No, they’re dwarfs!! Don’t call them that!”

In Middle School, we read a poem in my sixth grade English class. It was about a carnival. I can’t tell you who wrote it or what the title was but I will never forget that the author used the word “midget”. My cheeks flushed red as everyone turned to me when the line was read out loud to see how I’d react. The teacher called me to her desk after class to see if I was okay. I remember quickly dismissing it and saying “I’m fine, no really, it’s okay.” But wondering to myself “If she knew that line was in the poem, why did she make us read it? Why did we have to read it out loud?”

In high school, when I would watch stand-up comedy specials with friends, I would always brace for the inevitable. There was always a chance that a comedian would make a little person joke and nine times out of ten, they would never use the word “little person”. Once again, I was back in sixth grade as my cheeks flushed and everyone looked at me. But I got faster; more resilient. I would feign extreme anger, pretend to flip a table, and walk out of the room.

As my love for musical theatre grew, I accepted The Last Five Years as a new favorite. There’s a line in “Summer in Ohio” where Cathy sings about performing with a “gay midget named Carl”. It is still to this day, in my top 5 favorite musicals, but I have to choose to love it in spite of the fact that it uses that word. Two years ago, a movie came out of the musical. I went to the theatre hoping that maybe, just maybe, they had changed the word since the movie would obviously be getting a much larger release. Nope.

John Mulaney is my favorite stand-up comedian but he has an entire bit in his special “The Top Part” about little people, using “the M word” and how it’s not as bad as the “N word”. Here’s the transcript:

“I was writing for an awards show once and I got into some trouble. I wrote a joke for this awards show that had the word “midget” in it. And someone from the network came down to our offices and he said to me ‘hey, you can’t put the word midget on TV’ and I said ‘I sure would like to’. And he said “No, midget is as bad as ‘The N Word’.’ First off, no. No it’s not. ‘Do you know how I know it’s not?’ I said to him, ‘because we’re saying the word ‘midget’ and we’re not even saying what ‘the N word’ is. If you’re comparing the badness of two words and you won’t even say one of them? That’s the worse word.” Also I don’t mean to gloss over what little people have been through in this country but you cannot compare the plight of midgets to African Americans. That is outrageous. Midgets were never enslaved unless you count the Wonka factory. So we get into this argument and we’re going back and forth and he says ‘you can’t put the M word on TV’ and I say ‘but I want to!” and he says ‘if you put that word on TV, there could be a protest of midgets on this building’ and I said ‘promise?'”

In college, an anonymous chat board was started about me. Saying how ugly I was and how all “the M words” needed to be purged and killed. They mocked my boyfriend at the time, saying that he must have some kind of fetish. People saying they were scared of me and didn’t like seeing me with my “bug eyes” at parties.

On Orange is the New Black this season, Morello (I believe) used “the M word” when talking about the munchkins in The Wizard of Oz. Instead of using it as a teaching moment, they simply let her use that word and move on. It should be noted that later in the season, a character uses the word “retard” and is told that that word is verboten.

I was crossing the street mere months ago, when a bicyclist rode by. “Look out, midget!” he yelled at me. Friends tell me stories all the time about people they meet using “the M word” and the fights they get into about it. They’ll try to correct someone’s behavior and the user of the word will argue with them about it. “Oh no, they like to be called that.” “It doesn’t matter what they want to be called, I was told it was ‘the M word'”.

Most recently, Rob Lowe used the “M word” when speaking at a function. I don’t have all the details, but apparently, someone tried to correct him and he didn’t listen. He continued on to say “hey, there’s always a place for you in Hollywood!” Mr. Lowe also had Ann Coulter speak at his Comedy Central Roast, so obviously, his judgement is flawed to say the least.

So cue up the Natalie Imbruglia, because I am TORN. These shows and people that I love continue to use a word I hate. These people I admire and look up to seem to only see me as a punchline. Do I continue to support them or do I protest them for their ignorance? I feel like once I start protesting, I’ll have nothing left to watch.

I ask you, can you look at all the ways that word has been used and still tell me that it’s not offensive? It’s used to demean. It’s used to separate us and treat us as oddities or objects….as freaks. And maybe I sound like a broken record, but I beg you, insert any other minority in my place. Would any of the above be considered even remotely acceptable? Little people are one of the last acceptable minority groups to be mocked. Oh, isn’t it just so hilarious that we’re not tall?

And whenever this debate comes up, people love to say things like “you are the one giving the word the power.””Take it back and own it so it can no longer hurt you”. I discussed this point with my friend, Bridget, yesterday. She said “Yes, but do the people who say things like that realize that words are the very foundation on which our society is built? No one other than you gets to decide when they can or cannot hurt.” My other friend, Nick, brought up a similar point when I discussed this with him. He said “Yes, okay, in an ideal world, that would happen. But we’re not there yet. The verboten words like “the N word” and “The [gay] F word” can be taken back by the groups that own them because we (as a society) have been taught of the damage that those words can do. We’re not there yet with “the M word” because people are still saying it so casually. We’re years behind being able to “take it back”.”

How do we combat this? How do we force a world that is hellbent on demeaning us to accept us as humans? In our actions. Cast little people in TV shows and in movies. NOT ONLY IN REALITY SHOWS. We are not your inspiration porn. Give us a narrative. Let comedians know that someone’s disability is not a punchline. Stop supporting places that are determined to keep us down like “Beachers Mad House”.

If someone uses “the M word” around you, try and have a dialogue with them. Be patient. I’ll be the first one to tell you that the patience part is the most difficult. If anyone ever uses a slur to demean a friend of mine, I get filled with a white hot rage that only tells me to kill them. So yes, the patience is hard, but possible. And if they still try to argue with you after you’ve corrected them, give me a call and put me on the phone with them. I’ll do the yelling.

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Why Hamilton Gives Me Hope for My Future

Ask anyone who has spoken to me the last five months about what I’ve been up to and the first thing out of their mouths is liable to be “Hamilton”. The second thing will probably be “I don’t know, eating? Ask her yourself”. Between the soundtrack dropping, starting a Hamilton centered Twitter account, and seeing the show, I have been ALL ABOUT the ten dollar founding father.  

Hamilton stage door my first day in New York.

 

In case you haven’t spoken to me in the last few months, allow me to give a brief summary: Hamilton is a new Broadway show about the life of the founding father, Alexander Hamilton. Written and starring Lin-Manuel Miranda (In the Heights), the show blends hip-hop and show tunes seamlessly while actually providing a pretty good history class. The show is groundbreaking for a number of reasons. The sheer density of lyrics and information it spits at you in almost three hours is dizzying. The show is an INSANE success with movie stars, Obama, and yours truly flocking to see it.

Daveed Diggs (Thomas Jefferson) and Lin-Manuel Miranda (Alexander Hamilton)

But what has stuck with me the most since learning of the show is the fact that Lin (I call him by his first name because we’re OBVIOUSLY BEST FRIENDS) chose to cast all people of color with King George being the only character played by a white guy.

“Miranda said that the portrayal of Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and other caucasian historical figures by black and Hispanic actors should not require any substantial suspension of disbelief by audience members. “Our cast looks like America looks now, and that’s certainly intentional,” he said. “It’s a way of pulling you into the story and allowing you to leave whatever cultural baggage you have about the founding fathers at the door.” He noted “We’re telling the story of old, dead white men but we’re using actors of color, and that makes the story more immediate and more accessible to a contemporary audience.””

The leading men of Hamilton: Leslie Odom Jr., Javier Muñoz, Anthony Ramos, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Oak Onaodowan, Daveed Diggs, and Chris Jackson

This show is a perfect example of why diversity matters. Why representation matters. And why things like race, sexual orientation, gender, height, etc. SHOULDN’T matter.

  
 

The Schuyler Sisters: Phillipa Soo (Eliza), Reneé Elise Goldsberry (Angelica), and Jasmine Cephas Jones (Peggy)

 
 

Hamilton has proven that fact with every single cast member. Daveed Diggs, a phenomenal black actor, singer, and rapper, plays Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson. And he absolutely murders the part. When he comes onstage, you never for one second think “oh, that’s so weird Jefferson is black” you think “HOLY SHIT, where has this guy been?! I like when he smiles! HOLD UP, is he rapping in a French accent?!” When Reneé Elise Goldsberry sings “and when I meet Thomas Jefferson, I’mma compel him to include women in the sequel” it carries more weight. Because even if, historically, Angelica Schuyler Church was white, those words carry more weight coming from a powerful woman of color. In a recent Ham4Ham show, the ladies of Hamilton performed “My Shot”, proving that it wasn’t only men who could could kill these parts.  

Daveed as Thomas Jefferson

 

Reneé as Angelica Schuyler

 

Since Hamilton hit, I’ve had so many people come up to me and say “wait, so it’s about the founding fathers but everyone is black?” And then I take a second and think to myself “oh, here we go, I’m going to have to defend this to an undercover racist”. But, people surprise me. I explain Lin’s reasoning for the casting and why it works. And 98% of the people I talk to have an overwhelmingly positive response about it. “Oh, that sounds so awesome! Makes sense!” And then the race element of the show is forgotten about. (Usually because I get way too excited and start yelling in their face. “I HAVE IT HERE ON MY PHONE DO YOU WANNA LISTEN TO IT?! MY FAVORITE SONGS ARE SATISFIED, TAKE A BREAK, WAIT FOR IT, WHAT’D I MISS. AND CAN I TALK TO YOU ABOUT ANTHONY RAMOS?! I CAN SING THE WHOLE THING FOR YOU IF YOU WANT, WHY ARE YOU WALKING AWAY?!!!”)

Hamilton has given me so much. It’s given me 17.8k Twitter followers (@hamiltonssquad NBD). It’s given me hours of joy and entertainment. It’s given me a chance to meet and thank the cast personally. 

 

Lin said I was “the funniest motherfucker on the internet” and my soul left my body for a few minutes.

  

I’m a very lucky girl. Special shoutout to Oak for getting me backstage after the show.

 

But you know what Hamilton has given me more than anything else?
Hope. It has given me hope. It proves to me that the tides are turning. It shows me that people are willing to accept casting choices that they may not have initially expected. They’re willing to get onboard with a George Washington who doesn’t look like the old man on our money. But, to be fair, I’d much prefer to look at Chris Jackson for three hours.

  

The reason I care so much about what people are willing to accept is because I’ve been told all my life that I may be one of those things people won’t accept on their screens or onstage. I’m a little person. I’m 4’2″ with achondroplasia dwarfism. I currently live in LA where I’m pursuing acting. Most recently, I was Frieda Ovitz in the off-Broadway production of The Lilliput Troupe in New York City. Again, no big deal, STOP ASKING ME FOR AUTOGRAPHS.

I am very poised and natural and sexy.

   

JUST KIDDING. THIS IS WHO I REALLY AM.

 

I’ve been told all my life that I couldn’t play certain parts because of my height. When I wanted to audition for West Side Story, I knew immediately that I had a much better chance of playing Anybodys than I did Anita or Maria. I wanted Anita but knew that it would be “funnier” if I was the sidekick. When I was in high-school, I was told that I couldn’t compete with my show choir because “it would look weird to have a little person dancing up there”. And for a long time, I believed all of it. It seems silly but I had nothing to prove these people or thoughts wrong. There were no little people on TV or on Broadway who were playing anything but a punchline. Peter Dinklage has managed to break through, but he’s the first to be taken seriously. And he’s only one man. 
 

EVEN HE LIKES HAMILTON.

  

So you can see why this show is so important to me. Because it proves what I’ve always known. We don’t have to stick to the status quo. America is different now; it’s changing. People are willing to accept a female Jedi, a black Hermione, and a deaf production of Spring Awakening. They’ll accept a Latino Alexander Hamilton and a black Stormtrooper. They just have to be given the chance to accept it. Or we have a responsibility to shove change and progress down their throats. Either way, it’s happening.

So, I have faith that the time will come when America will accept a female little person playing the lead on a sitcom or Mrs. Lovett on Broadway. That time will come and ya know what? I am not throwing away my shot.

  

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A Letter to 2012 Hollis

Hi kid!

So you’re moving to LA today!! Are you scared? Obviously, I already know the answer to that but, I feel that it’s polite to ask. How’s Mom doing?

imageI’m writing you from 2015. I know that doesn’t seem very far away and it may seem a little didactic but I feel like I have a few things I want you to remember over the next 3 years. Now, the whole “butterfly effect” thing terrifies me, so I’m not going to be too specific. Plus, ya know, spoilers. I’ve had some experiences that I would rather chop off my left wrist than lose, so try not to change too much. These 3 years are going to go by so fast. It’s really important to try and remember the following. Hopefully these will make you feel a little better about what’s to come.

Remember why you’re leaving

The Golden Globes were like a week ago for you, right?? And Peter Dinklage just won Best Supporting Actor? Remember how you were packing when you watched it and immediately started crying when they announced his name? Remember that feeling. Remember why you love acting. Remember that every dream anyone has ever had is a pipe dream until it’s executed. In about 6 months, some days are going to come where you will think you would be okay with leaving LA and pursuing something else. You would not be. In fact, you will fight tooth and nail to stay there. You will require help from everyone and they will give it to you. Appreciate it.

Let It Go

A movie is going to come out in a few years and you’ll get that reference. Download that album immediately. But more importantly, you have to learn to let some things go. I look at you in that picture and I can already see all of the things you won’t let go. That necklace, those earrings, even that cup. They’re just objects to everyone else, but you and I see something else; we see the person who gave them to you. You’re going to have to let them all go. You’ll decide when you’re ready. There will be days you will think you can’t and that you never will and the tears will come and you won’t be able to get out of bed. I see that girl and all I want to do is give her a hug. But so many better things and experiences are on their way, I promise.

Invest in bitcoin.

Just…trust me on this.

Eat with Mia whenever you can but maybe, avoid Ernie’s your second night there.

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You know Mia. You’ve known her since 2nd grade. Sure, you guys grew apart in high school and college, but then you were on Oz together and that can’t be a coincidence, right? She will become like another limb to you. She understands you and is patient with you and calls you out on your bullshit. Some of your happiest memories will be sitting in bed with her, eating and doing nothing. George had Jerry and Rachel had Monica. No one can last very long alone in a big city. But back to the Ernie’s thing…just because a restaurant has a good happy hour deal, that doesn’t mean that they won’t give you food poisoning. I don’t think it’ll butterfly effect too much if you don’t spend the night vomiting.

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You’re going to cry in public and you’re going to cry in public often. 

Your car will break down multiple times. You won’t be able to afford a lot of repairs. You will cry on the phone with your mom on Ventura Boulevard when you realize this. Boys will hurt your heart and you’ll cry. You’ll cry in the drive thru line at Jack in the Box. You’ll cry when you call Kerri at 3 AM because of said boys. You’ll cry in your car on Hollywood and Highland to the Les Mis soundtrack and a group of Asian tourists will wave to you. It’s better to just let it out whenever you need to. Plus it will help you learn to not care what people think as much! Win/win!

Be patient

I know we like to Veruca Salt “I want it now!” a lot of situations. But, baby girl, you have got to learn to be patient. I like to think LA traffic will help you develop this, but it’s doubtful. Things you want right now are coming to you but not in the way you always think. Just hold on.

Write that blog

I know you’re going to write it no matter what because you don’t like it when people are assholes and tell you you’re wrong and dammit, people need to hear what you think! But days will come when you might regret it. You’ll wonder if things would be easier if you had just kept your mouth shut. I can’t tell you that. But I can tell you that nothing is wrong with standing up for yourself and standing up for what you believe in. Sorry that last sentence was so cheesey.

Start watching Doctor Who now.

YOU’RE WELCOME.

Listen to Chris

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You know how you were crying really hard, like embarrassingly hard, exactly a month ago when Oz wrapped and Chris left to go back to LA and you thought you would never see him again? And he told you that you were being ridiculous? He was right. He’ll be right about more. And he won’t let you forget it. It’s a pain. But after you get through all that, one day you will look up and realize he’s one of your best friends. He’ll teach you a lot and take care of you. Be grateful every day that you have him in your life and he doesn’t get too annoyed when you sing Fall Out Boy or musical theatre. Also, no matter how hard you try, he will never watch Parks and Rec. Sorry.

Go to the bar when Chris invites you your second night there

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It’s the same night you get food poisoning, but that won’t set in until you get home. GOOD GOD, IF YOU DO NOTHING ELSE, GO TO THIS. You’ll meet James that night. He’s important to you. Remember that night. And a few weeks after that, at that same bar, you’ll meet Mark and Gil. At the risk of butterfly effecting again, just know that those 4 boys will become your family. The girl in the picture comes in a little later. Her name is Claudia. You’ll like her.

Don’t go to the hospital your first anniversary there

Listen. You and I both know how clumsy we are. It happens. On your first anniversary of living in LA, you’re going to fall off a barstool and bust open your chin…..even though you’re sober. Since I’ve told you this, you may want to avoid it, but don’t. You’ll be there with Chris and Mark. You’ll bleed everywhere and get a concussion. The boys will try and take you to the hospital, but your concussed brain prevents it. Because of that, you’re going to end up with a big scar on your chin. You’ll hate that it shows up in pictures and on camera but, also a part of you will love it. You’ll love it because you know no matter what happens, for the rest of your life, you’ll have that scar and it will remind you of your boys and LA and that you made it here at least a year.

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So you’re probably really annoyed at how long this is, but we’ve never been brief, have we 2012 Hollis? Good luck, today. I promise not all of LA looks like the bad parts of Koreatown you see when you follow Mia home tonight.

I love you and you’re going to be great. You’ve made it this far.

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