A day of lasts: At the beginning of the pandemic

Forgive me, as today begins the long list of memories that are about to flood my social media accounts.

One year ago today, I took my last in-person improv class. I stayed until midnight for the optional student jam to get one last class in. We played a game called elbows and wrists, in which we could only touch our peers using elbows and wrists, a way to “acclimate” to new touching procedures that may be implemented.

One year ago today, I hugged the last stranger I’d ever hug. She was a friend of my nephew, and I’m a hugger. We were at my aunt’s new house, celebrating her move home.

One year ago today, I ate inside a restaurant for the last time. I met my friend, Kristen for dinner before my class. We only talked briefly about the pandemic in hypothetical terms and not in a we’re living in the end times way. We both knew something was coming and a lockdown was inevitable, but we weren’t sure what, when, or how.

One year ago today, I got dressed in one of my favorite Disneybounds to date, a gorgeous belted dress/top ensemble with a baller accessory game.

Chrissy Disneybounding as EVie from The Descendents wearing a blue dress and belt with black leggings and an evil queen purse.

I didn’t wear a mask. I didn’t carry hand sanitizer or Clorox wipes in my purse. The phrase, “social distancing” was only just starting to rear its ugly head. Hand sanitizer was made available, and I knew that even if we had an in-person class the following week, I wouldn’t be there.

I was already nervous, worried more about my family than myself, and preparing for my own personal lockdown. Much of the last year has been an introspective journey for me, and I know that I’ve learned a lot about who I am, and who I want to be.

But I wish I could bottle that last night in a jar, take it out and consume its essence. It was representative of everything my life was in the Before Times. Performance and play, dress-up, friendships, restaurant meet-ups, and family. Sure, all of those are still a part of my life, though some in a vastly different capacity. I knew it was going to be a long time before the world resumed as it had been, but I never realized the little things I would miss, or the memories, tiny bright sides, and glimmers of hope I would cling to in the darkest moments of the year.

The day I got in my car, drove to a parking lot nearby and sobbed for an hour. I finally called my mom, and she told me to come over. I played with my toddler niece and felt that rush of joy I had been missing.

Toddler niece surrounded by toys in a backyard patio

The Easter Brian and I spent alone, the first and hopefully only holiday we ever spend without family, brightened by the nicest bottle of bubbles we had in our wine rack and a feast for 10, for 2.

Easter dinner with lamb roast, vegetables, rolls, salad, sweet potato casserole, and champagne.

The two weeks we should have spent in Italy, spent instead trying out local Italian patios and take out orders and relaxing waterside in my blow-up kiddie pool.

Chrissy twirling in front of a mural in downtown Naperville with the caption "twirls in 'Italy' (Naperville)"

The Halloween without our annual party, made just a little more festive by the small single household of friends who came for an outdoor fire.

The Christmas not spent surrounded our extended and immediate families, made a bit lighter by getting drunk with my parents while watching White Christmas and eating mostly carbs.

Brian and Chrissy masked and drunk on Christmas

All the while planning, dreaming, and hoping. Learning what I’m not willing to give up and what it’s time I say goodbye to. It’s been the longest year, and it’s been shitty at the best times.

2.63 million people have died. We can’t change that. There’s no positives to that. Millions of families have lost loved ones to the virus. That doesn’t have a bright side.

But we have a vaccine. We have hope. And we have a future.

It’s okay to find a bright side, as long as you remember that your bright side might not be the same as someone else’s. And it’s okay to be depressed and negative. And it’s okay to mourn your past life. It’s okay to feel all the feels. But it’s not okay to negate the feelings of others.

So feel how you feel, and try to remember to have some compassion for people whose experiences are different than yours. Your empathy might save someone’s life.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

A playful year of fun and magic

If you’ve been here for a while, you already know I’m not a fan of traditional New Year’s resolutions. A few years ago, I even came up with a monthly list of ways to dominate next year without a typical resolution, which I continually utilize as a guide for success.

Now a lot of people who don’t do traditional resolutions like to choose a grounding word that they use to guide them through the year. I’m not that type of girl. I’m more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-skirt gal, myself. Instead, I choose to label my year as it begins to play out or even at the end of the year. And this year was so perfect, you guys. I mean, not everything goes according to plan and things change and resolutions are hard to follow, but wrapping up your year with a bit of positive energy never hurt anyone.

And so I thought I’d tell you how I categorize my years.

In previous years, I’ve had The Experimental Year, a year of trying different stuff in the world of dating and boys, which was also the year that ended in a chance meeting with a handsome Irishman at a bar. I’ve had the Storytelling Year, in which I asked myself, “Will this make a good story in the morning?” and if the answer was yes, I did it, regardless of whether it was a “good” or “bad” idea. I’ve had good years and weird years and even bad years (like the Year I Didn’t Feel Good Enough; though I also came away smarter and more ready to tackle the world than ever before). And I always try to find the positive spin to the end of the year instead of wishing it away like just another fucking zit. (Side note: I hesitated in linking the aforementioned piece because there was a surprising amount of backlash to it. And that backlash made me want to stop writing, but I won’t self-censor any longer because that post wasn’t specifically about 2016. It was about every year.)

I take the biggest changes, most exciting adventures, and my highlight reel and try to find an underlying theme. This year started shaping itself before I even realized it was shaping. And it all started with a fake resolution.

I play games

At the beginning of this year, I thought I’d be cheeky and come up with a ridiculous New Year’s resolution. I made three. Two of which I’ll actually hit. 

  1. Play 365 games
  2. Play 100 DIFFERENT games (so that some of those 365 could be repeats)
  3. Play at least 25 different games that we own and have never played

Number one…that one is probably not going to happen. Unless we can play like 200 games in the next 3 days. Doubtful. But that’s okay. I had fun.

Number two…I have six more games to play. MUCH more doable.

Number three…DONE. Well, at least we made it through several of our untouched boxes (of course, we also bought a few new games…)

Silly resolution aside, gaming was a good start to a truly magical year.

I played in a Dominion Tournament at GenCon. I lost, but I had lots of fun!

I played in a Dominion Tournament at GenCon. I lost, but I had lots of fun!

I play with video

I’ve been dabbling with some different video styles on YouTube. I started a few things that could absolutely become the first of their own series (C-Rex Adventures, 60 Seconds of Chrissy), but we’ll have to see where 2019 takes us! It’s all in good fun which, for me, is super important. I can’t take myself too seriously, guys.

T-rex costume reaches for a ball at the bowling alley

I play dress up

In March, I took on something called The Disneybound Challenge. Every march, an Instagrammer/Blogger runs an Instagram photo challenge for people who DIsneybound (for those of you not in the know, this means dressing like Disney characters, something I apparently have a knack for. I nailed it for 31/31 days and continued to play dress up throughout the year (today, I’m wearing an outfit inspired by Moana’s Hei Hei).

This is a Disneybound of Olaf. The "buttons" are actually Olaf disney trading pins.

This is a Disneybound of Olaf. The “buttons” are actually Olaf disney trading pins.

I play pretend

In April, I began training at The Second City Training Center. In March, I’ll finish a year of improvisation and “graduate” from the A-E improv program at SCTC. Since August, I’ve performed in eleven shows (all student shows, but performances on Second City small stages nonetheless), with at least seven more shows before March comes to an end. When you’re improvising, you’re basically doing what small children do in free play — you make up stories. Sometimes you’re the mom. Sometimes you’re the baby. Sometimes you’re an accountant named Stan. But always, you should be having fun playing with your castmates and classmates.

Level D show photo from Second City Training Center Chicago

These crazy kids (a few of my SCTC loves are missing from this photo) give me life, you guys. This is one of the best things I’ve done for myself. And I’ve been saying that a lot lately.

I play house

Sometimes, I even pretend to be a grown up with my Grown Up. We have a really neat house that I have spent a lot of time in this year (thanks to the job quitting and the new puppy). I may make a terrible housewife, and I’m a horrible housekeeper, but I am good at playing house. You know. Pretending to be good at those things. On social media. And when we host parties. But definitely not in real life. There are rooms in my house where the clutter goes to die. I’m trying to fix that, but it’s a lot harder to get rid of clutter than I thought.

 

 

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I play with my hair

After years of planning and scheming, Kaitlyn and I finally took the plunge and dyed my hair hot pink. (Kaitlyn is my incredible stylist. She’s pure magic). We started with a super sweet gentle pink, and now it’s this hot pink, bold AF shade that I cannot get enough of. I’m never* looking back.

This poor man. I fangirled John Grogan so hard I cried. He is, though, one of the writers that made me want to be a writer, so I think a little obnoxious fangirling was to be expected.

This poor man. I fangirled John Grogan so hard I cried. He is, though, one of the writers that made me want to be a writer, so I think a little obnoxious fangirling was to be expected.

I play with puppysaurus rex

Adopting a puppy was one of the craziest things we did this year. Not only did this furball full of love and ENERGY enter our world, she dominated it. There is something magical about a creature that wakes up with the sun and says, “It’s time to play!” She naps when she’s tired and wants to play the other 77% of the day. This is a lifestyle I can get behind. Now if only her version of play was the same as mine. Unfortunately, two black lips and a few deep scratches later, we’ve learned the importance of training our sweet girl (but we always train with games and play and toys and treats instead of negative consequences. And boy does she love toys and treats! (I think I may have spent more on Nia’s Christmas than Brian’s…don’t tell Brian).

A sleeping puppy on your tummy is probably one of the greatest things ever.

A sleeping puppy on your tummy is probably one of the greatest things ever.

I play Disney (and that other park with Harry Potter [ and that OTHER park with Bugs Bunny])

After immersing myself so heavily in Disney Instagram, I became obsessed with needing to get back to the parks. I wanted to knock Dapper Day off my bucket list and asked my pal Laura if she wanted to go. When she said yes, I booked a hotel for November and started planning. When my cousin invited Brian and me to visit Universal Studios with him and his wife in October, it sealed a deal I made in my head. I was going to get an annual pass to Walt Disney World. (If you go more than once, the price of the pass is worth it (especially with added discounts and perks and such). I was lucky and able to use credit card points to reimburse my Disney pass purchase, so it was essentially “free” in my head, which makes it all the more logical. To me. And so I visited the happiest place on earth twice in a matter of two months, catching both the Halloween and Christmas seasons. And then…just for fun…because it’s close to home and the season pass was so cheap…we got season passes for Six Flags (Great America, but we can go to any of them with the pass). I guess I’m kind of a theme park addict…

Magic Kingdom Disney Photopass hub grass Cinderella Castle

Playing on the hub grass in front of Cinderella Castle seemed like a great idea.

And so with that, I give you Chrissy’s Year of Play. In which I truly embraced my inner child and let her help me find the joy I need to live this life and take the next steps on my journey. Being a creative is hard. Being an empath is FUCKING hard. Learning how to free yourself to determine your path? So hard. But so worth it. I honestly believe that my role in this world is to bring joy and laughter and share that light with you. And so when you see me behaving like a kid in a candy store with a light-up skirt and hot pink hair, remember that we all have a part to play. This is mine.

*I reserve the right to change my mind on the “never” at any time. 

If you could put a theme to your year, what would it be? What are your highlights from 2018?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!