Monthly Archives: April 2013


Production Still from "The Belle of New Orleans"

Me on set with actors Kara Zediker and Amelia Workman. Photo by Lee Bey.

The Goodman Theatre’s production of By The Way, Meet Vera Stark opened last night. Previews run through 5/5, and then the run continues through June 2. I produced and was the assistant director for the film clip from “The Belle of New Orleans” that opens the second act of the play. We shot on beautiful 35mm black and white film and tried as much as possible to make it look like something that was created in the mid-1930s.

If you’re in Chicago, if you like live theater, if you like GOOD live theater, if you like film history, if you’re interested in the history of African American artists in Hollywood, if you like fantastic set and costume design, come see the show. There is a neat talk with the playwright, Lynn Nottage, and the play’s director, Chicago theater legend Chuck Smith, scheduled for Sunday, 5/5.

P.S. I’m seeing it this Wednesday night, 5/1. If you’re around, Tweet me and say hello.

Production still by Lee Bey

From left to right: Tamberla Perry (Vera), Me, Kara Zediker (Gloria), and Amelia Workman (Anna Mae). Photo by Lee Bey.


In other news, the Boston-Area Wicked Awkward Sitting Around And Chatting Meetup will be on May 26. From thecynicalromantic:

Hi Captain,

Since a couple people have expressed regret at missing and/or shyness at participating in the T meetup (including myself), I’d like to try and host a more stationary, Awkwardeers-only meetup for the Boston area.
At 4 pm on Sunday, May 26, I will be hanging out at the tables in Davis Square outside of JP Lick’s, the same site as the last Boston meetup. Plushie Cthulhu will be with me. I have not yet decided what entertainments I will bring, so if anyone wants to suggest or bring anything, feel free! In case of inclement weather, I will seek refuge in Diesel Cafe.
Davis Square is accessible at the Davis Square stop on the Red Line and by a number of buses. There is not really anything resembling easy parking in the area, although I believe there is better parking along the Red Line at Alewife.
If anyone wishes to contact me privately beforehand, my twitter handle is @bloodygranuaile, or you can email me at (I do check the twitter much more frequently than the email).

This one is less public performance art, more eating ice cream and chilling out in (hopefully) nice weather.

A stuffed toy penguin in a martini glass

Wilfred the Tipsy Penguin

The Bristol Awkward People are having a meetup on Saturday, May 4 from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm at The Watershed Cafe. More details are at their Facebook group here.

There will be an meetup of Ye Awkward Folk in Sheffield on May 25. Details:

Hi!  I’m baroquemongoose, and I’m arranging a meetup at the Blue Moon Café, Sheffield (UK) on Saturday 25 May.  Please contact me at by Saturday 11 May if you’re going, so that I can reserve a table; it can get busy in there.  (This is a disposable e-mail address to limit spam.  It forwards to my real address, and you’ll get a reply from that.)

Sheffield city centre is both expensive and irksome to park in, so I recommend that you either travel by rail or park further out on one of the tram routes.  If you come by rail, get onto the main footbridge from the platform (there are lifts, although the one on the central platforms isn’t well signposted – you’ll find it on Platform 5, tucked behind the stairs next to the large waiting room) and then head the opposite way from the main exit.  This will take you to the Supertram stop.  Stay on the same side of the tram tracks, and catch either a blue-route or a yellow-route tram to the Cathedral.  All the information you need about the trams can be found at

The café is located on St James Street, next to Sheffield Cathedral.  Alight from the tram at the Cathedral stop.  On the cathedral side of the road, face the cathedral and then turn left.  You’ll see a couple of recruitment agencies in front of you.  Turn right down the small side street where these recruitment agencies are, and the Blue Moon is just past them and on your left.  It does vegetarian and vegan food, and there is a ramp for mobility access.  If you have any specific dietary queries you can contact them on 0114 276 3443 or

I will be there from about 2.00 pm, along with Wilfred the tipsy penguin, who will be sitting on the table looking around with an amiably confused expression.  This is Wilfred [please see attachment].  I will have some games and one of those abstract-design colouring pads available, but please also feel free to bring your own games &c.  The café closes at 8.00 pm.  If anyone’s still around by that time, there is a nice pub within easy walking distance for most people, or one tram stop away for those who can’t walk easily, to which we can adjourn.

I think that probably covers everything, but if you have any questions at all, feel free to contact me.  Looking forward to meeting you!

While we’re on the subject of Meetups, as a reminder, Asheville Awkward People are meeting up on April 30. Right around the corner.

Carbonated Wit is poised to carry out General Expression’s plan, and proposes the following activity:

Boston Smiling And Eye Contact Meetup!

Friday April 26

I will get on the Red Line at Alewife at the next train after 6:15pm. I’ll get on the last car of the train. At every red line station in to Park, I will get out. I will then get on the last car of the next train. At Park I’ll change direction and go outbound.

I’ll have my spinning because people love asking me about it; I’ll be spinning fine light blue yarn. I will be open, smiling, and making eye contact. Join me!

I really, really, really want to read a guest-post of what this shindig was like afterwards. Really really.

P.S. I know things are not cool with the State of Awkwardtown, and I am not trying to pretend they are or abdicate responsibility for that by the abrupt subject change and closing of threads. But I gotta step away. I am not making it better right now and I don’t want to make it worse. This is a cool thing that deserves to happen. Go forth and smile at Boston, Boston.

Edited 4/25 to add further email correspondence from the Letter Writer at the end of the post.

Two things I know:

1) If you have to keep explaining and justifying and expanding what you said, you said it wrong the first time.

2) If lots of people tell you you screwed something up, you did.

The way I responded to the last LW was condescending, snarky, and rude, and I am sorry.  I definitely read his letter the way thecynicalromantic breaks it down here, and I definitely responded hastily and in anger and should have slept on it before posting, especially the last sentence, and I definitely responded to him as part of a pattern of dudes asking versions of the same question instead of as an individual in pain. LW, I definitely don’t have a right to tell you to avoid feminist spaces, plural, and the “get a fucking grip” was mean and pretty inexcusable.

Here’s what happened, LW: You unintentionally stumbled into my fatigue at explaining all of this again, after I’d had another week like this one and just a bunch of generally sexist “You are a lady, so you will sort out my shit and be nice while doing it” bullshit.

Here’s what I should have done: Deleted your question from my email. My fatigue is legit, so why not just go with it instead of punishing you by answering your question grudgingly? Until now, I’ve said that it is ok if this was a 101 space. Changing the rules on that without a discussion, in answer to a questioner who is writing in with that assumption, is not cool and I am sorry.

But I didn’t, so here we are.

The content of my advice remains basically the same, but I’d like to try again in a non-snarky way.

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Comments are now closed on this discussion.


<b>Edited To Add</b>: By request, there is a GIANT CONTENT WARNING on this post and the comments. It is not recommended that anyone suffering from anxiety read this post or the comments. Or, really anyone at all. It represents a major, major mistake and unkindness and able-ism on my part. Don’t read it.

I am leaving this answer (& discussion) here – don’t believe in erasing mistakes or pretending they didn’t happen. But putting it behind a cut-tag for sure.  For a better answer to this question, and follow-up from the Letter Writer, go here. For a thread where people with anxiety discuss anxiety, go here. We as a community are trying very hard to come back from this and rectify this mistake, but the scars still exist.


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Dear Captain Awkward,

Over the last four years, my husband and I have narrowed our social circle to where we only have a few friends who we see regularly, most of whom were initially my friends rather than his. But basically, we’re each others’ social plans almost all of the time. This is especially true for him, because I have a couple of old friends I talk to regularly online as well as a lover. I think this has happened because a) we really enjoy spending time just us, b) we’ve moved a couple of times and c) my husband is extremely introverted/unjustifiably worried that people don’t like him. Also, maybe, d) we’ve both gotten weirder/pickier in certain ways over the years in ways that make it harder to click with people who might earlier have been natural friends. Like, we went to a friend’s party recently and her other friends were talking about their childhood standardized test scores and their political opinions in ways that are actually totally normal for our peer group but also obnoxious, and so we didn’t want to make friends with them. (Maybe we just have a new peer group now, but I don’t know where they are.) 

This is seeming like a problem. I am slightly lonely and my husband is super-lonely, and even though this is more his problem than mine, he’s not fixing it and I think I should try, since I’m the more extroverted one. But I don’t know how to go about this. Most of the ways I’ve met people since college are communities/groups he definitely wouldn’t be interested in. We also have old friends we just haven’t seen in awhile, some of whom I feel awkward contacting again because it’s been so long.

Should I just continue listening but not trying to solve this problem when my husband complains about being lonely and not having any friends (which is definitely an exaggeration)? Are there ways to meet people I’m not thinking about? I have this feeling that I used to be much better at this and I’m not sure what happened. 

Thank you.

Hello there!

I think that this letter is pinging some of the exact same places as #467, with some of the same generosity of spirt and some of the same entrenched gender stuff with Lady-As-Social-Glue.

Easy stuff first: Go ahead and reach out to those old friends. Send a postcard if they don’t live close, invite them to something if they do live close. “Friends, I’ve been thinking of you fondly and wondering what you’ve been up to. Would you like to come by and play board games some weekend next month?” I just had dinner with my high school friend, D., who I have not seen since 1991. We were not good at keeping in touch over the years, but he sent me a Facebook message that said “I will be in town, want to have dinner on x day?” and I said yes and it was great to see him and not awkward to be contacted. Yes, having proximity and regular time together helps people maintain friendships, but positive feelings don’t fade away if the connection and affection are real. People are busy and they drift apart without even realizing it sometimes. Your friends will probably be grateful to you for making the effort, and if they demur, you can know that those friendships drifted for a reason and let go of any guilt.

Next easiest: You are feeling lonely, so do what you need to solve that for yourself. I suggest picking one day/evening per week and go do something that will bring you in contact with new people. Don’t worry that it’s something your husband won’t like doing, in fact, it’s better if it is something he won’t like doing. You function great as a unit and love each other’s company, which is awesome, but it is ok and very healthy to have something that is just yours. Take a class, learn a skill, play a sport, sing in a choir, volunteer, try something you’ve always wanted to try, or reconnect with one of those old hobbies or groups you’ve let lapse. is your friend.

He can be alone for a few short hours every week, even if it makes him feel more lonely in the short term. Those lonely feelings and a little solitude to feel them in are actually helpful right now, because they can be motivating for him in actually seeking out a similar outlet.

Harder, but doable: When he expresses sadness and loneliness, ask him directly what he wants. “Husband, would you like me to to make suggestions or help with that in some way? What do you think would work best?” If he’s hoping you will just magically solve this for him, make him articulate that expectation. Him wanting that is not necessarily wrong or bad (or a sign that you have to do it), but if he’s been hoping his sighs will magically translate into some action on your part, it’s good to get that out in the open. Because if he successfully makes “Me not being lonely anymore” into “Your job,” if you do your work and he does no work and then he’s still lonely you set yourself up to be blamed when that’s the case. I think that’s not a good idea.

When you have this talk, and the expectations are out in the open, then you can make a suggestion. “Husband, I’m really enjoying (thing I took up recently) and I think you should find something similar. The best resource for me for finding stuff was (resource), maybe look into it and see what you come up with? You may not make friends, but at least you’ll learn knife skills/French/build a birdhouse out of wood/a wicked slapshot/see lots of plays/finally dance the Lambada/canvass for a political candidate/play Magic: The Gathering.”

You might throw a little money at this problem, too, by buying him a class somewhere as a gift for a birthday or holiday, but stop short of actually arranging “play dates” for an adult man.

If in response you get a whole litany of “that won’t work because” in response, wind down the conversation and come back to it another day. Whether it’s anxiety manifesting, or denial that having friendships takes effort, or a wish you would just magically do all the work, “that won’t work because” is just going to lead to a sucky conversation where he shoots every one of your suggestions down and both of you feel crappy. Don’t be surprised if that’s the initial reaction, but don’t engage too much with it. Let a little time go by, keep enjoying doing your thing and making some friends for yourself, and hope that he changes his mind and starts to make an effort.

I think this is all surmountable, but not “fixable” by you alone. Friendships and social life take effort, and most of that is enjoyable, rewarding effort, but you actually have to do stuff and try to connect with others. As we get older it seems harder – we forget how we did it once upon a time – but we’re communal animals. Put the effort out into the universe and trust that someone, somewhere will be super-psyched to connect with both or either of you.

Dear Awkwardeers,

I have a question that’s more a conditions-of-things and what-to-do-about it than really a question. I’m a third year college student at a selective university. We’ll start of the bat that I’m lucky: I get to go to college, I have a good academic scholarship, my family help me pay for part of it. I’m lucky that I have amazing classes and great adventures.

Not to put too fine a point on it, I’m pretty smart. I just winced at how braggy that looks but my grades/outside projects/employers would all attest to this. I was often bored in high school, and though I had good friends, we couldn’t debate environmental policy, discuss gender roles or use too many “long words” together. It was kind of lonely, but complaining about that kind of thing is a bit of an asshole move, so I won’t.

It’s not like I want to brainstorm about the national debt all day: I like parties, I love to dance and make music and climb on all the campus roofs and have midnight piggy-back races in the park. College is wonderful, because I’ve finally met people who want to hike and drink cheap beer and independently learn Russian with me, but I’ve also noticed that the vast majority of REALLY smart and multi-interest people I’ve met tend to be heavy drug users. We’re not talking some pot on a Friday night, I mean acid or coke or ecstasy on random Tuesdays.

I don’t attach a moral judgement to this choice, but it is one that I wouldn’t (and don’t choose to) make. No one’s pressured me or anything, but I only join the social group for non-hard-drug adventures. Where do I find people who want to go out on the weekend, but also love words/the lab/the studio/the outdoors? I feel really naive, like there’s something I’m missing. I have friends who are super-academic and are into learning for the sake of a grade, and I have friends who are multi-interest (like me) but hard drug users. Am I looking in the wrong places? Does this change when you graduate? Am I complaining about something that is such a privileged problem that I should just get over it?


Dear A.,

Finding out that the people you thought were your people are not quite your people is a problem lots of people go through – you leave schools, change jobs or cities, change interests, and outgrow each other for whatever reason. This is not the last time you’ll look around and think “I like these people fine but I need a new scene.”

Fortunately your super-selective-awesome college likely has things called “student activities.” They are designed to occupy people in a non-substance-using activity and introduce like minded folk. You may think that signing up for new stuff is for first year students and all the groups are set in stone now and it’s too late. Getting past this attitude is probably the best way you can solve your current problem and also set yourself up for dealing with this in the future; when the current situation isn’t working, throw yourself into something new and see what happens. Somewhere on your campus there is a club or clubs that do something interesting that you could go check out for a meeting or two and see if something clicks. Don’t worry that they already know each other or that it’s too late, just try it and see. Every time you go to something, make it your goal to talk to one person you didn’t know before. You don’t have to make friends (too much pressure!), just get out of your shell a bit and look around.

Your college is presumably also located in what is known as a “city” or “town” or maybe just a “place.” That place, no matter how small, has things going on and some kind of social life. So look at art fairs/working at a farmer’s market/volunteer work/kickball teams/a part-time job. Because another skill you are going to need is finding community among people who aren’t just like you and who don’t care how smart you are.

You don’t have to leave your drug-using friends entirely behind, you can find ways to enjoy their company in smaller doses and then leave them to their mind-altering stuff.

I know my advice was super-obvious, and I don’t mean to be patronizing. This is big, important stuff, and I hope you solve it. Sometimes when you grow up smart people assume you know how to take care of yourself emotionally. All the Russian, etc. you are learning in classes is useful; how to make friends and build community for yourself is equally useful. It’s a process, we aren’t born knowing it, it’s not something where being smart automatically solves it, and it is never too late to start trying.

Related posts:

Moving vs. Staying: Instructions for Finding Your People and Your Place

On Bouncing Back and Finding Community

Dear Captain Awkward,

I need advice on how to tell a work friend politely to just shut up. 

He’s a very nice guy – super friendly and sociable, which is kind of the problem. You see, he is WAY too talkative. He sometimes says things that are completely out of left field, and he tends to go on for AGES, often getting wrapped up in completely useless details. When he starts talking, everyone else has to be quiet and listen to his long and winding tale until he gets to the end, at which point we are all relieved and can get on with the conversation.

He is utterly lacking a social gauge and has no idea of how much it’s appropriate to say and for how long it’s OK to speak. I’d compare it to the social component of Asperger’s, but strangely this guy also loves to socialise. Anyway, it’s a big problem at work because everything has to stop while he tells a story – yesterday he talked at me for 10 minutes straight, totally unprompted, about the six Chinese holidays where people visit their parents, listing them in order.

I don’t know how to let him know that this is an issue for me (and other people in the office), or what to say when he starts to ramble. He seems to miss all the hints, strong and subtle. I feel like a script or two would really help me out.

Tired Listener

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