When I was a kid I had the best backyard for playing pretend. There were trees to climb, places to hide and plenty of room to run. My best friend Richard and I would spend hours exploring the worlds we had created within the fenced in honeysuckle confines of my backyard. One of our favorite scenarios that we played out on the regular was the life and time of that rag tag group of crime fighters we call the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Richard would play the roles of all the turtles, Raphael, Donatello, Michelangelo and Leonardo, and I would take on the roles of the street smart and savvy reporter April O’Neil. With our powers combine we could take on any super villain in our path.
I know what you are thinking, “Gee Mara, it is a little lame you didn’t want to be one of the turtles” and to that I say, “Shut it. I love April O’Neil, she is a gum shoe with moxie and I will defend my choice to the end.”
My love of April O’Neil has shaped who I am today. In fact, it even help me get into journalism school because I wrote my entrance essay on how April O’Neil had been the reason I wanted to be a reporter.
Even now, even though I am not a journalist by trade I still consider myself a version of April O’Neil. As a comic you find yourself with primarily more dudes then ladies and these guys are usually party dudes who love pizza and sometimes live underground or in conditions similar to the sewers the Turtles occupied so I am basically a modern day April.
So as any nostalgic child of the 90’s I was excited to hear about the upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle remake by Michael Bay. It would be a little slice of my childhood and I could not wait to see who would play one of my all-time favorite characters from childhood. Who was going to slip into the yellow jumpsuit and hit the streets versus the Shredder and his foot soldiers? Who was going to inspire the next generation of little girls to be adventurous and brave? Maybe Emma Watson? Or Emma Stone? Or any Emma for that matter. Nope. Megan Fox. And I have to tell you I am not completely thrilled by this discovery.
Clearly, Megan Fox is doing something right. She is a beautiful actress who makes millions of dollars, has great hair and is married to Brian Austin Green, who has really grown out of his David Silver days on 90210 and is now a stone cold fox but, to me she doesn’t scream April O’Neil.
I really have nothing against Megan, she is probably nice enough, but it just feels wrong to me. She doesn’t seem like the type of gal who will take the top off of a sewer drain, jump down into the underbelly of the city and hang with the turtle in a half shell.
So that is why I am throwing my hat in the ring to be considered the next April O’Neil. Sure, production on this multi-million dollar production has already begun but I am sure once Michael Bay sees my reasons he will just have to halt production, fly me out and buy me a drink cause I am a lady.
1) I look great in yellow.
I really do. My pale Irish skin glows when I am in yellow. I am a spring in my color palette so it only makes sense.
2) You give me a jumpsuit and I will give you my slamming bod.
No hassle, no fuss just step on in to the most form fitting body suit you can imagine. Fit is up and the only thing that will come to mind is CAUTION: CURVES. Jumpsuit offer the mobility and flexibility that April ( me) need to fight crime. I have already done the research and have been wearing only body suit in preparation for the movie. Trust me, there is no camel toe or front butt, just high kicks for days.
3) I have a degree in Broadcast News from a now discredit journalism school
When I got my degree it was accredited so I am completely legit. You wouldn’t have to teach me the journalist lingo because I already have it down. I can do the standup, the walk and talk, interviews with the man on the street after an unexplained turtle sighting, I know how to use a camera and I even know how to edit ( kind of ) on Final Cut Pro. I could be a one man band getting the scoop on the Foot Soldiers and Shredders evil plans. And because of my non-descript jumpsuit I would go unnoticed as I follow up on a hot lead. I also take my journalistic integrity very seriously. I would only sleep with a source if it was a really, really good story, like a restaurant review. If you check out any of my NewsTeam Boulder tapes from my college days, you would see I would be an excellent addition to the Channel 6.
4) I can fit in a sewer drain, no problem.
You would not know it by looking at me but I can squeeze myself into all sorts of positions. Just ask my boyfriend, ba da ching! But honestly I don’t mind getting a little dirty. I think it would be interesting to be in the sewers. I could find all sorts of stuff that people have flushed away like baby alligatiors, diamonds rings and poop. It would be like a treasure hunt. I would have no qualms with eating pizza in the sewer, I am sure those pepperonis are fresh.
5) I am willing to dye my hair red.
I think I could pull it off. Red is my power color. And red and yellow together. SO flattering.
6) I am willing to experiment.
April has been known to have a relationship with vigilante Casey Jones but I am willing to take it one step further. I would have a love affair with one of the turtles. Thinking about the scandal! A teenager! A Mutant! A turtle! No one would understand our love and that is what would make it so powerful. Westborro Baptist Church would have a field day. I am not picky I would date any of the turtles, hell or all of them! Together they do make up the perfect man. I am not sure how all the sex stuff would work ( I AM A JOURNALIST NOT A SCENTIST DAMN IT) but when the shell is a spinning April will be a winning.
7) I can keep a secret.
Like April I am a loyal and steadfast friend. Just like she never revealed the identity of the turtles I never revealed that my friend Mindy gave up her baby in college………… I mean I have kept many secrets as well.
8) I will go topless.
No need to explain this one. I would. I would do that for you Michael Bay.
So Mr. Bay why don’t you take a chance on an unknown up and coming comic who can go shell to shell with any CGI turtle. Think of the street cred you would get from the fans by using some who is so very similar to April and who is an actual journalist ( in a way) I will be stem pressing my jumpsuit as I wait for your response.
Today, I was attempting to clean out my email because I have a horrible habit of letting my box get filled up with newsletters I am never going to read, coupons I will never use and sex tapes that I will never watch.
Today, I got distracted by an email sent to myself a few months ago that I never opened. The subject line just said “READ!”
Frankly, I don’t even remember sending it to myself. So I clicked on it and I saw the message above.
I read it and it totally was totally what I needed today.
It reminded me if I want to be proactive about my future I need to be present in my today. I need to set and reach personal goals. I need to create, perform and produce as much as possible. Even if sometimes it is for no one. It would be better to do in front of a packed house. But mostly is just in front of your friends, which is the most fun.
It was like my past self was looking out for my present self. My subconscience always knows just what to do.
Sometimes you just have to remember to keep on keeping.
I have recently fully embraced the fact that I cry about everything these days. I mean, pretty much anything that gets the tears a flowing will have me sobbing within a few minutes. Puppies playing, babies giggling, Hallmark commercials, really anything on the news and sometimes just because I am a woman, a beautiful, beautiful woman.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying I didn’t cry ever. I am not that tough.
When I was little I cried all the time. Remember that sweet gig? No insecurities about looking like an emotional basket case just sweet, sweet tears and awkward breathing during “My Girl”. There was no shame in my sobbing game.
As I got older, I used to hold back tears during my teen years, didn’t want to look like a girly, girl. Even then it was not like I didn’t cry at all. I for sure did, but it would be in the privacy of my home, in front of the closest of friends and family. The people you can truly terrify but they still have to love you.
During sad movies I would choke back the tears to show a curtain of iron emotion. The Soviet Union of emotions, you know what every young girl wants to be, a distant Russian. Then I saw the Notebook during college and it was like the wall coming down all over again. Tears running down my face like they had been waiting for that freedom for years, I am forever grateful to Ryan Gosling.
For a long time I was afraid to look vulnerable, especially in the comedy realm in my life because it is so male dominated you think that you have to keep up with the boys by being a rough, tough mover and shaker. You don’t want to be the girl who cries after a bad set and have some hack yell at you, “There is no crying in stand-up. Why don’t you go home and wash your panty hose!”
I mean, if you think about the most emotionless person you know they are probably, mostly likely not very funny. In my comedy my emotions are strength not a weakness. It gives me the insight I want to possess as a performer to be relate-able to the audience.
So all and all, I like my waterworks. Some might view crying as a sign of weakness but I see it as a showing of pride and love.
I let my emotions get the best of me because my emotions are the best of me. My emotions are who I am; I am not a robot for Pete’s sake. My emotions are what make me a good friend, sister and a kind person. My emotions gave me my sense of humor. My emotions make me a person, a full and happy person.
This weekend I cried a lot. All good tears. I was at a wedding of two dear friends. Weddings are the ultimate tear jerkers. All at once you are surrounded by family, friends, love and the promise of starting a new adventure. I cried pretty much the entire time I was there, I am such a hopeless romantic and those two are really crazy about each other.
This trip meant a lot to me for a lot of reasons. It was my first big trip since my surgery and I got to see some of the best friends a girl could ask for. It was one of the first trips I have taken where I didn’t feel like sleeping all day or where the idea of walking around the city sounded exhausting. It was the first time in a while when I could go to a wedding and dance all night cause my feet weren’t swollen and my joints didn’t ache (believe me I ached the next day) It was the first time I had seen my beautiful hero Jess not in sweatpants watching Downton Abbey (even though she looks way hot doing that too) And the first trip I have taken in a year where I didn’t have to worry about dialysis or bringing my fluid bags.
Honestly, I feel like an old woman with war stories but if I have learned anything over the last year it is that life is the most beautiful gift we have and the people in it make it worth it. Life is filled with little moments that move us. Embrace your tears is in a way embracing the beauty of life. So if crying about love and friendship makes me a cry baby then I am okay with that. Hell, I am more then okay with it, I love it.
Now excuse me, I am going to rewatch the Notebook I could use a good cry, it’s been a few days.
Today it has been two months since my surgery and to be honest with you guys, I forgot that living didn’t have to be painful. Over the last few weeks I have been reminded that daily living could be refreshing and fun and not so god damn exhausting.
As spring begins to peek out its head and shake off the dust of winter, I too am feeling the renew and rebirth of the season like a wee baby doe. I am feeling so fresh and so clean with far more pep in my step. Mainly cause my body has far less toxins in it than it used to.
I have to tell you, feeling like an Outkast lyric is pretty great considering I used to feel like Tears of a Clown on repeat. Who knew having functioning organs is an instant way to get some swagger back in your step.
This is my time to really embrace the next phase in my life. My experience has taught me so much about life, people, love and who I am. As clichéd as it sounds, it was a life changing experience, I feel like a new woman. I just want to tackle Life an then tickle it into submission and then stop tickling Life because tickling is a form of torture and I like Life, hell I love Life, why would I want to torture it?
And after Life and I are all giggled out I will say thanks to Life. Thanks for getting me here. Thanks for getting to a point where I can fully embrace and fully admit what I really want to do with my life is to perform and create. I would have appreciated some sort of version or dream to lead me towards my true pursuit but I guess a chronic illness does the trick too. Feeling so close to losing it all made me really treasure what I have in my life, what and who I love and what I want.
Having your own personal truth is very powerful. For a very long time I tried to be everything and I spread myself to thin. Knowing what I know now it is has become apparent to me if you want something you must admit it to yourself, embrace it and then pursuit it. If you do that you can never fail.
My kidney transplant was March 8. My life changed on March 8.
March 8th will forever be a day that I think of my best friend Jess’s generosity and love that busts out of her tiny little body like the sun shining through the cracks. March 8 is the day that I no longer had to hook up to a dialysis machine every night before I went to sleep. March 8 will be the day that when I am rich, I will take Jess on lavish vacations with little sandwiches, fruity drinks and massages and it still won’t show a fraction of the gratitude I feel for this warrior of a woman. March 8 is the day I got my spirit back. March 8 is the day I became me again.
I really can’t stress enough the difference I feel. I feel great, just a very sore abdomen and crouch, but I can handle that. No pelvis thrusting for a few weeks but it is a sacrifice I am willing to make.
I had talked to my doctors and recipients about how I would feel after and they told me I would feel like a new person and I really didn’t believe them. I could not comprehend feeling any different than how I was feeling. I thought I would forever feel on the verge of being sick to my stomach and constantly ready for a nap. But it was true.
The second I opened my eyes in the recovery room I felt like the last four years had been some horrible dream. Granted, I was highly drugged but the cute little kidney started working as soon as it was successfully put it. It was making up for lost time and cleaning house which meant I was peeing again, like a god damn race horse! I have to tell you if felt amazing to have a strong stream again. It is something you take for granted. It was like I was a hermit crab who had moved into a clean new shell.
This hospital stay was much more enjoyable because this time I knew that when I got out I would feel better, things would FINALLY be different. Instead of being released to more of the same or some new procedure, I was one step closer to living a normal, healthy life.
From the beginning of the transplant process everything fell into place. My donor was a loving friend ( whose entire family has been an extremely, wonderful support system for me),my family was with me every step of the way, my doctors were amazing, my nurses were caring , my dialysis tech were supportive and great with small talk. The day we went into surgery, my post-opt nurse had been a nurse who had volunteered her time to give massages to the infusion patient when I was getting chemo. Seeing her friendly face first thing in the morning was a great, calming sign. As I went into surgery she told me she loved me and it made me feel so safe and ready for the procedure.
This journey was not easy but the universe provides. Strangers and friends came together. People are kind and want to help and if you hold on to hope and you believe in a better life it will happen.
For the next few months I have lots of doctor appointments, labs, recovery and rest in my day planner but it is all worth it. I know that in two months I will be one step closer to the life I have missed so deeply this last year.
I have learned so much about myself. I know I am made of stronger stuff. I know that the positive thoughts of my friends and community got me to this place I am today. I know that my boyfriend and my sisters gave me so much strength, love and encouragement that I cannot image what this would have been like if I didn’t have them by my side. I know I was treated with such kindness that my life goal now is to give as much as I got.
Looking back I can’t really decide if I would change the last few years. On one hand, it was painful, sad and hard, really, really hard. Some days were dark and I felt pity for myself and bitter towards others with their health. And some days the perspective and lessons I learned from my sickness touched me deeply and inspired me to keep hope alive.
I really don’t know if I would change it. But I know I wouldn’t change me for anything.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
When was the last time you openly wept tears of joy? Like, no holding back, sobbing? When was the last time you just sobbed with your whole heart because you have been given the gift of hope, something you had not felt in a long time?
Sobbing so hard you can’t make out words, just a series of grunts that have to be decipher thru your ugly cry face. But despite how deformed your cry face is it is so ugly that it is cute, like a pug. As you choke out tears because you are so happy, you have no control over your facial muscles and you can’t breathe and you are freely drooling. Can you remember? Well I can, it was January 17, 2013 at about 5:20 P.M.
I was lying on my bed chatting with my boyfriend. I knew that my dear friend Jess had started the process to see if she was a kidney match. I knew that the Transplant Team was reviewing her case that day to determine if she would be a good candidate to be a donor. The fact that Jess was even going through the process meant the world to me. Making the choice to give a part of your body to someone is an extremely selfless task and frankly, an inconvenience. You are submitting yourself to voluntary surgery all to improve the quality of life for a loved one.
So when I saw that Jess was calling me I immediately picked up, either way, I wanted to know as soon as possible.
“Hey Jess. How are you?” (Not only was I anxious to know, I also wanted to keep it casual, not come off too desperate for good news. I had gotten my hopes up before and I didn’t need to feel that fall again.)
“Hey Mara, I am pretty good. So I hope you are ready to take care of my kidney because I am a match.”
And that is when the weeping started. I crumbled. The news I had been waiting for, hoping for, praying for was finally being delivered and part of me couldn’t believe it. After years of being ill and the last year of hospital stays, surgery and dialysis, a big part of me thought that there was no end in sight. Jess wasn’t just giving me a new kidney; she was giving me a fresh start to reclaim my life.
To be honest with you, if I could have chosen any friend to have a small part of it would be Jess.
I have known Jess since I was about 10 years old. We weren’t real buddy buddy when we were kids. We were in rival classes and you didn’t cross those loyalty lines. But as we grew older, we became closer and by my senior year of high school we were the best of friends.
In college, we helped each other through the first year in the dorms and broken hearts by dancing around to Rusted Roots “ Send me On My Way” in our dorm room. Sophomore and junior year we had many good times as roommates making s’mores, cuddling on the couch, spring break road trips and throwing some pretty amazing parties if I don’t mind saying so myself.
When we graduated from college, Jess and Bryce’s home was a place of comfort for me. Always welcoming with some delicious snack Jess was putting together. When I first started feeling the effects of fatigue, Jess and Bryce let me take naps at their apartment during my lunch break or before a show because their house was so much closer than mine.
When they moved to Los Angeles I was devastated. Who was I supposed to be the third wheel for now? The distance did not change our closeness as no matter how far away, Jess and Bryce are the type of friends that that just seem to get better with age. It was an honor to speak at their wedding not only because I loved them both so much but I respect them both deeply.
Even when we were little, Jess was always cool, confident, strong and intelligent. I always admired her. She’s an amazing athlete, a dedicate teacher, a loyal friend, a wonderful sister, a caring daughter, the person you want in your corner when things go wrong. She is adventurous and curious. She is a calming presence that always seems to bring reason to any situation. She gives great hugs and a world class snuggler. And there is no one better to veg out on the couch with in your pajamas.
Jess has always been there for me. Always. I can’t remember a time that she hasn’t talked me through a broken heart, a fight with a family member, or just a bad day. Everyone deserves a friend like Jess. I am fortunate because I have the genuine article.
She has always taken care of me and now she is giving me the ultimate gift. It feels so right getting it from Jess, someone I love and respect so much. She has been such a vital part of my life and will continue to be. We are going to go on vacation together. Our kids will play together. Our holidays will be filled with laughter and we will have too many great memories to keep in a scrap book. All because of Jess. All because she made the brave choice to be a donor and save my life. Jess is my hero. She is rescuing from a life of fluid, cathters, swelling, dialysis, fatigue, nausea and pain. She has given me the gift of hope, life and friendship and I could not be more thankful.
There have been rumors about Lady Gaga’s weight gain over the past few months. She claims it is because she is going through “a body revolution” encouraging her little monsters to embrace their body image as she opened up about her struggle with bulimia. That’s all fine and good but I think it is a rouse. A rouse I say! I think the weight gain is related to something completely different and something Gaga isn’t ready to fully admit.
In an interview with Larry King, Gaga spoke of her aunt that passed away from lupus, an auto- immune disease where the body attacks itself, the same auto-immune disease that I am afflicted with. Gaga herself admits the she has tested “borderline” line for lupus. Lupus can be hard to fully diagnose because its symptoms vary and the markers for lupus can be harder to spot. Some of the basic symptoms are fatigue and joint pain but the list of things that your body can go through is long. When I was trying to figure out what was up with me I had swelling and my left eye would puff up half its size.
You never know what this crazy lupus is going to think of next.
Currently, there is no cure for lupus but there are several treatments and medication prescribed to help those who suffer from lupus. One of those drugs is called prednisone; it is a steroid that can cause weight gain among those who use it. Once I was put on a heavy drip of prednisone when I was in the hospital and I literally ate EVERYTHING in my path, no chicken pot pie was safe. I gained like 15 pounds in my head (that’s where I gain weight, I did not just “Imagine” the weight gain) in less than 4 days. And I think the weight gain that Gaga is experiencing is due to being on prednisone for her “borderline lupus” and Gaga isn’t playing her full hand. Kudos to your Poker Face Gaga but I call your bluff.
Lady Gaga is known for her support of the gay community. Proudly telling people to embrace their true selves and to be proud of who they are touting that being “Born this Way” is a beautiful thing, well Gaga why don’t you take your own advice and embrace the fact that you have lupus. Take on a cause that directly relates to you and lts get lupus the press it needs.
Admitting you have a disease can be tough. It is daunting to deal with and exhausting to always think of your health and wel-lbeing when all you really want to do is collab with Beyonce. I get it. I would love to collab with B and Jay. Maybe high five little Blue Ivy and call it a day but Gaga I think it is your duty nah, really your responsibility as one of the world’s biggest celebrities to become an advocate for lupus. With star power like hers we could have a cure by end of the year.
Sure, there are other celebrities with lupus we could lean on to become the guiding light as the spokesperson for lupus but none as dynamic and iconic as Gaga. If this were the 1990’s I would say let’s see if Toni Braxton is up for the task but “Unbreak My Heart” is no longer in the Top 20 and I think she is filing for bankruptcy, so TB has other things she needs to focus on. I would say maybe Seal could step up to the plate but he is still fresh off of his divorce to Heidi Klum, he needs time to heal ( I always thought those two would make it.) It is rumored that Michael Jackson had lupus too but clearly we cannot use him as the spokesperson. R.I.P PTY.
Lupus needs a powerhouse. Lupus needs someone who is going to make lupus the new cancer. You know what I mean. A force to be reckoned with. Someone who will get Lupus the attention it needs to raise awareness, educate, fundraise and in the end, hopefully, help find a cure. Since Gaga will not fully committed and embrace her role as spokesperson then I humbly step into the role as the advocate for lupus.
Granted, I lack the super star notoriety of Gaga NOW but let me tell you I can pull of a meat dress like a son of a bitch and I too once arrived at a very fancy bar mitzvah in an egg capsule. I have all the makings for an international celebrity just waiting to get out there and spread my good will all over this god damn earth. I have the talents, the gusto, the moxy and plenty of dreams now I just need to get famous so I can get the message out. This might have to be a grass roots movement among the people. So people: Let’s do this. Let’s get me real, real famous. Trust me. You will not regret it. I will keep it super fresh as a celebrity. Wearing crazy hats, name my baby something outlandish like Tree Branch and have many, many, many illicit affairs all the while making some pretty killer PSA about Lupus. Because if Lady Gaga isn’t going to do it the somebody has to and that somebody might as well be me.
Now, hop on this disco stick!
I always thought that if I would develop a drug habit I would be a pill popper. It seemed the most convenient and glamorous. Most pill poppers are Hollywood movie stars or former Fly Girls or Real Housewives. You know, really classy broads. You could also hide your addiction a little better then other drugs like heroin or angel dust, track marks can be a real pain to cover up. You would just take your pills in private or call them your “nerve pills” that keep you even and no body would be the wiser. You would just be popping pills all day long. Living on your little cloud of happy pills.
Being the respectable citizen I am though doing tons of drugs has never been my forte. I do just a normal amount of drugs. I have become a different kind of pill popper. My pills don’t get me high they help keep my alive and healthy.
Each day I take roughly 40 pills. My medicine is split up into morning, lunch and dinner servings. Most of the time the pills are a meal within themselves.
Most of my pills are blood pressure medicine. My doctor once told me that my blood pressure was closer to that of a 84 year old man then a 27 year old woman. Between that and my high waist line, my appetite for prunes and my love of NCIS I am partially twins with the greatest generation!
Some of my medicine is for my lupus. I take a steroid called Predisone that makes me gain weight with higher dosages and other side effects. Predisone is one of those nasty drugs that you don’t want to take but have to. My older sister despises it and never wants to take the drug again. It doesn’t bother me so much except when I am on high dosage it make me have a moon face and eat everything in site. HULK WANT FOOD.
I have gotten used to the routine and now fully understand how critical it is for me to take my meds everyday. After my surgery the medicine I will be taking will be extremely important to ensure that my body does not reject my new kidney. I mean we all hate rejection, am I right ladies??
There typically are no certains in life. Well, my life has a certain. It is certain that I will have to take pills my whole life until a robot kidney is developed that runs on pure will and positive energy.
It is a strange thought to know that I can’t just jump on a plane with a bag and a dream searching out adventure. I mean, I can but I need to plan ahead, count out my meds, let the transplant team know I am going out of town and then it is adventures abound! I need to plan ahead which has never been my strong suite. I can’t be as carefree as most 20 somethings but that is to be expected since I am going thru a life change that many people my age don’t have to experience. And that is really the biggest pill I have to swallow: admitting that I am scared, sad and that my life will never be the same. But I will gulp it down, hope to heal and work towards a day when my robot kidney is kicking ass and taking names.