I was sitting on a pier in Provincetown the day I first read the script for "A Short History of Weird Girls." My feet were in the water and the pages got all wet in my hands. I was reading on actual paper because I was in the middle of a month off work for the first time in about four years. I was on a tech hiatus — no devices, no Wi-Fi, no Internet for 30 whole days.
The previous few years had been a ferocious tsunami of ambition that started when my parent came out. My work was a perfect escape hatch from the tumult of my personal life. After multiple seasons of my career at the speed of flapping hummingbird wings, it was finally my intention to take time off and "enjoy life," as I hear people do.
But the soul of "A Short History of Weird Girls" really fucked me up. It was the fifth episode of the first season of I Love Dick, our new series that just came out on Amazon, and it's about the sexual backstories of four of the show's female characters. The script took me straight out of vacation mode (honestly, who ever thought I could do it anyway? I have an idea for a bumper sticker that says DOWNTIME MAKES ME ANXIOUS; it's an idea I thought of during supposed downtime). I immediately called Sarah Gubbins, my collaborator and the showrunner of I Love Dick, on the ye olde flip phone I had bought for the month.
"I HAVE TO DIRECT 'WEIRD GIRLS'!" I told her. She said she couldn't hear me well and asked if she could text me later, but my phone didn't receive texts so I just moved closer to a beached rowboat in the hopes that she might hear me better. I said it again, only louder.
"OK, OK," she said. "But you're supposed to be taking a break. What's gotten into you?"
"I love this script. I love weird girls. I am a weird girl. I've always been a weird girl."
OK, yeah, less so now that I identify as nonbinary, but whatever.
I think I felt pretty normal up until around the age of ten. It's odd that I don't have any memories of not fitting in before then, considering that my sister and I were the only white kids in the school. We were lucky enough to live in a fantastic Chicago neighborhood called South Commons that was an urban experiment in integration. The air we breathed was a larger calling for one and all to be a living testament to the power of peace, love, social justice, civil rights, and the ERA, somehow mashed up into one big stew of purpose.
Around middle school, though, we changed schools, to a tiny Jewish day school. I was confronted with mean girls for the first time. Our fifth-grade class had five boys and four girls. I was the new fifth girl. That made us ten kids.
This should be easy, I thought — for the first time I was around people like me. Everyone was Jewish and from liberal families in Hyde Park, which was one neighborhood to the south and would ultimately become the home of one Barack Obama. But these girls, the Rachels and Debbies and Miriams, they straight-up hated me. They hated the fuck out of me. These nine kids had been in a Jewish day school from the age of zero and had been learning Hebrew, Holocaust, and upper-level science with real dissection in locked arms ever since. I was lost, but I didn't know it.