Gia On The Move

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

What happens when the fantasy gets too real?

The ABCs follows one girl, Dakota, on her quest for achievable perfection and fantasy fulfilled in a Snapchat world that tells her that all of it is possible.

Adriana, Bella, and Caity are the perfect 10 high school teens. Emulating everything Kardashian, they go to the best parties, wear the best clothes. They have all had minor cosmetic procedures to ensure their status of the highest order amongst their peers. Bella even has a cosmetics sponsor that keeps her in couture and her mom in an expensive car.

When a slightly shady Dakota arrives as a transfer from another school, she is befriended by the group. But as it turns out, only because her house is available for meetings. And the pressure is on to fit in. Problem is, the girls put so much pressure…

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I’ve come across so many creative and talented people in my life from doing theater, improv, writing, yoga, and so many more. I love living this life of the arts because its so inspiring. It not only keeps me sane but it keeps me rooted and appreciate humanity in so many other ways. So when I hear from my artist friends who work a day and are feeling devalued for their work, it upsets me. It makes us humans seen only as cattle and forcing us to work overtime for no compensation. To quote my favorite former First Lady, “It’s about basic human decency”, that if we’re going to work our asses off for you, we should be compensated. Access to healthcare, safe housing, food and water— you guys, these are our basic human needs that should not be neglected. These should be provided if we’re putting in our time, our work, our physical bodies to produce and output products and services. I really do hope that everyone who works hard and treats people with respect get their fair share.

I’ve been going through the motions. I wake up, go to work, come home, and try to recreate any semblance of the creative life I once had back in Iowa. It’s odd. Different. I’m adjusting. And that’s the thing about adjusting, I find myself compromising the life I had dreamed about for something else. I want to say that there’s not enough time in the day to do what I want but I also don’t use my time wisely. I hoard time. I get greedy and sometimes overdo what I want. I fill my time with multiple creative outlets that suck the life out of me. I feel lost in my head but feel grounded in my heart. The creative life is odd. It has its challenges but it rewards you in ways you never could’ve imagined. You feel closer to humanity. You feel connected to every fiber of your being but that connection is short lived. You come back to it wanting to recreate that feeling over and over again but it feels not as close as you want it to be. You develop taste. This creative life is dangerous. Like a drug. You become addicted to it. Sometimes it hurts you and sometimes it relieves you. This creative life is what I’ve been living for so long and it’s all I know. Always curious and always seeking answers to life’s unanswerable questions.

On stage is a can of shaving cream, razor, and a turtle aquarium with its tiny rocks and water but no turtle.
An Asian American girl enters moving to show only her back towards the audience.
She’s real shy.
She turns around with her hand over her mouth.

A scream. There is a scream.

(Super fast) This is a story about a little bunny who had no friends because she is a loner; she is a loner because she had no friends. (pause) It’s actually kind of a funny story. This little bunny, right, she was a real cute little bunny. Real soft too. The fur was so soft. Soft and silky. Like she used Pantene real nice. Anyways, this bunny was stupid too. S-T-U-P-I-D. STUPID. REAL STUPID.

She was stupid because she was naïve.

This man comes up behind her, grabs her by her ears, with a penknife, and slits her throat gently. So gently. The blood didn’t even look like blood. And she smiled. I saw that smile of hers and she was happy… that damn little bunny was happy to die.

And I just stood there watching. I didn’t do anything. What was I supposed to do? Go to her? She was already dead, man. What? You think I should’ve gone to her side, scoop up that blood of hers with my bare hands, and try to revive that lil corpse? Are you crazy? Jesus Christ.

These little bunnies.
They don’t know what the hell they are doing.

They walk into these traps, right? I think they want to be helpless. I should know, I used to know a bunny. She was my friend too.

I remember when I first met her.

She was eating alone because no one wanted to eat with her. She smelled like rotten marshmallows mixed with bad eggs. Who wants to sit with that?

I remember the lunch too. It was reheated mashed potatoes, some canned gravy, and an unknown meat. It was turkey. The lunch ladies gave us some fruit—a banana or an orange, we could only pick one—just so we can be healthy.

The cafeteria was small. Cramp. And shitty. It smelled like feet.

At this lunch period, there were only 6th to 8th graders.

I was a 7th grader. Popular too.

Boys LOVED me and girls wanted to HANG OUT with me. Real popular.

But it was hard fucking work. Just trying to please everyone, keeping up with the gossips, shaving your legs—OH MY GOD. I HAD TO SHAVE MY LEGS SO I WOULDN’T BE THE HAIRIEST ONE OF THE GIRLS AND FOR THE BOYS, SO THEY CAN TOUCH ME. WORK. A LOT OF WORK.

Anyways, I saw this little “bunny”. Eating all by herself. She looked happy. No one was bothering her. She looked free. Not an ounce of care in the world.

And her legs. Oh my god. HER LEGS. They were hairy. SO VERY FUCKING HAIRY.
At that moment, I was so fed up that I just stood up. I just stood up.

My first thought: Who does this bitch think she is? If I’m going to suffer, she’s going to suffer with me. I’m going to make this bitch suffer by being her friend.

I walked over to her and sat next to her. Just like that.

From that day on, I never shaved my legs. Not once.

(long pause)

That is until she got hit by a train.

I don’t even know how you did it.

They covered you up real good, didn’t they?
What’d you do? What’d you say?
Last thoughts? Last meal?

I’m just so mad! SO MAD.

WE made plans together!

You don’t think I hate people too?
I hate ‘em too.
I hate ‘em too.

Snobby, self-righteous assholes.

Yeah, I want to die too, you know.

When I was 16 years old, Death said to me “You are going to die at 23.”

Why 23?

It’s the right time.

Okay, so I was going to die at 23.

But he changed his mind and made it 42.

Why 42?

Jane Austen died at 42.


But Death didn’t change his mind with you.

No, sir, he did not.
That’s what makes me so angry!

You and I–we were supposed to die young and beautiful…

But now I’m going to die alone when I’m old and ugly.


Here’s a girl scout motto for ya:

“I have a hand, and you have another; put them together and we have each other.”

Oh fuck you.



Thanks for leaving me hanging, friend.

What a great friend.

My dog was a better friend than you were.


Yeah, that’s right.

When I was 5 years old,

My super real best friend was a dog.

The best kind of dog.

The loyal kind.

But guess what?
My dad ate my best friend.

Yeah, the fucking Korean MAN ate my best friend while I was in school.
He ate my only friend.

He swallowed my dog up real good.

I could imagine it now:

Sun is shining,

Beer in one hand,

No food in the fridge—

Oh hey, is that sarah’s dog?


Little Korean bar-be-que in the backyard.

My mom says dog meat is the best kind of meat.

Eating your best friend, then that is the best kind of meat.


I killed my best friend.


Yeah, you killed your best friend.

No, I didn’t.

Yes, you did.

How would you know?

‘Cause I saw you.
Yeah, I saw you. You killed your best friend.

You were there?
Yeah, I was there.

Why didn’t you stop me?

I did but you wouldn’t listen.

I was listening! I was listening for anyone to hear me!


Listen, I didn’t kill my best friend because my best friend killed herself!




[She takes out a beanbag from her pockets.

She plays hopscotch.

She hops for each word.]


I killed my Friend.

The Friend who heard me cry.

The Friend who gave me gifts.

The Friend who was always there.

Lover of my soul–

I am killer.

I am Death.

I have no soul.

If you can love, that means you have a soul, right?


[The girl begins to take off her shoe and her knee-high socks.]


I was 7 years old when I met Death for the first time.

I used to have a pet turtle. The illegal kind.


[She carefully folds her socks away.]


The one that you’re not allowed to have because of the bacteria it carried.

It was from Mexico.

But I had it.

It was my pet turtle.

I remember showing off my turtle to my friends.

Everyone loved my little turtle.


[She hugs the empty turtle aquarium]
One day, while I was away, my younger sister thought it would be awesome to show off the turtle as her own. She took my turtle and showed the neighborhood kids. During this little show-off and telling, she crushed my turtle by squeezing the turtle’s shell and its belly between her two fingers.

She wanted to show kids that she could control the turtle to go into its shell.

That’s a difference between a tortoise and a turtle; turtles can’t go into its shell.

My turtle extended its little arms and legs and tail then died.

All the children were scared.

My sister was scared.

I would be too if I committed murder.

She killed my fucking turtle.

Without hesitation, she buried the turtle in my friend’s backyard.

And her lie to me was that my turtle ran away because I was a terrible turtle mom.

Few weeks later, I remember few neighbor kids and I wanted to create a moat. We went to my friend’s house and started to dig a long hole. I don’t know what is with children and their obsession with holes. Digging holes, making holes, putting their hands into the holes, feeling the holes—

I don’t remember why it was fun because it wasn’t. It was hard work. After digging for 40 minutes, which felt like 3 hours, I found a piece of shell.

A turtle shell.

As I gently rubbed off the dirt, I realized that it was my turtle.

It’s little shell, decayed and deformed, broken into tiny bits— dismembered.

I screamed. I cried and screamed some more. In my hand was my little turtle.
All the neighborhood kids watched me, not knowing what to say.

They didn’t know what comfort meant.

How could they? How could they understand me? About loss? How could they possibly know?

So how could they comfort me?


[She scoops up the rocks in the empty aquarium and begins to rub it against her skin]


On my knees, I was weeping and wailing.


[Let’s go faster]


My only way to let the whole world know of my misery.

In my hands was my little turtle. I wasn’t there to see my turtle buried.

I wasn’t there to say any of my ‘last words’ to my little turtle.

I never said my good-bye.


[She finishes cleaning herself in her turtle’s house]


[She grabs a can of shaving cream and a razor]
When you see me


[Begins to shave]


I let go and move on.

I cut ties and move on.

I abandon and move on.


And I will know as long as I shave my legs.

As long as I shave my legs,
I will know how much I used to hurt.

As long as I shave my legs,

I will be reminded of my loss.

As long as I shave my legs,

I will know how much I killed you.


[The girl stops and looks up. She sees her old friend.]


Do you remember the story about the tortoise and the hare?

Do you remember?
It was your favorite story.

Remember when the hare lost and the tortoise won?

Yeah. A real good story. Good moral too.


Well, I learned something about that story.

It’s not true.

The Tortoise and the Hare?

They never made it to the finish line.

Because they didn’t know where it was.

They got lost.

In that forest they called home,

They got lost.

They got lost and died in their own home.


[She takes out her needle and yarn. She begins to crochet.]


[Let her crochet, she needs it.]


I went to the animal shelter.

I thought it’d be a good idea to spend some time with the cats and dogs of Santa Barbara county. Kind of like feeding the homeless but instead, walking the dogs and petting the cats.

But it made it worse.

This feeling I had in me.

It made it worse when I saw the cats and dogs in their small confined pens.

The cats meowed to me, as if they we were asking me to take them out and let them stretch their legs. Just once.

The dogs barked, yelped and whimpered, feces everywhere.

This feeling I had in me began

One night, I was driving home from my friend Delanie’s house.

On the drive home, thoughts raced through my mind about writing a play about grief:

“What’s it going to be? How am I going to end it? More death? Less death? What do I want to say? WHAT?!”

All of a sudden, a raccoon runs across me on the road.

I hit the brakes.

It’s too late.
I run over the little guy.

I pull over and I get out.
I see the raccoon jumping up and down in pain.

It’s back was oddly curved.

It was broken.

The raccoon screamed.

Have you ever heard a raccoon scream?
It’s loud and shrilling.

I met its eyes.

I started to talk to myself: “Oh my god. Oh my god. What am I supposed to do? Oh my god”
The raccoon was in extreme pain.

“What do you want me to do?! STOP SCREAMING!!! JUST STOP SCREAMING!”
The raccoon continued to jump up and down.

I wanted to hug the raccoon.

I wanted to calm the raccoon.

But I knew it would bite me.
I knew it wanted to hurt me.

So I watched the raccoon die.

I felt helpless.

I remember vowing myself that I will never want to feel this way ever again and yet—

Here I was.

This raccoon was making me feel helpless,

So fucking helpless.

After a few moments, the raccoon began to quiet.

The raccoon continued to look at me and I looked at her.

Our eyes.

Quietly, she died before my eyes.

I continued to look at her, examining her, waiting.

Waiting and thinking that she’ll just jump up and walk away.

But no, she was dead.

I slowly walked back into my car.

I drove home.

I parked, I entered the house, I went to my room.

I changed into my pjs, I brushed my teeth, I went to bed.

And from there, I picked up the needle and yarn beside me…

And I crocheted.

I ignored everything that was around me.

I acted like it never happened.


[She stops crocheting… a moment… she begins again]


When my friend died, no one wanted to talk about it.

She committed a suicide.

For my Korean friends and family,

Suicide equates to shame.

I was ashamed that I killed the raccoon and didn’t do anything about it.


I crocheted.

[She puts down her crochet needles and yarn.]


No, I’m not going to pray.
I don’t need to pray.

[She’s being forced to pray.]


You can’t make me pray.

  1. I WON’T DO IT! NO!



[On her knees she prays.]

[She’s her 12-year-old self]


To Whom It May Concern:


I pray for the animals buried in my yard.

The dead, the neglected…. The eaten.

I pray the animals find a home that they can call their own.

[long pause]

I just want to say that it’s not fair that they have to spend an eternity in hell if you put them there.

[long pause]

I pray for the animals buried in my yard.

The dead, the neglected… the eaten.

I pray the animals find a home that they can call their own.

[long pause]

I also just want to say that it’s not fair that you would put them into my life if you’re just going to take them away.

[long pause]

I pray for the animals buried in my yard.

The dead, the neglected… the eaten.

I pray the animals find a home that they can call their own.

[long pause]

Please help me to see what you want me to see….


Depending on your preference,

Amen or… Awomen.


[The girl stands up.]


If there’s one thing I want you to take away from this…

It’s that…

Koreans eat dog.

It’s really true.

That’s why I’m so hairy.

My dad ate dog while he had sex with my mom.

So I’m part dog.

Woof! WOOF! WOOF! WOOF!!!!


[The girl laughs, barks, and runs away offstage]

[Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven is a Place on Earth” plays]




Death to the Animals Buried in My Yard was first performed in 2011 as part of Solo Performance piece at UC Santa Barbara.

It’s now twice that I’ve experienced grief.
First, I lost my grandfather to liver cancer. It was the first time where I saw someone battle and lose. I mourned for days, weeks, months– The grief never leaves you. It stays. It  may manifests into other forms over time like nostalgia but it stays with you.

On March 5th, 2017, I lost someone again–my good friend Patrick Boyle.

I met Patrick over a year ago through an improv class and ever since then, we continued to perform together as a team. He loved improv and comedy in such a way that it honestly turned me off. Not going to lie. He was obsessed. But that obsession grew on me. It morphed into a life of passion and eagerness to learn comedy. He was a highly motivated student who worked hard to connect with the community of improvisers. He shared his passions and knowledge to his closest friends and colleagues. And above all, he was consistent. People come and go… they seek improv with expectations that it’s a means to an end but not Patrick. He was in it for the long haul no matter how difficult or how heartbreaking it might be, he was going to keep performing, learning, engaging, and loving improv more than anyone else I knew. When he improvised scenes, he showed me how to approach the stage by putting other person first before yourself. I miss him and will continue to miss my good friend Patrick. He will not be forgotten because his death only showed me to never take granted of those who you share the stage with. When you’re on that stage, enjoy the creation of those scenes you’re building together. Making deep meaningful connections on stage with the person you’re standing with. The more I performed with Patrick, the more I got to know his humanity just a little bit more.

Thank you for everything, Patrick. You will not be forgotten as long as I continue to improvise. Whenever I perform, I’ll make sure to bring a little bit of you on stage with me because of what I learned from you– compassion, empathy, and bringing with me on stage the love of learning one of the most creative comedic art forms– improv.


DICK: I forgot to turn off the light.
PAM: Should I get up?
DICK: No, no, no. I’ll do it. You’re already in bed.
PAM: I can get up.
DICK: I can turn off the light.
PAM: When?
DICK: In a minute…
PAM: I’m getting up.
DICK: No, no, no– I can do it.
PAM: Let me know when you do.
DICK: I’ll get up right now.
PAM: Any minute now–
DICK: Right… now.
PAM: Really?
DICK: I’m just going to run, turn it off, and come back to bed.
PAM: Ready? Set. Go!
DICK: I’ll do it in the morning.