23 August, 2018

Silence is not an option. For any of us.

     Dearly beloved: we are gathered here today to mourn Al’s marriageability in a timely manner. Why? Not because her Dad is dead and “no one will ever be him” [Cue: score of Yentl], not because she has “intimacy issues,” or because she and her twenty-something long-term boyfriend in London decided to part ways before they could mutually acquiesce themselves into marriage. Al’s marriage-before-40 likelihood is as faded and impossible as that Hilary sticker you’re still sporting on your car bumper.

I did an interview yesterday with a woman who didn't ask IF I was married, but WHY I was NOT. I took a deep breath and said:

    "Probably because my OKCupid profile says nothing other than 'DEAD FATHER, HAS CAT, PUBLICLY DISCUSSES BOTH ON THE INTERNET. INQUIRE WITHIN.”

… She hung up.

I promptly went through a barrage of emotional responses:


That entire cycle took about 34 minutes. I repeated it roughly 5 times. After getting a grip I recognized that her totally inappropriate question triggered a crucial issue:

    Why, even if one is a triumph of a female human being, must they be married-with-children to be considered by society a fully-fledged “success?”

I've written about this crisis before, specifically when, earlier this year, I came clean about The Lie of Brian. Brian who, you ask? Why Brian my fake, fabricated, made-up husband. That is correct: the non-existent human I made up out of thin air. The fake husband who is, in his absolutely fake life, a pilot. Good ol' Brian the Pilot. Who does not exist.


Hear ye hear ye. Dearest readers, friends, family and total strangers:

    - I do not care that I am un-partnered.
    - I do not particularly want to arbitrarily be coupled off because it’s “time” or “what people do.”
    - I loathe the word “childless” because the word itself implies lack, and prefer the term “child-FREE,” which does not. Moreover, though my inability and desire to not biologically have children is (pardon the expression) inconceivable to you, please don’t regale me with how I will never understand true love or the meaning of life. There are many ways to parent. A multitude of ways to contribute.
    - I enjoy having meaningful, safe sex with people I like a great deal but might not be in a defined relationship with.
    - I vigorously deny that my only possible value as a woman must lie in the perceived carnality of my body, my avoidance of spinsterhood (what is this 1840?), and the number of (male) children I bear.
    - I would rather be single, living my awesome life, than married to the wrong person, living a life I don’t entirely remember why I signed up for.

Look: if any that is your jam, your life purpose, and awakened you to a host of life’s glorious possibilities, great. I’m genuinely happy for you. I want you to have your contentment and feel you have actualized your life purpose. All I humbly ask is that you please believe me when I tell you I have found my own in my own way, and please do not pity me for not sharing your identical source of happiness and contentment. (Okay and also don’t get mad if I appear bored with the posts of your kid labeled #blessed; as bored as I’m sure you are discussing my #booktour.)

But where’s the mute button for Debbie at the JCC who won't stop asking when you’re gonna stop getting married on the Tony Awards, to start focusing on when the “real wedding is?” How can I delete the family friend who passive-aggressively comments on all my posts that she is so glad I “have THIS [refers to epic career highlight she still thinks is equivalent to playing Mrs. Webb in Our Town freshman year].”

I’ll give these judgey people the benefit of the doubt: perhaps it has not occurred to them that the absence of a nuclear family might be a fact, but the myriad of reasons why, are profoundly personal? I also have the capacity to recognize that the public and visible parts of my life (travel, opening nights, elegant [rented!] clothing) might not display the personal sacrifices I (and all artists) make for my art (constant vigilance about one's vocal health that means missing out on talking or many a loud social catch up, serious financial volatility, or missing hugely important life events due to a performance schedule), and understandable, misunderstood envy might indeed be behind this interviewer's heated question.
 Ah well. Not every person is wired for empathy.
I can have patience.
That is, until I can’t.


I became allergic to dating somewhere around the summer of 2013, around the time I was dumped by a circus clown the same day I endured Parsifal at the Metropolitan Opera. It was also the summer I made my Carnegie Hall debut, was the unceremonious divorce-rebound (then ghosted-until-eternity) of a former high school classmate, and made the live West Side Story recording that earned me a Grammy nomination. 2013 was also the summer I turned 30 (the final night of West Side Story), and the summer I named my sister-in-law’s final baby bump “Charlotte” and realized I’d likely never name my own baby and had absolutely zero emotions about it.

It was a weird summer.

The following year I was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease, sang live on BBC at Royal Albert Hall, and adopted a fabulous cat. Man: life sure has its up and downs.

Let me be clear: I’m not humblebragging. I can be a mess just like the next person. Tonight I fell asleep in sweaty audition clothes at 6:40pm watching ‘Miss Fisher’s Mysteries’ for the eighth time, and awoke to the “are you still watching ____?” screen and laughed because LOL of course I am, Netflix. I don’t want to throttle my resume of down your throat to defensively justify my solitary existence, it’s just that I feel I have to in order to get this interview lady—and everyone like her—off my back already.

I’m not Marilla Cuthbert. I’m not Carrie Bradshaw. I’m Alexandra Silber: a real-life woman, authentically endeavoring to do the best I can with my one glorious life in the 21st century. Tell me: when did Glorious Solitude become such an “alternative lifestyle?” Have we as a society remained so staunch in our old world values, that declining to participate in the “you must be married and have babies by 30” myth is still limiting our view of a woman’s potential contribution to the world?

And while it might be easy to blame the Patriarchy and get all uppity on this here high horse (and I'm not saying systemic toxic masculinity isn't a part of the problem) in my experience, the majority of judgment and passive-aggression I personally encounter comes from fellow women. I cannot for the life of me fathom how women attacking other women is productive, or could in any way be viewed as progress. It's far past time to stop merely talking the talk of supporting one another and start walking that walk. Haven't we endured enough as a collective gender?


So what do I do? Well, I guess I’ll just have to get on with my kick-ass, amazing life. My life of spectacular, reveled-in introversion, blissful solitude, poetic quiet balanced with glittering days and nights. A life of service, creativity, travel, meaningful work, and life-affirming relationships with friends, family, and lovers. I guess I’ll just have to settle for writing and publishing books, doing eight shows a week in the theatre, teaching, and singing with internationally renowned orchestras. I guess I’ll have to travel at a moment’s notice or read and write all day in cute Golden Girls Pajamas. And I guess I’ll have to date people I like a lot, really care about, and have (predominantly decent) sex with most of them, until we decide not to do that anymore. What a bummer.

My life is not meaningless. It is not void of love. It is full to bursting of—and with—love and meaning. Just not the love and meaning the Old Testament talks about, that a lot of people judge me for not actualizing in a socially acceptable, howling-mob-determined “timely” manner.


So rounding back to the point sometime this century: screw you, interview lady—you can go whine to your heart's content, like the Jewish baby I will likely never be giving birth to because you know what? I don't need that kind of inquisition, Debbie from the JCC of Nowhere. I’m too busy kicking ass to worry why my milkshake brings all the mediocre jokers to the yard, or to split a lunch bill on a Thursday with some lame, 40-something nincompoop who “doesn’t want anything serious.”

I own that I didn’t have to answer with such snark. I could have politely responded rather than reacted. I could have tactfully said in a warm tone of voice “I don’t care to answer that question, thank you.” But I didn’t do that. I didn’t do that because I found the question intrusive as well as deprecating. So yes I answered with an edge because I didn’t so much feel I was speaking up for myself, as I was speaking up for women everywhere.

Simply put: I realized that I was not reactionary because I secretly fear my life is empty, but because I am annoyed as hell that I have to continually explain my life choices to people that assume it must be. People who feel sorry for me against my will.

What answer to your nose-y, judgmental question could possibly have helped you gain consequential insight into my most recent creative endeavor? Why exactly is this relevant? But above all: any of your business?

Do I want to be with someone eventually? Sure. I feel confident that I will be—in my own time and on my own terms, with a healthy, totally available, evolved adult. A true partner who fully sees and values me, and allows me to cherish them in return. I might meet them tomorrow. I might meet them in 20 years. But this nebulous concept of a timeline is okay with me, for not only am I fiercely principled about partnership, but I truly relish my present with all of my beating, passionate heart. I am confident that regardless, the fullness, contribution, legacy, impact, and richness of my life is up to me—and no one else.

But this needs to be an international conversation. We have allowed-away our society to create a world where both inter-sectional feminism and the #MeToo movement exist. Yet we also live in a world of persistent wage disparity, and where female reproductive health rights may legitimately be revoked at any moment. We still hate, doubt, blame and mercilessly shame women privately and publicly. We live in a world where human beings still continue to rip each other to pieces for living differently. I am not the only woman to have come of age in a pop culture that is hostile to women, but as I stand on the shoulders of my predecessors, I recognize that remaining silent and allowing myself to be judged this way is an affront to the progress of all women.

And that is not an option. For any of us.

20 August, 2018

The Jumpsuit: A Critical Essay

     Ahhhhhh the jumpsuit.

     Truth be told, when it comes to fashion I am, for the most part, lazy, thus hugely enjoy feeling vaguely “put together” in one simple garment.

Huzaah! Enter: the jumpsuit— the now ever-present summer staple that's always there to deliver on put-together-ness and outfit-selecting ease.

     A few seasons ago, wearing a jumpsuit would solicit comments such as “wow you are brave” or “gosh that’s daring.” I’d sort of shrug, not entirely understanding why courage and valiance were associated with my fashion-laziness, plus a desire to prevent New York City “swamp crotch” in deepest July—all whilst waiting for the N to (never) show up.

     Magazines and stylists on morning shows seemed to compare rompers to 15th-century exploration—a high risk, high reward endeavor into uncharted lands. I’d go out and awestruck friends would lean in ask in hushed voices: “But how do you go to the bathroom?” The truth? Slowly, disgustingly, over the course of what feels like 45 minutes. “Oh hello, it is July. I’m in a jumpsuit and have to pee—see you in 30 to 60 minutes, here's my credit card and please enjoy the dessert.”

     That said, during the summer I ostensibly rotate five outfits (again, lazy)—and just the other day I realized that three of these outfits are, indeed, jumpsuits.

Ugh. Dammit.

     A little over two weeks ago I sprained my wrist (falling off an electric-bicycle in San Francisco—good Lordy don’t ask), and I came to realize that a sprained wrist is simply one incapacitation too far for the dear ol' jumpsuit. The temporary incapacitation had me re-examine the garment entirely.

     I’ve come to the conclusion that jumpsuits (and their  Skipper-to-the-jumpsuit's-Barbie, hideous-little-sister: the romper) are a terrible failure of aeronautics, hygiene, design, and general practicality.
Good luck.
Here are a few, carefully selected reasons why the jumpsuit totally sucks:

1. Going to the bathroom is mission impossible.
Look. It’s going to take a few minutes to figure out how to get the contraption off of your person (without letting everything hit the floor but we’ll get to that in a minute).

Now how exactly do people wear these at music festivals or concerts where the only option to urinate is a sludge-soaked porta-potty? It is absolutely beyond my realm of comprehension. It defies all logic, Newton's Laws, and the very basic tenets of physics.

Plus, you better hope the line isn’t too long because you’re only taking six hours in there.
It’s fine.
No one else at this bar/restaurant/wedding/music festival has to pee. Or worse.

2. It’s disgusting.
So you get to the bathroom, you finally get the damn thing off of you and boom: you are totally naked. And, to make matters worse, your entire outfit now precariously threatens to lay on the floor of this public toilet and then? THEN YOU HAVE TO PUT IT BACK ON YOUR ENTIRE BODY.
Oh, my actual God.
That is how people get hepatitis.
...You might have hepatitis.

Basically, this is an article of clothing made for toddlers whose mother’s remove all their clothes to change them. Why would any sane person think, “You know I think adults should be able to wear these too”? Then why on earth would any adult person—including myself— actually purchase and wear them?


3. Dignity
Jumpsuits are like a camel toe/wedgie hybrid for which there is, as of yet, no proper name (camel-wedge? Wedgie-toe?)

Anyway. This abomination of dignity is exclusively caused by this chimera-like summer fashion staple.
In the mirror before you leave the house?
You take literally three steps into the hallway?
     Suddenly, 35% of your clothing has wiggled, crept, nay: slithered its way into the sweat-soaked shadows of the Great Unknown.

4. NO ONE can look sexy taking OFF a romper. 

I'm sorry: it is scientifically impossible.
I don’t care if you are Misty Copeland.
You cannot look attractive removing a jumpsuit. PERIOD.

In the heat of the moment, most people struggle hard enough trying to unbuckle a BELT, so good luck with a full body suit. I wouldn’t be surprised if your sexy-time partner gives up halfway, grabs their coat, and walks out screaming “It’s just not worth it.”

[*drops mic*]

17 August, 2018

#LoveList -- PODCASTS

     It may seem hard to believe, but podcasts are only a little over a decade old. In that relatively short time, the podcast has become a significant part of how the human race consumes all kinds of meaningful information—sociological, economic, political, artistic, journalistic and psychological, to name but a few. When it comes to podcasts, we’re 10+ years into a vivid, crucial artistic medium.

     Podcasts do tick a sort of neo-vintage box for the consumer— a throwback to the radio days of yore, where both extraordinary distance, as well as intimacy, in that specific “theatre of the imagination” reigned.

     But though podcasts have crossover qualities with great radio, they are not radio. At least not exclusively. And so what, exactly, is a podcast?  And how does it differ from traditional radio or audio-narration content?

     First and foremost: a podcast is a piece of audio that was created, at least in part, specifically for digital release.

     The specificity of the digital experience is more than simply that the content is experienced on a digital device— it means, that more often than not, the content is being consumed on a personal set of headphones, which does make a huge difference in the sense of intimacy and imaginative dialogue that occurs between content creator and consumer. Unlike in days of yore when audio-based, traditional radio content was consumed casually, and predominantly in a larger setting (such as the living room or the in the car), today a podcast exists by almost literally whispering in the ears of its listeners, and that is an intimacy we have never fully experienced before on such a widespread level. That is a podcasts’ distinction.

     Podcast purists—and such people do exist—might object to the inclusion of major radio heavyweights, but This American Life and Radiolab, to take two major examples, are, in my opinion anyway, both great podcasts as well as great radio programs. But often, you’ll find that distinction blurs.

     So without further ado, here is my list. I have included the podcasts we all already know and love: This American Life, Radiolab, The Moth, Serial, and TED Radio Hour  I’ve included a few lesser know but equally impactful gems. Some you may, and some you may not have known you needed to listen to rightthissecond.


1. Love + Radio

     Nick van der Kolk’s Love + Radio is a podcast pioneer, taking the personal storytelling and high-quality production you might associate with This American Life into realms more risqué and even raunchy than you’re likely to find on public radio (though some episodes have, in fact, aired on public radio).

     This podcast weaves fact and fiction, pulling together interviews and stories that relate to a theme. It’s a podcast that introduces you to the strangest of strangers but also gives a gentle reminder that we’re all a little bit strange.

Top episode pick:

    “The Living Room”—my favorite podcast of anything ever. A story of a New York woman who becomes intimately involved in the lives of her neighbors because they never close their curtains. What begins as the most audacious form of hedonism turns in a slow, sickening story of empathy and profound human not-connection. I suggest sitting down and doing nothing else but thoroughly listening to it for the 20 minutes. It is radio story-telling at its absolute best. Funny, riveting, fascinating, heart-wrenching, moving beyond. Beyond. 

2. This American Life

     No surprises here, This American Life is an international institution. This American Life's archive goes back to 1995 and I have listened to every single episode since I came across it in 2002, enjoying its arc as the show grew into an increasingly polished purveyor of top-notch narrative nonfiction.

Top episode pick:
     Act V—the podcast that made me fall in love with any form of radio. Theater meets humanity in heart and gut-wrenching reality.

3. Radiolab
     Radiolab, like This American Life, is a gateway podcast, hooking listeners with a rich, 13-season back catalog of episodes that stand the test of time.

     “Space” was one of the first Radiolab to have been produced during the podcast era, and the episode brings together many of the elements that make people love the show: interviews with a diverse slate of voices, scientists as well as artists and authors; an intriguing soundtrack (“Radiolab space episode music” is a Google search autofill); and, above all, an intelligent probing of the human, emotional aspects of an essential scientific topic.

     The most indelible part of the episode is the interview with Ann Druyan, widow of Carl Sagan. She tells the story of the pair’s collaboration on the “Golden Record” sent with the Voyager probes, a job they started as colleagues and finished as lovers. This was a tremendously difficult selection, but

Top episode pick:

Other Radiolab honorable mentions include:
     60 Words
     The Ring and I

4. Invisibilia

     I adore this NPR podcast, which explores the intangible (invisible, hence the title) forces that shape our everyday lives. It is absolutely fascinating to consider the ineffeble mysteries of our perception and assumptions. I’ve personally devoured every episode because they deeply explore  emotions, thoughts, and perceptions like Arctic explorers. They also do it so artistcally, that it is irresistable, captivating, and moving. 

Top episode pick:
     The Secret Emotional Life of Clothes

5. Serial
©hula seventy
     Ohai. Have you heard about Serial? No? Well, where the heck have you been living? Serial became a pop culture phenomenon unlike any podcast before it or since. There are podcasts about this podcast—and its success has helped to create velocity and expansion for the entire medium.

     And yeah: whatevs, it’s pretty good. AND BY PRETTY GOOD I MEAN LIFE-STOMPINGLY AMAZING. This is one of those podcasts where you wake up Thursday and you had plans… but they got canceled. Because you had to listen to Serial. I’m not kidding.

     To quote Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic:
“After five episodes, the worst thing that can be said about Serial, a new podcast led by This American Life producer Sarah Koenig, is that the next episode isn't yet online. It will post Thursday. I will listen immediately. If the rest of the inaugural season's episodes were released together, like House of Cards, I'd consume them in one sitting, foregoing sunshine, sleep, and human contact until all episodes were exhausted. That's how I binge-watched much of The Wire, The Sopranos, and Breaking Bad. At the time, I never imagined I'd ever binge-listen to radio.”

     By telling a completely true story (over 12 episodes of roughly 45 minutes each), and reporting that story as they went, the producers of Serial not only created something genuinely new, they expanded people’s concept of what podcasts were capable of.

     The extraordinary compassion with which they tell this complex tale is the star of this piece. But everything shimmers— from the narration by host Sarah Koenig, to the music, the intensity and thoroughness of the journalism, the emotion captured and presented. It’s all there from the first moments of Episode 1, “The Alibi,” which is now the most downloaded podcast in history:

    Serial Episode 1: “The Alibi”

     Click and… say bye bye to the known world for the next 24 hours.

16 August, 2018

Coulda-been-ku 17


Lovely is not love
Friendly is not friendship. But 
through the ache: I learned.

13 August, 2018

Audible Presents: After Anatevka

Hear this:

Dear hardworking dreamers everywhere, keep going.

Create one word, sentence, paragraph at a time.

Anything is possible.

"After Anatevka, an Audible Production at the Minetta Lane Theatre, will celebrate Alexandra Silber's novel about the characters in the musical Fiddler on the Roof.

Audible Inc., the world's largest producer and provider of downloadable audiobooks and other spoken-word entertainment is pleased to announce its production of After Anatevka, a literary and musical evening celebrating Alexandra Silber's sweeping historic novel and its upcoming release on Audible. Picking up where beloved musical Fiddler on the Roof left off (based on the original stories by Sholem Aleichem), After Anatevka centers on Tevye's daughter Hodel and the adversities she faces in her extraordinary attempt to reunite with her politically-imprisoned fiancé at a Siberian work camp. A love story set against a backdrop of some of the greatest violence in European history, After Anatevaka is a stunning conclusion to a tale that has gripped audiences around the globe for decades.

The actress turned novelist Alexandra Silber has
spent a lot of time living in Anatevka, the fictional Russian village in “Fiddler on the Roof.” Maybe not as long as Tevye and Golde’s daughters, but she has played a couple of them — Hodel, in a British production, and later Tzeitel, in the 2015 Broadway revival."

Or, to quote the New York Times:
 "On Monday, Aug. 13, at Minetta Lane Theater in Greenwich Village, a live event will add another couple of layers to this creative mille-feuille. The audiobook company Audible, anticipating its own release of “After Anatevka,” will host an evening combining excerpts from the novel, read by Ms. Silber, with songs written for “Fiddler” (including “Dear Sweet Sewing Machine,” which was cut from the show) and new numbers inspired by “After Anatevka.” 

Performers are slated to include Samantha Massell, Matthew Scott and Kerstin Anderson; the “Fiddler” lyricist Sheldon Harnick is expected to be on hand, too. Audible will, of course, be recording the program for its audiobook."
Dearest friends. Dearest readers who have been with me since the first blog post was published in 2007.It is not at all hyperbole to declare that Monday was among the top moments of my entire life. Once upon a time I was a tiny baby actress in love with a character, who discovered she had a need to express herself in words. One word, one collection of words, one sentence, one paragraph at a time... words that became a story, that became a collection of paper pages that have now touched more than I could ever dream to have reached. To have my friends and colleagues inspired by this new chapter, for these characters to come to life, and be given a new voice in which to sing and soar; to lend my own voice to it as well?

My Bennyyyyyy.
This project is everything I do in one place, and it was captured and shall be preserved for eternity by and on Audible. This was a dream project born of my humble little mind so many years ago, an effort of heart, soul, creativity and sheer will. I say that to inspire, not to gloat: If I can do it, so can you. If you have a dream, keep going. One sentence at a time.

I am so grateful to Pegasus Books, to Audible, to my agent Joelle Delbourgo, to my editor Iris Blasi, to Carolyn Cantor for directing the evening, and to every composer, lyricist, the gloriously gifted friends who raised their voice in song.

But especially my beloved Ben Moss—that kid fresh out of Harvard I met all those years ago now, who has grown up to be my favorite pal to grab a margarita with (in any town), my greatest collaborator and favorite travel companion. There's no one else I'd rather be trapped at LaGuardia with, Benny.

This was a night of nights which I shall never forget (and that you can all hear on the audiobook from Audible, Oct 5!)

Keep making things.


Magical production photographs by Michael Kushner.

Ben Moss
Ellie Fishman and Kerstin Anderson sing "The Stillness of the Office"
Samantha Massell reprises her "Far From the Home I Love"
the glorious Ellie Fishman (with Ben Moss on piano)
from L to R: Ben Moss, Matthew Scott, myself, Samantha Massell, Kerstin Anderson, Ellie Fishman
with beloved "Dear Friend" Sheldon Harnick
Dear Friends

02 August, 2018


One year. Healthy.
Today is my one year health-anniversary. 
Today I have, joyfully, gratefully, been in remission and completely symptom free for an entire 365 days.

Infinite love and gratitude is owed to my closest friends, my medical team (especially "Dr F"), and of course #MamaSilbs.

This has been a significant year of
setting and maintaining boundaries,
the facing and conquering of fears,
major actualization,
extraordinary discipline, 
weathering disappointment and trauma, 
and ultimately? VICTORY. 
There is no cure for chronic disease, but there is hope and the possibility of thriving not in spite of, but because of our adversities. 
Keep fighting. 
Keep slaying. 
Keep GOING. 

📸: @themichaelkushner 
💄: @perspectivebeats 
Edit: me

01 August, 2018

Coulda-been-ku 16


If youre going to
rebounddont do it with your 
High school scene partner.


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