In my head, there lives a mangy alcoholic in a messy studio apartment, ripping up notebooks and picking at scabs on his stubbled face. He scribbles down three unintelligible words that he is convinced are brilliant before he walks, slumped shoulders, belly first towards his only window. He sniffs and looks through the blinds, which have been battered and bent from being pulled apart for his nervous investigations to the outside world. The outside world, to the alcoholic in my head, is a pink and fluffy place, a cartoon paradise blended together from Dr Seuss books and Roger Dean paintings, with clouds that wrinkle and fold like the texture of my brain, rivets of electricity pulsing through them.
Those clouds are held up and apart by neurons, little spidery branches that attach the sky to the ground, keep everything together, including the dented shoebox that houses his studio apartment. He rolls a soggy ended, unlit cigarette between his dry lips and yellow teeth. "This place is too goddamned much sometimes."
On the opposite wall, dressed in the alternate stripes of shadow and daylight, is a board full of pushpins, newspaper clippings and yarn. It's my schedule. There's a map of the US and places I'm supposed to go. The addict was tracking something very meticulously, at first, but now his cravings have gotten the better of him. What once was a structured map, with faces, names, places, with memories and plans, day dreams and ideas, has become an increasingly tangled nest of red threads.
I guess what I'm saying is, I haven't been on stage in almost 2 weeks, and also I could probably use a shower. I am trying to do something big, at least I think so. Maybe I am trying to do something very small, but over and over, like the valleys of a fractal; they're simple enough on their own, it's their scalability, their relationships to one another make them seem expansive. I will tell you more about that later. I don't want to mention it in the presence of the alcoholic, it upsets him, and I want to bring it to you with the excitement I have for it, not the strangeness of correlated problems.
In the time that I am trying to do a very big thing, I am very distanced from everything else.
Normal people might call that vacation.
I call it withdrawal.
I decided to leave Denver a long time ago. We could play "Pick a Motive, any Motive," for why I did, but increasingly, the reason for leaving was that there was nothing there for me to do and how out of place I felt in comedy. There were those that worked the club, using the disturbingly corporate phrase of "climbing the ladder," there were those that were becoming the local producers, and those that simply just enjoyed the tumbling of it all. I was none of them. I felt so bitter and left out. Now that I'm removed from it, I feel ... I don't know. It's different. Not bitter any more, but empty, I am missing something. I can never quit.
The alcoholic in my head has run out of his reserves; he can no longer keep himself locked in a room, sequestered from everything that hurt or even touched him. He's got to leave now, to step out into the bright sun and mention something to other people. It starts with a mutter, it ends with a frantic battle cry. Am I cursed to always feel insane? How many little monsters, addicts and aliens live in my cartoon brain with me?
I wonder if I'm a comedian. I don't seem to like doing the things I'm supposed to, one of which is making people laugh. I do, but only if I feel like they're laughing because I made them understand something. I don't want them to laugh because I said something silly. I want them to look in the face of the dark shit, the hard world and laugh at it. I want them to be brave, I want them to think. That's a lot to ask of people who want to do the exact opposite after having the world thrown at them all day long and are looking to unwind.
So, It's a complicated relationship I have with it; I love doing it, but the longer I do, the more it seems like there's something very specific that I want to do. It's not just telling jokes. I can do that, arguably pretty easily and I would do fine. I don't want to tell jokes. I want to tell whatever this is, this story that's got me on a leash, that claims it's got the reins to the real world and if you hold it like so, if you understand it, you can rule it. There is something very funny to me about finding out the dragon you had convinced yourself was going to destroy you is just the shadow of a lizard who didn't even know you were there.
That's a counter intuitive way of making a career out of jokes, but here I am, looking for the shadows and their sources. Here I am, because this is where I'm compelled to be. Without trying, there's very little for me to live for.
It would seem that there will forever be a chasm, some dark ridge that everything can fall into. No one I love, nothing I do or care about can stop me from falling into it. What those people I love do, what those things I care about can motivate me towards, is climbing upwards. Sometimes I think all it means to "make it to the top" is to have been so relentless in outrunning your demons that you happen to achieve great things as you attempt to surpass them.
The alcoholic swings open the door to his house, a shoebox wrapped in neurons like it's being squeezed by the roots of an upside down tree. He steps out onto the bright soil of my conscious mind and flicks his cigarette into a squishy shrub. The burn mark it leaves means I can't add multiples of 8 any more. Maybe it's some childhood memory that's now discarded. He walks barefoot, leaving grubby brown foot prints across the bouncy, soft landscape. My brain is a moon bounce. My brain is marshmallows and jelly. My brain is haunted by a need to speak, a sense of purpose, however weak, disheveled, and hopeless it may seem.
There was a hailstorm in Denver yesterday. Chunks of ice the size of golf balls crashed onto our city, smashing houses, windows, and unfortunate people. It wasn't hard at all for me, in all the noise and flying ice, to see how in the eyes of ancient men, this was a punishment from heaven. To blame weather on the moods of gods, to fix drought or flood by appeasing them with sacrifices and ceremonies makes a lot of sense if all you have to go off of is your life, your people, and the sky.
We are no longer an ancient civilization that has only our families and the sky to learn from. We are now a civilization of device and vice, distraction and critique. Everything and every one is analyzed, even the weather. It means nothing. It means climate change. It means we need to invest in a suit of armor if we're going to leave the house.
Then the storm settled. It went from crashing stones to barely specks, to nothing at all, silence resumed its space in sky. They're called weather patterns for a reason; if A and B are present, C can be expected. Storms are recipes based off of events and conditions. By watching them, we know how they are created, we can predict when and how intensely they will exist.
Jordan showed up in my dream last night. He does from time to time. I don't really remember the context of the dream at all but it was one of the better ones I've had where he drops in. It's his birthday today. This is the first year I'm not wishing him a happy birthday. We still saw each other a lot last year, even though it was in the midst of some bizarre deluge of post-relationship emotion and most of the time really sucked. I still wished him Happy Birthday.
I don't care about anniversaries. I can't keep track of them very well. I've never met somebody and immediately checked my calendar to make sure I knew exactly when it happened so I could remember it forever. Birthdays are more finite though, and more personal. They're a day for that particular human (or humans) in your life. This particular day has always been marked in mine and it feels weird right now.
We haven't spoken since last July. Funny, I don't really know if that's a long time or not. Based on the words, it doesn't seem long at all, based on how it feels, it doesn't even feel separated by time so much as by personality. I barely identify myself as the person he knew and I almost don't know if I could recognize her, let alone if he could.
I know it felt a little strange on my birthday that I wouldn't see him, but that didn't hit me that hard as it didn't seem atypical; even when we were together my birthday tended to be something I'd celebrate out with my friends. Not to mention for the past couple years comedy has swallowed my birthday whole and I almost don't see it coming until it's already behind me.
I almost sent him a text today, but the temptation was easy to resist once I realized there wasn't a point. What good would that do? What would the purpose of that even be and what would I even say? "Hi there. You've probably moved the hell on, and I have too, but I figured I'd dig up our dead relationship on your birthday because I thought we should both potentially feel awful today. Anyway, hope you're well and I miss the dog. Happy Birthday."
Part of me likes to think he stills reads this blog occasionally, or one of this friends does. I don't know why they would, but I like to think he can keep me as a background connection in his head. No matter where he goes in his life or what happens, he can look here and know that he's always loved, even if we never speak again.
I feel guilty for even thinking about him, let alone caring about him still, because I have someone else now. It seems wrong, selfish even, to still have any pushback or feelings about my ex. I'm so grateful to have found someone like the person I have, and I feel like I owe him more loyalty, but having a past is involuntary. That shadow will never stop following me. What do they call that, the feelings you have about your feelings, secondary emotion? What is that correlation in the weather metaphor? Does a storm ever feel bad about itself for happening?
I don't know if I can figure out the weather in my head any better than ancient man could. In my head I am weathering a storm, but I have less knowledge of the systems and patterns. It feels like the gods of Time and Feeling are upset with me. Maybe I need to provide a sacrifice. Maybe that sacrifice is just another moment requisite of letting go. I know it will get better with time, that I'm being irrational, this is just the first time I've had to do it, and I'm not sure how to handle myself. I'm fortunate to have the people in my life that care that I'm hurting enough to let me do it, and wait for it to pass. Eventually, the quiet has to return.
I don't really know what motivates a comedian to stand in front of crowds. Either we think we have something to say that's worth hearing, or maybe we are looking for something and casting the widest net we can think of to find it. Maybe that's why people notoriously quit once they get into good relationships. The void is filled and they no longer have to shout to the masses to do so. For others, it's not a void we're trying to fill, it's something we're trying to let out.
I stood on the club stage to a near packed room, the lights stole my view of everyone's face. I was alone and surrounded. I told one of my favorite jokes to a wave of laughter only to feel so disconnected and empty that it was borderline painful. I spent most of my brief time looking for the light. I broke down in the green room. For awhile I was thinking about this movie where casinos would hire this sad guy they called the cooler to walk around. His depression would change the energy of a room so that people would start to lose, just because they'd pick up on his sadness. I wondered that night if I was the comedy cooler, but I later decided I simply didn't belong there. I left abruptly to go sit by the river.
I like the river, especially at night. The way the yellow lights cross over the surface makes it look like a painting creating itself. I like the sound, the cold. It made me feel peaceful, and there's something about the little harshness of cold water that helps when you're feeling pretty beat up inside. I understood that river more than the club I'd walked out of. It was there that it dawned on me that, "Dammit, I might be fucked. Again."
The last time I had that thought was when I quit my day job in March last year. The circumstances had a similar emotional context even if in reality they were very different. I knew that something had to give.
It's been hard for me to unpackage, but I have been feeling increasingly at odds with my home city and more specifically, my home scene. I've bounced back and forth between it being me, my own arrogance and sense of entitlement making me feel alienated to feeling like I'm always going to be an afterthought here because I don't fit whatever expectation is had of me.
I'm at the point now where I think it's a little of both. I'm leaving Denver in June. I've been slow to admit outside of a few people I've talked to in person, but now that it's become a reality and not just a daydream I don't really care either way who knows. I've hit some kind of wall here.
I don't know if it's that I don't fit with the direction Denver's scene is choosing, or if I'm watching normal growing pains of a midsized scene, but I do know that there's not a lot I can offer this town any more, and for the same reason, there's not a lot it can offer me. All of this is symbiotic. If you can help people, people can help you. The way these scenes work, the infrastructure they're built on requires key people, and those key people get a lot of say in how things go. If you're not one of them, you're at their whims and if you're not their style of humor, not easy enough to get along with or simply not in the same room as them often enough, you'll end up where I am.
I've watched the people that have been doing comedy for about the same length of time as I have,. Some of them are definitely finding a stride here, and some of them are faltering at hurdles I've managed to pass. It's hard for me not to get jealous and remember that those ahead of me aren't doing it to spite me. They've just found something, they have some focus, and a place here, at least for the time being. I don't, and I don't think there's anything productive about sitting here until I magically rise to the top of the Denver pool just by the dignity of time. There's not much more I can do here.
I got the opportunity to talk to an out of towner last night who's going through something similar in his home town, and he's in the process of leaving as well. That was a great conversation to have; the realization that it's not just me and it's not just this place, there's no war between self and other that leads to this feeling of alienation. It's just a point some of us get to. I remember this feeling, and it means it's time to go.
Mid June will mark about 4 years doing comedy for me, and because I've done it consistently the whole time and have no interest in stopping, that officially makes it the longest running thing I've been interested in. I will always love it, even with its sharp edges and hard times. I will love it no matter where it throws me or how long it takes to get there.
I feel like I am frequently stuck between "now" and "then," which hinders me from really understanding where either of those two points end or begin. I don't like to make plans. I don't like calendars, I don't like gridding out my days and hours like they're apartment complexes housing succinct little personalities. Tuesday is for open mics or work, Friday's for shows, 1 P.M. is for eating, or whatever, however you imagine parcels of time. I think part of why that fascinates me is that because time is effectively change, that it's sort of nonexistent unless it's being measured. What the fuck does now mean unless it is contained within more finite definitions, like 2:00, or Sunday?
Admittedly, not being able to plan or grasp "then" during "now" makes it very tough to figure out where I'm going in a profession that relies pretty heavily on advanced notice.
If time really does flow, not linearly but with currents, it must do so en masse like an ocean, changes come from the past, from the future, from the very complicated now. It can be overwhelming to know where you're supposed to go. When faced with an impossible decision, choose the option you don't know the answer to. If it hurts, you'll know for next time, and better yet, you'll know why not to choose it again. I don't really know what will happen when I leave, but I do know that there's only a limited number of things that will happen while I'm still here.
I don't really know where I'm going yet or how long it's going to take me to find it, or even if "it" has much more of a shelf life than anything else. Seems like every year I have one of these realizations, that some bigger risk is needed. I hope I figure it out.
Sometimes I have this dream where I wake up in a house that's on fire. My throat is already burning and dry, and my eyes are flooded by thick grey smoke that wraps my face like gauze. More than fight for my life, I wonder who the fuck's house I have woken up in, because I know for sure I don't live there.
There is something about waking life that can seem very dreamlike if you look inward long enough. Reality has always been something of a puzzle for me. There's a lot of layers there, who am I, what is the world, and how much of what I see is real or not? It got very muddled as I became painfully aware that not everything I thought to be real actually was. I had to pick apart my reality and the constant that I shared with others.
To make matters more complex, I became a hell of a liar. Lies are a very tricky, complicated thing. Even when they're yours, they have their own fingerprints and their own weight. They wrap transparently over things that are there and take on that appearance, even as they suffocate whatever true being lived below it. Lies, after a point, become convinced of themselves, that their reality is just as good as the original one.
Last year I started writing an article about lies that I remember I had hoped to use as a sort of "come out" for myself. I wienered out by the time I actually decided to post it. I justified my lack of confronting myself because my lies were for my own benefit. They didn't, or shouldn't matter to anyone else.
I put my feet on the floor and I realize that I'm already dressed. Someone's hand is on my arm. "Get up, it's time to go."
No shit, man.
This is kind of a struggle. There's something about admitting what's true that makes me feel like I have to give you some back story to justify why I was a liar in the first place. I guess the simple answer is because I didn't really know what else to do, or who else I was. I was very young.
The real story goes like this: I was a very awkward teenager. I didn't have a lot of friends, or any, really and I spent most of my time by myself. I used to go on these really long walks and listen to music and the whole time I was convinced that someone was going to kill me although I didn't know why I had that paranoia.
On one of those walks, I met the person who would ruin my life. I've already written about that and don't want to again. No one saved me. I just stayed on the floor and cried and felt stupid, and disgusting and used and ashamed, this whole caldera of feelings I had no context for. I never understood how someone could betray me that badly or why, and I shut down. I spent the next three and a half years in my room and In that time, I don't think I ever once admitted what happened. Not until much, much later.
Not until after I had lied about myself for years.
While I was in that hole, I invented the second reality. I invented friends and life experiences so that when I would later have to talk to people I wouldn't feel like such a moron. I invented a past drug problem because it made it easier to ask for drugs when I was old enough to look for them myself.
In my adult life, my lies became my passport to the strange and interesting people. I was too shy, too broken, to talk to anyone without them. With them, I had something to contribute. It got me here.
Get up, it's time to go. And we do. I follow blindly through passages so narrow and full of smoke it feels like I'm pushing through the bowels of a monster with indigestion. The hand that is tugging on my arm is starting to hurt. It's not a hand, it's two fingers. Not fingers, claws. Nubby little claws that dig into my arm. They're so familiar to me.
They're the claws of a T-Rex, a green dinosaur toy that I've been carrying with me for almost a year now. He is conspicuously large but people rarely question me on it, no matter where I take him. His paint is a little bit chipped and reveals his grey body. All in all, he has survived a lot. He is my little protector.
I think I was 19 when I first talked about what really happened, but I only approached it by putting it in the context of my other world.
The story that I told was that there was someone else in the bathroom. He stumbled into my nightmare as an unintentional hero. I wasn't violated, just almost was, and out of the insanity of the experience I had a friend. More friends, as I met his circle. I got into drugs, struggled with them, quit them eventually, went to college. I usually omitted the first part that touched reality until much later. I had my bad crowd, and I used that to explain my weird behavior.
I used my fake teenage years to give myself strength because in that version, I had overcome something, albeit something else. I had an origin story. It helped me explain a lot of myself and even after writing this and admitting that none of it's true, I don't know how much of my daily rhetoric will change. I'm so used to that being my past that it feels like it. I became who I was because of those lies. As I became more sure in my footing though, I realized something that's been hanging around me like the smoke in my dream.
I follow my impossibly large and small plastic friend unquestioningly. I'm not so sure it's because I trust that he knows where he's going so much as I'm confident that I have no fucking clue. Given that, and the fact that I have to assume left to my own devices I end up in the burning house of a stranger, I sort of assume he's better at making these decisions than I am.
We walk outside, but outside is a stage, some show I had but didn't remember. I can't see the audience with the brightness of the stage lights. I feel good about it. There is a kind of stillness, a quiet that lets you know that people are listening, that they want to be listening to you. I think I like that silence almost as much as I like to make people laugh. Stage left, in the wings, T-Rex motions with his tiny arms that I should start. I grab the microphone, look to the floorboards and they're starting to smolder. Well, fuck. This place isn't any more stable than the last one, is it?
I realized as I became more okay with confronting the truth that I also had no grounds to talk about it. Sexual assault is often reduced in court to "He said, she said." All I read about in the media was how it broke down the victims as though they were on trial, retraced every word they said to look for lies and falsehoods. It seemed too late, too distant, to try and find him now, but I had to face the fact that if someone started tugging at my tapestry and uncoiled everything I'd fabricated, what were the odds that they'd start accusing me of lying about that, too?
There is no part of me that thinks I have a defense if they did other than it happened and it broke me. Even now I wouldn't be able to handle that test. The fake reality had webs around the real one, and I haven't really been sure what to do about it.
I think a lot of people could find, at the very least, my motive for lying to be empathetic. It got complicated as I met people that related to my non-existent past; I had some pretty heartfelt conversations with people about their struggles with drugs, or people they'd lost to them, and in the back of my mind I had to wonder if I was cashing in on their struggle, and that felt bizarre and awful. How was I supposed to tell them? It was so second nature to tell those stories and I needed them so dearly. Even now I'm not totally sure what I'm going to do about it. It feels as much a part of me as the actual blankness that encompassed most of my teenage years. It's like I've grown another head, and I'm not sure which one is supposed to control my body.
I don't think I would tell my younger self not to lie. If I hadn't I might have killed myself. It was escapism at the time. It became a little more hurtful when my escape bled into someone else's struggles. The only thing that I can do now, I guess, is bridge the gap between that person I assumed I was and the person I really am. The person I assumed I was, she was tough. She had been through a lot and come out of it strong. I had made her that way, and she was me, so that meant I was, too.
But I'm not. I am incredibly sensitive and I don't take my blows well. I surrounded myself with people that I thought were strong, though, and I made up those stories so I knew what it looked like to feel brave. In a way, it sort of worked. I have a self-confidence that I am gently pulling the false framework away from and creating the skeleton of who I want to be.
Weird as I may be, nearing my 30s and having a plastic dinosaur as my chief companion, I keep him around as an anchor. I'm not very good at managing the chaos in my life. I have trouble deciphering who is really me, who I am inventing out of habit and who people think I am. The older I get the more efforts I make to live honestly. I don't know if it's harder or not, it's just more important.
I can't blame anyone for lying because the truth was something impossible, that harsh reality made you weak, or small, or cowardly, or awful. Maybe that's what separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom; our lies aren't just bluffs; if we scare off predators with eye spots, we may adapt to grow those big eyes. Our lies create realities and we can master perception that way. It's a pretty crazy power to have while it lasts.
I'm still ashamed of myself for lying, and for this long, but at least I have the opportunity to be open before getting caught. I've made it this far on a very calculated lie. I can only hope I can make it further on the truth, and hope that my real life isn't such a tinder box.
I have a temper.
This is the entire conversation I had with X. There are some people who are already aware that I had this fight and know who X is, but she deserves her privacy. I choose to write my response this way because I don't believe that our "meeting for coffee" would work. I use this blog to articulate myself and process and I see no reason not to do it this way.
After receiving these, I posted an extremely angry response on the women's group that we were both part of (I left immediately after). It was definitely an attack, but I did my best in my rage to keep the ad hominem low and state what I believed. I'd post that here so you can see that it was irrational and angry, but it's been taken down since. X posted the very first message of the conversation we had, and from what I gather, it was that message alone that people assume I got angry about. I chose not to post the entire conversation in part because I wanted to find out whether or not she would. I knew the information would get back to me one way or another and that would either confirm what I believed about this being a propagation of victim mentality, or prove me wrong in which case I'd be more open to speaking with her more in depth. She did not prove me wrong.
For those of you who TLDR'ed that wall of text, the gist of it is that I didn't book have a woman booked on my show this month. That's true; I had someone booked, she dropped out, I chose someone else that I thought was a strong comedian. I picked someone that I thought was different in style and high energy (I won't say who it was), because I was considering the overall pacing of the show from what I know about the people on it.
I realize that this is a very long blog, but any one who talks to me about it will hear the exact same thing. I have this as backup. I want to be completely clear about where I stand and I hold myself accountable for what I say. If someone does illustrate to me that I am wrong and she is not, so be it.
After booking my last comedian and seeing my all male line up, I posted in a Denver comedy women's group inviting women to show me their sets. Invite me to a show, pull me aside at a mic, let me know who you are so if I was unaware I could book you. I considered this a solution so I could avoid in the future. In her message X accuses me of not looking hard enough. I'm not sure what the realism of this statement is. I hit mics constantly and I watch everyone's set. I pay attention to people that I don't know on shows. I opened up booking for women specifically. I'm not sure what is not looking hard enough so much as her just thinking I'm not allowed to have my opinion as to what is funny, or what would work in my room.
X, this is for you. I am not having coffee with you because none of your reaction to me seemed to acknowledge my views in the first place. You don't seem open to dialogue. To be blunt, wrongly or rightly, the fact that you hid behind your first message to make me seem like I was overreacting, combined with the content of your message, makes me believe you can't. You are aware of my opinion. You disagree. You want me to conform to yours. I will not, not with that kind of communication.
You simply stated that what I did wasn't good enough for you. You don't speak for every woman in comedy. You are new to the scene and the rationale you're applying isn't equivalent to the real world. This kind of blind eye, blanket approach to things is detrimental, in my opinion, to feminism as a whole.
From here on, I'm just going to break down why I reacted the way I did.
There are so many ladies looking to get stage time.
Yes, there are, but there are a lot of human beings looking for stage time. From what little I have to base this off of, there are about 80 women in that comedy group. There were about 400 people in the draft for comedy works, which includes all of us who signed up for new talent or the contest. That's not a perfect gauge of how many there are total, but it demonstrates a level of one in five, the number of women that are booked on the show that I, a woman who busts ass to put it together every month while hitting mics, shows and working 2 jobs, puts together. You are devaluing my work and opinion as a woman because you think I owe you more. I believe in fairness and mathematically, I believe that's a fair representation.
I'm sure your audience would appreciate a diverse lineup.
X, you have never set foot in my room. You don't get to tell me what they enjoy. Saying this implies that it's not something I consider because 2 of 14 shows, both instances because of someone dropping out, there have not been women. This is highly insulting to me, that you're suggesting I have put a room that averages about 60 people together and am clueless to what they might like.
It's strange to me that I need to remind you how hard it is [since] you're a lady comic and have probably faced prejudice yourself.
You contradict yourself on this point strongly a bit later, X, and this is one of the most condescending and infuriating things you said to me. For one thing, this type of statement is both an appeal to flattery and an appeal to consequence. You are telling me, effectively, that I should know better, "I'm better than my decisions. That's a nonsense statement. You're trying to elicit my emotional response as though I'm not completely aware of what I'm doing.
Secondly, you are essentially suggesting that "because I care about women, and your point is about caring about women, then I must be wrong if I don't agree to your point." I hope I don't need to further explain why that is a baseless argument. I believe in feminism and I believe in pragmatism, showing that we are empowered, logical and strengthen our argument with critical thought, not picking every battle for sympathy, which I firmly believe you did here. That, I will stipulate is my opinion and you can try and change my mind on that, I can't state what your intentions are, that's just how it comes across. More on this as we go.
Happy International Women's Day!
This wouldn't have bothered me aside from the fact it's a petty jab at me apparently being ignorant to your brand of feminism. This wasn't an olive branch or solidarity, it was a literal, use of words power play. If you are talking to me in person you can offer me inflection or tone but this is writing and choosing your words is all you have to get your point across. This reeks of ivory tower bullshit where you can tell me about your women's studies courses because my knowledge must be outdated or incomplete. It comes across as you believing I am ignorant. Again, you imply that I must be less ... I don't know, feminist, something, than you, because I didn't do what you liked.
My response explained the situation and steps I had taken for it not to happen in the future. I further mentioned my firm belief that I am against this kind of nitpicking and it prevents me from doing things that I consider to be supporting women, namely, letting them feature or headline when I don't see it happening. It is hard to win respect, and it is hard to be promoted.
I look at every show you have and see that you typically have at least one woman booked.
Holy, holy shit. First of all, 1 in 5, because I believe that is proportional. That number is on the rise which is encouraging, but that's still where I think it is. Second of all, looking at every single line up and deciding to comment on the one anomaly and feeling the need to say something is nitpicking bullshit. You didn't ask me what happened, which is why I become defensive by default simply by explaining it.
If this were a trend that I continued over a few shows, by all means, you should have asked me why; I would have had no good answer. My answer, which is what the pragmatist in me believes, is that shit happens. You are making a nothing statement to someone who does consider women and fairness and it makes me discredit you. When you are discredited, it is to some extension reflected on a lot of us. How much harder would it be to actually point out when someone is booking a sexist lineup when you're claiming that any moment something doesn't go your way is against women?
I find it hard to believe to believe that you can't think of a single funny woman to take her spot. If that is the case, I would have to say you aren't looking or listening hard enough.
X, I implore you to have someone say that to your face and see if you don't find it offensive. Again, I can think of a few women that I thought would be "funny enough." Some of them I want to feature in the next couple months, and there are even fewer of those spots. I don't like to book people multiple times too close together because my audience contains a lot of repeat members. I don't want to have them see the same show every month. Some of them were just on my show, and some of them simply didn't have the kind of energy that I wanted to balance the people I knew were on it. There were funny women, they just weren't right for this situation.
Additionally, you believe that I'm not looking or listening hard enough, knowing and being one of the respondents to a call to women to see their sets so maybe I can find people I have missed. What steps would you have me take? Should I book people that I have nothing to vet with because they're women? I won't. I realize our meritocracy is subjective, and the reason why I want to see people in front of a crowd is because even if they aren't my style of humor, I can see when they do well. What else, exactly, do you want me to do other than put someone on my show who I either don't know or believe is ready for it, or burn through people as openers that I want to give more time as features and headliners?
I appreciate your post [but] it's your show and your responsibility to book it.
See aforementioned point. I took steps to find more women that I might be overlooking. You're again implying that I did nothing, that I do nothing, that I don't consider this. Not once did you ask me.
I am happy to talk to you more in depth about how I see sexism arise in the scene and the nuances of my experience. I don't want to assume it's the experience of all women.
X, this is the sentence that triggered me to write the post attacking you in the first place. You are making a very stark and arrogant conclusion that I must be the way I am because I have just been shrouded in cotton candy and never been touched by sexism.
I was sexually assaulted as a teenager and I have spent most of my life developing myself into a person that can deal with that. Being able to not blame all of men for the actions of that one has taken me well over a decade, and has been at the expense of some very kind people.
I have been talked over, forgotten, been marginalized, misunderstood, dismissed and harassed. There are a few people who don't know me very well that have thought I have slept with a lot of comics to get where I am. I have been hurt, intentionally or not, by men and women. You inviting me to hear the nuances of your experience, just over the year-ish that you have been here, you don't get to tell me that. You didn't even ask what I've been through. You just said you didn't want to assume I've been through anything. Can you not see how that would be incredibly offensive?
You end that, effectively, with "let's get coffee and chat." You don't make that sound like you're inviting me to an open dialogue. That sounds like me staring at you while you get on a soap box about whatever has happened in your life. Maybe you have been assaulted too. Maybe you feel marginalized and trapped. You are inviting me to hear why you are the way you are but in no way have you presented yourself, in this message or your life, in a way that makes me believe you would understand the first thing about who I am and why I think what your doing is hurtful to women as a whole. You can't conceive of being wrong.
I accuse you of taking a moral high ground. Again, because you are nitpicking one of my shows out of many that I have had, and because you dismiss me, as maybe nothing has happened to me. Remember that line in your first message about how surely I must know how hard it is to be a woman in comedy?
I repeat what I said before about the steps I'd taken. I tell you not to police anyone's show. I accuse you of taking moral high ground. I withdraw from your show.
Just book a woman and you have no need to [justify] your actions.
I did book a woman. See continued point I've been making this whole time.
I don't know whose "job" you think it is to police the scene accountable. If I see a show that doesn't have a women booked, especially by a female show runner, I am going to say something.
I don't think it's any one's job to police a scene because that implies there are select people with authority. We should lead by example. Again, if there is a show where women are never booked over the course of weeks or months, then someone, (and I would) should ask the show runner why. Looking at behavior as a whole is important. Focusing on singular events is childish. It makes women seem entitled and trivial, that our merits aren't enough to get stage time. We are not more entitled than anyone else.
Also,because I am female show runner, wouldn't you consider holding me to some higher standard than you do men to be somewhat sexist? I should be held to the same standards as anyone else. I explained to you my rationale and you didn't like it. End of story. You have your opinion, X, and you won't budge from it. You are just going to be shouting into the void and you are going to alienate people from feeling like they can trust women, talk to them, or book them. You make mistakes and accidents look like threats to feminism as a whole. That cheapens the entire idea, and it's completely impractical.
The rest of your post just repeats your points, and I've already talked about them. You acknowledge nothing I said. You are simply saying I am not trying hard enough. You admit you're not perfect in your ways of communicating. That could be fixed by thinking critically about them and communicating with purpose. Ask questions, X. That's the easiest way. Make sure you understand me before you pass this kind of criticism. You don't, you give me no evidence of it, at least. I found this to be irritating and damaging to how I fundamentally believe we can gain strength and community. Alienating men is not an answer. Alienating me, and women like me, is not an answer.
You asked me for coffee. That's your solution. You think you can have this dialogue in a coffee shop. Maybe, X. But you didn't invite me. You told me. Nothing in your conversation so far has really seems to acknowledge why I hold my beliefs valid. You are lost in an echo chamber, X. Your own statements are just repetitions of themselves and not once did you ask me why. I hope you read this over coffee. That last statement, that is a petty jab. That's what you are eliciting with this type of "call out" behavior. It's the girl who cried sexism. X, you are so focused on your point that not once did I believe you realized you were actually talking to me.
When I was angry and posted my rage, I could have done that on facebook at large. I chose not to, not because I thought I was wrong, but because I was certain you would face a huge amount of trolling and attack that you did not deserve. I trust my point and the thickness of my skin to have done fine with it. I posted it in that group because I felt it necessary to "call you out" and this type of insular thinking in general. I don't tolerate it.
I looked for you last night. I'm not afraid of confrontation and more than write this I wanted to say it to you. The kicker is, I had you written in my notebook potentially for next month on my show. I know that when enough time has passed I will simply dismiss you. It was hard not to before because you made these complaints that make me have to believe you suck at proportions. You are not supporting women when you pick every battle. You are a shout in the street.
Hope you're well. This all started because I'm articulating what I gather about what you believe. I don't know if I'm right or not. The first one of these letters was pretty hard to write. It made me face some very grim ideas about my possible future, and arguably about myself. I had to think about what it would be like to be a single mother, or to give up a kid that would come back to me later. I had to assume that I'm lazy and that what I'm trying to do with my life was meaningless.
That was kind of a bummer, but there is some good news in your reality. The planet is fine, remember? According to Pew Research, 11% of conservative republicans believe that scientists understand the cause climate change, and 18% believe that they understand whether it's happening at all. This is conservative republicans; the numbers swing a little higher to more moderate demographics, but I haven't written any of them a letter yet. The conservative view of climate change is apparently changing albeit slowly; it's gone from being a hoax to simply not being addressed. As an aside, here's a very lovely, articulate and well thought out viewpoint on the importance of and methods for addressing climate change from a conservative standpoint. It has little to do with this article but I want to point out that while some statistics point to a great deal of ignorance, it's not a hard and fast rule about You.
So in this world, we have a big, sturdy planet to deal with. The economy will experience a boost, particularly in rural communities where industries that have been historically restricted due to their environmental impact will see a return. There will be a new era of clean coal and shale energy.
I imagine this will lead to an increasingly widening rift between liberal and conservatives geographically; in that, I mean more liberal states will attempt to implement environmentally friendly actions on a more centralized level, and more conservative areas will become more welcoming of more traditional energy sources. I don't really know what that means for a state like Colorado. We will be fighting each other. I see very little progress getting done within our state considered for how progressive it is.
Again, this is assuming that you are right, that there is no correlation between human influence and climate change. All of the protesting has been noise. Science has merit not only for higher questioning but for less input as to what happens in government. The only thing that interests me about this, that I can say for your reality is that science chiefly requires a lot of evidence in order to change its opinion across the community.
Not only that, science has often had to concede that it was incorrect as new theories are developed and proven. Removing them from government means that further research on the issue will most likely be stunted if not abandoned. Even if we are unsure about the link between the climate and our effect on it, we most likely won't have the resources dedicated to finding out.
This poses questions for me about science's role as a whole. Because it will have less of a voice in the political world, presumably less money will be spent on it, and that's a dangerous idea. Already the most appealing area of scientific research seems to be improved warfare, so I can only imagine how much further that will stretch. Research will be funded only by for-profit or non-profit entities, of which I'm unsure what the standards of accuracy will be held to. I will admit I'm unfamiliar with what they are currently held to, it just seems easier to have a sway on an issue of discovery when the research is being funded by a company that has to push a product. It seems to me that it would become easy for what is considered to be true to become much more relative.
The US government currently spends the most out of any country on scientific funding, followed by China. If we are concerned about a threat from the Chinese economy and their control over our debt, it seems counter intuitive to decide to reduce government funding in science, as that's typically the birthplace of innovation, and it isn't for pure curiosity.
I'm glad that the air will be fresh and clean no matter what factories and energy plants are developed around us. It's a huge relief to know that the water will not have to be treated as it travels through our pipes, regardless of their age, and we will be safe to drink it. We'll have to be, given that our healthcare returns to being privatized. Since no one will potentially be getting sick, no one has to worry about it. I have to admit I like that idea, if in this area you're right, I will be glad. The fact that I don't think you are makes everything I've just written feel like putting wallpaper over a condemned building, and trying to sell it as a "reimagined" townhome.
The last topic I mentioned that we disagree about is the one that makes me feel the most uncomfortable. I also don't really know how to address it, because it becomes a very sketchy view of human life. If it were hard enough to determine that an embryo definitely is a person, then how we decide that some races are people but not "as good of" people or what exactly it is, seems nearly impossible for me to untangle. I don't know how to unpack this one in my head.
Okay, so there is reverse-racism that allows people of minority status to get picked over white people through affirmative action. Likewise, people in poverty, who are people of color, typically, are using government handouts in order to mooch off of everyone else because they are lazy. They could stop being poor if they worked harder. People are sneaking into the country in order to continue mooching off our government, and therefore weakening our economy. They aren't marginalized, they're just not very good people. They don't need help, they just have to want to help themselves.
Police brutality, if I can understand it in your terms, is more an indicator of our government creating a militant police state that is meant to restrict and control its citizens and has nothing to do with matters of color. Despite going on trial for these murders, there was little to no jail time in 97% of cases. Most of the time, these cops are just doing their jobs. The fact that a lot of these people have been unarmed, or are minorities are just unfortunate coincidences.
Is this what you believe? I find this incredibly muddy. I decided to omit any hypothetical addressing anyone's belief that their race is genuinely superior because it's too hard for me to try and put together, it's too arbitrary. These assumptions listed I can at least cobble together with some rudimentary economic understanding. I could see an angry parent whose son or daughter didn't go to college because some institution wanted to have more diverse demographics. I can see people worried about their jobs and supporting their families under heavy taxes that help families that they don't know and have never met. Those aren't baseless beliefs to me. Racism, in the flagrant arrogance and xenophobia that comes from assuming one race is inherently better, is. In any case, I'm finding it extremely difficult to understand who you are and where you're coming from on this. I wonder if there is no unity on this front and that's why it's so difficult. Maybe there just isn't a consensus and you find this conflicting, too.
Let's get back to your world, shall we? Illegal immigration is a currently huge threat to our economy, but we should be seeing a boom in our renewed energy plans. Presumably we will continue to see an economic resurgence as illegal immigrants are deported. I would like to think that the process won't be as dystopian and dark to include people "hiding" undocumented families at the risk of some kind of legal penalty.
I don't see how this won't lead to some level of profiling. Applying for jobs will require birth certificates and naturalization papers, but only if your last name sounds funny. College applications will become more fair in that no preference will be given to any ethnicity. I think that's fine, but I would hope that names and any identifying information about a person would be left out, and then we can see what the random numbers will produce.
There is more good news, too! We will be unburdened by the welfare system. Taxes will fade out and we'll be able to keep larger portions of our hard earned money. Single mothers, low income families and people stuck in impoverished neighborhoods will be able to become self reliant. Since abortion will be illegal, or at the very least complicated, there will likely be a rise in single mothers. Without the safety net of SNAP, TANF or other assistance programs, they'll be able to thrive as they find time for work, higher education, and childcare as they make rent, pay for food and education through their food industry jobs. No longer will there be people mooching off the system, some number of them will be dead.
People who are homeless (homelessness is statistically more likely to be transitional, a product of high rent, low wage or unemployment and not some greater life path) will be able to benefit from mission beds and church organizations. They will have no permanent establishment to help them get off of drugs, shower regularly or institute any kind of routine that might help them reintegrate into society. They will rely on their community's compassion and themselves to be able to become upstanding citizens again.
Inauguration day is tomorrow, and this is what I believe will happen in your world. I don't even know how to portray it without looking like Chicken Little because I am genuinely terrified. I don't know if it was my youth, apathy or just a much lesser sense of threat, but I didn't feel this afraid when Bush won. I wasn't much of a supporter of Democrats this time around, and while I tried to be patient, to see how much of the rhetoric was flamboyant and empty, I only became more and more concerned. I disliked the hysteria calling Trump a fascist, disliked the unverified media leaks (who is that for?) and I want to see this be fine.
I think what makes me afraid, what makes the next four years look so grim is the inevitable loss of human life. Trump has a passionate and outspoken viewpoint that inevitably leads to the struggle and death of human beings. Whether or not you hold his priorities important, it's the lack of empathy for human life that's disturbing. That's what I see if you're correct; that some human life is simply of less value than others. That there is no reason to help people, that there is never a situation in which someone can't help themselves. I don't know that you're wrong, I just know that the kind of world where that's true would make me miserable.
I hope you, whoever you are, see flaws in my logic about your view. I hope you can explain to me that this isn't what you expect to happen. I just want to know. I guess that's what we find out starting tomorrow.
The premise that this article uses isn't originally mine; I read something very similar in an essay about feminism that I haven't been able to locate to credit. If you recognize the idea and know the original, please let me know so I can give some attribution.
I imagine if you're the person intended to read this, a member of your family or friend circle sent this to you. From what little I know about the people who visit this site, you're statistically unlikely to be one of them. You are white, you are most likely male. I am not sure how old you are beyond the fact that you're over 18. I don't know your education or socioeconomic status. You are likely to be religious. Much of what I know about you is unclear because it's hard to look up unbiased information about you. All I know is that we disagree with one another on some pretty fundamental levels, and I know that you are real, and you must assume that I am real, too. We might see each other as threats, but I don't know that with certainty.
I'm writing to you because I waited to see what would happen after the election, and now I'm starting to. I live in Denver and this city has a tendency to carry a liberal echo; as such I'm not as afraid of losing reproductive rights, I fear less for the future of my friends here. Who knows, maybe that will change.
I'm not sure what you want from me, but it seems opposed to what I want for myself, and that opposition will effect me. That's a simple truth and something that I struggle to understand. What you want on a national level conflicts with what I want for my life as an individual, and we've never met, my decisions don't effect you, but our opinions do effect each other. I've been watching attempts between people like us to talk to each other, so far as I can tell, they seem to be going nowhere. There's a lot of calm agreeing to disagree, and agreeing that we should discuss things. Of course we should, but we're still waiting.
There's a lot of things that I'm told you believe. I googled "conservative values" more for morbid curiosity and I've been browsing Conservopedia. I have no idea how accurate their representation of you is. Some of these might apply to you, some don't. For the purpose of this article, I'm mostly using the list I linked to, but with the exception of addressing race. I don't know what your thoughts on that are. It's hard not to generalize because I know nothing about you, it's just something I don't feel right not mentioning.
Here is what I gather are your beliefs:
Abortion is a sin, one that's encouraged by the government. Furthermore, it is a crime that should be outlawed, and Planned Parenthood should be defunded.
You believe in self-reliance, that people who are in poverty are there because they're not trying hard enough and opting to rely on handouts from a bloated government.
You believe that global warming and environmental issues are a myth. I'm unsure who you think is propagating it or what you believe the end goals of propagating that myth is. In any case, you believe that environmental acts are an assault on jobs and hurting the economy.
Then there's race, and that's a tricky one: you might believe that racial tension simply doesn't exist, is exaggerated by the media, or you might believe that you, of European descent, are simply better and more deserving than people of other races. I am extremely unclear of your beliefs here. I am also aware that my opinions on this are my own, I can't really speak for what people of color go through because I'm not one of them, so I'm not a good representative of their view.
These are the main ones, but I could list many. For time and simplicity, let's leave it at these. I disagree with you on all of these points, but rather than try and argue with you, I'm going to show you what it looks like to me, the world in which you are right, where you get what (from how I am informed) you are asking for. This is your ideal, this is what it will mean for it to become real. This is what we're (I'm) afraid of. Maybe you can show me where I am misguided. Maybe you can see why this would be hurtful to huge swaths of people.
In this scenario, you are right, and I am wrong. I am not allowed control over my body, because abortion is a sin in a religion I don't believe in. Effectively, you're asking me to abide by moral law that isn't mine because you believe it's true, and you're right. Just because you're right doesn't mean I'll change my mind any more than the reverse; In my world, I do believe I'm right, and I do not think I will change your mind. I'm getting a little ahead of myself, though.
Happy New Year, darling. We'll say the heartbeat bill has passed, despite how arbitrary the criteria. Abortion may not be outright criminal, but it's become closer to being such. It's a pretty big step towards outlawing it as a whole. Ideally, I'll still have access to birth control. I've never had an abortion or had a pregnancy scare for that matter, but now there is no alternative. In one reality, I'll get pregnant. I'm not sure what the complications of my pregnancy will be given I have heart problems, but we'll assume for now that I will give birth to a healthy baby and I will survive the process just fine. That baby will then be given up. She will not know my name. If she ever managed to find me 18 or so years later, I would have to explain to her that she was unwanted, that she was kept inside me until her birth and I let her go because I didn't want her, and I know I don't have the capacity to take care of a kid. I am not extremely healthy and I chose writing and art over having children; I know that the future is uncertain for me, and I wouldn't have wanted to subject a child to how difficult it can get. I had tried to avoid her. I believed (wrongly, in your world) that there wasn't a lot of time left for the planet and I didn't want to dump the problems of previous generations on her. I had known that in my life, being a mother wasn't an intent.
I would have to tell her those things if she found me. She would become a rift in my family; I imagine I would become something of a pariah. I'm assuming I had this baby with someone I really cared about, which is likely given the way my relationships are. Our relationship would probably suffer. I don't know for sure, but I don't imagine I would want to work through that with someone. I would focus on my career, I'd leave him. I don't know who would raise her or if she would turn out to be good or fucked up. My genetics are someone else's to mold, good luck to them.
You may think that when she grows inside me, that when I go through labor or that when I give birth and see a little face like mine that I will want to keep her. I have never wanted kids and it's very hard for me to believe that having one forced into my possession due to what's likely an accident will change my mind. Maybe I will, but I hope not. I would raise her always knowing that I had wanted something else; that there was a life I had felt driven to live that she took from me. I will never be able to try and make this work. Assuming our family unit remains intact, I will most likely become distant from her father by default. I will blame him, hate him, I will want him to suffer. That's if I change my mind; I find that unlikely.
According to the CCAI, There are over 100,000 children in foster care currently in the US. On average, they spend about 3 years in the system. In 2013, there were over 600,000 abortions reported, most of them in under 13 weeks; this is about 200 for every 1,000 live births. With the passing of the heartbeat bill, many of these would be felonies, with detection possible at approximately 6 weeks. Assuming I find out a week after missing my period, I have just over a month to put together the money, take time off, and ultimately decide that this is what I want. I know that I will decide this, but it will push me. It will hurt.
Any time I have tried to live a life that isn't the one I currently exist in, I feel intensely suicidal. This has been my peace of mind. I will probably at least attempt to kill myself, even if I did try to take care of this kid I don't know that I would be allowed to. She will have that to look forward to.
I suppose this is me being dramatic, not accepting my place in the world. That's a strange, because it suggests I don't know my own place in the world. That I shouldn't be attempting to pursue my goals relentlessly and with the passion it fills me with because I'm not supposed to. If I weren't supposed to, why would I have the drive? Why does anyone feel motivation, if not to do what it is they're supposed to on some fundamental level?
But darling, maybe that doesn't happen to me. I am resourceful and shrewd and maybe I just never end up having to worry about a baby. Maybe I can remain attached to the path I've chosen in life. Maybe people will still be listening to me, maybe they still read this blog. I have their support, I can reach out to them, but it will get harder. You will have so much respect for me though, doing this all on my own without any social assistance.
This brings me to your next belief, about how I must be poor because I'm not trying hard enough. I have to admit that this part of the argument is hard for me to figure out what it looks like for you to be right without some very flexible logic.
I'll be honest with you, my mind shuts down at the idea of trying to do anything but this, and I don't totally know what "this" is. Being a comedian doesn't generally happen when you get your degree and go up to theaters with a resume proving you're funny. You're looking for ways to reach people, and there is no rubric for it. We're all making it up as we go along. As we make it up, we also support ourselves through whatever means necessary. Counting comedy, I work 3 or 4 different jobs in a week in order to make rent and survive. My days are anywhere from 2 to 10 hours long depending on what needs to get done. I usually work 6 or 7 days out of the week in one form or another.
This is how I pull myself up. There is no safety net, but my starting point was not 0. I am able to make this effort predominantly because I was able to go to college; even if the degree pursuit was a worthless money pit it taught me about people. I was in a stable relationship for most of my early 20s, and his support helped me hash things out, at the expense of our well being as a couple. I rely greatly on friends and people in my life for, well, everything. I am painfully aware of my favors and I'm unsure how I will pay them back if I don't continue pushing forward.
I do all of this with no real proof that this will work out for me. There is no guarantee that I'm going to figure it out. There is a likelihood that I will fail and become destitute. I hope, given how I am already, that I will be able to support myself by some other means, but I can't know that for sure. Is it possible to work hard, fail, and come up empty handed? Or is hard work the only requisite, regardless of what you're trying to do?
The only way I can understand this, to make this align with your opinion that people who are poor are only poor because they are lazy is to just concede that I must be too lazy to ever make it. That the fact that I want to do this is some extension of my own inability to take care of myself. I have no ambition, I have no drive, because I'm not there yet. I'm not really sure what that means. I guess if you're right, then I'm a piece of shit. The fact that I write for this blog which doesn't make me money, and not exclusively for the soul crushing copywriting I sometimes do to keep my head above water is laziness. Any time I spend with friends or loved ones must be squandering; my life should only be the work.
Maybe I'm not lazy, maybe I'm stupid. Maybe the fact that I'm doing what makes me feel peace is stupid. I should marry someone and have that daughter of mine so I can convince her that it's not so bad to feel like half a person. I have tried several times to rewrite this part so it doesn't seem melodramatic, like I'm whining about my place in the world. I think it sounds that way because that simply isn't my place in the world. Where I am now is, and I love it here. I don't understand why you'd want to take that away from me.
Homelessness is one of my biggest fears, my friend. I know it's close to me. I've been looking harder and harder at this problem as I get older. I have so much more to say about it, but know that if you're right, a bunch of lazy pieces of shit like me, who are working to put together what they want as best they can, are going to end up on the street. That's not even counting "handouts" as you see them in terms of food stamps or other welfare programs.
I have a lot more to say, but I'll save it for the next letter. I just want to know, is this what you believe? Do I see you incorrectly, or is this the kind of future you see as the better option? I've been making a pretty staunch effort not to make this as dark and dystopian as it feels (I've re-written this 2 or 3 times in the past month), and to lay out my perception without fearmongering. This is the first part of what it looks like, to me, if you're right.
I will be honest with you darling, I sincerely hope I'm wrong.
I met someone I like. It's a much more complicated and scary thing than I expected.
At the very least it's been surreal. It's not difficult to write about relationships retroactively, or write about them with intensity while they're falling apart. What's been strangely difficult is writing about one in any meaningful context while it's all going really well.
I still think of Jordan a lot, and that's been strange to process. There was part of me that felt very guilty for having real feelings for someone else. There was something in my head that still resisted the idea that I even could be with someone else in a meaningful way. Everyone else was supposed to be a placeholder; I'd live my life adventure and eventually we'd meet back up and live out our lives together. On some level I don't think I ever anticipated I'd move on.
There's a lot of weird baggage like that I had no idea I'd have. I wanted to wait before meeting anyone because I wanted to be "past" everything I've been through in the past couple years. I wanted a clean slate, but I guess time doesn't work that way; I can only build off of what I've been given, good or bad. I've been very fortunate that this boy has been patient with me.
I wanted to be okay by myself, to know who I was and to be sure that if/when I ended up with someone, they didn't put any limits on who I am. I didn't want to lose the identity I created, that's a hazard I face in relationships. I am very sensitive to the Pygmalion Effect.
In the past, if I like people I find myself getting lost in them. I don't really understand why or how I lose myself, but I stop being what it is that I am and end up trying to be what I expect they want me to be. I become a kind of doll. I don't think anyone I've ever been with has ever wanted a doll, either. They liked who I was and were probably very confused how that girl disappeared into something else. I think it's because I cut myself off socially; I only have them and their expectations and perception to draw from, and that becomes a vicious cycle.
I am a collection of things I like about other people. If no one else is around, I become a collection of one person's perceptions about me.
I've known that about myself for a very long time, but I'm only just now realizing that being a collection of things I like about other people also means that I am what those other people like about me. I think that's how I ended up becoming that blank doll. I would focus so heavily on what they liked about me that I wouldn't be able to see it any more, and then it would disappear, and we were all a bit confused.
I'm inconsistent and impulsive, I have this ephemeral projection that exists in different ways around different people. The idea of another relationship made me panic. I like to connect with people, I like to in a very deep way and I know it means I walk a lot of gray areas. It makes me worried that I'd accidentally be shitty to someone I'm in a relationship with. I saw it happen with Jordan and I don't want to do it again.
Looking back, the way I deified him has become to fade and I have become a lot more understanding of how all that broke down. I still want the best for him. I just don't want to know what happens in his life any more. I don't really know if he reads this or any of his friends do, but I guess he has the option of not knowing or knowing, depending on what he wants. That's a weird portal to know exists.
Now there is this new person, and I swear he's a little magical. I've been afraid of my malleability, how quickly I can change from one kind of person to another, and of the risk of me becoming lost, or turning into something I'm not. Relationships make me feel like a circus tiger, even if it isn't what the other person wants. I spill into this mold called "girlfriend" and it takes me out of the current I've been working so hard to be part of. That scares me the most, but it doesn't seem like that threat exists here. So far there's been a strange level of what I suppose is just being understood, but in a way I haven't encountered before.
I've been at a loss when it comes to describing what I like about this raccoon-of-a-human other than I like how he is, which is not exactly defined by who he is. When we talk about who we are, we usually mention our job, where we're from, our age and so on. None of that particularly interests me, and rarely do I think those definitions matter much. You are who you are, but how you do it is a much more interesting question.
He seems so self aware and empathetic. He is curious and smart and very odd, he's aware of how he feels and thinks critically about it. We can talk about anything. He's interested in what I do and he has faith in it. He's interested in who I am and complements it well. We're analogous; in a way, I feel better understood through knowing him.
The person I am when I'm around him, I think, is close to the way I think I am deep down, or at least the way I like to be. I am still a capricious monster, but around him, I am not a doll. I don't feel any need to impress this person. I don't feel the need to protect his feelings, so I tell him what I am thinking and feeling even if it's dark or potentially unpleasant. It's not hard to be honest. I'm still susceptible to the Pygmalion effect, but in this case it's become an advantage.
It's hard to balance the knowledge that the chemical release of love is temporary, that this feeling will be diluted by reality, with the understanding that I can't assume I know how this will end. I am not sure how long this will last or if it's meant to, but I'm looking forward to the shapes it takes. I'm looking forward to seeing the people we become, whether or not those people can continue a relationship. You can do a lot of harm, and a lot of good to another person once you've been intimate. We fear how things end, but I think I've figured out that it's not endings I'm afraid of, it's hurt. People who get hurt become bitter, and cynical, and it becomes more difficult to be open the more often it happens. I don't know if or how this ends, but I do know that we care about each other in a way where we won't leave the other one hurting.
Typical of me to try and write something light and fluffy about love and come up with that kind of dark sentiment, but my mind works a lot through those reciprocals. I understand things by their contrasts, and my ability to understand the loss of last time comes from learning about this new beginning and vice versa. Whatever it is, it makes me feel very good, and I'm grateful to have it.
If there is an ending, I really believe it won't be bitter, we will still be ourselves. It's a nice hope to have.
This has been a challenge to sit down and write. A lot has been going on in my little world, and it's preoccupied my observations of the larger one as a whole. Usually, the month of October is the worst for me, but for the first time there haven't been any major catastrophes, just a lot of time to think.
I came to a point at the end of September where things slowed down, and now things are right back at their scheduled chaos, but I've run into a problem; I'm stuck. I am frustrated, and I don't know if there's nowhere to go or just no room to. I have a lot of ideas and they aren't moving forward; I hit the bottleneck.
This is a weird thing in Denver comedy that I imagine everyone begins to notice once they're where I'm at. People don't want to take risks on you. There are a lot of talented people, but we all tend to give stage time to people that we see other people give stage time to. There's a hierarchy, which is fine, but not a lot of people look to promote anyone within that hierarchy, we just adhere to it. We're effectively a caste system in terms of stage time; there's open micers, openers, features and headliners. Nobody goes up or down, not far anyway. Your only leverage is if people can get something out of you. Since I run a show and I'm a woman, I have two things regardless of how funny I am. I have a spot I can offer you and I make your show look a little more diverse. Both of those are bullshit criteria but I'd be lying if I didn't say I think that's a huge part of why I get what I get.
We all build up inside the bottle, perfecting our spots. We get good at the places we're at. Once in a rare while someone sneaks through the neck of the bottle because someone took a risk on them and everyone noticed. Denver in particular puts a lot of stock in the comedy competitions which I think is ridiculous, but I'm likely biased given that I don't do well in contests.
I felt very lost after San Francisco. I'd gone out there with a purpose that didn't really work out. I wasn't upset about the opportunity loss, I just didn't know where to go from there. I'm very goal oriented. At the beginning of the year I made a commitment to try and figure out how to make (some) money doing comedy, which I guess I've started, but I needed somewhere to go from there, I just haven't figured out where that is.
I thought I was being patient, but patience can teeter dangerously on waiting for things to happen when it's my job to bring them about. Waiting is something I reserve for when I don't know what I should be doing. That's where I was at when things slowed down. Things were slow and I was okay with that, but I didn't want to wait for something to happen. I just needed to know what I should be doing so I could start.
It's taken me awhile to work it out, but I think I have started the answer; I have to make something here. Traveling is great, and you make a lot of connections (with people or concepts), you experience, create and explore. Now that I'm home I see myself as stuck, but I don't think darting around the country will get me anywhere. I need to be looking at this place. My problem is not unique. I need to break the fucking bottleneck.
I'm guilty of this too. I run a show that I care about and I always want to see do well, so I don't take a lot of risks when it comes to who I book. I'm contributing to the problem I'm experiencing. I'm going to make it a point next year to change that. I'm pretty experienced with risks, now I need to start taking those chances with people. If I'm lucky that will start being reciprocated.
I didn't get my cartoon up for the first Wednesday, which felt like a little failure. That was one of my goals this year, to add those twice a month, and it sucks a little to know I couldn't do it, but at the same time, it was certainly an indicator for me. I try to do a lot of things at the same time, and things that aren't prioritized or particularly special to me fall off the edges. Learning how to manage those things has been a huge process. I don't take that kind of failure as hard as I used to. I push myself and look for edges so I know where they are, and apparently, I hit one. This one appears to be the amount of things I can accomplish by myself.
I feel like I'm at the point where I've done all that I know how to on my own. For awhile I was frustrated that there was no sense of leadership, that I had no one to look up to in order to figure out what direction I should be going. I'm realizing that maybe that's the incorrect way to look at this, it goes against dancing to presume there's a shape to it. I can't do it the same way as other people and they're not going to be able to do it my way.
What I'm hoping to do now is to work with other people. I suppose it's a lateral approach. I'm not really sure how to work upwards but I'd like to work with people I know in order to see if we find places to go out of it. I've always held to an idea that a sense of community/connection with people is a huge problem solver. I was planning to look into it and use it as a springboard for this big project on homelessness I'm working on; some stuff about neotribalism but hopefully you'll get a really cool article about that later.
I've been wanting to do a little more with the articles here. They've mostly been my own thoughts backed with just enough research to make sure I wasn't completely mistaken about anything. I've covered a lot of my own basics and now a lot of what I'm writing about is stuff I'm learning about at the same time, and they're becoming bigger puzzles. It's pretty interesting, we'll see where that goes. I'm getting more of an idea of what I'm doing by writing them in the first place. When I first started, I really had no idea why I was except for that I liked to. I didn't have any great sense of purpose.
I just realized that as a person, I'm a microcosm of that big project. I have been wanting to do more. Every time I see a large system I realize that the flaws in it are easily reduced to the same flaws in an individual; you can turn almost anything into a metaphor for itself and that approach makes things more understandable and therefore more fixable. I've been looking at this big social problem and it's ultimately because it's the exact same problem I have on a very small scale. I am interested in homelessness because I have no place to go.
I don't know what it is I'm going to start. It's still new and shy and hard to see through the logistical thicket. Here's hoping that somewhere in there it gives us a place to belong.
I don't remember how this conversation started, but I'm sure we had it many times...
"I don't think you get sad on the same level that I do. Or not the same way." I said, looking out the window at a rolling hill of Austin Bluffs. I don't remember where we were going, but I know that I was not in a good place mentally. This was during the time in my life where I had extremely little control over my mind, and one day's depression could turn into a flood of actual psychosis. I frequently felt that my brain was attacking me. Feelings were symptoms. They were the animals stampeding out before the hurricane of batshit rolled in.
I made a mental note that this was my absolute least favorite stretch of road. There was nothing but crappy townhomes and a field with power lines that separates those townhomes from the suburban castles on the ridge. I hate this city. Inside I was thinking about emptiness. I was frustrated with him, because he never seemed to have bad days unless I manufactured them, but who would want to do that? You don't want to make someone sad, but it's hard to know if they understand your emotional struggle if you never see them have one. How could he have any empathy if he never got upset or hurt? Either that, or I was jealous of that kind of stability. No matter which way it appeared, I was definitely annoyed by it. I don't remember where we were driving to, but he was focused on the road and nonchalant. He usually was. It took him a minute to answer. He was thinking about it.
"I think it just happens to me differently," He replied finally, shifting gears and squinting out the window. "Your depression is like my sister's. You get really depressed for about a third of your day. I get depressed for about a third of my year. I see it coming. It's all at one time for me so I just get used to it when it happens. It doesn't surprise me like it surprises you."
Looking back on that now, five or so years later, I realize how right he was; all these emotions, every event in my life seems to follow that waltz; Quick, quick, slow. High, high, low. Who knew that emotions were also so keen on the rule of threes?
The past couple months have been blowing past me so quickly it's hard to know if I can keep up. I've changed time zones and states of mind like clothing. I have been sick and moody, then having fun and meeting great people, feeling truly fulfilled and then frighteningly alone. I think about leaving my ex as a terrible mistake, I think about going back to him as a worse one. I have thought everything is going the best it's ever gone and then thought my life is fucking worthless. I have been whirling and out of breath, but now the music has stopped and nothing is happening at all. Quick, Quick...
I've been in a writing rut for most of this month. I think that surprises people, because I've still put up jokes (none of which I'm very proud of), written for this site, written for shows... It's all been operating as normal I suppose, but I haven't felt okay about it. A lot of it feels like going through the motions. Most of the time I haven't been writing for the reason that I write.
As I formed that sentence in my head, I realized I don't have a damn clue what that reason is. Obviously writing is a form of communication. The fact that all of this is so personal makes me tend to believe it's something selfish or narcissistic. I struggle with that. I don't incubate self-esteem so I rely pretty hard on the validation of others. I know that's not healthy or sustainable but I have yet to come up with another system. It's very difficult to imagine myself any other way, given how long it's been.
I think I used to like myself a lot, but I saw what that arrogant version of myself did to others. She was far more cavalier about how people felt. That hasn't exactly changed, but I'm more aware of, or at least less okay with that ambivalence towards others. My own lack of self value has led me to value other people more, if that makes sense. I'd rather be humble, self hating and want the best for others than to think I'm amazing and value my success over other peoples' feelings. It's just a decision I apparently made.
I have had the fortune for most of my life of having someone to lean on when I was feeling weak, sick, or alone. I haven't had that option this year and I don't know if it's been tumultuous as a result of that or I'm just more aware of it because I have no safety net. To be fair, I have enlisted the help of a lot of amazing friends and one diminutive T-Rex and that has been very helpful. This is what it's like to be me, I guess. I'm finding myself more certain of who I am. I have anchors to reality now, because if I lose my head there's no one who's going be able to come get me.
I've hit that point where I know I can't wait for him, and I've had to stop using that as some kind of excuse. I'm not totally sure what that means but it's a strange sense of closure. We left on good terms. I ran into him once a couple months ago and we said everything that we needed to. He told me he wasn't angry over any of it and that maybe we'd get together in a few years and see how things were going. I had a friend in high school who said. "I don't ever miss people, I look forward to seeing them again." That's a nice sentiment but a little naive. I do think about that last part a lot. That's a level of closure I think you have to be really lucky to get, and here I am.
I think about him a lot more when I travel. I think about the things we could be exploring together, but sometimes I think about how indifferent he would be to what I think is fascinating. I thought about the trips we took together and how we didn't fight at all in the car on long rides.
There's a lot of silence in my imaginary memories though, and a lot of moments that don't go well. We would run out of shit to say, or I would talk and watch him lose the capability of pretending to be interested. That's something you realize after that much time with someone; the tepid moments are the ones you phase out of your mental worship. I could have been fine with him in any situation except the one we were in, and that was the only one we could put together because we hadn't figured out who we were. It's easy to frame it all through the person I am now, but I'm only the person I am now because I left him.
Since he's been gone I've stopped given a fuck about consequences, money, time or how I'm perceived. Part of that I owe to him though, funny enough. I use that relationship as a compare-and-contrast. I already know that someone loved me undeniably, so I don't really care whether or not these other people do. That being said I still feel incredibly compelled to try, I just don't take that kind of failure that hard. I've gotten pretty sensitive about comedy and writing, though. Bad sets effect me, stage fright effects me; the social game ebbs and flows.
I seek acceptance and validation just like anyone else, but more and more I find that I seek people I accept and I desire to validate other people, if that makes sense. I want them to feel fulfilled and know who they are, because wanting that makes more sense somehow. I'm still figuring out how to be this person that I am, but at least I know who that is now, and that sense of self all I could hope to give anyone else.
I am writing this from the low, slow place. This morning has been a struggle at best. I don't feel happy, or even reasonably okay for some reason, but if it's only going to be a third of my day at least I've got two thirds more to look forward to being just fine. There is no way he will ever be completely out of my system or out of my head, but that's taken a different meaning now. That's the person who taught me how to waltz. The funny thing is no one told me that I'd been dancing, and you don't dance because you've got some place to go. You do it because you like to move. I've stepped on a lot of toes figuring that out.
"Your problem is that you want everyone to be in love with you." It always amazed me how he could be so soft spoken and harsh at the same time. I never knew how to defend myself from it. It was something in his eyes. Some people know how to scream just by choosing not to blink.
"I do not!" I was looking into those eyes I knew I could look into forever and they didn't want to be looking at me.
"Then why would you stand in front of a crowd of people and try to make them laugh?"
You know what old friend, I think I wanted them to love you, too.
About A Blog
I'm a Denver Comedian, occasional cartoonist and person of interest to someone, probably. These articles are really too long.