Dear me in the Past,
I'm not really sure why I'm writing you since there's no way that you'll be able to see it. You wrote me, though. Or some version of me. I'm not really sure how that kind of alternate timeline universe shit works, or how long the splits are. If it's some of that " infinite now, lingering in the moment between moments" shit, there's a possibility there's some lifetime in some dimension where you actually do get a hold of this.
You wrote to me just before my 27th birthday, which for all intents and purposes was a week away from your demise. Seems fitting I let you know how that year turned out. I doubt you saw it coming. You were really hung over when you wrote to me. You don't really drink or do drugs any more. It's mostly a money thing, but you're also not that stable and you've taken a lot of steps in recent months not to slip into bad habits. If I'm not careful I start pushing. I've thought about suicide. It's complicated, but I'm working on it.
You told me that you played by the rule of doing whatever you didn't know the outcome to. We did that a lot this year. That's how we met Sweetboy, that's what took us on the road, starting shows and why we live in North Carolina now. Arguably, It also made you broke, and more than a little lost.
You told me you were interested in being who you should be, and the good news is, you're getting a lot better at that. You're not as shy about admitting that you like things. You like dinosaurs a lot more than most people in your age range. I don't know if I know who we should be, Past Self, but I'm getting better at being consistent in who I am, and I'm pretty sure that's kind of the same.
I haven't heard from kokadrille in months. I don't think he lives here any more, which is strange. I always identified him as something else, something that wasn't me that lived in my head, but it never occurred to me that he could leave. I don't remember the last time I talked to him. I know I was angry. I went looking for him and in our tangle he laughed at me. I accused him of doing what he always did. If he could smile, I'm sure he would have.
"Hate to break it to you kid," he said to me, "but this hatred is all your fault."
That was it. I had to take responsibility for my emotions and he vanished after that. I don't even remember why that happened. It's been pretty quiet in my head since he's been gone. There's pros and cons. In a weird way I miss him. Maybe this is one of those processes you were talking about.
You were feeling alienated from your body, which is hilarious to me after what I've been through in the past month. You have no idea. As for relationships and closeness, you don't have that figured out. You're very into the idea of self reliance. I haven't really made any friends since I moved. Part of me wonders if I am too tired, if this was my death knell for my dreams; there's a point where the adventure becomes less exciting and more of a chore. That distaste you had for permanence wasn't inaccurate, by the way, but there is a lot to be said for growth, for roots. You're going to be fascinated by Catalpa trees soon and that will help you sort that out, but you don't have it yet. Maybe 28 or 29 will.
You don't know that Jordan Weileba died, for me it will be one ago from Friday, I think. You weren't particularly close to her but you take it pretty hard, you just don't know what to do about it. You'll write a blog about it that people will like and you'll hate yourself for it because you won't like the attention it gets you. You feel like a vulture of tragedy, feeding off of other people's grief. It passes. Remember her though. I think it's important to remember people fondly.
You think about your ex less. You still think about him, though and it confuses you a little. You do a lot of compare and contrast between that relationship and this one, but I've learned that you can't really do that. They're different people. You see entirely different things in them. You hope that your ex is happy, the idea of him finding someone else doesn't hurt any more and you hope that the dog is doing well. That's about it. Seeing him again would be too hard at this point. I don't know if this is worth mentioning but for where you were at in your life, I guess it does.
Let's see, what did you do this year? You start a bunch of pop up shows on the road. They go okay but I don't think you know what you really want from them. You meet Sweetboy. He changes your mind about a lot of things without particularly trying. He likes to help people in a way you don't fully understand. You learn to appreciate weird things about him though, like the fights. You like fighting because it teaches you limits. He fights you so you know when to stop pushing. He won't let you devour him. He's also very curious and likes to go on little adventures. That comes in really handy when you get depressed. He got you a big ass T-Rex balloon for your birthday and it's pretty great.
For the moment, your life is pretty quiet. You've had so much starting over to do and it's hard. Meeting people is hard. Trusting them is harder. You don't know how to reach out to the people you used to see all the time in Denver. You're still confused and frustrated by your time there. You really hate some people, you realize, to surprising degrees. Most of them you miss though.
I don't really know what to tell you, past self, because you'll never see this. I'm pretty sure you didn't see any of this coming. You've grown a lot (I think) but being this way is a little scary. You don't have monsters to protect you or take the blame for your shitty behavior. You've given up the lies you used as crutches. You're very vulnerable and it's pretty scary, and you're sober so you feel fucking everything. I don't know where it goes from here. 28 will have to let us know.
I'll be honest with you, I don't really know what I want with my life right now. August left me pretty shook up. It took a lot of my drive. I don't feel complacent, just lost, but I also feel more patient. I just have to stay aware. I feel very vulnerable right now and very, very shy. I've never been confident and honest at the same time before. This is all pretty new.
I hope you finally got some sleep, 26. I hope you did feel loved. I think you did, even in your loneliness I think you sensed it.
You in the Present, Future, or whenever the fuck this would be considered.
Before August 9th, I don't think I had ever really considered that I was a fuck up.
That's when what I thought was the stomach flu outlasted the window where I was supposed to get my period. My cycle is already all over the place and I'd thought with traveling, moving and trying to get situated I was just too stressed to get it; before that day I wasn't really concerned.
I got the test without expecting it to come back positive. Irregular periods are pretty common for someone as consistently stressed out as me. Fortune teller, taste my pee and tell me what's inside. It took less than a minute for the positive symbol to glare up at me, a blind snake's milky grey pupil.
I don't know what hit me first. Disbelief, that little laugh you get when you're in shock. Anger, sadness, confusion, who knows. My thoughts and feelings were all charging forward like animals stampeding through a burning doorway.
Leading the charge was a snarling sense of failure. Every decision in my life became a thumbs down. Remember how I quit school? Remember how I left Denver? Remember how I cheated in my last relationship? Oh, wasn't I great at rationalizing those things, using time and prose to make them okay, to make me human if not flawed, but here was the proof. I was a certified fuck up.
I knew I wouldn't keep it from the second I knew it was there. I made my first appointment with planned parenthood for the next day, but I wouldn't be able to go in for a procedure until the 26th. I had no choice but to wait.
And for a little while, everything in my life faded to black.
When I was little, I wondered what it felt like to be pregnant. Could you actually feel a little creature inside of you, was it distinct the way a bug would feel if it had crawled down your throat? For the past couple weeks, the answer was... not exactly. I didn't feel a specific presence inside of me, but it felt a lot like I was in the first act of some body horror movie. Everything I knew about myself felt wrong. I couldn't stand up for more than a few minutes without feeling like crumpling. Vomiting, weakness, relentless despair. I couldn't eat anything without it making me nauseous. Nausea made me nauseous. I could taste my own saliva and it would make me vomit.
The most alarming part was the curtain, the thick, foggy curtain that came down over my sense of self. I felt so lost. The longer I went, the more my body pushed the idea that having this thing grow inside of me was good, but it didn't feel like MY belief. It enveloped my dreams, my ambition, anything that made me feel normal and like myself. It wasn't that I felt like I should carry it to term, just that my body had changed allegiances. It didn't really care about me any more. It had an embryo, and that's all that mattered. My consciousness could float around in a dark tin can somewhere for all my body was concerned.
I felt absent and easily led. I couldn't answer either/or questions. I didn't want anything. I didn't feel like I mattered any more. I wanted to kill myself, but I didn't have the strength. I spent a lot of time staring at the wall in my apartment, unable to string together a thought.
One of the notes I kept repeating in my journals was the definition of the word viable. Abortion is legal up until the point of viability. I thought about wanting to be a comedian, how that's only worth doing while it's viable. Eventually, that will pass. I never knew what to do with the thought, but I wondered if any decision in my life could be considered viable.
As if to reiterate how much my body/the Something had ganged up on me, I would have to use the money I'd been saving to go to a comedy festival in October to cover the cost of the procedure. Another reminder that I wasn't getting out of this without losing part of myself.
I had lost, I was lost. I couldn't handle being touched, couldn't handle talking most of the time. I just wanted to starve to death in this swirl of hormones that left me unable to remember why I had ever liked to do anything, ever. I felt so lost and isolated and I couldn't bring myself to tell anyone. I wrote very little, because I couldn't keep the thoughts together. I've looked back over what I had written, and every two or three sentences is just the repeated phrase, "I hate this. I wish I could die."
Eventually I told a friend of mine, just to tell someone, but even after mentioning it I couldn't bring myself to talk about it much. I didn't know what else to say. There was no reflection, no sense of self awareness about my situation. Just that mantra. I hate this. I wish I could die. I watched the news and wondered if If was being too pitiful. What good was I if a little thing like pregnancy could stop me from being a functioning member of society? There was already so much tumult in the world. What was the point of me being here if my problems eclipsed (no pun intended) those that were going on in the country, some only a few hours drive away?
I hate this. I wish I could die.
I hated the thing that was inside of me, and I never knew what to call it. It was just Something. I wanted to use some name for it that made it seem like it didn't belong inside me, because sure as fuck it doesn't belong in my life. No matter what semantics I tried, I just couldn't come up with a word. I knew what it was and it made me hate myself. If there had ever been a sliver in my mind that had toyed with the idea of wanting children, it was gone as I daydreamed that the something inside me would collapse and die.
Even with my appointment only a week out, my mind wandered to the little poisons. Pennyroyal, Black Cohosh, Dong Quai, Fucking Vitamin c. Women have been using emmenagogues long before clinics existed. I looked into it. Nothing came of it though. It was me and the wall.
If this seems incredibly over dramatic and maudlin, I guess it is. I've fished out some of the things I wrote while I was still pregnant that were coherent and filled them out into this. That's where I was, that's all the identity I had. I haven't written a joke, I couldn't make it outside let alone to an open mic. I shut down completely and waited until I finally made it to Planned Parenthood.
I don't really know what experience I had thought I was going to have there. Some friends back home work for PP. I expected protestors, maybe. There were smiling volunteers in pink vests who offered to walk me in, and then it was a series of filling out papers, giving consent over, and over, and some pretty mundane medical procedures, like taking my blood pressure and a simple blood test. I had an ultrasound to confirm and found out with some alarm that I was 9 weeks instead of the 7 I had thought I was. It made me feel cold to know, but it didn't change my mind. It made me think, that because I had to wait to get the appointment, that if I had been someone else, someone who couldn't get a ride, or waited longer to see if maybe her symptoms would pass, or just couldn't get to a clinic, how fast that first trimester would slip by. How difficult her life would get in such a narrow span of time.
I opted for surgical; I had originally planned to do medical, which is a system of taking pills, one at the office and one at home, but because I was further than I thought, I just wanted to get it over with. It hurt a little. Not much. A nurse stayed by me and encouraged me to breathe. She called me a badass. Maybe I'm just that repressed. Maybe that's how detached from my body I'd become. I barely bled. A morbid part of me wanted to see it after it was out of me, but due to the risk of seeming like a psychopath I didn't ask. I hadn't asked to see the ultrasound, seemed like an odd time to get interested in the thing. The procedure itself lasted about 5 minutes and I made an appointment to get an IUD so I'll hopefully never go through this again.
That all happened yesterday and I feel okay, if not plain fine, today. I thought I might take longer to recover, given how all swallowing that sense of depression was. I don't feel regret. A renewed sense of passion about protecting clinics, maybe. the curtain around my sense of self is gone, but I do feel a bit lost. I don't really know where to begin. I just got here, and I had meant to start something, but I stumbled and sat down and now I don't totally know how to get back up. It keeps striking me how typical I am. This experience, in some form or another, happens to so many women. I don't really know how to talk about it other than this. I'm just aware of that. Whatever that means.
When the curtain that I'd been surrounded by was lifted, it did take something inside me with it. Not the something (I never figured out what to call it). There was a part of sense of myself, of something I could never know, that was forbidden for me to know, that was disrupted. I am so aware of what I'm refusing to take part in. Something about it feels sinister. I hope that passes. For the most part, I feel okay. I feel like my body and I are still at odds with one another, that it's taking awhile for my conscious spirit or whatever you'd like to call it to have autonomy over the limbs and tissue it used to control easily. It seems so easy for little devils to lurk in right now.
If there's something that I have taken away from this, and that is a BIG if, is that I feel very profoundly connected to the idea of experiencing the ineffable. No matter how descriptive I am about what I just went through, the only other people that will understand is women who went through it as well. No matter how patient and supportive Sweetboy was and how he tried to understand, he couldn't come close to fathoming. The kind of displacement of self that came with this experience was completely different from anything that's happened to me through any other trauma, drug experience or depression. It was entirely unique. I know something that some other people can't. No matter how erudite or full of insight we may think we are about things we're haven't been, race, gender, social background, religious upbringing, whatever, we can't really know. "I know how you feel" can seem cruel if you're not careful when you say it. There's a quality to certain things that isn't translatable even if you've wrapped yourself around similar shapes. What you do with that knowledge, I don't know. Become patient.
This is only the next day, and already, or at least, I've managed to write this. I've always known that's something that's sacred to me, and that doesn't feel like it's changed. I'm grateful that I had the option and ability to get rid of the something, and that I still have the option to keep looking for what feels important.
3, 2, 1, Boom.
My first day here, I went exploring the woods and a spider bit me on the nose. It left an impressive little red mark, crowning me as a little Rudolph for my first week. I touched base with a venue that I want to start a local showcase at but it's still up in the air. I caught a stomach flu this weekend that rendered me extremely ill and left me stuck in the house on the days most of the mics are clustered onto here.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have landed, but I think I'm still a little motion sick. Eight days isn't really a long enough of time to tell how well I'm doing. I just got here, I haven't been particularly social, but that's never been my strong point. I've gone to two mics so far; the first one went well on stage but I didn't really talk to anyone, the second one I was sick and left early for. So it goes, I guess.
Anxiety has a tendency to clutter my thoughts like goblins in an attic. The first one settles in there, disguised as a set of helping hands.
"You keep doing what you're doing," the knobby jointed, long eared goblin whispers, "I'll be up here, minding your progress. I'll let you know about what you need to focus on, keep track of how well you're doing so you don't get lazy."
Like a potentially great roommate, the goblin of anxiety moves in. He keeps me motivated to keep applying for work. He suggests casting a wide net, look for all sorts of opportunities. How exciting! He gives me a calendar of everything I need to be doing. Because it's such a big task to take care of, he invites a few other goblins he knows to delegate.
Goblins like Worry, and Doubt. God knows how many others that have started crawling around in the attic between my ears. All of a sudden they're opening boxes with my memories in them.
"Hey, did you ever take care of these fears of commitment you have?" One asks casually, staring at me with his dead little eyes, "I'm only asking because you moved across the country with Sweetboy and he'll probably want to know if you haven't."
"Have you made any plans for if this doesn't work out? You don't want to rely on going back to food service forever. If comedy is a dead end, what will you do at 40?" Another one asks as he spell checks my new resume. "Also, who is going to want to hire you if you're not going to be committed to their business? Seems counter intuitive, right?"
"You didn't move here for that kind of work though," another deceptive Goblin that I have come to listen to all too often asserts, "If you have no plans for your future, you won't be tied down, and that's what's important right? You need to be flexible so you can set up comedy. You've slept in cars before. It's not so bad."
I should interject here to say that it's not so bad, but it's murder on your joints, a fact my body has been quick to remind me of every time we camped this summer. But with all their voices, all my doubts and worries have become pretty loud. Maybe this was a mistake. Maybe I should try and go home.
Then I wonder what the point of that would be, and a whole new generation of goblins is born. Does that mean I'm defeated? If I can't do so much as move, I really have no place in comedy, do I? I'm really not relatable enough, and I know I'm a tough sell to the average person already. What if the purpose of my life really is just to be a warning sign for someone else? What kind of retirement package comes with that, live under a bridge, working for answers?
Usually when I'm faced with really big life issues that I don't know how to solve I convert them into fairy tales. In this case, anxiety has taken up the face of goblins. Anxiety's different than fear in my world; fear is often useful. Anxiety is a greedy little horde that wants to move into your brain and take all your stuff.
So far as I know in the lore of goblins, there's not a whole bunch of ways to deal with them aside from reading from the bible, waiting them out or tricking them. For anxiety, a lot of conventional wisdom it seems to be breathing ,exercise, relaxation exercises. There's a lot written about CBT for it, though it's tough to implement when you're already questioning your thoughts. Nothing screams, "I'm doubting myself too much," like doubting your anxiety.
At some point, there's going to be some modicum of stability, and after that, I'll probably get bored. Who knows. There's still a lot of August to left unfold. I guess writing this is just catharsis. I didn't really have a reason to post anything, I just figured I'd sit down and write out something while I kill some time before yet another interview.
Like most things, the expectations I had for moving aren't really meshing with reality. I'm very nervous here. I didn't realize how much the routine, seeing the same people every day at mics made it easier for me to meet people and talk to them.
I had no idea that I'd be fighting myself this hard simply by moving. My general level of trust is extremely limited, but I've learned a lot of coping skills. I don't think a lot of people in Denver knew how hard it was for me to do certain things. Right now, it feels impossible. Then again, maybe that's the goblins talking.
Maybe I'm as strong as that person I thought myself to be. Hopefully I'll figure that shit out in less time than it takes this red mark on my nose to fade.
Hey, thanks again for reading. You're going to see this footer a lot, but I'm really fond of eating. If you like this blog, please share it with other people you might think will like it and if you've got a couple bucks donations are greatly appreciated. You can also follow me on twitter at @Kokadrille and OdDmosis' facebook page.
It's been 43 days since I left home. I still call it home, I guess because I haven't landed anywhere yet. I've been living in and out of a car with sweetboy. It's so strange, because that city felt so little like home when I finally decided to leave.
When I left Denver, it felt like I was blindfolded. It made me think of that Halloween game, where I would reach into a bowl of peeled grapes, one of my shittier friends whispering over my shoulders, "That's eyeballs, dude. You know that, right?"
Then, I curled my fingers around the gelatinous orbs that were slipping through my fingers. I imagined what those eyes had seen before they'd been cut from their sockets, about the calamari-and-psychopathy aftertaste of what I might be consuming. Doubts swirled in my mind, should I be doing this? If I didn't, I faced the peculiar possibility of starving, because this is a universe where you only eat on Halloween. What was I supposed to do?
43 days ago, I shoved those eyeballs into my mouth with the literal blind faith of a desperate person and let my teeth squish down on unverified matter. A surge of relief kissed my anxious nerves one by one as the sweetness of fruit greeted my tongue, instead of the horrifying opposite. I had been right all along.
If that's a clunky metaphor, what I mean is, I started a project called Here Today, and I'm finally figuring out what that project is. For my own sanity, I have to state that this isn't a promotional blog about it, it's just what I'm working on and what I believe in, in terms of the grand scheme of things, so it may come off sounding a little proud and self aggrandizing. This also might be a squirrelier than usual piece of writing because it's covering a lot, conceptually. Maybe I'll have time to break it down more in Chicago.
I've been writing about money and influence and how I sort of hate them, but I can't help but thinking about them constantly. I haven't gotten to the part about capitalism yet, but suffice it to say, I'm a jaded about that, too. What I've been trying to figure out is what the best way to maintain a balance between those two things is. A system that loves everyone seems unsustainable, but a system that appreciates only the individual seems gravely prone towards corruption. How do you survive, how do you succeed, without taking advantage of others, or having them take advantage of you?
I believe you have to sacrifice, to some degree, to make things work. That's a scary thought because I will fight, and fail, and fight harder and fail harder when faced with certain sacrifices. No one can tell me how to be. It took me fucking long enough to figure that out already. My existence is on my terms, which so far means I don't make much money. I get by. I started doing comedy and realized that everything had to halt in order to let me do comedy.
As everything halted, my ability to survive became more difficult. If I wanted to do comedy for a living, I had to make it a job. That became a puzzle; how do I get paid to do this? I learned about starting showcases, learned about clubs, learned about corporate gigs and casinos. Everyone's version of making money is a little different. I can't say for certain that any one of them is the real way to "make it." It really depends on what you're looking for.
I know that what I'm looking for involves remaining true to myself, and it sounds tired and arrogant, but I can't let it go. I can't pander to people. I don't connect that way, moreover I'd lose what makes me different. I don't think there would be a point in my contribution, in my jokes, if they were about the same shit as everyone else's. This led me to a very jarring and bitter view about comedy clubs.
I don't give a flying fuck about comedy clubs. I think they're a vestige of a less evolved time, they're interested in churning out little joke machines that can do what works in their rooms, makes them look good at corporate events. They're safe. The risks you take there are still within the same parameters. They don't want anyone who wants things to change. They don't want me, I don't want them.
I have to admit that this might be a puzzle I'm rejecting. I could make the rationalization that working a club is another riddle, just something I have to solve in order to get what I want. For whatever reason, I don't believe that's the real puzzle.
What I really want to figure out is how to make entertainment an intrinsic part of community again. That's what I got from going to open mics. That's what I got from running my showcases, from performing. I met people, I talked to them, looked them in the eye. Doing comedy gave me the ability to talk to people, learn from them, and yeah, even care about them.
Comedy is an interesting thing. You can say hostile, horrible, or outright crazy things to people, and they will listen. Even if they don't like or don't agree with you, they're in a position to listen. You're not challenging their beliefs, you're demonstrating yours. They can watch, first hand, what it's like to be a particular kind of person. You can see into a person's imagination, their soul, their consciousness. When it works out, you connect with them in a way some call holy. Being able to reach out to people like that, I think, is a far more powerful tool in creating a better world than any politician or religious leader has offered.
Comedians aren't there to convert you, they're there to demonstrate themselves. Your conversion comes from recognizing them as humans. That's why such broken people crawl to these stages. We need to be recognized, validated, as humans, and by doing so, we build something bigger than ourselves.
Yeah, they're dick jokes, bad relationships, bits about depression, or "what's-the-deal-with..." There's plenty of things you may not find funny, but they're human. You can observe the opposition, the super-liberal or super-conservative, as a human existing without the need to confront them, and through that you know that that kind of coexistence is possible.
My hope is to help seed that ideal, that comedy shows teach coexistence, harmonious coexistence even with people that you might not like. Not only that, it's a reason for people to come together. That sounds like an airy, hippie idea, and maybe it is.
Putting live entertainment into venues that shut down once the acts leave, that don't operate locally segregates the economy of it. It doesn't give a reason for people to come back, and coming back lets a business flourish, ideally in a way that helps them build out the towns they're located in.
If comedians want to make a living, we need to find ways for the venues that host us to make money. If they're going to, we need to consider how their patrons stay employed. No big deal, right? If we look at live entertainment as something integral, as a way to focus ourselves economically on one another, particularly within our own zip codes, we can strengthen our communities. We can fix infrastructure, we can build businesses. As we try to marry those things, instead of sucking in money to keep the lights on, hopefully we can funnel it back out into making low income housing, fixing poor water quality, helping the mentally ill... do comedy.
Everyone I've met has a piece of this, but I don't know what it is yet. My hope is that when I'm done, I can topple the gates that need gatekeepers, that we can make an economy that includes us, needs us. I've only just started figuring this out as my place in things, and it's just the beginning.
I have traveled so much and I am usually exhausted. I only just started figuring out what it is that I'm trying to do through the very humble avenue of little shows. My hope is that as I keep feeling my way forward, I'll be able to find out how everyone fits together. I can solve the equation of money and influence.
If all that works out, I guess I'll have made it.
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.
About A Blog
I'm a Denver Comedian, occasional cartoonist and person of interest to someone, probably. These articles are really too long.