I have been dumbfounded when it comes to the task of writing a new article lately. Things have been changing so quickly that I can barely process before one thing before something else happens. It's hard to react to something let alone develop an opinion on it, especially one that could lead to something proactive. No wonder people have been taking “Facebook Vacations.”
I’m becoming increasingly jealous of dolphins. Dolphins put half of their brain to sleep for about 45 minutes at a time. Their lives are primarily spent amusing themselves, although I guess we could argue that about ourselves as well. They just seem to enjoy it more, but then again it’s hard to see the look of existential dread on a marine mammal’s fixed toothy grin.
I’ve been sick, too, which should really stop taking me by surprise at this point. As long as sickness doesn’t bake into pregnancy, though, I think I’m more okay with it. It’s just an excuse to break out the ‘tussin.
In the news there is gun violence, sex crimes and pedophiles. I wonder if I was just naive and the world has always been this insane. Maybe we just have more access to it, like in the 1960s when you could see the war on television for the first time.
We can inhale the entire world in (now) 280 characters. I feel like I’m getting compassion fatigue just by turning my phone on. Compassion fatigue is a term you’ll hear in the volunteer world, nursing or other social services. I’ve heard it’s particularly bad if you work with animals, but that’s anecdotal. You begin to suffer such classy symptoms like hopelessness, increased response, decreased pleasure in daily activities, inability to focus and so, so much more!
Not surprisingly, compassion fatigue has been considered to be leaking into the everyday media consumer. There’s been #MeToo, complete with graphic and triggering recounts of abuse. There’s the slow, sick realization the GOP has had to come to terms with that the reigns of their party have been passed over to some openly fucked up people. Every day is a massacre.
By the time Louis CK got his name in the Twitterlight, I felt deadened. Not sad, disappointed, relieved or I don’t know. I don’t know what response to that you’re supposed to have. I think I’ve felt like I was supposed to have a response to it because this rumble is so old. In fact, I wrote a piece condemning the coverage of it when Gawker posted its original story. My point was largely against Jen Kirkman's podcast, who came forward and also backpedaled and remained pretty vague, which frustratingly diluted the ground feminists have been fighting for and means it’s harder to take it seriously.
Older me would like to agree with past me in theory, but older me also knows that in some ways, lies are a complicated friend of the truth. I should also point out that I wrote this before coming to terms with my own lies, ones that carried me until the truth was far enough away that I could admit it, but that’s a different story.
There’s even a More Perfect podcast (because of course I listen to shit like that) featuring some of the times where reality had to be tailored for social progress, or regress in an arguable antithesis. It’s worth listening to, if for no other reason than to acknowledge that lies, for better or worse, are just as much a pillar of social life as truth and justice. The truth might not be pleasant, morally sound or psychologically healthy.
And now I’m here, writing for what seems like the billionth time about my grappling with truth. I feel too empty to have rage. I wonder if this is compassion fatigue. It’s not like I feel helpless, I just feel like nothing helps, and I’m not even sure why I consider those two things separate.
Sweetboy and I have this line we use that has helped us avoid a lot of fights, “I have nothing for you.”
When one person wants more attention, feels like the other isn’t “happy,” or simply doesn’t match up to whatever demand, the other can explain their lackluster responses by saying, “I have nothing for you.”
It’s self contained and honest. I’ve found it very helpful because there is no room for interpretation and there's no blame attached. Whenever someone says that, it means that they need to take a moment, maybe 45 minutes to turn off half of their brain, and go into social sleep. It’s not personal. It’s not an “I don’t want to talk to you,” or “Of course I’m fine,” or anything else that would require further explanation. Person two doesn’t get to argue, because initiating more argument demands energy that person one has explicitly stated he/she doesn’t have.
That’s how I feel about current events right now. World, I have nothing for you. I am going to watch the leaves fall. I am going to get high on cough syrup and get over this fucking cold. I’m going to draw silly monsters, tell jokes and tell jokes that aren’t taking a big stance on the issues. A horse with broken legs can’t carry anybody up a hill.
That’s a lot of how it felt in Denver. There would be these great clouds of online arguments and drama. I even caught them from North Carolina, and as collateral damage my old show is cancelled. It’s going to take me a long time not to be pissed off about that, but it also made me realize something. I have nothing for them.
I am a grey wall when it comes to this kind of feuding. I didn’t care when I was there, and then I left, and while it followed me like wisps of fog somehow sneaking into the folds of clothing, I’ve stretched it out and shaken it off. Current events will never be shaken from the folds, though. That’s the world we live in, and it is an exhausting one, one that begs for half a brain just to maintain some semblance of peace.
I am very slow to react to things unless they are relentlessly painful or aimed directly at me. I don’t really know how I’m supposed to feel about the take down of powerful men who have let sexual assault be some sort of hobby. I know I’m supposed to be angry, and I guess I am, but I’m also satisfied that it’s being discussed openly. That the vagueness of sexual assault is becoming more concrete. I also dislike people conflating their own personal frustration and ire with current events as some sort of social media vigilantism that makes them look wholly stupid, arrogant or narcissistic. That’s what shouting looks like to grey walls. I am a grey wall that would like to be a dolphin.
I think it’s okay to be a glacier, a grey wall, but of course, I have been wrong before. I think it’s okay to move on or move slowly. I think it’s okay to see something tragic and shocking and shitty and acknowledge it without feeling. I hope so, anyways, because I’m out of feelings for now.
I am still working this out and it might come across incorrectly.
Every person who shared Me Too also has something else they'd rather you remember them for.
Every person who shared Me Too also woke up, went to work, went to school, pursued something that they are passionate about.
They want to be seen as a comedian, an artist, a musician, marathon runner, lawyer, doctor. They like movies, music, they have hobbies, favorite foods and day to day lives. What happened to them isn't their "story."
They are not telling you this because "it's their story."
Make no mistake, It is happened.
It's also painful and exhausting to repeat. Over and over. And we are asked to in order to make it stop. And to stop that for even one person, we will recount the worst moments of our life. But that's not our story.
It is important to understand that there is a lot of pain, and that you may be the direct cause of it in some cases and the indirect cause in others. If you are willing to admit that, thank you, this next part is for you. If not, go back and see how many people said Me Too. See how alarmingly frequently this impacts people you know.
We're not even close to the point where we can unpackage how that pain can sometimes make us be shitty people, and we cause damage while we reconcile damage. That's assuming you're not prone to any other kind of mental problem or disadvantage to further complicate your life and how you process things. People who have been through any kind of trauma, ongoing or temporary, can lash out. They can be the girlfriend who's overly possessive and simultaneously cold. They can be the bitchy girl who turned you down in a way that made you feel like shit in front of her friends. They can be your best friend who falls for bad boys. They can and they will hurt and they will not know why. Some get to a point of peace and find ways to come to terms with it. Some don't and neither will know which one they will be until much, much later.
But we're not at the point where we can talk about that openly. We can't change things for others until it changes for us. In my life, I have been threatened, stalked, pissed on, groped and assaulted. I am 28.
I am also fucking hilarious, this post not withstanding. That's what I want you to know about me. I could give a fuck if you know the rest.
I can be mean, vindictive, duplicitous, and petty and also very sweet (some have said), loyal, insightful, and supportive. I'm all these things because I'm a person. My story has nothing to do with every time someone was shitty to me and everything to do with where I'm going.
The reason why the Me Too thing matters is because we're people.
I know more than a few people who were turned off to the very word "feminism" because some humans would wield it as, "sit down, let me tell you why you suck."
I for sure was one of those people who hated it, but I've grown more accepting of the word, even if it's near impossible to separate it from how it's been considered.
We live in a country where we are as women, we may become best known for the worst thing that's ever happened to us, that the only outlets interested in us are interested in our worst memories and that is a bleak reality.
I don't want to be a feminist, but I don't think that's a role that most woman are aspiring to. It's a role that has emerged out of necessity. We don't want to be feminists, we want to eat yogurt and buy tiny cactuses. We want to write, go to work, and be known for our achievements, but we can't.
We have to be feminists because if we weren't, we would be subjugates.
A chunk of our time has to go to making sure that we don't lose access to medical care, or avoiding assault, and that chunk happens on top of going to work, chasing our dreams, and being people like everyone else.
You are not impervious to the influences of the culture or environment you live in, but you are able to hone your perspective and your reactions to it. I want to do more. I don't have it in me to keep contributing to a conversation about permissive abuse in our culture, but I know that conversation will keep happening so long as assault keeps happening.
That's why we get so pissy when people roll their eyes at the word feminism. The cruel irony of it is WE sort of don't want it either. the term exists because there is an imbalance we want to correct. All civil rights activists would have preferred to just have civil rights. All feminists would prefer to be able to control their body and live their lives.
Let us talk about something else. If there's a chance you can we can be thought of as equals, as writers, comedians, doctors, whatever, gender regardless, that would be rad, and our stories would change.
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.
About A Blog
I'm a Denver Comedian, occasional cartoonist and person of interest to someone, probably. These articles are really too long.