Sometimes when I’m depressed, I buy orange soda, because it makes me happy. If I were to pick a last meal, it would be sushi and ice cream sandwiches. I can recognize almost any breed of dog within a few seconds of seeing it.. As a teenager I daydreamed about my autopsy more than my wedding or funeral. I take it personally when animals don’t automatically love me. I have a weird habit of accidentally locking myself out of people’s cars because my brother used to play a trick on me and I never unlearned the paranoia.
These are some the little details of who I am. They make up my personality and while they’re not exactly important parts of me, they’re important in the sense that I’d be a different person if they ceased to be true.
A lot of people may argue that those little things, like your taste in music or silly neurosis is malleable and in no way a good measure of who you are. Some would argue it’s your core values, your ethics and beliefs that make you an individual. I would tend to believe that core values are just as shakeable and transitional as your favorite food. Being human is something of a process, you cultivate the kind of person you are throughout your lifespan, and in doing so you impart some of that person onto others and so on. What makes you you are the little bits of each belief and experience that stick around like seeds in your teeth.
I can cycle through a lot of different ways of being myself, but I’ll never really cycle through different ways of being someone else; not honestly. It’s a strange thing to know that I can be someone that’s not myself, but at the same time, I’ll never be somebody else no matter how I try to emulate them. I think that’s partially because we only view the external presentation of a person, which excludes the cycle of people they run through over their lifespan.
I find myself becoming envious of people who appear to be self assured and know what they want; like many other people, I lack confidence and I question my own motives all the time. It’s hard for me to imagine that confident people do this at any point in their life, but I’m sure they do. Maybe they don’t do it as frequently or deeply, but everyone has to encounter some sense of self doubt in their lifetime.
Even so, there are glimmers of myself that appear very self assured. I used to think that it was silence that made me seem well equipped to deal with things; not talking about my problems was an effective solution because if nobody knew they existed, it was almost like they didn’t. Aside from the nagging, gnawing chasm I’d occasionally catch sight of in my own head, I felt pretty grounded.
The principle drawback to this way of thinking is that those kinds of silences, the ones pregnant with unspoken pain, tend to gestate little monsters, ones that eat away inside and leave less and less of who you are, and more and more of that confused ball of doubt that makes you question every decision you make, whether they’re major life changes or which kind of cheese you should order on your sandwich.
This becomes amplified depending on how big the trauma is. Little tragedies breed little monsters, things that upset your day but will eventually get laundered out as you change from day to day. Bigger things, things that we don’t even know how to talk about as a society, will linger, not like seeds in your teeth but like tumors, growing and taking up space that was meant for something healthy and functional. The longer you keep that shit locked inside, the longer its claws will grow and the harder it will try to escape.
This year, I’m trying to learn to externalize. Sometimes this is very silly and prosaic, and includes a laundry list of stupid and occasionally hurtful thoughts that may not have needed to make it into the shared atmosphere of other people, but I’m new here. It’s taking me a little bit longer than I thought to figure out what I should and shouldn’t say, what’s appropriate and furthermore what might be unnecessary. I find myself tightening up when I think what I’m about to say will hurt someone else’s feelings, which I suppose is normal and in many ways a good impulse. Just because you don’t want to hurt someone doesn’t mean that silence protects them, though. It just means the pain will take longer and most likely be more intense. Maybe that’s dramaticizing the issue, I don’t really know.
There’s no way to get rid of or even effectively contain thoughts if you leave them within the confines of your own skin. I know that a lot of my thoughts are redundant, negative, and don’t need to be expressed to everyone all the time. It’s not the thoughts themselves that I think are that important, it’s the expression of them that seems to be. The more you let the little pieces of your head out into the general atmosphere, the more room you have internally, the more focus, the more peace.
I’ve always been in the depths of my head like I was pearl diving for wisdom in my thoughts, but at some point you have to come up for air, and let out the things that are inside. Sometimes this means I’m proven wrong, or I feel stupid, or that I’ve hurt someone. We all do that. We all test and overstep boundaries, but without attempting anything externally, how do you know you’ll connect?
I can’t imagine being human without other people around to help, and part of that entails expressing to them what’s going on inside of you. As much as we enjoy the feeling of empathizing or empathizing with, or we believe to know someone so well we can “read minds” the whole point of existing in a physical reality is the ability to make things finite, concrete, and determinable to more than just yourself. We’re not bound to the ineffable world of consciousness or spirituality any more than we’re bound to the material; we have an opportunity to use both.
So talk out loud. To yourself, to the people around you. It’s weird and uncomfortable to start. I don’t know if it gets easier but it gets normal. More than that, you stop getting run down by that feeling of thinking too much. You bring balance to your internal world.
Hi, I'm Kira. Once a month I add a piece of content that ends by politely telling you that I'm attempting to have this website pay for itself this year because I won't be able to afford to run it next year on my own. If you like these articles, it'd be a cool thing to help me keep cranking them out. You can help me out by using the support link or clicking on this sentence. Thanks, carry on.
I sometimes delude myself into thinking that January starts off so brightly, with everyone trying to better themselves, at least for the first couple weeks. If we go out and face the world and/or ourselves despite the cold, then we'll have proven something even more to ourselves because it was just a little bit harder. Then usually, the dust, or in this case slush, begins to settle, the resolutions taper off and we're still in winter. It's still cold, we're still fat or non-confrontational or unable to speak fluently in Spanish. Everything remains in its standstill.
I love the symbology of seasons; and for me the winter is the dead time, the sleeping time. I look forward to the spring and see all the great things that inevitably must be coming along with the new growth. In my mind, that's more of a new year than whatever the fuck January is. January is just extra last year. Or so I often hope.
I use new years resolutions every so often. This is the first year I didn't really have one; I made a decision to do certain things starting at the beginning of the year, but it wasn't a resolution; it just seemed to coincide as a starting date.
One of the best compliments I ever got was from my oldest brother. I don't remember what we were talking about or if it even came to fruition, but he told me,
"When you say you're gonna do something, I believe you."
I think about my brother saying that to me, though I have no idea what we were talking about at the time. I didn't view it in a "woman of my word" context, because I'm not. I'm flaky with friends. I have a tendency to pile on too many tasks and then fumble as I try and get them all done in some half assed way before I get in trouble. I'm not really sure where I got that mentality, but I'm sure I'll overanalyse the fuck out of it and write about it later.
What I took from that compliment is that I do things with purpose, even if they don't work out. That's why I've always thought New Years resolutions tend to fail, or any other change you try to make. If it lacks purpose, there won't be much of a reason for you to do it. Likewise, if you're doing it for the wrong purpose, you're likely to become discouraged and unmotivated.
This brings me to some thoughts I've had about standup, about success and failure. All three of those things are pretty closely knit to purpose in my mind.
I had some very cool things happen for me in Denver this year; I got drafted for ComedyWorks' Funny Final Four (That's a comedy competition show thing for those outside of Denver--thankfully I'm not on a competing team), and I got nominated for an award for Favorite Newcomer by Sexpot Comedy. Both of those are awesome and I'm happy and grateful that somebody thought of me.
That being said, for the first time since I've been doing this, I realized that had I not been recognized for either (I actively avoided the nominations because I didn't want to get invested), I would have been fine with that. Or, I should rephrase, nothing would change for me. I would still go out to open mics, tell jokes and work to get shows and hopefully make some money so writing becomes my pitiable but manageable living.
I would have felt some disappointment if I'd been overlooked, and even now if I put my demons to it I could find reasons to be dissatisfied. I completely empathize with anyone who's pissed that they didn't make it; this is rough and competitive and you're working hard. It sucks not to feel recognized for it. And those negative thoughts, while not healthy in large doses, can be very powerful motivation, that's why we root for the underdog, to spite everyone else that made it with seemingly less effort, or at least less recognition.
That feeling of spite can't be about wanting awards or recognition though, not if you want it to work for you. You can't only tell jokes, paint pictures, sculpt whales or bake pizzas because you want awards for doing those things. You have to do those things because they give you a sense of purpose in and of doing them. If spite motivates you to spend more energy on what gives you purpose, you're doing it right. Recognition is a perk, and a damn nice one, but it doesn't really matter. Same with failures.
Last year I entered into a contest and got knocked out in the first round. I was wrecked about it; I'd had a bad day to begin with and I'd felt like I needed the validation of at least advancing in order to feel good about deciding to do comedy over any other walk of life. I didn't get that sense of validation, and I may have faltered a little but I didn't stop performing. I also got a chance to feel closer to some other people in my field who also didn't make it. Failure, in its own weird and less flashy way, was strangely comforting.
Losing didn't give me validation of a comic in terms of talent, but it did in terms of finally having a peer group that I felt good to be around, and that made me want to work harder. I got a lot out of losing and while this might be cognitive bias talking, but I wonder, had I even so much as advanced, if it would have went to my head and I would have held on to that sense of entitlement that would make recognition seem more important and failure more foul. I might have made efforts to distance myself from "lower peers" or something disgusting like that. I don't know, it didn't happen. I know I'm not above hubris, though.
I don't think I've been doing what I have been long enough to be able to impart any sort of wisdom or advice on how to make it work. If anything, take this as encouragement. If you find what you want to do in life, consider yourself very lucky; not a lot of people get that. We're not told to look for it; not if it doesn't fit the norm. I hope you do whatever it is that you're doing because it gives you a sense of purpose and not because you want validation from it. The farther you can distance yourself from that the better, and, unless my experience is just an illustration of coincidence, the farther you distance yourself from validation, the more of it you'll receive.
I don't know if that's one of those concepts someone can just say to you and it sinks in. I think we all come to that in our own way and time, but maybe the more places you see it, the more it'll ring true for you. Be deliberate, have purpose; there's no way to lose if you do.
If you resent the fuck out of being told you're not getting shit done because you don't have the right mindset, don't worry, I have some other, more practical thoughts, too. Organization certainly isn't my strong point and I have a tendency to get overwhelmed and freaked out pretty easily. Here's a few things that have worked for me, some practical, no bullshit advice that helps me do what I need to. These are in no particular order because I don't find any one more valuable than the other; they're just helpful.
1. Do things when you think of them.
This is one of those modern age-isms that wasn't available before. When you remember that you haven't called someone, paid a bill, or whatever little task it is, do it at that moment. Even if you're at work, or out at a bar or masturbating, whatever you do with your free time. I find this helpful because if I don't put off doing things when they pop into my brain, I've effectively given myself the outlook of doing things when I sit down and want to do them. You're less likely to let your mind drift off and wind up doing nothing at all.
Chunking is something that helps you commit information to memory, but the system is insanely effective. One of the classic methods is pomodoro, where you work on something for 25 minutes, take a short break, work for 25 minutes, take a long break, and so on and so forth. This sort of sets your brain up to be willing to work on something, because yourself out before you wind up fatigued and uninterested in doing it any more.
Personally I do sessions of about 20 minutes, then give myself 5 minutes to dick around; I've never found the long breaks useful, personally. I also like to have a rotation of different things to do; IE 20 minutes writing articles, break, 20 minutes doing art or something completely unrelated, break, etc. It helps me feel stimulated and I want to go back to working on each thing because none of them dominate the time.
3. The right friends are worth a thousand day planners.
I feel insanely lucky to have met so many great people. I may take them for granted and my friends can tell you I'm hard to pin down; I'm flighty and I can seem almost exclusively self motivated (I usually am, unfortunately. I'm working on it); but I choose my friends very carefully. I try my best to surround myself with people who are motivated and driven to do what they want; it doesn't matter what your craft is, if you're pushing yourself, you'll motivate other people to pursue what they love, as well. The fear of seeming like an idiot in front of your friends is a great way to force yourself along.
4. Write shit down.
Some people voice record or use their phone, but I find that I'm never more inclined to stick to finishing something than when it's written down. Maybe that's not the most environmentally friendly option, but it's the most effective. You can make lists or not, but usually this ends up in the same category of "do things when you think of them." If you write down the seed of an idea or something you want to do when you think about it, you've given yourself incentive to keep working on it.
You'd think there'd be more than four, but those are the only real rules of productivity I follow. And that being said, sometimes you don't win. I'm not a superstar about it by any means, but maybe it'll help you out. I guess this is just some basic existential nihilism with a bit of lifehacking at the end, but strong conclusions are for suckers who aren't about to go to their day jobs. Have fun my friends.
I am fascinated by lies.
Lies are a form of self preservation, and not unique to being human; animals bluff about their size, develop eye spots, Koko the Gorilla lied to her handlers about ripping out a sink from the wall to avoid punishment (she blamed the kitten). There's arguments about the need to define self awareness in order to define willful and knowing misdirection. I'm not well researched to have an opinion, whether animals are relying on cause and effect rather than an understanding of what they're doing, however, they don't appear to care whether the other organism believes them so long as they get the desired result.
I read awhile back that the difference between a lie and bullshit is that a liar must know that something is true and tell the opposite. A bullshitter has no preference for whether or not what they said is accurate; Bullshit is something you say because it sounds right even though you have no basis for assuming it could be true. In that sense, animals don't necessarily lie, they probably bullshit.
Humans, however, certainly do have a style of lying that is not only focused on the outcome, we want the belief. Not only do we care if a lie works, we care if you believe it. Sometimes, it helps us believe our own words and therefore justify them. Just think about any movie you've seen with a 'believable cast', entertainment is essentially the industry of peddling escapism and lies. It wouldn't be so hugely popular if lying didn't serve some kind of purpose or grant some satisfaction.
We probably developed a taboo of lying because we don't like being lied to, at least not without consent. Lying to someone violates something sacred, because it lends itself to emotional response. If you lie to someone there's usually some kind of emotional outcome; they have a feeling. To find out that they had a feeling based on something that wasn't real is a betrayal; it leaves the victim feeling humiliated and vulnerable. The scope of this varies with the weight of the lie.
We can create pretty complex realities for ourselves when we're dishonest; just imagine a man having an affair. He creates a reality for his wife in which it's not happening, a reality for his lover in which they'll gallop into the sunset, and a reality for himself in which he can rationalize his behavior. His lies have altered their realities without consent. That's a lot to be sprung on a person when the truth comes out. It's no wonder that generally we teach truth to be the positive thing, that lying makes you a bad person.
It does seem to be an odd parallel to have, particularly in a culture where lying is a booming industry, the crux of most conducted business and the starting point of many relationships. Deception levels the playing field in sexual selection; in modern society lying is practically a requisite stage in courtship; you lie about who you are to someone until they're in deep enough that you can start showing your cards.
There's both a positive and a negative to that, by the way. Admitting to lying makes you vulnerable, and being vulnerable with someone is often times a great way to create and strengthen an emotional connection. Just think about how comfortable a relationship is before you start farting, and then after. You lie in an attempt to attract and impress, you tell the truth in order to bond. Truth and lies aren't isolated from each other in human interaction.
Being a fraud might be one of the most difficult things to forgive and one of the easiest to become. Stephen Glass, a journalist, fabricated articles for years; there are television psychics and faith healers who prey on the grieving and wounded. James Frey created a wildly popular memoir that turned out to be a novel. These people have (or continue to) altered the reality of people on a mass scale, the backlash for their manipulation is usually huge. The stories ended, but the emotional depth continued long after. It's difficult to recover from being a liar, especially if you're outed and didn't confess. Coming out as a liar offers some recourse, being outed as a liar implies that you always intended manipulate people and didn't care about how they felt.
Maybe these people were narcissists, waving around tales of hardship and heartbreak in order to gain sympathy, notoriety, money, pick a reward, you can usually get it with a lie. No wonder those who had to suffer, those who really did go through horrific events, recoiled. People who have gone through certain hardships, particularly in terms of sexual assault or substance abuse, have a lot to face in order to be able to tell the truth. Watching someone saunter up like a hero and promote their struggle openly at first seems like a huge weight lifted. Someone understands your experience and has championed it. When it comes crashing back into you and the truth comes out, you realize someone profited from your suffering; it’s vile, painful and easy to vilify the fraud.
But where profits are not concerned, liars are most likely protecting themselves. Making up experience to parallel a strong emotion helps you cope with it. Maybe you never had a dead sister, but the way people received you when you did filled a void of human acceptance you didn't have. You manipulated people because you needed an emotional connection with them. I think what makes that seem so violating is the fact that the connection is genuine but the circumstance isn't. You took a connection from someone that they didn't offer you. Some people create fish tales simply because they want something to say to their friends. We all know one person who claims to have an uncle who tames lions or that they've met Jon Voight or some other bizarre vague lie that everyone knows isn't true. Sometimes these people are just one-upping a story you told to feel important; sometimes they're desperate to seem interesting because they can't handle feeling lonelier than they already are. The intent wasn't malicious even if the action hurt you.
Like anything else, lies aren't in themselves terrible things, and I would question the idea we have that the motivations for it are so sinister, either. No one thinks clearly when they want to save themselves; lying is a fantastic way to cope. There's moments where the truth hurts, is inexplicable or ineffable. When this happens, lies aren't there just to smooth the social transition, they're created to help you understand yourself or come to terms with these things. Some of these things are rationalizations; victims will lie to themselves and believe they deserve abuse. Junkies will believe that it's not the drug that's their problem. Comedians will think their opinions matter and they're going to make it by starting a blog. We all lie to ourselves, and sometimes we believe our own bullshit so sincerely it becomes part of who we are, and in that way, it becomes true.
I developed a habit of lying early on in my adult life, partly because answering the question "What have you been up to," with "Nothing much, working," made me feel like I had warts on my tongue. I came up with insignificant lies, things that couldn't or didn't need to be fact checked; anecdotes in order to break up the monotony of life. I got to seem like an interesting person, my friends could enjoy my company and no one got hurt. I still do this, but it's less common as now I actually enjoy myself and do things that are interesting. Becoming a hobbyist liar helped me learn more about how people worked, it was still in some sense a defense mechanism, albeit not one I like to admit I developed. Learning how to gauge people off of stories made up for the lack of social life I had for so long. I was that person telling tall tales so I wouldn’t have to be lonely; for awhile I didn’t have much else. My experiences were too different to be relatable to anyone else. Before I started lying, I had a lot of difficulty fitting in.
I'm an excellent liar; and for the most part, I don't have a great deal of attachment to the truth simply because lies are often more interesting or more easily understood. The truth can be rickety and warped, lies have to be believable and typically, in order for something to be believable, it must be understandable by default. Our memories are excellent liars; we tailor them without thinking about it. My weird way of coming to terms with this is to be pretty open about being a liar. I'll rarely confess to it outright but you should be aware that there's a hefty level of bullshit in my day to day communication. It taught me how people worked, but very little about how to be genuine.
I do believe, there's some things that need to be held to standards of truth because their falsehood has huge ramifications. There are topics that are lied about that make me viscerally ill. False accusation, in particular. Lies that veil police brutality as a normal interaction gone awry. These kinds of incidents are where the morality of dishonesty becomes more concrete, in my mind it has a great deal to do with intent.
Personally, I find a sense of moral uneasiness where a lie crosses from protecting me to benefiting me. It’s one thing to deceive someone so their world is better or I feel safer, it’s another to do it because it makes mine better or to gain control.
Before I used to make up stories, now I tend to lie by omission. I have this sensibility that things have a time and place to be said, and if I'm not there then I shouldn't say them. I'm coming to terms with all the half truths or unspoken ones. These are things that I want to be better about; this isn't a New Years resolution so much as I've been working on this for a few months; once this blog became more personal and less ponderous, I guess. It's hard to tell the truth if you haven't been honest with yourself. We'll see how things unravel, but for now I guess I have to let these things fade, let sleeping dogs lie.
In any case it's a new year. Hopefully I'll be able to make some real stories, either life experience or vivid imagination that you'll like to hear. Hopefully I'll grow enough as a person to drop some of this emotional baggage. Whatever happens, I'm excited for the ride, and I'm glad you're here with me.
Author's Note : This was written in mid December and I opted to publish it later because I was content with how much I'd written for the month and wanted to space out my productivity. This is not, and should not be taken to be, a commentary on any issue that's going on in current events.
About A Blog
I'm a Denver Comedian, occasional cartoonist and person of interest to someone, probably. These articles are really too long.