Wednesday, April 18, 2012

That's me!

Last night before my volleyball game, I was chatting with someone I don't usually have the chance to chat with, and he asked, "Hey didn't I hear you're a magician?" I gently corrected him by saying I had worked as a stand-up comedian, and if he was disappointed that I had never pulled a rabbit out of my hat, he hid it well.

There was a time when I might have been annoyed by the question, but yesterday it just made me smile. I like the idea that I am now associated with all sorts of artistic, long-shot endeavors, which is something that, ten years ago, I would never have predicted. These days, having told jokes to drunken hostile crowds, and now trying to pitch my book to sober, hostile reviewers, I'm proud of the reputation. In fact, I'm even kind of disappointed he didn't ask me, "Didn't I hear you're a rodeo clown?"

(I'm not. Yet.)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Stuff I have learned

We've all learned our lessons over the years, and here's some of what I have learned from mine.

1. You can't save anyone.
2. Self-confidence is more useful than self-love.
3. One mind can contain diametrically opposed ideas.
4. Never confuse chutzpah for strength.
5. Always ask why.
6. Don't trust anyone who doesn't trust anyone.
7. Use your ears more often than your mouth.
8. If you say, "I'm not a racist, but..." you are a racist.
9. Self-absorption is not the same thing as self-awareness.
10. Grant the first favor for free, but charge for the second.
11. Don't interrupt; chances are you really don't know what's coming next.
12. Admit when you don't know the answer.
13. Better to fail because you didn't win than because you didn't try.
14. Context always matters.
15. If that apology contains a "but", you're not really sorry.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Memoir Monday: Giving myself a break

I read a book once in which a character and her friend have a genuinely creepy experience, but when it's over the friend insists that if they never again talk or think about it, why, it will have been as if nothing had happened. When I read that I realized two things. First, that could have described me; second, I was actually experiencing sympathy for Cersei Lannister. Yikes.

Notions or memories that frighten me are quickly whisked off by the Brain Gestapo, to spend their lives laboring in the Siberia of my subconscious. Of course, those things are never truly gone; I can't tell you how many times Dan's awakened me from one nightmare or another. No matter how deep the memory hole or well guarded the mental prison, those experiences are mine, but for a long time they reappeared only in my dreams.

Until three months ago today, that is, when I hit upon the idea of writing these memoirs. At first I thought I'd just post funny or light stories, but that seemed like just a suburb of Subconscious Siberia. If I were going to be truthful, however, it would mean not only confronting painful things from my past, but actually remembering them.

It's said that victims of abuse, particularly child victims, have a way of distancing themselves from the memories of the abuse, and in some cases forgetting entirely that they were victims. The longer I live, the more I think that can be true for all sorts of negative experiences. You can't make bad things un-happen, of course, but you can bury the memories so deep you forget where you put them. You still feel the emotional residue, however, even if you've lost contact with the memories from which they result. In the course of writing these memoirs I have regained contact, and although it hasn't always been fun, it's ultimately been rewarding.

If someone had suggested a year ago that I would publicly air, say, the story of my struggles with depression, I would have shuddered, but now I'm glad I did. The sharing doesn't change what happened, but it has changed my ability to understand and accept what I did. Just as important, I find I'm able to forgive myself for some of the tremendous mistakes I made along the way. And, no, this isn't the beginning of a paean about self-love; years of realty TV have taught me that the last thing most people need is to care more about themselves. However, I think I've come to learn that if I screwed up yesterday...well, I can do better today. The world's not going to stop turning on its axis because twenty years ago I fucked a bunch of losers in a lame attempt to fill the hole in my soul. In the grand scheme of things my mistakes are pretty small potatoes, and that's a pretty big relief.

So I'm going to suspend these memoirs for now, three months to the day I started them. Not that I've learned everything there is to know – hell, by summertime we may see the Return of Memoir Mondays – but there are other lessons to learn and other tasks at hand, most notably getting back to work on the second novel Dan and I are writing. And in any case I think it's best to take a break before I start thinking Cersei Lannister is just misunderstood.

So thanks for reading, and stay tuned!