I found this in the waiting room of my therapist’s office perusing when my therapist was 1-2 minutes late for a session, coming down the hallway, a fact that is inconsequential (I have been late and I sometimes run-over), but a fact that I lord over her.
The book was there but the placement was my own.
I frequently noticed it, perusing the shelf of cast-offs and maybe strategically placed therapeutic books, it was hard to know: kismet or misplacement? A thoughtless collection of what people could find, or just a random selection of whatever anyone was too in distress, to distracted to remember to take with them after a 45-minute session of, perhaps, baring their souls.
Anyway, this book seems pretty tragically out of place in a therapist’s office, with all of its intimation of a concept of “womanliness” and strange pandering to a sub-sect of illusory middle-school girls that I imagine do not exist outside of television.
But who knows, maybe that’s what people want. A topic starter, a place of discussion.
I once saw a book in my therapist’s room that said “Lesbian Psychologies” and thought it said “Lesbian Pathologies”. What did that inspire in or say about me that I found that there, just a certainty of a point of view, a subconscious gesture, what? I think I had just been defensive or unsure about how I related to queer culture. What was that moment that happened that would not have otherwise?
Nowadays, when I go to my therapist, half of my time is spent talking about girls. Therapy can feel like some sort of wishful make-out session, some sort of pow-wow in a closet or sleep-over looking out to what might come of my love-life this new-found (somewhat) attractiveness and who’s a good idea or bad idea. These moments are like milk chocolates for me or the Sour Patch Kids that my best friend Frank kept offering me while we watched the Studio Ghibli adaptation of The Borrowers: sweet and quick and empty, fun but requiring self-control.
It is an illusion to think one’s problems are solved or that one cannot improve their psyche or to see progress as itself some sort of pedestal. Back in the depths of earlier depression, I would insist to my friends and others at my happiness and relative fine-ness when I was losing hair at how unhappy I was at my post-production job, when I was crushed after not getting a movie-theater promotion, when I wanted to be okay so desperately in the months following my break-up.
Now looking back at those moments, it’s easy to see how unhappy I was. I didn’t want to be a post-production coordinator but felt obligated to, didn’t want to work in a movie theater, but needed some sense of worth, I wasn’t ready to love someone else, but so desperately wanted the pain of a first love to go away.
My friend Sebastian often accuses me of being maudlin (he also frequently complains about how he is portrayed on this blog) and in this case he is correct, I am being maudlin.
But I am also letting myself experience those emotions from a distance with the fondness of some completion. Like the shows I can look back on, I can either smile or cringe. And if I’m lucky and I think of a moment, some real emotion might be released into me, a gift that no video-game or twitter-feed can bestow.
As I’ve said before here, the great gift I’ve found through therapy, yoga, improv, growing-up, life, what-have-you, were the lessening of expectations; to stop being so hard on myself and just notice where I am. To just treat the journey as the fun thing and to not worry about “the big picture”. Life, I seem to have decided, is pretty great for me right now (despite my relative lack of love or solid career), I guess, I have become a fuller, more self-confident person to the point where I believe that those things will come in time. That as long as I continue to have fun, wherein my fun is self-improvement in writing and comedy, everything else will come or not.
Already, I’ve gotten numerous performance opportunities on New York stages, I’ve gotten cast in my friends sketches and gotten to put up my own. I’ve even gotten to work with performers I idolize like Christina Gausas and learn from them, which was and still is unimaginably great for me, from starting out.
To be all buddhist-y about it, the journey is the goal.
But all my friends and parents say otherwise as they ask me to know what I want to do or be again. In film school, this question was answered for me, which is in one way a relief, but in another way led to a massive meltdown and certain unhappiness as I got rejected from 50 film festivals, the only recourse to which was: “Well if you really wanted to do this, it wouldn’t break you.” But then what if it did?
On his “WTF with Marc Maron” podcast, comedian Todd Glass comes out publicly and talks about the use of the word “gay” as derogatory and why people so cling to wanting to use it, despite the negative effects and connotations on others.
“I don’t think that those are very terrible people or even that they don’t realize it in some part of them.” Glass says. “I think it’s just that it makes them feel uncomfortable, because if they’re wrong, it means they have to change.”
Change is painful, it’s something we avoid. I’ve talked on this blog repeatedly about “homeostasis” the biological process through which our bodies try to preserve order and how this is the same things our minds and natures try to preserve as well. When I had to get out of film school and look at the world, when I had to get out of a relationship and do the same. Another thing I talk about is how the most painful moment for me is the schism in which I understand the reality I thought I perceived was not the one others’ perceive, which could be when a girl isn’t in to me, or when I get fired from a job, or when I realize in a certain situation I am friend-less and alone and one way to look at these situations is the mental crux of “Am I going crazy?” but another is to look at these as moments where one is forced to confront the necessity of change and that is truly frightening.
So that’s what I worry about as my roommate Teddy hits up famous people on Twitter asking for jobs, because he tells me “[he] wants to make the whole world laugh.” That’s what I worry about when my friend Sebastian talks about Chris Farley, or my father or Frank asks me “what do you want out of this?” meaning comedy or writing or the rest.
I am afraid that the zen or calm that I have found, that I am comfortable in, is just another stalking-horse for a defensiveness, a clinging to the moment that has already past in the guise of a peace about the present.
That having no great dreams is a defense against having any at all.
And that is the difficult thing I suppose, to asses that moment, scary as it is.
Because how ever comfortable I am in my life, lady-less, in-therapy, without an even paycheck:
I like it.
I went down to North Carolina this past week to perform in a show that my only bit was standing behind a plant and clicking next on a projector and that too was cut for time.
But I still had a blast.
I was holed up with a bunch of comedians as a part of the North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival, sleeping 5-6 to a hotel suite, leaflet-ing downtown Chapel Hill, getting sized up amused-ly by the ladies used to frattier boys in a way that seemed to take some of the pep out of my step.
But I ate boneless wings, found an incredibly comprehensive (and expressly forbidden-by-my-lifestyle) beer store in a close-by strip-mall and shared stories with a bunch of groovy people, screwing around and making friends.
Even though France was amazing and liberating and somewhat lonely, I was doing a lot of work on myself out there, you know? Wandering the streets of Paris, thinking about improv (I am insane, right?) and my friends back home, trying to unpack every moment cross-wired with my old relationship, trying to forgive myself for things I had displaced on to the veneer of strength and confidence you get from co-dependency. I was largely successful at that and it was amazing, but it felt less like a wacky vacation than an immersive experience.
But this was a fun-fuck-around moment, the college trip to Vegas I’d never gotten, loaded with funny comedians who suddenly thought I was cool, whom suddenly I could talk to and hang out with and just shoot the shit.
We searched for BBQ places, I helped pick out a bunch of prizes for a rowdy North Carolinan crowd and I got to hear a really funny dude do a preview of his one-man show for us in the front row. Amazing, the 10-hour ride back may have been the best part of the trip, from something I was once terrified of.
It’s nice finding that dynamic of people, finding some mutual respect, but also just drinking and working and being exhausted and getting wild. It felt like a film set, without all the existential “will my life amount to anything” baggage.
I came back refreshed and ready and happier than ever that I had my life at home as 2 days felt like I had been gone for 2 weeks.
By the way, watch The Chris Gethard Show tonight at 11pm on MNN in Manhattan or at http://www.thechrisgethardshow.com or download the podcast on iTunes.
And look closely for that man behind the plant.
He’s pretty happy, just to be there.
Is there such a thing as a Soy Cappucino?
My server at MUD Coffee seemed confused too.
You see, I am a fan of Cappuccinos over lattes (a trip to Italy in my adolescence solidified this as did my recent trip to France) but I am also, and let’s be honest here, one of the fartiest people in the world.
It’s true! I’m sorry ladies! I’m kind-of-sorry my friends! I cannot help it. I am slightly lactose-intolerant (I think?!) and I don’t really care.
So I do that d-baggy thing and order soy drinks sometimes and this time I did.
It was filled with that weird soy-y foam. But it was light and kind of nice.
I got weird looks from the servers, but no more than someone with half-a-pair-of-pants who might walk in to an east village coffee shop.
It lifted me up after a night of drinking and just getting back from a collective 3-days-12-hours-of-sleep and a big trip down the coast.
I was awake during brunch with my family.
And I didn’t fart…
Well, maybe a few times.
Soy Cappucino- $4.00 (in a mug, to stay)
9th St bet. 1st and 2nd Aves.
6 to Astor Pl. R to 8th St-NYU. F to Lower East Side- 2nd Ave.
Oh yeah, I hear I’m back on TV. Here’s a deleted scene brought to my attention by someone, forget who.
I think it is unfortunately called “Nobody Likes A Unibrow”.