Thank you Circus.
My mom gave me the July issue of Elle magazine for my birthday. It is about women in comedy and I wish every magazine was just like this one. I read Bridget Everett’s article about her comedy icon, her mom. I only know Bridget’s work through rave reviews and photos in Time Out New York magazine. They never took us off of their mailing list after we moved to LA and we kept getting them for free! It was our only bathroom reading for the first three years in LA and our regular bowels made it very hard to detach from NYC. My quiet toilet time would be a magic portal to New York art, music, literature, dance, theatre and other-worldly fearless night talent.
So I weirdly love Bridget’s raunchtastic cabaret shows and volcanic personality without ever seeing her perform! I recently got to see her move and speak as Maria Bamford’s best friend in Maria Bamford’s genius Lady Dynamite on Netflix. Bridget was hysterical as expected, so was Maria, as expected, and the whole show, as expected. Go watch that show. Anyway, all that being said, I was excited to read Bridget’s article in Elle:
My mom is an 82-year-old retired schoolteacher who raised six kids largely on her own, and she has no idea how funny she is. For starters, she always walked around the house naked, which was pretty wonderful growing up because she’s a big woman. It showed me that it’s just a body; it’s no big deal. She would go to the grocery store without a bra, so we’d call her “Beaver Tails.” She just didn’t care! But she’s totally beloved in my hometown. She’s turned into this old lady who rides around on a Jazzy with a cane, going through Kmart poking soldiers and thanking them for their service, then trapping them in conversations.
There’s so much in my performance that’s performed by her. Not wearing a bra on stage. Interacting with the audience. She was a music teacher, and when I was younger, my older brothers and sisters would all get shitfaced, and we’d stand around the piano singing songs from Barry Manilow and Lionel Richie and our favorite show tunes. That’s basically what I do for a living now.
When I moved to New York to sing, the only real singing I was doing was at karaoke bars, where I would just go crazy. It was mayhem. Literally ripping my shirt off, grabbing guys- it was the only outlet I had, but when I was doing it and getting reactions from the crowd, I thought, Oh, maybe I can take this to a legitimate stage and do crazy covers of songs and tell crazy stories. It’s a shamelessness and a freedom, which definitely came from my mother.
She came to my show at Joe’s Pub once, and I was so nervous. I mean, I sit on people’s faces and motorboat them. But there she was cheering the whole time, and at the end she came up to me and said, “That was freedom in motion.” It was the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me.
This inspired me. It made me cry. It reminded me that what I want most, what I have always wanted but didn’t realize until recently, is freedom to be myself. I looked for it and found the freedom part in improv. I had the freedom to do whatever I wanted, but only as a character. And so, after doing it on and off since I was ten, I stopped improvising. It perpetuated my addiction to pleasing others, to the fight or flight chemicals in my body, to getting a high from rescuing or fixing. And it gave me a false sense of freedom.
Once I saw that freedom was what I lacked and craved, I wanted to transfer that feeling I get on stage into my real life. It was mind-blowing, awe-inspiring, dumb-founding to imagine that I could simply have that wild abandon in my life. Not just on stage. I’m so happy on stage. I can taste the joy. The only times I had felt that in life was when I was helping others to the detriment of my own life. I only knew it as a high from a distraction. From creating a false, unreliable reality. A reality that kept me stuck in the same place, without progress or real growth. Alive, but chock full of old fears and confusion, which meant I was chock full of sadness too.
So I am retraining my brain to listen to itself. To learn that there are many things, people, outcomes I want to control so that I feel safe. But that not trying to control them leaves just me. And even then, I am learning not to control myself. I used to spend every millisecond of every day telling myself no. No, do it later. No, do it in a different way. No, do it more efficiently. All of these things usually led to it never getting done at all. I watched my life pass by. There were so many times I could see that because of my procrastination, I clearly missed opportunities.
I will say this next part in the past tense, although I am still currently practicing changing it in the present: My procrastination came from perfectionism, which came from fear of not doing it well, which came from fear that people won’t love me unless I’m perfect, which came from experiencing abandonment as a child, which gave me a fear of being left behind by the pack and dying. So I was used to being in fight or flight, all the time. The fear of death was a daily motivator and I had no idea.
So now I am learning to rely on what god is to me, my instinct, my higher power, a thing all around me that is also my inner voice. It looks out for me. Then when I remove controlling others or myself, there is not an emptiness, there is a flow to life. A momentum that is peaceful as a breeze in the summer sky. It moves forward. Naturally, organically, and truthfully. (This is not my default setting yet and is an uphill struggle. But neuroplasticity means that any-age dogs can learn new tricks. And happiness is a worthwhile treat.)
I’m getting to know myself better and am excited to put my newly-discovered calm motion into what I want to do. I thought that I needed to take myself out of improv because art didn’t let me be myself. But there is art that does. And there is improv that does too, I just wasn’t doing that kind. I’m excited to allow that freedom for myself in writing and creative aspects of my life. It’s new for me to see that I can have both freedom and be myself and it can exist in an artistic space too. I’ve only known being other people for so long. On stage and off. But art is expansive and we create our space within it by existing, in any way we want.
Thank you, Bridget.
And Bridget’s Mom.
And my Mom 🙂
The Good Samaritan didn’t say, after helping that guy, “Ok, now you owe me.”
I like to imagine that if he did, he looked like Clint Eastwood, squinting and sweating mud, with a rolled cigar-ette sticking to his lip, standing beside the fellow he helped, but looking off into the sunset because people who receive help don’t deserve eye contact. Except for one flick of a glare just before the long silence that follows him as he walks away.
I’m learning to ask for what I need and want, learning to take up space, and I’m learning that I used to instantly feel like I owed someone if they helped me.
Someone recently gave me a Kit Kat bar and the whole time I was eating it, I was trying to figure out how to give her two fancy chocolates that would cost about $16. This would involve driving to a special store, paying for parking, using my foot and back, both of which I’m healing in physical therapy, and having $16. It also would involve her having some of the most orgasmic chocolates a person can ever experience eating. That feels like a nice thing to do for someone. Everyone loves chocolates, and orgasms. But I’m not working right now so that I can heal. So I don’t have $16 for chocolates and thinking about how to repay her, which I can’t do right now anyway, took me out of the moment of enjoying eating the chocolate and feeling my hunger dissipate.
Why couldn’t I want to give her a Kit Kat bar in return? If I was insistent on giving something in return, why not give myself permission to give an equal gift instead of one sixteen times greater? This was all so strange because she had simply given me a chocolate bar that she wasn’t interested in eating and it was a simple action for her. And here I was triggered into anxiety about the whole thing, feeling pressure to give her a chocolate orgasm.
I’d like to say that I’m anti-using-orgasms-as-currency. Currency orgasms are akin to slavery. Some things should always be free and never bartered or traded. That Kit Kat made me forget how I feel about slavery. I really like chocolate.
Beyond the chocolate amnesia, I passionately didn’t want her to think I was only talking to her because I wanted something from her. I’d rather sit there, hungry, and see she isn’t eating the food, but know she knows she’s valued to me in an honest way.
And I wanted to repay her because that’s how deeply I felt the feeling of gratitude for that each layer of that crispy, crack-like Kit Kat bar.
In the moment, I was aware that my thoughts were irrational and extreme and I needed to just eat the fucking candy bar. But it wasn’t until much later when I had stopped judging the thoughts as ridiculous that I had realizations about them.
If I’m always worried about repaying during the time I am receiving anything, how will I ever enjoy receiving? (This is actually very applicable to orgasms, too.) And if I’m not truly experiencing receiving, what exactly am I repaying?
I’m learning that I don’t owe her. Now. Or Later. (That’s not a candy joke.) I used to think, “When I’m physically healed, I’ll repay this person.” But there are times in life when I need help and it will take all that I have just to get better. All of my energy is needed for me in these moments, plus some energy from someone else. And I thought today, “Well, maybe that’s because I won’t repay that specific person in a balanced way. Maybe I’ll end up repaying someone else later who is in that same needing place. And they, in turn, won’t repay me, but will also Pay It Forward,” as they say.
But I think that if I’m doing something nice for someone because I owe a debt to someone else, I’m not doing that nice thing because I want to be nice. I’d be doing it because I have to pay it back. This is the first time I noticed “Pay It Forward” sounds very similar to “Pay It Back,” only because the word “pay” is in both of them.
I feel good wrapping my head around the idea that I won’t set the intention to pay back those gifts that are given to me while I’m not whole, to the person who gave them to me or to another person. Sometimes people are deficient and need from a depleted place. Sometimes I’m that person. While I’m not whole, the stress of worrying about how to repay takes me away from becoming whole again. Which also takes away from my ability to repay them.
It wasn’t until I was trying to give this post a title that I realized that these people are just trying to give me a gift! Ha! It took me this long to realize that I’m trying to repay something that doesn’t need to be repaid. It’s a gift. That’s what a gift is. A loan needs to be repaid. A gift doesn’t. So not only am I worried about something that I can’t do while I’m hurt, it’s in regards to something that doesn’t need to be repaid in the first place. Sigh.
Whew, my little brain gets a big work out with all this unnecessary worrying all the time. My body may be weak, but my mind is overly muscular. I’m working on balancing that muscle ratio.
My fear of needing and wanting results in my never allowing myself to receive because then I would be someone who may need or want. I’m realizing I usually feel honest, wild gratitude for even the tiniest gift. I’ll say thank you with a heart full of hummingbirds. But I will sometimes, accidentally, not say Thank You for big gifts that I needed or for little gifts or words by which I feel overwhelmed. This happens because I’ll spend days thinking about it and dreaming of ways I could repay them equally. Or ways I could express exactly what it meant to me. Sadly, the days can add up to never simply saying Thank You. I usually recognize that my perfectionist hope of perfectly giving them credit for what they did gets in the way of taking action. But I hadn’t realized that subconsciously I felt I didn’t deserve it. And that not saying anything feels better than actually saying Thank You because that would mean I am accepting the idea of needing and wanting. And, up until last month, that idea freaked me out.
Also, if someone says Thank You to me, I rarely say You’re Welcome because I’m uncomfortable even receiving thanks. I never consciously noticed these things before. But I see them clear as day now. Which is weird because who has ever said, “I see day.” But I see them nonetheless.
I finally learned why I’m scared to want and need and it comes from a dark, sad place in my past. My little kid self is still trying to protect me from that old place. Humans are wired to remember where we see a bear in the woods so we don’t go that way again and we have a better chance of not getting eaten. So it’s easy for me to forgive myself for not wanting to recreate a bear situation. It was violently difficult to see that I don’t need to have this fear anymore. It was relevant when I was little, but I don’t have to worry about that specific bear anymore. Figuring this out recently let me feel grateful to my little self for looking out for me, which wasn’t something I expected to happen and it was nice. It was also a huge release to let my big self understand that I don’t have to make decisions from a place of fear that I never even realized I was feeling.
And, in regards to paying back that ol’ Good Samaritan, if I help the giver or others later, and a balance of giving is accidentally created, it will be a beautiful thing. But it will be coming from an honest, organic, strong, grounded, tranquilly motivated, maybe even orgasmic place, a place based on the truth of how capable I am in the present moment, not a place of guilt, debt, or Owing It Forward.
This tasty burger is award-winning! I was presented with “Jake’s Favorite Burger Award.” What does that mean? It means this is my friend Jake’s favorite burger! Yay!
I think it looks like it was made by a man who just mowed his lawn and got curious about what it would taste like if he piled some clippings on his much-earned burger. Luckily this particular man has a lawn made entirely of organic arugula and he massaged the clippings in apple cider vinegar and the burger tastes great!
A few fun facts: There is a top piece of bread, it’s just hiding on the other side of the plate. This is organic, grass-fed beef. The burger is gluten-free, soy-free, corn-free & dairy-free. It has about 6.5 grams of sugar (4g from two slices of bread, 2g from the ketchup, and a whole medium tomato has 3.2g of sugar, so I’m guessing these two slices are around .5g). Everything in it is organic except for the bread.
Also, I eat beef if it’s organic and when I feel like I need it, which varies greatly. It seems like once a month or every two months, I’ll eat a one pound package of grass-fed organic beef or a bag of beef jerky. But it’s not often. Beef is an inflammatory food and I can tell I swell from it a bit. I also usually keep my meat separate from carbs because my body stays leaner that way. It’s called food combining and it’s very effective. The theory behind it is that the enzymes that break down carbs and proteins are different and mixing them makes digestion more difficult. Without going into a huge explanation of how and why I eat what I eat, I’ll simply say everyone is different, but I wanted to share that I eat this meal as a rare, well-done treat!
Here is the “award-winning” recipe:
Hide Garlic in Patty Mince the garlic glove. Heat pan on medium high. Remove about half or a third of the hamburger meat and set it aside. Form a patty with the rest of the hamburger meat and sprinkle the minced garlic on top. Cover the garlic with the meat that was set aside so that the garlic ends up in the center of the burger. Shape the patty how you’d like and place in pan. Wash your hands, you nasty bastard. (Shane added that last part.)
Toast Bread Heat a separate large pan for about thirty seconds. Add olive oil and set the bread slices in the oil, covering each side. Toast each side in pan until brown.
Sauté Onion Add onion to the same pan so it can sauté in the oil at the same time. I like to use the least amount of pans possible so there is less clean up afterwards.
Spice & Cook Burger When the first side looks cooked almost half way up to the raw side, flip the burger and add oregano to the cooked side. Add pepper to one side when it is almost done.
I don’t know that much about cooking burgers, but it seems like when I don’t drain the fat out of the burger (or smash it with a spatula or puncture it to see how well it has cooked), the juices help cook the burger all the way through in a more even way and in a shorter amount of time. It seems like the boiling juice inside is helping cook the center. Once it is cooked all the way through, there is less fat to drain anyway. So my advice is don’t smash, puncture or drain it until it is done cooking. How will you know it’s done cooking without puncturing it? I don’t know yet. I wait until I think it’s done and then puncture it in the center a little bit with a small knife. If it has juice immediately come out, I quickly stop applying pressure and leave it be. If it seems cooked, it’s done.
Massage Arugula In a small dish, massage the arugula with the apple cider vinegar about 10 times. Don’t be scared to squish it.
Cool the Bread Once the bread is toasted to your liking, lean it at an angle on the edge of your plate. This sounds weird. But the bottom of the gluten-free bread makes condensation from the heat and moisture so if you place it flat on the plate and leave it in the same place, it can get soggy. I like to air it out by leaning it at a diagonal on the lip of the plate. Once it’s cooled down for a couple of minutes while I do something else, I’ll flip it over and move it to a different section of the plate. If there is condensation under the original spot, I’ll wipe off the water.
Slice Tomato & Avocado Cut two tomato slices. Open your avocado by running a knife through the center until it hits the pit, then sliding the knife along the pit to slice the avocado in half. Pull the halves apart and slice the side without the seed. Scoop out the slices with a spoon. I used about 1/4 of an avocado.
Plate & Eat Place the sautéed onion on the toasted bread, then the tomato slices, the burger, avocado, and arugula. Add ketchup, mustard, the top bread slice and enjoy! Or feed it to your friend Jake. It’s his favorite! 🙂
I didn’t realize how violent this recipe title could sound until after I became attached to the name. Oops! To me it sounds like an adorable Hobbit man in heavy tweed pants that are held up by brown-striped suspenders meeting his neighbor for the first time, in the morning, sharing a breakfast shake over the fence. He also has a bulby red nose and little cold, so even though he has a warm twinkle in his eye, his consonants are stifled.
“Berry Dice to Beet You…”
It tastes like a sunny Hobbit morning too. Hope you like it.
In a blender, combine the ingredients and blend on high. Makes almost 1½ glasses.
Because our blender is not as strong, I usually start blending by pulsating on low for a second and then letting it settle, again for a second, and let it settle, and I continue this until I can see that the blender has pulled in all of the whole food. It’s usually about five times. Once that has happened, I turn the blender to the highest low setting and let it run for about 30 seconds. Then I switch it to the highest high setting and blend for 30 seconds to a minute or until the texture looks drinkable. If you have a strong blender, please feel free to move through your life at your own pace.
I feel peaceful in nature. Because it’s so expansive, I feel like I’m bigger and the world opens when I’m in it, so it’s bigger too. When I think of solitude, I feel small and think of an enclosed space. But today, walking on the sidewalk of my poor, bustling Hollywood neighborhood, which is both expansive and enclosed by walls people everywhere, I felt peaceful.
Maybe it was because I haven’t been able to walk for two years and I’ve done enough physical therapy to be at the point of adding in walks. The rush of standing up straight, the freedom of feeling my left leg muscles. Maybe it’s because I realized I had a fear of taking up space and found the most helpful therapy to actively get through it so I was enjoying taking up space. But for some reason, I wondered, “If the entire street were empty and it was just me and the cement sidewalk, the cement road, and the cement buildings, would I feel the peace I feel in nature?”
I never imagined that I was alone when I was in nature. Maybe it’s because of all of the life around me when I’m there. The movement, the flow, the sound. Everything there is growing or helping something else grow. But somehow, the thought of being alone in this cityscape felt like I would like it in the same way as I like nature. It made me wonder if it’s the nature alone that makes me feel better when I’m in it. Or if it’s the aloneness, the peace, quiet, and time with myself that makes me feel better.
We rarely get a chance to empty a city and stand alone in it. How would it feel? Tom Cruise got to stand in an empty Times Square in the movie Vanilla Sky. I never saw the movie but I’ve always been fascinated by that moment and curious if he feels like he absorbed the moment with more vigor, not just because it was extraordinary, but in honor of everyone who will never know how that feels.
In December of 2013, I was in Greenwich Village in NYC, walking alone under a sky that I remember as the blackest navy ink, lit with stars that sprinkled into the twinkling streetlights. Maybe it was just the Christmas lights, maybe there were no stars, but it felt like the stars were falling right there with us and there was no separation between the sky and me.
There was nothing special happening that day, no streets blocked off, no reason for the corner I was at to be more quiet than usual, but it was. It was still. The snow had blanketed the sidewalk and roads in a way that rarely happens in a city. In the Battle of Tires and Feet vs. the Snow Blanket, the cars and people usually win by squishing the blanket into a blackened slosh. This blanket had won though, and humbly. It was not that thick and knew to enjoy the time it had. Its might was only apparent in its sound. A happy, frosty, dense crunch beneath the feet. And its power seemed to grow as it absorbed our sound too.
The road curved and, the way I remember it, it had a triangular three-stop meet-up. I honestly don’t know what that means, but that is how it felt. It leant itself to feeling cove-like with old, small roads showing up to pop their heads out and participate. The way the sound bounced off the buildings cupping it, plus the sound-hungry snow made my ears feel muffled.
The other reason things seemed quiet was because there were at least twenty of us there, in the dark, lit by street lights and white Christmas twinkles, and most people were in pairs, but some how, no one was speaking. Not in a brisk-walk, too-busy-to-look-up kind of way. It was like if you mixed the feeling of A Southern, Wrap-Around-Porch Rocking Chair with a snow globe. That is how they were walking. People of all shapes and sizes, types and ages. Absorbing with their hearts what the snow had taken from their ears. And no cars or buses or taxis drove by for at least 3 minutes. And I kid you not, all you could hear, like the crisp, white air, was a man, soulfully whistling the theme song to the Andy Griffith show.
Ass Hat Sandwich: Dairy Free Soy Free Gluten Free Egg Sandwich with a giant pepper that looks like a butt holding in the ingredients and wearing a bread slice that looks like a hat. Good Morning Everyone. #sauteed #organic #yellowonion in a #pan then #ripped #organic #dinosaurkale into a #whisked #egg and #cooked on #mediumhigh until #goldenbrown then in the same #pan #toasted #ricebread in #oliveoil and #plated the #sandwich in the #order of #bread #omelet #onion #salsa #avocado #bellpepper #bread so that the #piece of #pepper #holds in the #avocado and I also #scored the #top so the #glutenfreebread could #grip the #orangebellpepper too #nofilter #yummy #breakfast #asshat #sandwich
My friend Simon said babies taking nine months to be made has always stayed the same. He likes that it’s something that can’t go faster. What if there was a machine that made time not take as much time? It would essentially make everything go faster, which seems like what we want, but it also makes something happen faster that we don’t like- age.
That is what I believe we give up when we go faster: years of our lives. Either because stress shortens life or some gadget or ray or chemical that makes things faster also makes us sick and die sooner. I believe we can’t truly go faster, but we can go for longer than we are taught. Healthy life expectancy is longer than 60-80 years, it’s 100-110. God gives us more time because it takes that long to go at a healthy pace.
We can get more out of life though, by going deeper. By facing our scary insides, growing through our fears and confusion and living more vivid, deep, connected, honest lives, instead of running so fast from thing to thing, fearful of a healthy pace that lets us see the truth.
The truth is- this whole thing sounds like a sex joke. Longer and deeper are better than faster. Which is not always true when it comes to sex.
Savory and filling, yet refreshing and clean. Red Russian kale from the garden and eggs, over thick pieces of Bacon avocados on a bed of spiced quinoa.
It was Shane’s birthday and we woke up to an empty fridge and growling bellies. We had both been out of town for two weeks and gotten home the night before. We needed to go grocery shopping, but were too hungry to go. In the fridge there was a box and a jar filled with seeds I’m collecting. A Diet Coke we keep on hand in case our friend Simon comes over. Cookies shaped like the lead character of the show Shane works on that I plan to make into Christmas ornaments. A Brita filter in water that I’m hoarding in case the water in our pipes magically becomes not rusty and we start to use our Brita pitcher again. Our compost tupperware, a really old cabbage, and some new eggs:
So we had eggs. Outside of the fridge, we also had two avocados from my aunt and uncle’s tree, the end of a bag of dry quinoa, and a lemon.
That is pretty close to becoming something! We thought we would cook the quinoa and then sauté it in oil, stir in the egg to make something like fried rice and then add spices and avocado. Which would have pretty good I’m sure.
But then we remembered we have a GARDEN!!! It only has one thing in it right now: KALE :)!
So Shane picked fresh kale and made kale omelettes. I played with the spices and quinoa. And he plated it snuggling avocados between the two. Here is the recipe:
Ingredients: 2 cups of water, 1 cup of red quinoa, 3 hearty shakes of: curry powder, turmeric, *berebere powder, garlic powder, chili powder, 1/2 a lemon’s juice, 1/2 large Bacon avocado, 2 eggs, 6 Red Russian kale leaves, olive oil.
We try to use organic everything. This amount makes two omelettes and leaves a lot of extra quinoa for later.
*The Berebere powder was a gift from our magical friend, Jenna Johnson. She brought it from a town near to our heart, Pittsburgh. It is commonly used in Ethiopia and Eritrea in Africa. It’s a blend of chili peppers, garlic, ginger, basil, korarima, rue, ajwain or radhuni, nigella, and fenugreek. If you don’t have this ingredient, it’s okay. If you want to buy berebere from the store that Jenna did, it’s called Penzey’s and they’re on Penn Ave in Pittsburgh. They also have locations in 24 states and an online store.
Instructions: Bring two cups of water to a boil, add quinoa, stir, lower to a simmer, add spices and cook until little holes of air appear scattered throughout the quinoa.
Rip up 2-3 leaves of kale and mix in a bowl with an egg. Heat the olive oil on high.
Shane heats it long enough so that when he puts his hand over the oil, he feels the heat, then he adds the kale and egg mixture.
After a few minutes of the egg cooking on the first side, when he sees the egg bubbling a bit, he checks to see if he can get the spatula under the egg. If not, he waits until he can, if so, he flips the egg.
On the second side, he lets it cook for a bit again then presses it with the spatula. If uncooked egg comes out, he flips it again. Usually that’s all the flipping that is needed, but he’ll repeat this until the egg is cooked all the way through.
Place about an inch of quinoa the size of the omelette on a plate. Top that with thick pieces of avocado. Place the omelette on top. Enjoy! And have a Happy Birthday!