Friday, March 20, 2015

Using The "R" Word

In comedy, some specifically set out to shock or offend. I'm not making judgements on how others navigate the various roads to stages. Personally it's never my INTENT to offend people, but I find it does happen.

Whether it be my explicit sexual content jokes or jabs at myself for gaining weight, at times? Feelings get hurt. People take things personally. There is an inability to separate "self" from "General Humor". The battle cry of "I'M OFFENDED!" is sounded with great volume! "YOU. HAVE. OFFENDED. ME!"

Shit happens.

The worst of this, for me as a comedian, comes when I opt to tell the jokes about my birth defects. Specifically? The hole in my skull. I was born without the top portion of my skull. Like I said, shit happens. Weird shit happens. I like to joke about it. I've found through comical observations of my own weirdness, people can feel better about themselves. Comedy doesn't have to come with a lesson or moral, but it can. My GOAL when telling these stories is that people feel better about themselves when I'm finished with my show.

Sometimes it does, indeed, backfire.

It wasn't uncommon for people to see me, as a child, in my protective helmet, to say, "There's a retard" or "That kid is retarded". It happened a lot. Assumptions were made, seeing a child in a helmet, in the 1970's. Kids didn't wear helmets back then for every. single. move. they. made. Kids who wore helmets back then often had something "wrong" with them. They were a medical necessity, not a fashion accessory, for the over-protective parent to saddle their children with.

When I tell this part of my history on stage, I really can't be honest UNLESS I use the word "Retarded".

And oh HOLY LORD, do I at times get SHIT FOR IT.

I can often see people in the audience SHUT DOWN -- anything I have left to say is lost on them. I said the "R" word, and the context doesn't even matter. I get approached post-shows with a shaking finger in my face, "You shouldn't USE THAT WORD!" Again, CONTEXT be damned.

If people would loosen their over-tight PC assholes, they would hear that I am, for all intent and purpose, lashing out at those who would EVER insult a child with said word. If they'd hear my story and follow along, they'd realize I'm kind of an advocate against the shaming of those who are different per the restraints of society's idea of "Normal".

If they would relax enough to hear me, and let go of their own experience for a HOT MINUTE, they'd see I'm trying to open the eyes of the one or two douchebags in the audience who think the word itself is still funny, and possibly shame those fuckers into not using it any more.

I can not accurately re-tell this portion of my life WITHOUT using the word. I refuse to re-write MY history because someone else has an issue with a WORD. It was used against me in ignorance in my childhood, and I will re-use it with power to say what I have to say.

For every child picked on who can't speak out or talk back? I'm the grown-up with the mic who remembers all too well those who talked about me like I couldn't understand their cruelty. I'm the kid, all grown up, who remembers what it was like to have people speak over me like I wasn't even there.

Yes, when I was little, the words hurt. I only wore that helmet until I was five, but I CLEARLY remember the ignorance of other people stinging me like little bees to my heart. I remember wanting to cry, and my Mom telling me, "Not everyone's going to like you. That's okay." I remember my Mom telling me to stand up for myself and lash back if I so wanted to.

I couldn't lash back too much in my childhood, but I can now. And I will.

And to do so? I might have to use words some people aren't comfortable hearing. And I'll do it without shame. It's MY story. I'll tell it as it happened, and hopefully release some tension for others dealing with things far more difficult than a kid wearing a helmet because part of their skull is missing.

My first born son, Spencer, was born with the same birth defect I have. It was through his diagnosis we learned of the term "Adams-Oliver Syndrome". Unfortunately, his first doctor was a bit of a quack, and didn't give us a helmet for Spencer until Spencer was of an age to refuse wearing it.

I do clearly remember an incident in the grocery store when Spencer was almost two.

I had my son seated in the grocery cart, and a woman kept following us through the store, eyeballing my kid.

Spencer had had his first reconstructive surgery at 3 months old, leaving a scar on the top of his head that went from one ear across the top of his head to the other ear. That woman just kept eyeballing Spencer's scar.

She finally had the nerve to approach me, asking in an accusatory tone, "WHAAAT did you DOOOOO to that Baby!?"

Everything about the rudeness of others when I was a child flooded back, along with the fevered need to punch this woman in her face. She didn't ask out of concern or curiosity. She had made up her mind some horrific fate had already befallen my beautiful infant son.

"Well," I said to her, hand on my hip, other hand on my son's head, "His father is SUCH an idiot. Really stupid, that man. So we participated in the first ever brain transplant, just to give the kid a leg up, genetically speaking."

I walked away with her mouth hanging open.

If you have questions about something you don't understand? Ask. Nicely. Most parents are willing to tell you why their child looks different. Name calling, STUPID questions stemming from fear and ignorance, aren't really the way to go. It's hurtful, and will make you look like a flaming assfuck EVERY TIME.

Kids often asked, "Why do you wear a helmet?" or "Are you a Martian?"

Kids never gave a shit much that I had to wear that helmet.

Adults, however, were mostly vile. Stares. Mumbling "Retard" when I walked by. Dirty looks to my Mother. One woman approached us, when I was a child, at the Mall, and knocked my helmet clean off my head, screaming at my Mother that she was horrible for putting such an ugly "hat" on such a beautiful child. It's my understanding that one of my Aunts power-jacked THAT woman against the wall explaining how she could've killed me with that move. I didn't see that part of the events that afternoon.

There's a campaign right now to stop the use of the "R" word. I understand the root of it, but I can't get on board with it. I will use the word "Retarded" when telling my jokes. I feel I've earned it. I DO cringe when people use it as a synonym for "Stupid". One of my Aunts devoted her life teaching with the MRDD board in Cleveland. If you used the word "Retarded" in any form in front of her she would smack you upside your head.

The point I'm making in my long winded rambling is that words CAN hurt, but banning any one word for the comfort of others can be dangerous. I have stories to tell. It's rare I even do that portion of my comedy set any more, but when I do? I'm often on guard for the ones who get upset before hearing me out.

It's my story.

I'm going to tell it without rewriting it.

Hopefully? Between the laughs, people might learn something. It's a risk I'm willing to take.

Monday, August 18, 2014

"ALL Women" blah blah blah.

Today we have a vent-rant-mini rage blog against articles that claim to speak for women.

I'm a woman. I speak from my voice. No one else has the right to claim my gender and speak for all of us any more than I do. Where there are stereotypes there are usually enough people to behave in such a way that a stereotype is created, I get that, but there ARE exceptions.

I read yet ANOTHER article this morning where a woman claimed to speak for my entire gender on what women want in sex, and what women think MEN want in sex. Much like it's an error to speak for all women, it's a bigger one to be a woman and claim to speak for all men. When is this shit going to stop? We are all GLORIOUS individuals with our own quirks and kink.

You know how to find out what your man is into? Ask him. Talk about it. Be willing to set ego aside and REALLY TALK about what makes your partner tick. Otherwise you're applying ideas to an individual. You're assuming. We all know that "Ass out of you and me" thing where assuming is concerned.

And again, I'm just thinking out loud. I've made mistakes as a woman in assuming this and that about men. Most who know me know I have a pretty kick-ass marriage but it didn't start that way. We worked toward it, and in doing so we had to accept truths about each other but more importantly OURSELVES.

I'm going to speak from MY voice about a touchy subject within relationships: Porn.

It was a very specific topic in the article I read, and basically stated that "Men like porn" and made no suggestion that women do, too. The issue of 50 Shades of Gray was briefly touched on to point out the gender hypocrisy that takes place. Men watch it and they're pigs, women read it and it's literature? Uh.... no. Forget how shitty that book is. (I don't even want to debate it, folks. BDSM is a lifestyle based off mutual trust and consent. That book is about a man abusing a naive woman's desire to be loved. SWILL. SHEER FUCKING SWILL. *just my opinion)

Gray's Anatomy? Women are the biggest demographic of viewers, and it's NOT always about whether or not the newborn preemie twins live. It's about who Dr. McDreamy or Dr. McSteamy is gonna shtup next.

What woman, especially one who grew up in the 80's, didn't fantasize that she was "Baby" while watching Dirty Dancing?

Just because porn aimed at women comes in a different package doesn't make it NOT porn.

But I'm talking about ACTUAL PORN. Main stream and freaky shit together, when it's consenting adults and people are, basically, fucking on film. THAT? Does NOT belong to men alone.

I will FULLY admit that once upon a time I was, indeed, a wife that disliked her husband viewing porn. Forget the stark honesty that *I* enjoyed it. The idea of HIM enjoying it bothered me. I felt threatened. I didn't look like the women in those videos. They were thin. Bodies perfect. How could he EVER want ME if that was what he was looking at? Blah blah blah insecurity ego denial blah blah blah.

I had to turn my issue on to myself and pick at the real problem. I didn't like how MY body looked, so naturally HE didn't either, right? I mean, forget that I'd watch porn and get turned on by men that look NOTHING like my husband but still wanted him more than I wanted water or air.

Forget that I didn't "Need" porn to get turned on, but that it heightened my arousal and that I liked it and masturbated to it when I was single.

DO NOT forget that. How about we look at that clearly.
How about we let go of that shame? How about we TALK about it?

That's what we did. Talked about it. Was it comfortable at first? Nope. We had some awkward conversations. We had to take the shame of it all and chuck it out the window. We had to admit there were things we both wanted to try, experiment with, YEARS into a marriage that had what I'd consider an already healthy sex life.

The light that went off was stark and startling. Two people. living together for years, were having certain points of fantasy unfulfilled because "Married people don't do this" or "Porn is a source of shame" or "Women don't LIKE this, or that, so I'll keep my desires to myself".

Had we never opened up about what REALLY turned us on? We'd still be happy. We'd still be sexual. But it wouldn't be where we are now. We had to open up the lines of communication past what was comfortable and get to the nitty gritty of the down and dirty.

When we did, it was a whole new world for us both. There was no more shame. There was no more sneaky behavior. No one had to lie, shine on, or cover up anything. There was a freedom within our union.

I could finally say to my husband, "Sometimes I don't WANT the big seduction. Sometimes I DO want you to toss me on the bed and fuck me like a cheap whore."

My husband could finally say to me, "I want you to seduce me. Men need that attention too."

It went from "How I'm Failing My Partner" to "New Things We're Gonna Do". It took what so many could see as a negative and turned it into a positive. I don't understand, in any way, why some -- men and women both -- see their sexual union as a chore. I've never understood the mentality that having sex with the ONE MAN I found sexier than all other men on the planet was a bother, or a favor, or giving something when I wasn't getting something in return.

We live in a sexually repressed society that tells us lust is wrong. Flirting is wrong. We have placed the value of monogamy on marriage to SUCH an UNHEALTHY degree that people get jealous enough TO KILL OTHER PEOPLE. He looks at the big boob blonde waitress and wife goes into a state of depression even though SHE also noticed the nice rack. He freaks the fuck out because she "liked" a hot photo on Facebook.

It boils down to self and ego. "If they see something in someone else, what aren't they seeing in ME?" A wedding band does not shut down a person's libdo. It is not some magic circle that blocks the rest of the world out. It's not. Everyone wants that. "Oh I want to be the ONLY person they look at that way." Wake up. Grow up. The world is FILLED with sexy people. And when you say "Yep, go ahead and look," because you know YOU LOOK just as much, only you're better at hiding it and lying to them and yourself about it? You're putting a big wet sand bag on the other person's natural human fire of desire and lust.

So, for all the "All Women Think THIS Way!" articles? I say kiss my ass.

I own my own mind. I also own my own desire. I SHARE it with my husband -- freely, openly, willingly -- and in return he shares with me what belongs to HIM. It takes NOTHING from me if I'm not home and he settles in for some porn, or vice versa. It takes nothing from me if he pops a chub when he's at the bar and notices some chick with a rockin' rack and a hot ass. It DOES take something from me if I am constantly nagging, pissing and moaning, and whining about his libido. It takes something from me because every time I'd fire up the bitch siren I was putting that fire in him out.

I do not speak for all women.

I speak as a woman, that sex in a marriage IS vital, and important, and not a chore. It's not a favor. It's not "Part of my job". It's the damn BONUS for having to pick up his dirty socks and wash hair out of my sink after he shaves.

I gotta put up with a hairy man farting in my living room? At least I get to play with his cock.

I gotta listen to that story about the guys at the shop for the fifteenth time this week? Fine. SERVICE ME, stud.

I celebrate my husband's masculine nature and his very existence as a vital, healthy man.
In turn he celebrates my natural nature of being a "sex kitten. (HIS words, NOT mine.)

I don't resent him if he's in the mood and I'm not. I just tell him to smack one out in the shower and think of something dirty and pervy while he's doing it. Chances are? I've done the same.

Lighten up people.

Go forth and be pervy.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Both Sides of The Coin

Tonight I will take the stage in Dayton at a show to honor a friend of mine who passed away in 2012.

Drew and I were on the road together, working a club in Kentucky. I'd brought him in as my middle, because he'd done the same for me a few years before in Dayton. It wasn't JUST that -- friends are one thing, business is another. Drew was funny as hell. As a comedian I don't do references much simply because those lines can become blurred. Someone has to be credible as a comic for me to put my name out there. I've always said I'm more apt to give a comedian a kidney out of love than a referral out of friendship. You have to be funny to merit another performer putting their name on the line for you, and Drew was beyond worthy of this kind of help we can, and often do, extend to one another in this business.

The one thing about Drew was that beyond that strict business criteria is that we were indeed friends. It wasn't an odd occurrence for him to randomly call me so we could talk about comedy, about our kids, and general life topics. The week before our time in Kentucky we spoke several times like two kids who couldn't wait to trot off to Summer Camp.

Our week was Wednesday through Sunday. We did our Wednesday show and as always, Drew destroyed that stage. He had a rough crowd, exhausted from the string of newer comics who'd paraded the stage, and brought them around to his side of comedy. They laughed. They loved him. I don't know anyone who didn't love Drew.

That night he left the condo with chest pains, headed to the hospital to get checked out. He called me after he spoke to his family, just to update me that the doctors suspected he'd had a heart attack on stage that night. That fact FLOORED me. It was not anything one could see watching him strum his guitar to his Johnny Cash bit, energy an all time high, entertaining strangers. And a funny thing happened before Drew got off the phone that night. Mind you he'd just talked to his wife and family before me, and did the habitual, "Okay well I'd better go. Love you!" ending to his phone call. He made a slight "oops, er, uh," noise and I laughed, I told him, "That's okay Drew. I love you too" before I hung up.

.....and I was the last person to speak to him. That night he had a major heart attack and went into a coma.
Drew never came out of it.
He died that Saturday.

I found myself reflecting on that last phone call for months, even years now, at first embarrassed and feeling unworthy of BEING the last voice of anyone he knew before he slipped away, but then glad that I let my walls down and said to a friend -- even though we were being silly about it -- that I loved him.

It has been since that time I have been far less reserved in speaking my real feelings to people. There are countless memes floating around about how you never know when it will be the "last time" you speak to someone. That phone call with Drew is the embodiment of that very idea. I could've busted my friend's balls about blurting out a knee-jerk phone conversation ending, especially because we're both comics. I'm glad now that I simply said "I love you, too." It wasn't just the last words he heard from me, but from anyone. Sometimes that still feels too big to be in my hands. It belonged to his wife, or one of his kids, not me.

Later that same year, my biological father died. Before my Dad but after Drew, my friend Tracey's husband Chris died.

2012 was a rough year for grief.

I thought I might escape 2013 without a funeral, but near the end another beloved friend died. Pasquale had been fighting cancer when I met him, and he lost his battle.

This year, my Mother passed away in June. She loved to laugh, and she loved my comedy. She wasn't entirely supportive at first and would ride me to the rails about leaving my kids and going on the road. Just at first. When she saw how happy it made me, that my sons were not worse the wear for it, that Pat was fully behind it, she shifted to the idea of supporting it.

She worried, you see. She worried it would put a strain on my marriage. She worried my sons might act out that Mommy sometimes left for days at a time. She worried about me getting into car accidents on my long drive. She worried about me getting mugged at gas stations or raped at rest areas. She worried with the heart and mind of a Mother.

But she sure loved to laugh. And she managed to make it to a show in August of 2013. It was glorious to have her there in the audience. It was a gift to show her "Mom, this is what I do." The pride that lit off of her that night as she went person to person, post show, saying "I'm Katrina's mother," or "Did you KNOW I'm her mother?" when standing next to me to ANYONE who would listen showed me that even my Mom believed in what I am doing.

Not even a full week after Mom passed, another light in my life was snuffed out. My dear old friend Brian -- my "first love" -- died from cancer. He left behind a wife and five children. He left behind a legacy of kindness, of music, and the 13 year old tucked somewhere in my heart mourned deeper than I thought possible for a friend I only had random contact with through my life.

And now? The world losing Robin Williams? It almost feels like it's all just too much -- this weight of grief. It sticks to you like swimming in a wet t-shirt. It's suffocating and it grabs at you and you can shift that shirt and pull it away from your skin for some relief but it will still manage to suck right back to you and squeeze, chafe, and make you forget the sun is trying to shine and dry it out.

And you know as a comedian you are called to bring joy to people. It IS a calling, for so many of us. You don't just STOP being a comedian. You look across your life and realize you've always been that one person to crack a joke, bring about laughter, do silly shit to get a rise out of people, only now you're getting paid for it which means you do it on command.

It's not like an office job where you can slink deep into your little cubicle and say to others around you, "Hey, I'm having a bad day. Can I have some alone time while I work?" and let people know you're at your limit and need a breather. I've worked that kind of work life. I know what that's like.

Now, you are charged with a task of reaching into the mixing board of your brain like a DJ's set up and finding the "Sorrow" button and pushing it to low while amping up the hilarity and madness everyone is depending on. You learn to manipulate every emotion you have that at times, yes, it is acting. You do NOT "feel funny" but you do, indeed, have to BE funny because this is one time in life what others EXPECT from you is what you damn well better deliver. Period.

And you realize it's like a phone call from a friend in the hospital. You realize that the norm is not for friends to say "I love you" (and ask yourself why we all fear that so much?) but when you're called to take your walls down to make someone feel less alone, less silly in their own skin, you say clearly "I love you, too" and you do what is expected of you. You don't do it with the sulking weight of a martyr. You don't make the career you've fought for your entire life, even before you knew that's what you wanted to be when you grew up, a burden.

You realize you are Honored.
Honored that you have been given not only the ability, but the chance, to stand before a crowd of people and take some of THEIR pain away. Your magic wand is the mic, your jokes your bits your set, the magic incantations to the soul, to weave a spell of healing.
Especially on nights like tonight.

My heart, heavy with its own weights, will NOT be the heaviest in that room tonight.
As we all gather to raise money for Drew's kids' college funds, you buck up and know that other people are seconds away from tears of grief, too. Grief. Longing. Anger.

Grief. Longing. Anger. You look in your bag of tricks and you say, "I have a cure for that. It might only be temporary, but I'm gonna take the hurt away for a while." ....and in doing it for other people you realize you're also doing it for yourself. The gripping wet shirt dries for a while. The mind and the heart take flight. It doesn't matter they'll crash with the reality that exists: Friends are gone. Your parents are gone.

For a while you get to NOT HURT, and help others NOT HURT.

And yes, it is indeed an Honor to be the person to do it.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Penile Curiosity Poll: Men Talk To Me About Their Best Friend

As a woman, the relationship a man has with his penis has always fascinated me. I don't have a penis, no matter how much people say I have "Balls". I only get to play with the penises and "borrow" them from time to time as a heterosexual female. Women get pissy all the time when men pretend to know what it's like to have a vagina. I will never pretend to know what it's like to have a dick.

As I've gotten older, I have heard some men discuss to some degree that sex becomes less important as a man ages. Sex isn't as exciting. The desire dwindles. Not seeing any evidence of that in my own house, I decided to pose some questions -- simplistic ones -- to my male friends over 40 on Facebook. I simply asked that anyone who'd like to answer these questions email me. All answers would be kept anonymous.

I was rather shocked that in less than three days over 200 men over 40, not even knowing WHAT I was about to ask, said "Yes, I'll participate!"

While I do not attest that my "findings" are anything more than curiosity, I thought to myself, "Well, this much I have found out: Men are more than willing to talk about their dicks."

I asked the following questions:

1. How old are you?

2. Do you feel the desire for sex has lessened, gotten stronger, or stayed the same since you were 20?

3. Has the intensity of sex lessened since you've gotten older? Meaning the actual sensation/force of release/enjoyment.

4. If you had to live a completely sex-free life from now until age, oh, say 80, meaning no sexual contact with another person or "special alone time" could you be content with that? Accept it as the normal aging process, or would you do something about it.

5. On a scale of 1-10 how important is sexual release for general happiness and good health, in your opinion?

1. Men as young as 40 and as old as 65 replied to my inquiries.

2. When asking about the desire for sex, more than 70% of the men asked said their desires have gotten stronger as they've gotten older. Some did elaborate that having the right partner added fuel to that fire. Others remarked that because of experience, and learning more about how to be sexual, they felt that it made sex more enjoyable and in that made them want it more often than when they were younger and "clueless".

3. As far as the intensity of their sexual feelings -- sensation and force of release, answers were all over the board. I feel that might have been MY fault in the wording of the question. Most men said that the intensity had grown stronger over the years. Those who had medical issues -- diabetes, issues with substance abuse -- owned that their medical issues probably had a lot to do with the lessening of sensation.

There were men who reported that casual sex was less intense because of the lack of knowledge of their partner(s). There were men who reported an extreme INCREASE in sensation and satisfaction that came with age.

4. Almost EVERY MAN, and I mean EVERY ONE, except one, said they would take steps to ensure they did NOT live a sex-void life. The attitude was damn near the same across the board: Sex is too important to them to live without. Period. There were outcries that some would consider suicide if their dicks didn't work. Others said they'd try drugs, no matter how experimental or dangerous, to hold on to their ability to function sexually. The unwillingness to take it lying down was, save one, universal.

5. On this question I did add up all the answers to find an average. The average to this answer as a whole was an '8'. I had one man rank this as low as '1', with the explanation that he is suffering from a medical condition that inhibits sex. He can't do it any more, and stated that his life is still happy without sex.

There were a LOT of men who felt as long as they had "alone time", they were fine. Sex with another person? Not so important any more. Sex with themselves? Ranking at "10" -- most of which stated they believed it was for "good prostate health" and not at all to do with the desire TO masturbate. YOU, reader, take that to mean what ever you wish. I'm only here to report, not judge.

Some men broke the "Scale of 1-10" answer boundaries with proclaiming "20!". Some put it at a 15. Rarely did anyone dip under 7 or 8. Some flat out said, "I'm answering at a 5 so you don't think I'm a total perv." (Like I've ever disliked perverts?)

What I learned, in speaking openly with these men, is that most opened up to me to speak honestly and frankly about their pork 'n beans. I was saddened by those who said I showed more interest in a casual curiosity poll than their partners show them in their daily lives.

There were men who felt that their part in their relationships went from a man a woman desired to a paycheck and little more.

I had men confess longings that went unfulfilled because they felt they were no longer sexy enough to merit sexual attention being over 50.

Most were clear, and understood, that a healthy libido and an active one made for better health and a more fulfilled life.

We women stress, worry, attempt to stop, the aging process. We do Zumba and we buy miracle face creams. We worry about crow's feet and saddle bags. Some lose sleep over losing their youthful appearance. What I have found in opening the line of communication with men about their most private of parts is this: They worry, too. They worry that some day their Soldier won't salute any more. Some feel very alienated from the woman they share a bed with. Some desire more desire, some desire the ability to openly speak with their wife/girlfriend/lover about their needs and DON'T do it for fear they'll be perceived as a pig, a dog, a pervert.

Over all, my OPINION (and it is nothing more than that) is that men over 40 are still VERY MUCH vital sexual beings. Sex IS still important, and it doesn't die off with age like some might have suggested.

Are the 200-ish men I spoke to a FULL representation of men as a whole? I don't know. Some will argue it's too small of a section of the world's population. Duh. Of course it is. Still, you have to wonder.... If in just under a few day's time 200+ men willingly JUMPED to the occasion of speaking out? How many are sitting in silence wishing their voice could be heard?

As one who started comedy doing "Mommy" jokes, I've morphed over the years to a comedian who speaks openly, and frankly, about sex and the relationships between men and women. I am SURE to announce on stage I'm not a marriage or couples counselor. Comedy is one person's view of the world shared through their voice. My voice on stage is one that declares people don't have ENOUGH sex. Some agree. Some are offended. I find those offended are usually those not getting what they feel they need. Reading about some of these men's struggles with acceptance for their desires confirms I might be on the right track for some of what I say on stage. I'd say it ANYWAY, but it's good to hear that I'm not that far off base, and disheartening at the same time to know there are men who feel almost castrated by age and the assumption that as they get older they desire or deserve less.

Thank you, to the men who trusted me with your voices. Thank you for being open, honest, blunt, and NOT attaching photos for reference to the email exchanges we had.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Mustard Bugs, Pineapple Upside Down Cake Shots, and Cows. Lots of Cows.

I've trekked out to the WI area more times than I can count now. I'm sure if I wanted to be technical I could revert back to my website schedule and count, but.... I'm too lazy. The first time I was in WI, a bartender offered me a Spotted Cow beer. Now? Every time I'm in WI? I make sure to have one.

Most people who know me, or have worked with me, know that if I have ANY driving at all to do? I will nurse ONE beer at a show and that's it. The older I get, the less I can tolerate alcohol and with the exception of ONE speeding ticket, my driving record is perfect. I do not desire to acquire a DUI at this stage in the game, ESPECIALLY out of state.

That said, I landed in Janesville WI on Thursday night. Great show. Got to meet a new comedian. Always happy to be booked with someone I know, but just as excited to work with someone I don't know.

Friday night I had no show. Call it a small snafu. I drove on Friday late morning to my next hotel in Beloit WI. My show Saturday night was in Orfordville, and the town is small enough they just don't HAVE hotels. So, I check into my hotel in Beloit but I'm too early. I knew this would happen. The receptionist (is that what the check in person at a hotel is called? It matters?) went ahead and gave me a room key and told me to just come back at two.

I went to Wendy's and ate while I read some Stephen King. Hey, if I'm going to be in the MIDDLE OF FUCKING NOWHERE, damn straight I'm going to creep myself out further by filling my brain with King-like scenarios. I was cherry picking stories out of "Nightmares and Dreamscapes" because I haven't touched the book since I bought and read it the first time almost 20 years ago. I could've puked when I realized I've owned that book THAT long, that it was THAT long ago I bought it but... puking on this trip would be saved for later.

My room number was 144. This hotel had doors that faced outside as well as in. When I saw room 141, around the corner from room 140, I assumed I'd found the correct hall outside to my room.


Room 141 gave way to the 130's. I found this out after loading myself down like a pack mule with all my stuff and had to turn around and head back to my car. Rather than reloading the hatch my lazy ass threw everything in the back seat. When I finally fount my room ---- all the way on the NEXT section of rooms, totally out of numerical order with anything (weird) I lugged my bathroom bag out of the car first, setting it behind me. In a blink I must've FORGOTTEN that I put it RIGHT THERE, because when I backed my ass out of the back seat with my other bag? Yes, I tripped over the Diva Dome Construction Luggage. I had time to think "My ass is going to connect with pavement" before my ass did, indeed, connect with the pavement. All that was hurt was my pride. I don't THINK anyone saw me. I didn't hear muffled laughter or outright chuckles. If I'd seen me fall? I'd have laughed. I did a nice two step shuffle stumble trying to prevent it from happening. I still haven't checked my back to see if I'm bruised. Fuck it, it was funny.

So I had, basically, a "free day" on the road..... In Beloit WI. Woo. Fucking. Hoo.

I read. I worked out. I walked around WalMart for something to do. Bought a cheap and ugly new purse because that's how I roll.

I went to "The Pub" that night --- the bar so nondescript that it merited such a nondescript name -- to grab up a Spotted Cow and people watch. It was Karaoke night. I listened to a blind man sing "Paradise By The Dashboard Light". Both parts. Went back to the room. Watched TV. Fell asleep. ROCK AND ROLL LIFE, BABY!

Saturday's show was awesome. I met another new comic who was, for all intent and purpose, my husband shrunken down about half a foot. I shit you not people he was so much like Pat in manner and look it was comical. And? Just talking with him made me a little home sick. Okay, a lot home sick. But we hit it off instantly --- one of those people who is never a stranger.

My heart hurt a little that Mikey was a guitar comic. It made me miss Drew. I've thought of Drew every trip since his passing but this was a little heavy. Mikey was funny. Drew would've loved the guy. Still, watching Mikey on stage made my heart hurt a little, and I felt Drew everywhere. More than I have the last few shows.

Me and Mikey hit "The Pub" again. I now had a Karaoke Partner and we sang "Paradise" as a DUO this night. When I approached the book to pick another song, I shit you not that book was open to Johnny Cash and my eyes zeroed in on "Folsom Prison Blues" in an instant. I had to bite back tears in that moment. I waited for my girlie fit to pass, sang some Green Day..... and knew.... I was drunk. My beer bottle was magically NEVER empty. Mikey and I did a shot for Drew and then the bartender told me I could zip up that birthday cake vodka with some pineapple juice. It's called a Pineapple Upside Down Cake shot. I don't know how many I had. I know it was one too many.

Some Cowboy named Wyatt who told me he was 57 but I know damn well had to be in his 60's kept talking about my cute ass and attempting to rub his cowboy parts on me while I sat at the bar. He was a wee bit more hands on than I prefer strangers to be, sure, but I'm a flirt and strung his yippe-kye-aye ass along for a while. What? I'm an attention whore. You people think that only happens online? Pffft.

I was outside smoking when that last shot hit me. I don't know what it is about me and drinking anymore. I'm fine, I'm fine, I'm fine and then HOLY FUCK I AM NO LONGER FINE. I know I have a good 20-30 minute window to GET TO A TOILET before things start fountaining out of my body.

Mikey was now not my comedic brother nor my karaoke partner but my body guard as he tore me away from Letchy Cowboy and walked me to my room like a gentleman.

Just in time.

What ever I ate that day had digested enough to make it to the bottom exit for another moment. In THIS moment what was in my stomach was taking the exit elevator UP and I sat on the cold tile hugging the toilet while sprays of Pineapple Upside Down Cake shots hit the toilet water like the venom of a snake shooting out in violent fashion. THREE times in my life, IN MY LIFE, I've puked from drinking. Two of those moments were after comedy shows. I need to just stop doing shots.

Drove home totally fine -- no hangover. Unless you count beer shits. Seriously, it was like I was skinning a skunk. I feel bad for the other women that chose to use those rest areas in that moment.

Oh, and I don't know WHAT the fuck kind of bugs inhabit IN that hit your windshield and leave MUSTARD YELLOW splats but..... they smear and leave nasty greasy spots when you try to off 'em with your wipers.

Ah, road life.....

Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011: The Year Weakness Won A Round

If one would have to title a year in the mental biography of their life (and every performer has that mental biography, thinking they're SO DAMN INTERESTING that yes, people DO want to know EVERY fucking thing about their life....) I'd have to title 2011 the year "Weakness Won A Round".

I am happy to put 2011 to bed. As in, The Big Dirt Nap. As in, Kill This Fucking Year Off and Let It Die.

It started strong. I was strong. I turned 40 in March and damn it, NOTHING was gonna stop ME! The eternal Female Warrior with brass ovaries and the drive to match, I was out there in the world and I was grabbing it by the short hairs and WOOO HOOO let's fuckin' DO THIS THING!

I assumed I was past my own self-destructive ways of letting old demons haunt me, that I had learned a thing or two about a thing or two (obscure movie quote there, for anyone who picked up on it. No, I won't say what movie -- that's for you to figure out) and because I AM FORTY!! I know fuckin' EVERY damn THING about anything and don't get in MY way lest I push you to the side and keep going forward!

You know, like a 20 year old.
A stupid, clueless, doesn't know shit about anything, 20 year old.

Then I stopped working out, because that's what I DO, and the weight started to slowly creep back onto my ass, and rather than seeing it wrote it off that I could "pick back up the routine when ever I wanted". Apparently, I didn't wanna. I packed on 20 pounds in '11 that I worked so hard to shed in '09 and '10.

Then? The boobs. Ah, the boobs. The Malformed Mammaries that I was determined to fix. Most of you know, the surgery didn't go well. I started tanking in strength even BEFORE the surgery when over the Summer I had to quit smoking FOR the surgery.

It was in THIS moment I realized what a weakling I am.
The "Mind over Matter" mentality failed me.

I became someone I did NOT know when I gave up the sticks. I had cold sweats and panic attacks. I had mood swings that even the most PMS-y bitch on earth could not rival. I cried. A LOT. I screamed. I crumbled. My family didn't recognize me. I holed up in my house, knowing the process would make me unpleasant, and very few people saw the mess I had become. I was never so thankful to have outdoor loving children who missed the large majority of me crumbling like a dried up cookie at the weight of giving up a habit that in my youth I totally despised.

To add insult to injury I had friends who were former smokers bragging how EASY it was for them to quit, that they never looked back, and blah blah blah, and it made me want to punch puppies up and down my street in frustration.

I managed to quit. (No, it didn't last. Shut up, fuckers. DO NOT judge me. You have your weaknesses, too....)

I had my surgery.

Then? It all went wrong. Two weeks post-op the incision on my left breast popped every stitch in spite of me following EVERY post-op rule and regulation. I "took it easy" and did next to nothing. In that inactivity was where even more of that weight crept back on. I couldn't work out, run, or do jack squat. At least now I had a REASON for failing myself physically.

It took FOREVER for the infection to clear and the large wound to close itself off. In this time sex was almost non-existent in my life. I wanted to. My husband wanted to. Having a boob that was a pus seeping open wound kinda kills the MOOD for a girl, and with the elimination of my sexual activity I really now was someone I DID NOT RECOGNIZE.

Once all that mess healed, I thought, "Cool..... NOW we can get back on track...."

except the whole breast was healing.... well.... WRONG.
The shape of said left boob wasn't boob-like at ALL. Why did my tit look like a triangle with the corners rounded off? What the FUCK was going on? Why, exactly, WAS the implant on my left side reaching my COLLAR BONE when I laid down?

Depression was gripping me. I waited MOST of my life to fix this and ended up with an entirely new box of hell that I willingly opened? FUCK ME.

Rather than taking this problem with the same gusto and Bitchy Fortitude I did everything else, it almost broke me. I withdrew from my husband. I did very little unless I was working. Even household chores and daily activity felt.... too big. I was sinking into a dark hole of a text book case of clinical depression. Jokes that I wrote with heart and meaning felt false to me as I delivered them on stage -- pride in who you are! Laugh life's troubles away! .... I was starting to feel like a fraud, and once I realized that MY BOOBS were a large part of my over-swing mood swing into anger and depression I felt like an even BIGGER fraud. And an asshole. Because I let my physical appearance shadow the woman I am on the INSIDE, and let myself become a "Typical Girl" that just because I didn't feel I LOOKED pretty I let it make me UGLY on the INSIDE.

I'm snapping out of it NOW.

I know I have one, if not two, more surgeries ahead of me. I also know this isn't going to kill me. I know that I let it get the best of me.

I woke up.

Just under the wire of '11 ending, I WOKE UP. And in that, I plan to take the lessons learned from '11 and then BURY the rest of it. Pat and I fought a lot this year over personal things. Sometimes it leaked on to Facebook. We've renewed our vows to one another in a sense of BOTH OF US opening our eyes to the life we have and respecting it rather than BOTH acting like pissy little children tossing hissy fits and temper tantrums over the things in life that shouldn't MATTER enough to bitch about.

I'm not belittling what I've gone through -- It has been hellish. But I made a CHOICE to have this surgery, and in that choice I knew that things MIGHT go wrong. So, something went VERY wrong. But I still have an amazing husband, beautiful children, and a career I love. I have a cute little home that deserves my attention and care, too. I have a LOT. So, I'll probably NEVER have matching tits. Fine. It'll have to just be enough, when they're fixed AGAIN, and I need to let go of some mental image that surgery can totally right what nature fucked up.

No one is gonna get me back into work-out mode but ME. And I will do it. And if I don't I need to make friends with the Me I am rather than hating who I am because I think I can be something else.

I'm getting my Brass Ovaries back in '12, and keeping them. I'm not letting the stresses of outside family drama, or the shitty business side of comedy, or back-stabbing two faced assholes who claim to be my friend, or even my funked up fun bags, take my inner strength from me EVER again.

So.... fine. 2011 was the year Weakness Won A Round.
So be it.

Fight ain't over.
Weakness got this round, but there are many left, and they're gonna belong to ME.

Happy New Year, friends. Make it a good one.....

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hovering in the gray.....

In my life, the times of greatest stress are in the times of the unknown -- when answers would give one direction, but no answers are being given.

I've known since October that things with The Boob Job are going WRONG to a depressing degree. I've also known a certain "hold time" was needed. In this surgery, it can take up to six months for things to 'settle' to their finished location. I'm only 4 months post-op now, but it's CLEAR the direction isn't going to get better. If anything, things are just going to continue to get worse. Even in knowing that, time was needed for answers to be given.

And in that time, I've been slowly going bat shit insane.

It took me a lot of debate, inner strength, courage, to even take part in the surgery. There was the constant battle of the risk versus just "being okay" with what nature did to me. I've always hated this part of my anatomy from the time the boobs started to sprout. Anyone who's heard me on stage knows it all already. I tried, as best as I could, to develop a sense of humor about it but ultimately I knew...... I can't live like this forever.

Taking the leap of faith to have it done was a GIGANTIC jump for me.
To have it go wrong, so horribly wrong, has been weighing on me like lead.

I look in the mirror and think, "This is worse. Nature was nature. I chose to do this to myself...."

.... but it's not what I chose. Things went wrong.

So you think, "Okay, let's fix it...." but logic and reason says, "You can't right now, so live in the gray area...."

and that is where I become unhinged.

For 10 years, I had a sibling missing. She literally disappeared. We didn't know if she was dead, alive and in hiding -- there were no answers. There were times we would scream for them, with nothing coming back but silence. She's alive and well. Against the odds we have found her, but in those 10 years that not knowing was more painful than grief. How do you mourn someone if you don't know if they're dead? How do you get angry at someone for leaving if they're dead and you don't know it?

For years I was told I'd never have children. I miscarried four times. In the time of not knowing I didn't know what to feel. Grieve for the possibility of never being a mother? Hold on to hope that the doctors were wrong?

These are the times in my life when I am not the strong woman people assume I am. The not knowing is what shakes me. I can KNOW a horrid truth and deal with it. I can KNOW something unpleasant and DEAL WITH IT..... if I know what I am to tackle, and what I am supposed to deal WITH.

Today, I'm headed to the doctors. Today I get answers: Will he be fixing my botched boobs at no expense to me, or after the first of the year do I start looking for good malpractice lawyers? Those are the two roads ahead, and having to sit and look at both has been driving me insane.

I've withdrawn a lot. I have had emotional outbursts that are uncharacteristic, even for me. I have been moody and sullen. I've lost a LOT of my sassy confidence as a woman, feeling very weighed down by such a part of me that defines "Woman" in the physical sense.

Another surgery will mean down-time. Work missed. A good month or so where I can't hug my children or make love to my husband without caution. Another surgery will involve more healing pain, more stitches, more drains, more discomfort. ALL OF THAT.... isn't pleasant, but I can HANDLE it.

Legal battles? Fuck, who wants to deal with THAT? But I will. With my head high. If that's the road this takes, I can HANDLE it.

Living in the unknown between the two scenarios has been eating away at me.

I know a lot of people think this is just about tits, but it's not. And honestly, shame on YOU if that's all you're hearing. It's not about The Perfect Rack. It's about feeling normal. It's about feeling comfortable in your own skin. It's about feeling HUMAN when so much of you your whole life has been evidence to the contrary. I've taken all of Nature's practical jokes against my physical self and made a LIVING out of laughing along with the joke.

But this surgery going wrong feels like a MEAN joke -- the mean spirited humor I don't take part in. There is a difference between humor that is honest yet heart-felt and humor out of spite and anger. I'm ANGRY at my BOOBS. I'm angry at the surgery. I'm angry that when I FINALLY opted to FIX THIS..... it went wrong.

Answers will be given today.
I'm ready for either side of it.
I just need to know WHAT side of it it's going to lean toward. The "not knowing" has gone on LONG ENOUGH.