Monday, January 31, 2011

Monday, January 24, 2011

Shyness, meeting new people, making friends

The first day of kindergarten I met more children then I had ever seen in my life. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that the school taught more than two students. Coming from a house where I was routinely chastised for “acting like a clown” or laughing too loudly, I was overwhelmed by the incessant jubilant chatter of rambunctious kids.

The only person I had connected with up until then had been my little brother and I was excited and terrified to meet new people. During recess I hovered anxiously, watching children play. It was at five years old that I developed the impression that interaction with other humans was a spectator sport. They could have sold me popcorn, a soda, and a program for life so that I could have been more comfortable watching from the sidelines of relationships.

Inexplicably, I never allowed myself to just be content on the outskirts. It is a painful juxtaposition: desiring to connect with others and absolve my loneliness mixed simultaneously with an overwhelming fear and discomfort of being around other people. I am so jealous of people with friendships and close relationships and I desperately wish I could create that kind of closeness with someone. But at the same time, I revel in being alone and I feel exhausted being around people too long. I want to make friends but I hate meeting people. It’s probably a good thing I can’t make friends come to think of it, because what would I do with them if I could? Hey, wanna come over and sit quietly on our computers? Because that’s the only thing I like doing. Yay I have a relationship! Now can we enjoy some alone time? Because I'm glad we're friends but I can't stand being around people.

This girl Kasia was one of the prettiest most outgoing children. I admired the way she talked to the other kids and laughed (not annoyingly and squawking like me) and I picked her as my potential future friend. I followed her around on the recess playground, hiding behind various gym equipment. I stalked her like a cat stalking it's prey, if the cat was socially retarded and its prey thought it was an idiot. When she turned around I stood completely still and shut my eyes so she wouldn’t see me, because that's how I thought invisibility worked.

I triumphantly cornered her in a playhouse and followed her inside muttering manically and gleefully: “good she went into the playhouse alone! now I've got her!” Which is something a child molester would say, and also incorrect. Because a playground is not like a pregnancy, you can't trap someone into being in a relationship.

“What are you doing?” Kasia said.

I hadn't planned this far in advance. I stood there, frozen in the playhouse, grinning at her hysterically.

“What do you want?” the little girl sounded scared now.

I began giggling softly and squeakily and shaking in anxiety. I trembled violently and realized that socially anxiety is the narcissistic hipster boy of emotions because whenever it's inside me I want to throw up. I heaved a little and Kasia ran out of the playhouse.

Due to that moment and enduring a plethora of criticism on my personality traits, throughout my life I struggled with trying to make friends. I was (am) especially intimidated by outgoing, assertive, aggressive girls who represent everything I wanted to be that remained unobtainable and beautiful. There have been a few girls in my life who I idolized and I wanted to be them and simultaneously I wanted them to love me and acknowledge my existence. I drowned in the shadows, painfully wishing I could have the spotlight yet hating it whenever I got it.

I have spent countless dollars on books with titles like "Learn how to talk to people!" And the first sentence is never "stop hiding in the library and go out and talk to real people." One time I was on a bus and this guy came and set next to me and was like "Hey, how are you," and I said "I'm sorry I'm reading, it's really important. I need to study this; I'm sorry I can't be distracted." And he said "What are you reading?" And I answered, "How to overcome shyness and talk to strangers."

I resent and admire girls who can easily slip into the center of attention and be like "look at me, look at me!" and direct the conversation. When I see girls flirt with boys to get attention anger screams inside my ears. Often times they're flirting with them, but they'll never even put out. It's much healthier to stay silent around men and secretly fuck them and then feel guilty after. I watched in vehement anger from the shadows while girls confidently leaped into conversations, making groups of people laugh. People with assertive/aggressive energy intimidate me and make me very anxious and uncomfortable.

According to the Shy and free website, "Shyness is the emphasis of one part of us resulting in the limitation of our personal freedom and expression." I guess that describes it pretty well. I feel very limited/trapped/inhibited by my shyness.

It was really hard for me to deal with rejection and failed attempts at friend making. But while researching this bit I looked up Kasia on facebook and I think it's okay that we never became friends because now Kasia is now married, orange-tan, and lives in Pullayup and puts posts on facebook about the Twilight movies. So I don't think I missed out on much.

As crippling and painful as shyness is, I need to learn to deal with it and accept myself for who I am. I'll never be the outgoing girl who is the center of attention, but do I want to be that? Probably not. Sometimes I'm jealous of how quickly assertive people make friends... Do I want to be a loud outgoing brassy broad? I have no idea. But I do know this: my favorite comedians: Maria Bamford, Mary Mack and Aparna Nancherla have quiet, introspective, observer styles of comedy. People who display aggressiveness on stage I am turned off by. My favorite style of comedy is thoughtful, sweet, quirky... I like performers that sound kind and gentle on stage. I am a quiet, peculiar, wallflower, weird, observer person/writer/comedian and I think that is okay that I am that way!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Albert leaned over his notebook so Jennifer couldn’t see that it was blank. He pushed his glasses up his nose and wiped the sweat off his eyes. Behind the one way mirror the couple argued vehemently. Jennifer, Albert’s junior lab partner, jotted down a note in her notebook, her graceful young hands nimbly dancing over the page, getting covered in dark splotchy ink. Black spots squirting over her smooth hands and caking them in a luscious batter. Albert bit his bottom lip thoughtfully and turned back to the couple in the glass box.

“Well I’m sorry if just for one single second I don’t want to hear about some fucking artistic foreign film!” screamed the boyfriend.

“Did you even notice that I lightened my hair?” cried the woman.

"Fucking hell, I can't do anything, anything anything without you jumping down my fucking throat!"

“I did it because you said that blonde woman was so pretty.”

“She was hot because she was thin, not because of her stupid hair, idiot!”

“You never notice me anymore,” she sobbed, snot dripping over her lips and down the crevice of her blouse.

“Of course I don’t notice you anymore! I’m with you about 10 fricking hours a day when I’m awake. There’s nothing to notice about you anymore.”

“Have they been in there long enough?” Jennifer asked.

Albert looked at his watch and mumbled, “Yeah. We should start the next test.”

“Send in test subject C,” Jennifer said clearly into the microphone. They watched as a gentleman in a classy sport coat ushered the fighting couple out of the room.

“So what made you want to study the way love works?” Jennifer asked.

“It just seemed like a fascinating social science. No one’s really dealt with it. Sure it can be explained from an evolutionary level, a societial pressures level, but when you look at this…” he gestured at the retreating backs of the couple. “There’s really no explanation for that kind of raw desperate pain and cruelty in people.”

“What’s the next test?” Jennifer asked.

“Familial love,” Albert said.

A young family with two children, a boy and a girl, were escorted into the room. They nervously sat down in four chairs and waited. Albert watched while the children played quietly together and the parents nervously clenched and unclenched their fists. The parents’ eyes were trained intently on the two little kids, but they weren’t seeing them. The children clambered over each other as the doctor entered. The parents stood and shook his hand.

Albert and Jennifer watched in thick silence. Albert wanted to say something but he felt the uncomfortable clenching in his throat preventing him from reaching out to anyone with communication. Jennifer studiously took down notes.

The doctor told the parents that both the children were terminally ill and that with their resources they could only save one of them and that the parents would have to choose which one.

Albert felt himself sinking farther into his chair, swimming in the melting room. Noises around him blared loud but foreign, berating at him like reality was a smelly toddler shaking it's fat fists. The chairs and desk and wall and everything looked plastic like it had been torn from a child’s cheap dollhouse. Albert sadly let his head fall into his hands. His data about love welled up in his stomach and he heaved quietly without moving. The room around him, even the parts of it that he was physically touching, began to shrink farther away. Albert scanned his memory for friendly faces but they seemed small, distant, and unaware and exclusive of him.

On the walk home he swung into a hardware store. The man behind the counter scowled at him like he was a child out past curfew. He angrily rang up Albert’s products and slipped them mechanically into a plastic sack. Albert watched through wide eyes, terrified and screaming out from the prisoning cage of his skull. The cashier seemed too far away to hand Albert his bag, but somehow he managed to reach it.

Jennifer watched from across the street as Albert left the hadware store and went home. She adjusted her neat ponytail and entered a nearby building.

“How is test subject 1487 doing?” asked a man in a long lab coat holding a clipboard. All of the brilliant scientist eyes in the room turned to Jennifer.

“The same as all the other test subjects.” Jennifer answered quietly. “He didn’t react well to the tests. I don’t think he even said goodbye to me when he left.”

“Peculiar.” said a scientist with frizzy red hair.

“And,” Jennifer added with a sad head shake. “I just saw Albert, I mean 1487, walking into a hardware store…”

“Excellent,” said frizzy hair.

The other scientists nodded and pulled out a chair for Jennifer, indicating that the young scientist join them.

“Don't you guys think this is a really immoral test? Why are we studying how people react when forced to question love? 1486 tests have yielded the same findings,” she said. "It doesn't seem ethical."

“It’s not for us to question who designs these experiments.” Someone handed her a paper plate with a slice of greasy pizza on it.

“Right,” Jennifer said softly, biting into her pizza.

A few miles away Albert let himself into his apartment. He sat the plastic grocery bag on the table. Without turning any of the lights on he made a tomato sandwhich and ate it by himself in the darkness. He rested his spectacles on the counter. He took the rope from the plastic bag, neatly put the bag into a cupboard. The bored cat slinked out from under the table and rubbed against his calves. Albert fed him and let the cat outside into the street. The streetlights smiled up at him, waving superficially past the emptiness through Albert to a person who he wasn't. Albert patiently went back inside, letting the nothingness of the night inside with him. No one in the apartment complex even winced at the heavy sound of the chair clattering to the ground.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Dear Spanaway, we're fighting

Last night when Yogi picked me up I clambered into his mom's car with my microphone and amp. "Why are you bringing that?" he asked. "The booker called and said there was no PA." Sadly this was not the first clue that the show we were about to go to would be a horrible mess of sadness and souls crying and comedy dying. That shouldn't have rhymed. We picked Emmett up and had a nice hour long or so conversation about puppets, beards (Yogi's and Emmett's, not mine), movies I haven't seen, getting high and bottom intercourse in the bottom hole.

As soon as we get to the restaurant I read the "Family Fun Restauraunt!" marquee and groan. In bright clip-art style font: "Kids eat free on weekdays!" Seriously. The waitress goes "You're the comedian? Honey, you look like you're 15." Which isn't too surprising, except I hadn't spoken yet. I don't look like I'm 15 I SOUND that way. And without any sounds coming out of my squeaky childlike lispy mouth, there is no way to guess that. I took it as a compliment because I could tell by her sparkly studded belt that she thought 15 was a pretty cool age to be.

Almost immedietly the owner of the restaurant attacks us and tells us that the comedy shows have been going really poorly and that no one has been funny. He said it like an angry accusation that already he had decided we weren't funny, as I watched out of the corner of my eyes the waitresses moving the kids tables and high chairs out of the way to create space for the comics to stand. He proceeded to tell us that a local guy was going to open for us and he was bringing 40-50 people and that he'd never gone up before. I said that was fantastic of course he can do a guest spot if he's bringing that type of crowd. "Yeah," the owner of the family fun restaurant says, "so he'll be getting his half hour." "Half hour?" I said. "He's never gone up before? Realistically he'll probably want to do 3-5 minutes for his first time." The owner exploded, "I have had calls coming in asking about this guy all week! I have had more interest in him than I have in any of these other comedians who I've never heard of before. He's getting his half hour of time."

The average age of the audience in the more redneck version of denny's is 60. They all look like they're about to fart or die. This new guy James had brought maybe 6 people instead of 40 and they were all just like really out of it, like they were high but I don't think they were. Just staring into space not facing me. I opened as the mc with attempting to fire it up (they cheered and clapped as much as I would expect them to in a well lit Denny's.) I did my condom joke and the greedy stripper. The condom joke got laughs in weird places but worked. The greedy stripper bombed. I brought this new guy James up and he played some cheesy intro music and danced a bit. Then he sat on the stool. (Used up all the energy with his intro?) and for half an hour he talked (no jokes) and ate shit. He didn't seem to care that he was bombing. I ate my veggie burger and drank my two beers quickly trying to quench the despair rising inside me.

After James I went back up and proceeded to start to do jokes. I did maybe two jokes. They wanted a relateable comedian who they could watch and laugh at and be like "oh yes women do go shopping! I can identify with that! Commonality makes me feel less insignificant and boring!" I don't have a lot of relatebility on stage unless the audience also has spent a few days not leaving their apartment because they're afraid that by interacting with their friends and family they're making everyone's reality worse. When I started going into my Hulk joke I stopped and said "Do you guys know who the hulk is?" Nothing. I stumbled verbally. "What kind of jokes do you guys like? I have hundreds I'm sure I have something." Silence. I addressed a guy in the front row. "Sir, what kind of jokes do you like?" "Nah, you doin fine, you doin good." "If I'm doing 'good' then why aren't you laughing?" Nothing. I started bringing random audience members on stage to try to warm them up. When I brought two women on stage and tried to talk to them who looked bored one of them told me, "Well fuck this joke, just do the next one!" and ran back off the 'stage.' I moved on to singing songs to people in the crowd and started doing better. I got a sing a long going and decided that was as warm as they were going to get.

I brought Yogi up and he did well. He just did his material and didn't address the crowd or talk about how much it sucked. I could tell that he was miserable up there. He got off stage looking really down and I brought Emmett up. Emmett had the best set. He didn't do a lot of his alternativer stuff but mainly did stories and tried to engage the crowd. That whole night Emmett was kind to everybody, even the bar owner who was a short angry man on the verge of yelling, the new guy who did half an hour, and the booker who had no idea what the fuck a comedy show was supposed to be. Fact: it should not be in a family fun restaurant. I wished after seeing Emmett's set that I had more story jokes. My favorite line of the night was when he was telling a story about his wife and he was talking to the audience: "How long have you folks been married? 23 years? That's older than Barbara....'s self esteem! Anyone else been married longer than 2 weeks?"

Yogi is one of the most hilarious and hard working comedians I know. He's got a special talent, especially for riffing/thinking on the fly/being in the moment that most comics don't. He is one of the most creative and unique voices I've ever met. He's an amazingly funny person and comic, consistently getting better and he's one of my best friends. And that show made him doubt himself as a performer. So you might wonder, was it worth it to get $30 and a free burger and two beers to do a shitty room? Sure. But was it worth it to make a hilarious friend of mine feel bad about himself? Nothing is fucking worth that ever. That room is where comedy goes to die.

The only good thing about doing completely awful family fun style hick restaurants with senior citizens as the audience is that comparitively I won't be scared of those snobby hipsters.