I believe that when we write and we tell the truth, then no matter what the writer is saying, the story will be compelling. Our truth is what connects us. We want to connect with each other.
I believe that when we feel uncomfortable and think “No. No I can’t say that” that we’ve stumbled on exactly what we should be saying. I’m not talking about being vulgar, which I can be, or shocking. I’m talking about being honest, even when we are afraid of being judged or exposed.
I have this place in my center. This little dark space and in this space resides the real me. This place in me dictates how I feel and the decisions I make. This space defines who I am.
I have been trying for years to put my hands around this space. But the space is hard to find and when I do find it, I can’t grasp it. It’s like a greased watermelon.
I attended the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop this weekend and many amazing things happened in a short period of time. I will say that first, over everything else, I am honored and grateful to have connected with some giving and talented people. Holy shit, you guys, I made some amazing friends.
This morning, I am sitting in my dark bedroom. My batteries are completely dead. It was worth it, though.
A few minutes ago, Randy came into the bedroom and I was sobbing.
He asked me what was wrong.
Nothing. Nothing was wrong.
It’s just that I was able to find that space in me. That dark little space that has never allowed me to feel good about myself. I found it, and I grabbed it and I forced it to admit something.
Maybe I don’t suck.
I have no idea what I’m going to do with this information. I know it scares me a little.
I wasn’t going to write this because I couldn’t possibly share this realization with anyone. I can’t let anyone judge, or misinterpret, or try to change the realization.
I realize though, that is my truth. This is who I am and I have my hands around it. Maybe, it will slip away again. In fact, I am nearly sure it will. But that’s okay. Because I know now that I can find it and I can hold it. Showing who I am to other people can’t jeopardize this, because I exist. I exist no matter what other people think. No matter what I think. I exist.
I spoke in front a crowd twice over the weekend. First, I was lucky enough to be selected to participate in Pitchapalooza. This is a contest where people give a one minute book pitch before a panel of judges.
I didn’t win, but I don’t care. I fucking nailed it. I felt good about my pitch and the feedback was positive. The woman who won deserved the win and I couldn’t have been more thrilled. But I won, too. I won because I did a good job. I also won because I was truly happy for the woman who won. I appreciated her talent more than I felt bad about not winning.
I was also fortunate enough to be selected to perform stand up the last night of the conference. I was terrified. I got through my 4 minutes without stumbling, without a shaking voice, and I got laughs. I think there might be a video that will be posted on YouTube, but I don’t know when.
So anyway, I thought I would share my pitch and my stand up routine. The stand up is derived from the story I posted recently about Joey and how I made him cry once when I was trying to be funny.
Here’s the Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop stand up:
My husband and I trade barbs as foreplay. I like to think of us as Nick and Nora Charles, but in reality, we’re probably more like Ralph and Alice Kramden.
We use sarcasm like hot sauce, we put that crap on everything. Our sense of humor runs along the Edward Gorey side.
Three of our 4 children rolled with the punches. My baby boy? Not so much.
My two boys are 11 years apart. . When my older son, zach, was 3 years old, we visited the zoo. We stopped to look at the lion.
Zach: “Mommy, is the lion sleeping?”
Me: “No, baby, the lion is dead.”
Zach laughed. I laughed. We understood each other. The woman next to us didn’t understand us and she looked at me like I had just boiled a puppy.
What did I care? My kid and I understood each other.
Joey, my younger son, was more sensitive. I didn’t understand him..
He was five and we were watching a movie where a woman cried after having a baby,
Joey: “Mommy, why is she crying?”
Me: “Because she is so happy her baby is here.”
Joey: “Did you cry when I was born?”
Me: “Yes, baby.”
Joey: “Because you were so happy?”
Okay, I’m not going to say that I’m a bad mom. I’m just saying that sometimes, I‘m not that good at being a mom.
So, Joey asked me if I cried because I was happy when he was born.
Responses that would have been better include, but are not limited to:
“There is no Santa. Feel free to spread that around at school.”
“Grandpa smells like sour milk and olive loaf, but don’t tell him I said so.”
“You might want to start checking under your bed and in your closet before you go to bed at night.”
Did I say any of those things? No…No, I did not. I said “No baby, I cried because you were so ugly.”
I was kidding. Zach would have laughed at that.
I thought, my god, we can’t afford therapy and braces.
I just started making him promises. Anything. I would have said ANYTHING to make him forget the horrible not funny thing I had just said.
I’m going to buy you a pony.
I’m going to buy you a unicorn.
Your real dad?
Yes, your real dad is superman and when you’re 15 you’ll be able to fly.
He eventually forgot the incident. As far as I know, he never tried to fly.
I told him about it recently. He snorted he laughed so hard.
Joey turned 18 years old yesterday. He has the sharpest wit and a dark and clever sense of humor.
I’m pretty sure he gets it from his dad.
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I am sure when I see the video, I’ll find that a lot of this was presented differently, but I didn’t leave anything out and if I stumbled then I recovered without incident.
This was my Pitchapalooza book pitch.
We’re all narcissists. However, we don’t all have narcissistic personality disorder.
My father does have narcissistic personality disorder and I grew up damaged and awkward and aloof. I hid behind sarcasm and humor.
In my book, Symptoms Of Shark Bite, I explore anxiety, depression and the drudgery of working in a cubicle and how sometimes the pain of the life feels like I’ve been bitten.
I offer life tips by serving as a cautionary tale. I discuss relationship issues, such as arguments I’ve have had with my husband over whether we would continue having sex if I altered myself to look like William H. Macy or whether we should change our names to Mr. and Mrs. Potatohead.
My style is Tina Fey, if Tina Fey weren’t famous and worked a job she hated.
Symptoms Of Shark Bite could sit on a shelf with Jenny Lawson, Jen Lancaster, and Jennifer Weiner.
Which makes me think I should change my name to Jennifer because Jennifers write the funniest books.
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This was a really big weekend for me.
Today, my batteries are dead. I have decisions to make. I have work to do.
But those worries are for another day. Today is for resting.
Photo courtesy of Samara Rose