Saturday, July 30, 2011

While I don’t like to think of myself as a comedian, that’s what I am.  I like to think as myself as an actor first and foremost, but, just as I spent years straightening my hair, until I finally gave up and surrendered myself to the curls, I have come to accept comedy as my true milieu.

There is a stigma about women being funny.  I have dated guys (yes, it was a Millennium ago, but at one time, I did, indeed Date) who were put off by my sense of humor; they found it intimidating, felt like I was trying to outshine them.  Oh, come on, get over it.  I like making people laugh, who doesn’t?  It just so happens that I can’t pole vault, or make a perfect Yorkshire pudding or invent (or even use correctly) the internet, or balance the country’s budget, but I can make jokes.  Everybody has something, that’s my thing.  My thing is not a threat to your thing.  (TWSS) (that stands for “That’s what she said, BTW)  (BTW stand for, oh hell, you know.)

I have also heard people say women aren’t as funny as men.  I call bullshit.  I know plenty of extremely funny men and women; having a penis does not make you funnier than having a vagina.  Though (as a personal preference) I find dick jokes funnier than pussy jokes.  But I digress. . . .

I wish this were not my talent.  I wish I had been born with the talent of, oh, say, Industrial Espionage, or something; something you could actually make a living from, so my retirement plan wouldn’t have to be dying in ten years, because I won’t be able to afford to be alive.  And, I’m guessing, if done correctly, Industrial Espionage wouldn’t get you in trouble, like making jokes does.  A lot.  If there is a joke out there, I will make it and worry about the consequences later, which I usually end up doing.  A lot.  I had a brief (and horrible) career in sales and I lost many a sale by making a joke when I should have been lying and sucking up and flirting and practicing all those Sound Sales Techniques you’re supposed to use. I tend to be Overly Honest, as well.  Comedy + Honesty = Unemployment. 

But, as I enter the Moving Sidewalk of my Twilight Years (not the cheesy, vampire, teenage-ansgt-ridden Twilight, the slobbering, incontinent, senile Twilight--wait, are they the same thing?  Discuss.  But finish reading this first.), I less and less give a shit what people think and find myself embracing Marlo Thomas, or at least her philosophy of  Free to Be You and Me. (Which rather sounds like a license to be schizophrenic, though I don’t think that’s what it’s supposed to mean.) I’m funny, damnit, and fucking proud of it. 

Now, go figure out that Twilight thing.  Because there are some issues that are more important than the old broad with curly hair making a dick joke.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I Swear My Last Introspective Post or I Really Need a New Job Without So Much Free Time

In Poughkeepsie, NY, there is a building with a sign out front declaring it to be the Duchess County Mental Hygiene Department.  This sounds like brainwashing to me, but I don't think that's what they mean. 

There are days where I wish I could take out my brain and wash it.  Get rid of the years and years of dirt and dust bunnies and bits of broken heart that have gotten trampled into my brain's fibers so deeply I could rent a carpet cleaner for a year and not get it all out.  (I'm not sure if I like that sentence, it vaguely reminds me of all those bad writing winners I read today, but I'll leave it.)

I am in therapy now, which I guess is what the fine folks o' Poughkeepsie consider mental hygiene.   To me, therapy is not a quick fix, but more of a map, showing you where you started, what wrong (and right) turns you took and why you ended up where you are.  It's up to me to change my route and I'm trying my damndest.  Some days are easier than others, but aren't they always?  I am one of the most impatient human beans you will ever meet.  I want everything now, now, now, now, NOW!  That just ain't gonna happen.  Anything worth having takes time and effort and if I don't think I'm worth time and effort (and there was a long time when I didn't think I was) than I might as well just check myself into the nearest mental hygiene center and ask for The Works.

But I am starting to actually believe that I might not only not be a Complete Fuck-Up, but might actually be a Pretty Fantastic Person.  Writing that makes me nervous.  But at least I wrote it. Llike the greatest therapy patient of all time, Bill Murray,  said, "Baby steps". 

I also think I am either a Total Fool or an Incredibly Ballsy Chick to write about this in a public forum.  I'm gonna go with IBC on this one, because. . . .well, because I am.  I spent most of my life apologizing for being that way and I'm tired.  I don't think I'll apologize anymore. I think the more you express yourself about your problems, the easier it gets to face them.  And, invariably, I'll hear from people (some I don't even know) who have similar feelings and can relate to what I'm writing, which makes me feel one step closer to possibly being a PFP.

All right!  Enough already with the goddamn introspection!  These people came here expecting you to be funny, not hand out Special Kool-Aid and promise them 75 virgins!  BTW, who the hell wants that many virgins?  Who wants a virgin anyway?  They're a pain in the ass.  I prefer Seasoned Performers.   All virgins please report to the Duchess County Mental Hygiene Department.  And ask for the hot wax.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Words to Leave By

I'm big into Learning Life Lessons these days; as I've passed Algebra II and I think I'm ready for the Big Stuff.  I always thought that by the time I got to this age (135), I would be wizened and wise and know everything.  Well, I am glad to say I am only slightly wizened,  but sad to say I'm no wiser than I was 134 years ago.  And I've been through a fair amount of shit in my life, so you would think I would have garnered at least a nugget or two of wisdom here and there.  But it's not a very impressive (or original list).  You make the call:

1.         The love you make is actually not equal to the love you take.  (Sorry, Sir Paul.)  At least, not if you're wired the way I am.  If you're one of those people who tend  to overly empathize with the joys/sorrows of your friends and family, (and oftentimes random puppies/kittens) you will spend an inordinate amount of time loving folks and not necessarilly getting it back, because they don't subscribe to that religion;  but since that's how you roll, you'll do it anyway and it's okay. You'll hurt a lot but you'll also feel great a good deal (which makes it worth it) and you can't change it anyway, because of the aformentioned wiring issue.  This one will not make sense to a lot of people, but if this is how your blueprints are drawn, you'll get it. 
2.         If you're one of those people that bad shit happens to, you'll always be one of those people.  It doesn't get better.  You just have to learn how to deal with it.  (So far these aren't very uplifting, are they?)
3.         Don't ever assume you know what someone else is thinking, because you know what happens when you assume, except you don't make an ass out of anyone but yourself.
4.         At some point in your life, you will make an ass out of yourself.  Some of us have just have the art perfected.
5.         It's okay to feel scared and sad and alone, but don't make it a constant condition.  I kind of think of those as comfort emotions, which is actually pretty pathetic, so forget I said that.
6.         Listening to music makes you feel better.
7.         So does drinking a beer.
8.         So does sex.
9.         Doing all three at the same time, may be a little messy, but totally worth it.
10.       Tomatoes and peaches tasted better when I was little.
11.       Having  a wonderful group of friends is the very, very, very, very, very best thing in the whole wide world.  I have a wonderful group of friends.  *pause while Debbie cries*

So, that's my list.  Granted, it comes from The Weird World of Little Debbie (not suitable for small children; may contain loud noises and smoke). It's certainly not what I expected to know by this advanced age, but I guess #12 would be have to be: life never turns out the way you expect it to, so just fuck it and enjoy the ride.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Still Crazy After All These Years

I lived in NYC for one year in the mid '70's (the 1970's, not the 1870's, smartass).  I worked for the FBI, which was not as interesting as it sounds, but mainly while I was there I studied Crazies. 

New York is known for it's Old School Crazy People.  Not the New Age California-Charlie Sheen type crazy or the Sunbaked Florida kill-your-daughter type crazy, but good old-fashioned talk-to-yourself-and-randomly-to-other-people-about-nothing-in-particular Crazy.  I found it comforting.  There were many weekends back then when I went the entire weekend without talking to anyone (this also happens to me in Birmingham). And at 25, I'd get lonely easier than I do now.  So a random old lady coming up to me and taking my arm to help her cross the street while she babbles quasi-incoherently about her cats was often the most human interaction I had that day.  I like the fact that Crazies totally disregard society's unwritten dictum that we don't talk to people we don't know.  Granted, there are certain things we don't talk about to people we don't know (insert your own dirty joke here, I'm tired), but I was always fascinated by the random pieces of information Crazies wanted to discuss.  A lot of times they weren't really crazy things, just nonsequitorial stuff (I just wanted to type nonsequitorial, cause it's cool) that made sense, it was just out of context  (Hence the nonsequitorial-ness.  Shit.  I guess I should just delete that part.  But it has the word nonsequitorial in it two, no, make that three times!! Fuck it, it's staying in.  You can take points off for redundancy and over-use of "nonsequitorial".) (hah! four!!)

Every once in a while, when I feel so moved, I slip into Crazies Mode.  It's usually because I've overheard some random comment or something has happened that triggers my Mustmakeajokeordie Reflex.  It's genetic, my son suffers from it too, and it has gotten both of us in trouble more times than we can remember.  But you'd be surprised how people respond favorably to someone they don't know starting up a conversation.  People under 30 (the heathens!) sometimes give me funny looks, but they do that anyway, even if I don't talk.  It's just that something needs to be said in the moment; if you say it later it won't have the same impact, and, to me, an audience is an audience, I ain't picky.

Actually, the whole idea of going crazy is kind of a touchy one to me, because the women in my mother's family do just that.  I keep looking for signs that I've totally slipped my tether and occasionally I'll find one and have a Freakoutmeltdown.  It's not pretty.  And I think my chances of Crossing into Looneytown better because I am alone.  I already talk out loud to myself all the time.  Just one tiny step and it's Hello, Lalaville. 

So if I grab your arm and ask you to walk me across Five Points, be kind.  And pay attention, you just might learn something new about cats.

Blog Blah

Blah, blah, blah.  This is one of those days that, for no concrete reason, I want to smash my head into a wall, just for shits and giggles.  It would be a change of pace from sitting here, trying to think of things to keep myself amused within the confines of Acceptable Work Behavior, which is (coincidentally?) the exact opposite of everything Little Debbie usually engages in.  This job is not a good fit for me; I've even told my boss that.  It's kind of like George Carlin working for the Nixon administration.  (DISCLAIMER:  I am  in NO WAY comparing my measly comedic abilities to that of George Carlin.  Any similarity between the Nixon administration and Dicks 'N Balls is strictly apropros.)  To add to my discomfort, my boss got married over the weekend and since he came back to work, none of his emails have made sense.  I guess that's the effect sex has on Republicans.  I usually find it gives me a sense of clarity.  (Which would explain the lack of clarity in my blog. L)  But I digress. . .

Oh, yeah, work.  It sucks.  But, in my old age, I have become fond of shelter and transportation and food, well, not food so much as beer, and, unfortunately, one cannot buy beer at Tom & Jerry's by reciting a kick-ass Ethel Rosenberg monologue.  So I work.  And by work, I mean sit here and try to figure out what my boss meant by, "few t food choices for them".  And wish I had that much sex.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Thoroughly Modern Debbie

There are many aspects of Modern Life that I appreciate.  Horses are allergic to me (yes, you read that correctly, story told upon request), so automobiles are a big plus; although, admittedly, I am Not The World's Best Driver.  I pass out easily, so I am also not a fan of corsets (except for "Important Meetings" *blush*) so  kudos to the Modern Undergarment Industry for supporting our girls without crushing our ribs. 

But the whole "computer" thing makes me feel like a Debbie McDimwit.  I know the basics, I can push the "on" button (such things they got now), and type, because I learned that in Secretarial School in 1875 on a (no shit) manual Remington Typewriter,  and I know how to "controlaltdelete" when I panic, and I can surf porn.  But that's about it.  I was sent to Corporate HQ once in North Carolina for some in-house training, which included Excel.  Everyone else in the class was Keeping Up With Teacher just fine, but I was always 5 steps behind and at one point, became so flustered that I pressed a combination of keys that turned my screen upside down.  Of course, I couldn't figure out how to rightside up it again, so the Russian IT guy had to come down and fix it.  I was slightly vindicated that it took Vlad 15 minutes to figure out how to do it.  

I fare no better with electronics.  "'Downloading" music to an "MP3" player sounds as impossible to me as "fixing the economy" does to everyone else.  There are days I pine for the 8-track.  (Admittedly, they are not usually good days.)  I have broken so many vaccum cleaners that I've just given up the whole process: it's hard wood floors and a broom for me, baby!  (I know the More Cynical of You will be saying, "Does she really think a vaccum cleaner counts as electronics??", and the answer is, Yes, I do.  Because you plug it into a wall.  That's my definition of electronics and this is my blog, so if you don't like it, I'm sure Michele Bachman has a perfectly nice blog on hating homosexuals you can move to.)  When I was five I pulled a console television set on top of myself. (I was a Willful Child)  I was slightly bruised but I killed the damn 570-pound TV.  In my last apartment, I had a ceramic heater whose plug actually melted.  Now, that might have been caused by the 250-year-old wiring of the house, but it also could have been my very presence!! If they had sent me over to the Soviet Union during the Cold War, I probably would have walked by the control panel, tripped (in addition to fainting a lot, I also fall a lot) and landed on the Big Red Button.

I also prefer my prostitution Old School, but I don't think I'll go into that right now.  I  mean, I won't talk about it right now, as opposed to entering the profession right now, but I don't actually plan to do that either, ahhhhh, see, it's these damn computers!!!!!!!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Religion: Part Three

My son is visiting me now (Yay!!) and this morning we were having a Porch Chat and he mentioned that when he was little, he always hated going to church.  I totally empathize.

When I was little, I didn't start going to church till I started first grade.  Our church had no nursery, so I stayed home with Daddy while Ma and my sister went to church.  (I have noticed that I never refer to my sister by her name.  Something to mention to my therapist on Monday.) Anyroad, in the summers, on Sunday mornings Daddy and I would take long walks and then he would buy us popsicles, which we would eat while sitting on the steps by the streecar tracks.  In the winters, we would watch Jon Gnagy on PBS (he was an early, less creepy, Bob Ross) and learn to draw, then play whatever I wanted to play.  It was Debbie Heaven.  The only time of the week I had any positive parent-time and Daddy never criticized me or compared me to my sister. 

So it was a shock to my system when I had to give that up and go to 11:00 o'clock Mass instead.  First of all, my mother was always late for everything, all her life.  I was a 10-month baby, for Christ's sake.  So we would arrive at our ancient, small, over-crowded church at least 10-15 minutes late, and, by then, all the seats were filled so we had to stand. For some bizarre reason, I don't do well at standing, I tend to pass out or at least get nauseous. I developed a kind of Pavlov's Deb reaction to the phrase "going to church", feeling sick at the sound of those words.  To top it off, Ma would get pissed off at us because she had made us late. Then I felt guilty because she had made us late for something I didn't want to attend in the first place.  (Guess why I'm in therapy?) 

Secondly, the Mass was in Latin and for some reason, explaining to kids what the priest was saying was not part of CCH curriculum.  I think it's because it wasn't scary enough.  My theory is that Christopher Lee actually wrote Catholic School lesson plans.  So I would stand there, feeling throw-uppy and light-headed, smelling the sauerkraut-ish incense, listing to gobbledy-gook and wishing I was deciding between a root beer or a banana popsicle.  The only thing I could have possibly looked forward to was taking communion, because the act of piously walking to the altar rail and having the priest put a wafer on my tongue appealed to my sense of drama.  But for some reason that my mother was never able to explain to me, she absolutely forbid us from receiving communion. (Also from going to confession, which I was actually grateful for, because the confessional literally scared the shit out of me. I have a very anti-Catholic digestive system.)  It could have been the wafer-on-the-tongue thing, because the only vaguely sexual advice she ever gave me was "never let a man's tongue touch your tongue".  (oops.) So maybe she had a tongue phobia.  I was (am) paranoid enough to think she didn't let me take communion just because I wanted to.  I would then spend the rest of the afternoon feeling guilty for hating church.

I guess that's one of the main reasons I didn't become a nun.  That and the tongue thing.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Cousin Ned

Being raised by an Irish Catholic mother, the punishment of choice in our house was Guilt.  It was pretty effective.  So much so, that when I went to confession, I never believed God really forgave me because I didn't pray hard enough/sincerely enough/long enough, etc.  So it became Jewish/Irish Catholic Guilt, or as we say in the trade, AAA Prime. (It's currently going for $150/share, but people feel guilty about spending that much money, so it's not selling well.)

I still constantly feel guilty about shit that isn't my fault.  I think in the deepest, darkest murky  diverticulae of my soul, I probably think I can fix something by feeling guilty enough about it.  Yeah, probably want to bring that up with my therapist.

But, interestingly, though Ma was a queen at dispensing guilt, she rarely actually experienced the sensation herself:  case in point, Cousin Ned.

I come from one of those IC families that proclaim to be close, but don't really see each other if they can help it.  I haven't seen my sister in in 3 years, since our mother died, and probably won't see her again till one of the two of us goes (and she has always cheerfully assured me I will die first).  But the family always came out for a good funeral. You give  a Mick a chance to be miserable in public and he'll show up before you can get the cap off  the Jameson's. 

When my mother's younger brother Paul died, it was a big deal.  He had had polio since he was nine, used crutches till he was about 40, then was in a wheel chair.  Despite his handicap, he was a successful accountant and had started his own CPA firm in the early 50's.  He died suddenly in his mid-60's and his funeral was massive.  The relatives (mostly named John and Francis) came out of the woodwork.  I had no idea who these people were, but my mother seemed to be bosom buddies with each one.  How come I never saw these people?  I guess I should be grateful I knew who Uncle Paul was.  Anyroad, one the relatives was Cousin Ned.  ( I had no idea Ned existed before he showed up at the funeral.)  And Ned showed up three sheets to the wind.  There's one in every Irish family, right?  Or, rather a lot in every Irish family, but the rest of us were acting relatively sober, at least.  Ned didn't even make an effort.  He stumbled into the room and upon seeing the late, great, Paul Downs lying in state, he commenced a Classic Irish Keen that could be heard all over Shadyside.  One by one the various relatives (who, again, mysteriously knew this drunk!) tried to calm him down, but Ned was having none of it.  Paul had been his best friend (huh?) as well as his cousin, it was a sin he went so young (well, not sooo young really. . ) etc., etc.  Finally they had no choice:  they had to call in Peg. (that's my Ma)

Ma gets Ned's forearm in her patented Peg Brown Artery Crusher Lock and guides him into a chair.  Then, she kneels down in front of him and speaks very softly.  You could hear a pin drop in the room, everyone was straining to hear what she said, but she had a gift of talking very quietly and fiercely that could only be heard by the Appropiate Victim (and possibly dogs).  After about five minutes of this, Ned steadily stands up and soberly walks out of the funeral home.  Two weeks later he killed himself.

So, me, being Galinda the Guilt Witch, goes to Ma and says, "Don't you feel partly responsible for Ned's taking his own life?", and, without batting an eye, she says,  "I had nothing to do with it.  Ned was a drunk." 

I was impressed for two reasons:  A.  That she could absolutely feel no responsibility for Ned's actions; and B. That she evidently somehow had managed to channel any guilt she ever had into me while I was in utero.  I was a ten-month baby, I guess that's what that extra month was for.

Rest in Peace, Cousin Ned.  And if it's any consolation, I feel guilty as hell that you're gone.