I am Not The Hero of this Story- from We Still Like You

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Uncategorized

I am not the hero of this story.

I want to start off by saying that.

I love and value my female friendships.  I want to say that.  I cherish and prioritize them.

Also, women can hurt each other more deeply than men.  Many of my women friends list their worst betrayal, their worst hurt, as being dealt to them by another woman friend.

Women will hurt each other over men, because they don’t value their friendships of many years over fucking some dude who’ll be gone in a fortnight.

I’m going to anonymize this woman by calling her Jen, although that is also her name.  We were both born in the 70’s so everyone is named Jen.

She was never my friend.

In high school, in Suburban Dallas, Texas, she was in love with the first boy I ever had sex with, who was a chubby goth with a speech impediment where “Cotton” and “Latin” sounded like “Coddon” and “Laddin” and it was adorable.  He tried hard to have a Dave Vanian (lead singer of the Damned) white streak in his black hair, but since he did it at home, and he was an idiot, it was usually a duck-yellow streak or a slightly green one.  He lives in San Marcos, Texas and has a wife and kids and we are facebook friends.  Don’t worry about him.

She hated me for being with him.  Women do that.  It had nothing to do with me.  After I broke it off with the Dallas suburban speech impediment Dave Vanian, she slept with him the same night, which annoyed me but was out of my purview.

He did not become her boyfriend after this, incidentally.  Nothing between them changed, except that they had slept together.  If he had wanted to be her boyfriend, it would have happened when they met, probably.  It had nothing to do with me.

She went to college in Austin and I went in Dallas.  I heard a story about her getting kicked off campus for beating the shit out of her dormmate.  I graduated and moved to Portland, Oregon.  Tom Waits went on tour and his Oregon show was in Eugene, a college town two hours south of Portland.  For the next ten years, everyone I was ever friends with or in bands with or dated had been to that show.  And also Jen.  Of all the people I didn’t want to see, she was it.

There is a theory of human communication called disruption.  If someone is mean or dismissive or cruel to you, and you are kind and patient back, it is difficult for them to continue to treat you badly.  We want to mirror behavior to each other- so if you’re shitty to me, I’ll be shitty back, and it can just escalate until we’re fighting or screaming or posting something on Facebook while our heart races one million beats a minute.  If you’re shitty to me and I am kind back, it’s hard to keep going in that direction.

She did not respond to my attempts at disruption.

“Hi!  Jen!  Man, I didn’t think I was gonna see anyone from high school today!  How you doin’?”

Jen: “When the fuck did you move here?  I guess this town really has gone to shit.”

A little after I moved to Portland, Oregon, I started dating a deathrocker who looked more than a little like Nick Cave, lead singer of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, so much so that my admiration of the actual Nick Cave has been tarnished by the experience.

He worked in a record store, because what else is he gonna do, and he mentioned his co-worker Jen.

My mouth fell open a little and I shared with him our history.

He paused for a minute, and he said, I should just tell you now, I have a past with Jen.  I don’t want you to find out later and be angry.  When I was married, we had an affair.  It’s long over and we’re just friends.  I’m also not going to cheat anymore- my marriage ended badly and I learned my lesson. (This was not true, but it is another story.)

We started seeing each other seriously, and one day, she looked over his shoulder at work as he was sending me a note on Myspace, because I am very old, older than any of you can possibly imagine, and she blanched and started screaming.


This is not my name now, but it was the name she knew me as.

For some reason, despite being opposed in all things, we had the exact same taste in men: Men who at least tried to look like the lead singers of seminal goth and punk bands.

She let him know that I was a bad person, a dishonest person, that I was a thief and untrustworthy, and unworthy of love.

He said ok, but that he would give it a shot anyway.

In the following weeks, she called him repeatedly, at different levels of drunk, trying to fuck him.  Sometimes I was with him, listening to her messages as she left them.  That’s right!  This is before cell phones!  You could write someone an email or you could call them, but you couldn’t booty text!  Imagine that, children!

Within a month, she had him fired from the record store, because she said he had stolen and lied and was untrustworthy, and my now-fiancee was unemployed for a year, because managing a record store is really the only job he was fit for in life.

A couple of weeks after that, I was drunk in a parking garage in downtown Portland and I saw her car and my heart stopped.

Portland is a small town now, and back then it was a tiny town.  She had left her car in a garage across had gone drinking in the bar across from the record store.

I had had a drink myself.  I had had several drinks.  I was drinking something called the dirty monkey, and I had leaned into the bartender and asked, now make me a FILTHY monkey.

The statute of limitations in Oregon for property damage is six years.  This story is from ten years ago.

She drove a very distinctive car.  I checked with my fiancee to see if it was her car.  He said he thought it was, because he had had sex in it before.  I checked the cement garage for cameras.  There were none.  I put down my handbag and turned my ring around, like I was getting ready for a high school fight.

I scratched down the side of her car first with a key, which is a rookie move, but which was a warm-up and a declaration of intent.

I kicked off her driver’s side rear view mirror with a boot.  There is no sales tax in Oregon, so lots of state funding is provided by traffic stops.  I knew she’d never limp home without getting pulled over.  I pounded her car in the weird, echo-less, sound-dampened garage.

I managed to break a taillight but not a window, and my dude said, that’s enough, let’s go.  You’re done.  You’ve beaten up her car.  I was flooded with endorphins and delighted and proud and ashamed, but I couldn’t tell anyone, not until you.

Her job at the record store was over within the year, after she punched a customer in the face.  The regional manager let her know that you can be snide to customers, you can ignore them, but you can’t actually assault them.  She sold her record collection to my husband and moved back to Texas, where she was lots easier to avoid.

Cindy Sherman’s Untitled #122

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Uncategorized

I first saw Cindy Sherman’s Untitled #122 in 1990 in Columbia, MO when I was an art student and it’s my favorite piece of hers, I wrote an art studenty little paper about it then and was delighted to see her used in promotion for the exhibit Imitation of Life at the Broad Museum. Cindy made it for Interview magazine in 1983, when they lent her a rack of clothes and said “do something cool with this”, I believe this might be a Romeo Gigli suit. Anyway, I love her fury and glamour and red-rimmed eye and balled up fists, and she’s who I think of most when I do my comedy: a woman right on the edge of absolutely losing her shit.

Cindy Sherman’s Untitled #122

There’s A Rapist At Work: The Problem With Due Process

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Uncategorized

So, what we have learned from the Aaron Glaser case is that if a woman doesn’t report a rape to the police, or if she does but it doesn’t go to trial, we’re not allowed to talk about it in public and no repercussions, no matter how minor, are appropriate. If the law doesn’t hand down the appropriate punishment, if there is insufficient evidence or a rape kit is lost or a thousand possible things, her experience isn’t valid and she can’t talk about it, because it was never proved in a court of law. That’s some witch trial shit.

Other dudes say “He’s a good dude”, which means, “He’s never mentioned being a serial rapist.”

The dude might say “I’m not a rapist”, because he thinks maybe I raped somebody 3-4 times or whatever, that’s not what I AM, I baked a cake once, I’m not a BAKER.

If a woman says, “I don’t wish to do comedy around my rapist”, her option is to stay home.

If a woman says, “I don’t wish to file charges and go public about being raped, which will make me feel vulnerable and strange and it will make people treat me differently”, her option is to shut up.

What do we do, as women comics? We talk about it amongst ourselves, in secret groups, we get called gossips and shit-stirrers, we maintain secret lists of people we’ve heard are rapists or sexual predators because that makes us feel safe.

That also means, if a woman is attacked who didn’t remember a name from the list or isn’t a member of a secret group, it’s back to being her fault.

This week a friend asked me about a comic I know, who I know to be someone who sexually assaults unconscious women. The word is that he has raped a comic in my old town when she was drunk.

Is the comic going to report it? No. She feels guilty. She feels ashamed. She has been violated. She wants to comfort herself and put it away.

So, we can’t do anything to protect each other or ourselves, all we can do is repeat, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that happened. I’m so sorry. I’m sorry. I believe you. I’m sorry.

My own policy on rape and sexual assault is: I always believe the victim, because 1. false reports are rare and 2. society is predisposed not to believe the victim.

My policy has lost me friends, because I didn’t “back up” an accused assaulter and other men in our circle think I’m not a good pal, because he’s a good dude.

I am beginning to identify with Valerie Solanas and the Society for Cutting Up Men. Andy Warhol was still a strange choice for shooting, though.

From Eat Your Words- I’m Vegan, Don’t Hate Me

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Uncategorized

The first thing I have to tell you is that I’m sorry for the second thing I have to tell you.
Please like me after I say this, if you like me at all now.
I’m vegan.
Don’t hate me. I don’t hate you.
It started this way.
Long ago, we didn’t have Pandora or Spotify or even Pitchfork or Myspace to find new music. No. Not even Myspace. In my generation, if you wanted to find cool music, you had to go home with an older guy. Maybe one who had a college radio show. Go through his record collection. That’s what you did. It was a gamble. You might get a free t-shirt. On the other hand, you might find a collection of Styx records. That means you wasted a night of your youth.
There was this one time I found a Smiths record. I may have gone home with a gay guy. It was called Meat is Murder and it had a song on it called Meat is Murder.
Meat is Murder, I knew even then, is not a good song. It’s stupid and overblown and it has bad logic. The lyric is: It’s death without reason, and death without reason is murder. That’s not true. If anything, murder has MORE reason than other death. If my aunt gets hit by a bus, is that bus a murderer? The song has cow noises that sound like those little toys you flip over. But I had not really thought about meat before, and I became a vegetarian that day, for the best reason, which is for Morrissey.
The last meat I ate on purpose was a Fishwich from McDonald’s in August 1987. If that was before you were born, please- release yourself from the responsibility of telling me that. Also, know that every time you say- I wasn’t even born then- you’ll get back. Sometimes in spades.
And it just got worse from there. My sisters made fun of me. My Dad told me I was going to die from malnutrition.
I went to Thanksgiving with my best friend in college and her grandfather turned to me and yelled “You ever try meat? You might like it!”
Another friend’s mother served me spaghetti with meat sauce and said it was walnuts. When I said it was OK, I could eat salad she said “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I just thought it was all in your mind!”
In the 80’s and 90’s, many people continued to ask questions about why I was vegetarian, but I think the most hurtful one was- how do you keep your weight on? Touche, custodian lady.
In the early 2000’s, I stopped drinking milk. It turns out, I was lactose intolerant. It was a revelation. I didn’t know you could just live a life without farting all the time. I cut out eggs, because I didn’t care about eggs.
When people ask you why you don’t eat meat these days, they ask if it’s for health or moral reasons. If it’s health, they’re ok with it. If you had to stop eating animals because your blood is mostly cheese, you’re suffering, and you’re not judging them. I think it’s like how people who don’t drink get asked if it’s by choice or court order.
I’m not judging you. I have never asked anyone to be vegetarian. If a boyfriend spontaneously becomes vegetarian, his friends will all think you did it, and after you break up you’ll see him at a party, laughing and eating a rolled up hamburger patty with his hands over the grill with his new girlfriend, who is paleo and teaches crossfit.
Eventually, my sisters went vegetarian, then they cut out milk. My mother said “I’m too old to be vegetarian.” My sister calls me to complain about my mother eating ice cream and farting up her house. She doesn’t think there’s any other way.
My mother says it’s too hard to remember what is and isn’t made of an animal.
Think of it this way.
Everything that grows from the earth, from every plant, every grain, every fruit, every vegetable, I eat. Not crazy about pumpkin or sweet potatoes, probably from holiday related trauma. Everything that comes out of the ground in the world, I eat. If it can be plucked or shucked or harvested, I’ll eat it. If it’s something that has to be trapped and killed, I don’t eat that. So that’s easy to remember. And I can eat any food that doesn’t have animal parts put into it. It’s really lots of foods.
It’s carnivores who are complicated. Over here, there’s animals you eat: big fish, big pigs, cows, chickens. Over here, there’s animals you love, cats, small fish, small pigs, and depending on where you grew up, dogs and horses. You can be doing really great but you screw up and eat a cat one time and people never let you forget it.
So one day, I get the call.
My sister called me to say: OK, while I was living in England, there was this green apple and sage sausage that British people eat, because most things they eat are some kind of sausage. And they had a vegetarian kind at the store, and I was craving them recently, and I found them, and it was at Whole Foods, and it was in a brown paper wrapper, and I took it home, and I cooked it, and I ate it, and I read it, and that was the wrong order, because it was made of pork!
I started laughing and I couldn’t stop.
She said, You don’t understand, I’m a vegetarian!
I said, well, not today.
I said, baby, I love you, and people make mistakes, but what do you think I am, vegetarian Pope? I can’t absolve you from pig eating. Anyway, it doesn’t matter- It’s about intention, not execution.
Don’t think I don’t have vegan superpowers. I do. You know breakfast places? Like, not brunch places necessarily, but places with several different flavors of pancakes and everything comes with bacon and potatoes. What I know that you don’t is that every single drinking glass smells like cooked-on egg from the dishwasher, and you guys can’t tell. It’s like seeing into another dimension.

Movie Love Lessons!

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Uncategorized

So, you get to a point in life where you think, hey, I’ve been dating awhile and I just keep dating awful people who are bad for me, I wonder why? Then you start thinking about your favorite movies from childhood and the messages you’ve internalized!  It’s amazing what a little emotional distance can do!

Starting with:

Beauty and the Beast- a beautiful village girl enters a monster’s castle to plead with him to release her father, and submits to her own incarceration, putting up with his temper tantrums and violence as he tries to force his way into her room, and then breaks up his own furniture.  She eventually falls victim to Stockholm Syndrome and falls in love with her captor.   Once she proves her love is true, he is revealed to be a prince!  This teaches us that if you have patience and love a bad person enough, he will become a good person. This could also be why women still feel hopeful about corresponding with online dating profiles with no pictures.  Perhaps he’s a prince or a celebrity!  If he doesn’t have a picture up, the truth is that he’s either married, ugly, or both.  What are some lessons we can take from this?

  1. Don’t trust people who wear too much velvet.
  2. Don’t date guys who have kidnapped any member of your family. No, not even a cousin.
  3. Rich doesn’t mean nice. Some might argue that it never does.

Grease- Two young attractive people meet over Summer break, fall in love, and then when they get back to school they’re worried that if they date, their friends won’t think they’re cool anymore because she is a “soc” and he is a “greaser”.  They spend the WHOLE SCHOOL YEAR pining for each other, and at the end they put on different outfits in order to meet the expectations of the other person, and then they appear to die, as they get into a convertible and their car drives into the clouds.  Lessons:

  1. Date who you want.  It doesn’t matter if your friends don’t like their jacket.
  2. You don’t have to change to be loved.
  3. Don’t have unprotected sex with Kenickie, or anyone really.

Some Kind Of Wonderful- In this film, Eric Stoltz plans a dream date for a woman he has barely spoken to and only loves for her appearance, and when at the end of the date, she turns down his gift of extremely expensive earrings, he feels that she is being a real a-hole.  In retrospect, if a man with whom you had exchanged few words offered you a gift he bought with his college fund, you’d also wonder what he thought he was giving to, or getting, from you.  It’s a super weird gift.

  1. If a guy has a best friend who’s a girl and they hang out all the time, that girl is already probably in love with him, even if she dresses like a demolition derby driver.
  2. If someone plans an elaborate first date to try to win your love, and isn’t happy just to meet and talk over coffee, it’s probably a desperate attempt to paper over their own insecurities and trap you into something!

Pretty Woman- ok, it’s a cute retelling of Pygmalion/My Fair Lady, in which a street prostitute becomes a trophy wife, which is the same thing but in longer pants.  She gets an emotionally distant workaholic with no family ties, and becomes a kept woman- that’ll be fun in marriage counseling!  “Hey, I think our power dynamic is screwed up.” “Why is that, I wonder?”

  1. When a man buys a woman, it’s like buying a car- he’ll trade her in eventually.

Just remember that romantic movies are a fun fantasy, but many of the relationships depicted in them are a real nightmare!

– See more at: http://www.lovetv.co/movie-romance-lessons-i-have-learned-about-love-from-films/3/#sthash.REhwt5zi.dpuf


Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Uncategorized

Written for Jonathan Bradley Welch’s amazing A Very Special Episode show!  Theme: BFF’s!

I met my best friend, as so many of us do, the first week of college.  She was looking for someone on my Hall, in Bruce Hall, which was the dorm where all the art students lived, because it had art studios on the top floor and also because it was the cheapest.  It didn’t have air conditioning and it was supposed to be haunted.  I don’t know if it was haunted, but a kid did die elevator surfing, where you get into an elevator shaft and ride on an elevator until someone takes it to the top floor and you fucking die.  Instead of getting a haunted elevator, we got the elevator closed the rest of the year and everybody had to take the fucking stairs.  Don’t pity him.  Pity me.

Melissa walked past my door, which was open because there was no a/c, and I went out and said, hi, it’s nice to meet another goth.  She said, what’s a goth?  And I shook my head and said, it’s us.  It’s what we are.

Sidebar: this story is before your Edward Scissorhands and your Hot Topic and your mainstreaming of goth, before the Craft, before the 2000’s when everyone was wearing vinyl pants and talking about how they partied like a rockstar.  Mel was from a small town in Texas called Palestine, which had the same population as my high school.  Word of goth had not gotten there yet, and she may have believed she was the only person who read tarot and listened to sad music for hours.  She was not.

Mel had long black hair and little round silver glasses and dark lipstick and many layers of black lace on, and in general looked like someone who maybe someday would get a Sylvia Plath tattoo.  I had short red hair and a nose ring and looked like someone who might have prepared a monologue from Sylvia Plath’s the Bell Jar for an audition for a film called Teen Witch, because she did not understand auditions.  That is something that I did do, and they managed to make the film without me.

I asked her, what do you think you are?  What do your high school friends call you? And she shrugged and said, spooky kid.  We started hanging out right away.  Our main hobbies were: taking acid and seeing the Rocky Horror Picture Show, then coming home and watching Singin’ in the Rain, getting dressed up and taking dramatic portraits of each other in the stairwells at school, drinking terrible dorm coffee with ice cream bars melted into them, drinking Bailey’s irish cream, and wondering why we were getting fat.

We were inseparable, we dated briefly until we remembered we were probably primarily straight, we went to New Orleans for spring break and hung out in front of Anne Rice’s house, we went to goth clubs, we sat in the back of rooms and complained together, and in general we had fun.

Our friendship wasn’t perfect.  One time, when Tank Girl came out, based on a comic book series I liked a lot, I shaved my head into a skinhead girl Chelsea haircut and wore tutus and combat boots a lot, and felt like I was really working an edgy look.  She took a photograph of me from the back that when we got developed- developed, kids- it demonstrated that my head was a bad one for shaving.  My head is long and H.R. Geiger-like in the back, and there is a shelf.  I asked her why she hadn’t told me my head was bad and she shrugged and said she figured it was too late.

One time she wouldn’t stop puking, and I took her to the emergency room and waited with her for ten hours.

One time, she was my confidant and best friend and support system and she understood me, and that was all the time.

One time, we drove to Oklahoma city in the middle of the night because we wanted a box of boo-berry cereal, which was not available in Texas, and we ate it in the dorm cafeteria as the sun came up and it wasn’t very good.

We were a really good match.  I was a little too tall and she was a little bit short.  I was an emotionally needy extrovert who met everyone and remembered no-one and she was sometimes shy, but she could remember everyone we’d met and told me.

After college, I moved to Portland, OR to date a boy I’d met in Dallas.  She followed soon after and we took back up together, doing exciting things like going to a goth club owned by the Russian mob, drinking lots and dancing to Britpop and in general complaining that things weren’t the same as they had been in Dallas, Texas.  What they were was much better.

I got married to a guy and I think she liked him okay.  She asked for a key to my house, and she would give me the key to her house, for emergencies but also so she could come over whenever, like we had always done.  I said I don’t think I can do that anymore, it’s as much his house as it is mine, and also sometimes we’re having sex in it.  She was maybe hurt but said it was OK.

I became aware that she had found another girl to hang out with named Caroline.  Caroline was also a little too tall and wore high heels all the time and I thought she was loud, even though I am also sometimes loud.

We still liked each other.  We still saw each other.  But Caroline was usually there too.  It was stupid to complain that I was jealous.  Why should I be jealous?  I was jealous.

Our friendship wasn’t really over until she and my husband had a disagreement about plans that they’d made.  I expected her to pick us up for a DJ gig and she didn’t, but she showed up hours later, drunk and with Caroline, talking in circles about how fun and fucked up their evening had been.  I told her I was pretty done with not being able to depend on her, and she was furious.

It was her word against his, and I felt like I had to side with my husband.  It was a small thing.  Looking back, it didn’t matter, but everyone was very angry.

Two years later, my marriage ended, because he was sleeping with another friend of mine, which I didn’t like very much.  That friend was surprised that I didn’t like her anymore, which no matter how many times it happens, always surprises me.

I went to Melissa’s wedding, to a tall blonde Swede, within the month of my divorce, because I loved her and it was important.  It was a beautiful wedding in an art library, with favors made from antique books and a cake in the shape of a gilded beehive.  I sat with our friends and cried a little harder than everyone else, because I wasn’t just happy for her, I was also sorry for myself.  She had fallen out with Caroline over something.

We are still facebook friends.  We leave each other likes and comments.  I am happy to be to see her happy. She is happily married and so is my ex-husband.  But I still miss my very best friend.