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  1. When leaving a Bronx open mic show one night, I was three bus rides from home.  This guy was there.  When he offered me a ride along with another comic he'd be taking home, I figured I was getting dropped off first, so I agreed.  I did wonder though if the three buses (and waiting for each one at night in my Bronx)

     

    would be safer.  It was a tough call.  But the third person in the car made me feel like things would remain somewhat sane.  He fuckin' took that guy home first.  I objected.  They explained why it made sense, geographically speaking, to do it this way.  Ugh.

    My memory is fuzzy on the chronology of things.  I know at some point during a crazy and heated conversation, I asked him what he thinks he's mad at me for.  He looked up the way a kid does when searching for an excuse, and said, "You support Annie.*"  That was a young confused person I basically only knew through the website we all participated in.  What he called 'support' was basically not verbally abusing her.  But yeah, according to his bullshit, that was my 'crime.'  Maybe this was just what I needed, I don't know.  I screamed for the next fifteen to twenty minutes (however long the drive was).  I screamed my head off at him for everything he pissed me off about.  I would have liked to have been at the point of just laughing at his ridiculousness, calmly reminding him that he doesn't get to make those choices for anyone other than himself, suggest he look inside himself as to why he thinks he should have a say in that, and that be that.  But I screamed for twenty minutes. 
    I was hoarse the next day.  Apparently I had a lot of screaming to do.  I know I included that my husband doesn't decide who I talk to, so who did he think he was.  I know I accused him of not having a problem if I had called that young girl a whore, but treat her like a human and there's a problem?  I threw in some references to oral sex out of fury and knowing he had a problem with my talking about it in my act.  I was having a FUUUUUUCK YOUUUU moment (times twenty). 

    I wouldn't think it my place to tell another adult who they can or cannot speak to; that is just amazing to me that people feel that right.
     

    In a strange way, it seemed like he was more comfortable with my outrage than with the day I had booked him for an event.  It may have felt more like 'home' as he knew it.  We are all bound to different degrees to our formative years. 

    I went upstairs upset.  I told my then-husband that I just had a fight with Ken Burger.*

    "Over what?"
     
    "That's a good question," I said.  "He claimed it is because I talk to Annie.  It doesn't make any sense."

    "Why does Ken Burger care who you talk to?  ...unless there are other feelings involved."


    ...to be continued...



    *Annie and Ken Burger are fictional names.

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  2. Intermission*

    Tuesday, July 15, 2014

     






    I am taking a break from the telling of the crazy soap opera.


    The most helpful comments I received were from two men who are older than me.  One wrote me wanting me to feel assured that I don't owe anybody anything.  The other passionately agreed with the first one. 

    There are so many basic things I've existed without, that those comments felt like huge healing hugs.  It reminds me of something a student once told me.  He said, "Where you see holes, you put flowers."  I felt like where these two men saw wounds, they put medicine.
     
     
     
     
    *This is my 100th entry here.
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  3. At some point after my comedy debut, I was co-hosting an event (poetry mainly, but open to comedy) and was given the honor of booking one of the performers.  I offered him the spot.  He wasn't the only one I knew, but I did it as a comedy friend and I knew he could be funny.  On our way there, it was a little stressful since I had run late.  He was driving.  I forgot to bring the exact address though I pretty much knew where it was.  I could feel his general anger.  He didn't talk about being nervous or any of that.  I even asked him if he was nervous, but he claimed he wasn't.  So I figured he was well prepared.  Thankfully, we found parking.

    As we walked on a Manhattan block, he belched loudly with his mouth wide open and didn't make any effort to cover his mouth at all though it went
    right in the direction of an older man's face.  He didn't then cover his mouth afterwards either, and he didn't say excuse me to the man.  That was what amazed me.  He's not an adolescent.  He's a grown man and a parent.  He didn't even say "Excuse me, I'm sorry."  Instead, he turned to me angrily and said, "Not cool, right?"  I realize how much I've grown since then.  I didn't yet know then how to say, "Don't make this about me."  Sometimes I feel I am just getting things that some have at 17 years old.  I was so startled by his behavior.  I sensed his rage and saw he was leaning toward putting it out in my direction.  I did nothing to deserve his shit.  I couldn't quite believe we were on our way to a show where I booked him.  I hadn't yet learned deeply enough what happens when you like people who don't like themselves.  My marriage was a big kick in the head of this lesson, and this guy was one of the layers of sealant that followed.  He angrily repeated, "Not very cool, right?"  I said, "I don't think in terms of cool."  He searched and said, "Not classy, right?"  "I wouldn't call that classy," I admitted.  While belching loud in someone's face is not a desirable happening, not saying excuse me is what I found more offensive.  And his need for and seeking out my disapproval made me uncomfortable and concerned.  

    My then-husband was also a man who didn't own himself or understand when his shit was going on me.

    When the guy took the stage, his energy was low, and he didn't look at the audience for a while.  He looked down and sounded depressed and unprepared, and I thought I'll never do that again.  I thought that he fucked this up for himself and possibly for me too.  I was trusted to book someone, and he turned this whole thing into a negative experience.  That day was the turning point in our pal-ship.  I don't think he was conscious of all that, but I was.  He behaved better with people who were less nice than I.  I was getting tired of this pattern in my life.


    I didn't see him much after that, but we read each other on line in a community of stand-ups.  One day I blogged about comics from an audience view.  I'd been an audience member much longer than a stand-up.  I felt a huge gap between members of the aspiring stand-up community and the audience, especially the female customers.  I thought the blog could bridge some of the gap.  As a teacher, I get to read comments from the students on how they felt about the class.  I love getting to read the feedback.  Companies hire focus groups to hear what potential customers think of their products.  So it didn't even occur to me then that any aspiring comic would not want to hear how the audience might hear them.  (I've since learned.)  I received mostly very positive comments on that blog from the aspiring comics.  He wrote me a nasty comment.  Much of it didn't make sense, but I guess it did give a window into what may have been bothering him.  One of the things he accused me of was that I speak in my comedy of liking oral sex.  (No, he's not 12.)
     
     
     
    I was so puzzled and taken aback.  I thought, he is younger than me, and he thinks women shouldn't enjoy sex?  That it should be a thing tolerated by a dutiful wife?  He didn't say all that, but he implied it.  Did he miss the Sixties?  I didn't get what was the problem with liking something.  What was he saying about men's abilities -- that they only expect and want to be tolerated and not enjoyed?  Then I thought that maybe he thinks I don't approve of talking about sex?  But then I went and did it, so that would be hypocritical?  How can he think that I don't approve of talking about any part of our human existence?  Being open is one of my main assets.  Then I realized that many juvenile types don't seem to get the difference between talking about sex and calling someone you experienced sexual pleasure with degrading names for having had sex with you.  I couldn't believe he was so angry with me and was surprised by how juvenile he was.  I wasn't calling anyone names -- not even calling assholes "assholes."  He seemed angry that I spoke on the degree of misogyny I felt thrust into when I entered the stand-up arena.  Whose purpose does it serve not to speak on it?  I came from social work and teaching, and suddenly I was poultry. 


    Beneath his undesirable behavior, I guess I saw a hurt boy.  His childhood was not loving and protective enough.  My childhood had pretty big challenges as well.  Neither of us escaped damage.  The difference at this point was, I wasn't making him pay for mine.  He already seemed to have a slot for me in his mind even though it wasn't who I was. 

    I figured my blog and my comedy and who I actually am bothered him.  It hurt because I had been so tolerant of many shitty things about him.  I took the weight for his weed.  I never tried to make him feel bad about being too childish to claim his own fucking weed.  This story is the first time I am publicly mentioning it but not with anyone's identity.  The more he spoke of his wife, the more I saw what he was all about.  He'd say shit like, "I never called her a liar."  I'd think, she probably isn't one.  So his defense to lying to his wife was that he didn't call her a liar.  I frankly didn't know how she was able to tolerate him for as long as she did.  It seemed she spoke to him directly about what she felt some of the problems were.  He didn't seem capable of addressing things in that fashion.  He made fun, usually with his tone of voice, of whatever she said.  He would tell me, expecting me to agree with him about how awful she was.  But I didn't see her as awful at all.  I was happy for her that she was saving her own life.  She had a little girl, she worked full time, and her mother helped her.  (When I needed help to get out of my situation, I felt I had to wait a long time because I didn't have family who could help me and I couldn't count on my husband to share parenthood.  He hadn't shared parenting with his first wife.  I was stuck.)  After a while, though this guy's wife doesn't know it, I felt more like her friend.  She may have been more traditional than I, but she was honest about who she was.  I think he didn't even know who he was.  But I let him be whoever he was.  He did not let me be me without receiving his hostility.  That was what felt bad.  I had accepted him with all his shit.  I can share a planet, a borough, an open mic with many.  As long as the person is not my problem, I can be accepting of a wide range of humankind.  He had trouble accepting my perception, experience, and views, basically me.

    So I wrote a comment back to his comment.  I wrote that I hadn't meant to upset anyone but must've hit some nerves.  I questioned some of his motives.  I really didn't get why he'd want the world to remain so hostile to women when he had a daughter.  After writing and posting it, I saw he had taken his comment down.  But in my comment, I addressed him by name, so it was clear I was responding to his shit.  Since the website was a community of mainly men working on their comedy, he cared about how he looked in front of them.  And since at that point, they left mainly supportive comments, he probably didn't want to appear as a threatened, backwards, oppressive, little man in front of them.  His comment was one written to attack me like I had done something to this man. 

    I don't know what was the turning point for him in terms of his feelings toward me.  He had never, up to that point, talked to me directly about any problem between us that merited the kind of hostility he expressed.  My suspicion is that during the time I just went to open mic's with him, was depressed and didn't speak a whole lot and mainly listened to his marital woes and comedy advice, he must've decided who I was but not based on who I really am.  It was probably based on what he needed me to be.  Then when

     


    I hit the stage, he saw who I am.  It must've blown him away.  I do not join the patriarchy as much as shine light on it and share the tragic funny.  So those who can't see how damaging the patriarchy is to women's lives and who thought everything was fine, except for these "bitches" and "hoes" out here, probably get a little uncomfortable at my bringing it to light.  He got more than a little uncomfortable apparently, but since at my debut I "killed" according to him, he wouldn't say I wasn't good.  He didn't want the image of being a sexist, but people need to embrace who they really are before they can grow.  So while attempting to keep up a front of a modern man, his true self was coming out in ugliness all over the place.  He had that in common with my then-husband.  It's easier to deal with someone who can say, "I must have some shit inside to look at because I do feel bothered by your material and much of what you say though I don't disagree intellectually."  I can respect the conflicts people go through inside, especially if they are aware and not taking their shit out on others.  But he is very unlikely to reach that level of authentic living.  Just writing that sentence is evidence of my growth.  I often held out too much hope for a person's best self to come forward.  I think I'd project my best self onto them.  I have to be more judgmental, especially if they are grown.  Many people's accessible best self is not that impressive by the time they are grown anyway.

    I saw him here and there just because we both were going to open mics.  We were also both in a show at a club in Manhattan.  People we both were acquainted with were in it too.  That may have influenced his behavior.  I performed very well at that show as I was very comfortable with the audience, and his natural reaction seemed to be to hug me.  It was strange to me as I thought he didn't approve of my views, etc.  Like my then-husband, he had a public image to try to keep up.  He wouldn't want the others to think he had the hang-ups he had.  Yet the hug felt genuine like he wanted to be connected again.  At the end of the show, the comics went out to eat; I went straight home to my son.  I still at that point wanted to know what was this guy's problem with me.  I still felt hurt at his betrayal of what I thought was some degree of friendship. 

    One night when we spoke a bit at an open mic, I did ask him what was the problem.  He didn't seem able to answer.  I brought up the angry comment he wrote.  He didn't apologize for the hurtful things he wrote.  It didn't seem to bother him that his comment was hurtful.  That felt so bad to me.  My heart is too tender for people like that.  He said he took it down because he realized there was nothing wrong with that post.  His emphasis on that and his tone in general was as if he were my boss and had the right to disapprove of me.  I couldn't believe what I was hearing.  He could barely run his own life.  Why take on the responsibility for someone else's life when one is plenty to manage.  I wondered how this happened -- this shift from equal people to this crap. 

    I thought he must be missing his wife.  They were already separated by this point.  It saddened me because I had thought we were going to help each other navigate the stand-up world, share opportunities and stories, be comedy pals.  But if he was putting his energy into looking for a moment to pounce on me with rage and feel justified, this was not a relationship where I could grow or even relax.  I tolerated a lot of that bossy-toned shit from my husband because I needed to know my son and I would not end up homeless.  But my son was not little now, and things were moving along.  My freedom was in sight.  I didn't want some other troubled person telling me how to behave who didn't even pay my bills.  I don't require outside supervision; so far, I haven't belched in people's faces. 

    And really, would he tell Angelina Jolie's mother what to do?
     
     
    ...to be continued...  (don't miss the next installment when, after provocation, my then-husband wants to get involved)
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  4. I saw someone at an open mic who I haven't seen in quite a while.  He's a person with many personal problems, the biggest being his unawareness and lack of ownership of those issues.  (I'm not putting anyone down for having problems, as we all do have our share and then some.)  When he got divorced, I wanted to send flowers to his freed ex-wife.  By then, I felt I had had a small taste of what she had endured. 


    Unless I'm totally projecting, I always sensed a warm beating heart in him.  But he seems to have major issues with women and people in general, but mainly women -- a great lack of respect.  His behaviors are often repulsive.  When I knew him, his driving was extremely rage-filled.  I often felt I'd be safer on the NYC subway.  Each time I accepted a car ride from him, I felt I was taking a risk with my safety.  That scared me about myself.


    We met while we were each going through the end of our respective marriages.  (I wanted mine to end; his wife wanted theirs to end.)  We lived in the same borough.  I was just getting started in comedy.  He'd been doing the comedy open mic circuit for a number of years and been in a few shows.  There seemed to be some ingredients for a friendship.  He'd done some friend things like ride his bike from the Bronx to Manhattan to attend a poetry reading where I was featured.  He attended my comedy debut as did many other friends.  I went with him to open mics before I participated, so I was considered actual audience which is appreciated by open mic comics.  When I ran a poetry reading series with an open mic, I'd let him perform even if he wasn't there to hear the feature or the other open-mic-ers.  It seemed it could be a mutually beneficial comedy pal relationship.  I knew it couldn't be more than that.  I would have welcomed another friend, but he was at the point in his journey where he made fun of his wife's use of the term 'emotional abuse.'  So since he couldn't see he was doing it by making fun of her real complaints, I knew our depth of friendship was very, very limited. 


    Then things started getting weird and uncomfortable.  One summer day, he picked me up to go to an open mic.  When he saw me, he scowled and said, "You look nice."  His tone sounded pissed off like I'd done something offensive to him.  I didn't even know how to answer.  I felt defensive.  I had to remind myself that most people aim to look nice and not crappy.  So if that was a compliment, this relationship had a short life.  Another time he may think he complimented me was when he told me I looked like I could be Angelina Jolie's mother.  He's quite suave with the ladies, as you can see.  When his not-yet-ex found weed in their car, he, a man in his forties, told her it was mine.  He told me after the fact and wanted to know if I'd agree in case I was ever asked.  He was going through a divorce and she didn't approve of weed.  (At first I felt her as too straight-laced, but in all fairness, he had told her he would stop when they got married, so she had every right to expect he didn't indulge.)  I figured he had a lot at stake since they had a young child.  I didn't feel okay with this, but I agreed to say it was mine in spite of my insides screaming at me not to.  This was rapidly becoming a relationship that was bad for me.  In a way, I think because I was weaning off of my bad marriage, it may have been part of that process.  He was showing himself to be another person I shouldn't be with.  But I didn't love him or feel attracted to him, so in a way, it was like a much lighter version of bad-for-me situations.  Emotionally, it makes sense to me that it was part of a detoxing process. 


    I ignored strange things (which was part of my problems).  Like the one time I went as his guest to a show he was in, he sat with me separated from all his comedy friends.  I thought that was weird and wondered if he was ashamed of me or of them.  Yet he wanted to be with them.  He asked if I minded.  I didn't.  I wanted to see the show.  I was weeks away from my own comedy debut, and I appreciated every free opportunity to see comics in action.  But I found it very odd that he kept us separate.  He went and sat with them at times and then with me.  Had it been a 'date,' it would not at all have been acceptable to leave me alone for periods of time.  I thought it couldn't be any clearer that it was not a date.  Plus my ex was still in my house, and I didn't do the cheating thing, so if this guy was someone I'd have wanted to date, I wouldn't have hung around with him at all.  It would have been too difficult for me. 


    After seeing me perform at my debut, he said that I killed.  For those of you not involved in stand-up, the language is like sports and war since it's a very male dominated arena.  I don't connect with the language at all.  Bomb, kill, disarm, hit them, etc., etc.  I see it more as a party.  If everyone's laughing, we're having a good time at my party.  I don't make the folks sitting up front feel regretful at all.  I have a very different view.  I was happy that he enjoyed my performance.  I considered us comedy pals, and this was my first public stand-up performance, so it meant something.  But I assumed he enjoyed it when that wasn't really what he said.  He said that I killed which was a comment on how the audience received me, not necessarily that he enjoyed it.  And that hadn't occurred to me then.
     
     
    ...to be continued...
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  5.  
     
     
     
     
    Though I had been feeling like I was dragging rocks inside, I managed to finish the school year at one job with a fun party and other good happenings.  I'm glad about that.  It helps to have cool co-workers.

    Then without auditioning, I was offered a small part in a play by a woman who once was my director in another play.  I agreed since I didn't have anything else going on at the moment acting-wise.  I wasn't jumping up and down over the play, but it was acceptable.  Then the same woman offered me the main role in another play.  In that one, I play a different ethnicity.  A whole new challenge.  Acting definitely keeps life ever-reaching.  Always new ground, new experiences.  I felt good about being thought of even when I hadn't auditioned.  Unfortunately, this is still the unpaid arena.  I sure need that to change.  I welcome change (and by that I mean big bucks).



    For now, I'm in two short plays to be performed the last weekend in July, and two poetry readings in August.  I have to fill in my comedy calendar. 
     
    I was playing a Yahtzee-type dice game on line.  It's a 2-player game with a chat box.  I have many of those games going on.  Out of all of them, two chatted.  One seemed sincere and polite and only spoke for a clear purpose, like to apologize for some game-related thing.  The other, after the hellos, asked if I want to suck him.  I asked if he'd like to be respectful.  No apology from him.  I forfeited the game.  It never occurred to me that playing a dice game could be seen as wanting to suck a stranger.  I was tempted to respond differently.


    Do you want to suck me?

    Ya know, I was sitting here wanting to suck something and just didn't know what.  Maybe that's it.  Maybe sucking you was what I wanted all along.  Silly me for not thinking of that.  Thanks so much for suggesting it and offering yourself so generously.  Look at how well this is turning out.  I could've never predicted.  I thought I was just here to play a dice game.  Who knew?  Next time I start a dice game, I'll think twice.  I'll think maybe I really want to go out and suck some stranger's genitals.

     
    OR

     
    Do you want to suck me?
    Thank you.  That must mean you think I'm pretty.  You're not alone.  There are many men who have a hard time when they see a pretty female.  They have to say something repulsive.  Sort of like an eleven-year-old.  

     
    OR

     
    Do you want to suck me?
    No thanks.  I'm penis-free.








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  6. To the Theatre, Dahling

    Tuesday, June 17, 2014


     
     
     
     
     
     
    This year, because I've won tickets and was gifted with tickets and offered a discount by a friend, I've been to three plays so far.  A friend and I attended each one together.  Each time we did, we planned to go out afterwards to drink, eat, and talk about the play.  The first one was a one-woman show called "My Mother Has Four Noses" and was such a tear-jerker that we cried so much during it and didn't want to talk much about it when we left.  We were emotionally exhausted.  We did eat and drink though.

    The second one was written by someone we know and like.  He offered us the opportunity to see it at student prices.  We like him a lot but had a very hard time liking any character in the play.  Yet it was riveting, never boring, and had us wanting to know what happens next the whole way through.  It felt disturbing though.  Each character felt void of humanity.  In that sense, it was the total opposite of the first play we saw. 

    I've been fortunate to have a continuing relationship with the woman who provided the tickets for the original contest.  From time to time, she offers me the chance for my readers to win a pair of tickets to a play.  I find it so exciting.  It's an experience so many of us cannot otherwise afford.  Sometimes she's able to give me a pair of tickets for myself as well. 


    The last contest was for tickets to see the sci-fi musical called "The Anthem."  I was also given a pair of tickets to see it.  I went with the same friend on a Friday night.  We were tired from the week of work.  So we both had mixed feelings about sitting for a play.  I told her that it was good it was a musical as that would keep me awake.  Well, the set, the costumes, the movement, the singing, and the energy of the cast kept me very awake.  It was more a play done in song rather than a musical.  I guess when I hear 'musical,' I think they'll break into song every ten or fifteen minutes.  This was more like every one or two minutes.  When we left, we compared the story to what is happening on the jobs -- the rules, the uniformity, common core standards, attendance policies designed to throw people out rather than help them stay in, the going backwards before independent thinking was seen as evidence of having a mind and that being a good thing.  In the play, there was a rebellion against that by those who risked independent thought.  Then we discovered that we both have a favorite place to eat and drink -- the Olive Tree by West 3rd Street.  It's right above the Comedy Cellar where Louis C.K. tapes his stand-up for his sitcom.  The tables are blackboards and they serve up chalk.  We had lots to talk about while drawing and playing word games on the table. 

    A couple of Long Island Ice Teas and I slept the whole way home on the D train.  Once home, I wanted coffee, the dog wanted one more walk, and it continued to be a happening night.
     
     
    Luigi, 14 years of loving so far...
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  7. "Blessed are the weird people..."

    Tuesday, June 10, 2014












    In my last blog, I made a mistake with the location of the August 18th poetry reading.  It's at Shades of Green which is also on East 15 Street near Irving Place.  I hope some of you will be in the mood.  It's a Monday night, very affordable for most, hosted by a very welcoming woman named Su Polo who is also a fine artist.  She's run the Saturn Series Poetry Reading for over 20 years!  Partners changed; locations changed; Su Polo remains.  There's an open mic portion of the evening which is typically beautifully varied.  I will be one of two featured poets.


    Summer is practically here.  I've been trying to tone up.  I really can't wait until varicose veins are in style.  I'll be a big hit on the beach.  I can hear it now.  "Look at the veins on that one.  Woohoo!"


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