It’s Time

via Daily Prompt: Nervous

It’s time. Not to let go per se, or even move on… it’s just time to get back into what I was doing before Noah, before Natalie.

Specifically, it’s time for me to get back into comedy. I did my one stand up act at Acme in June and haven’t been anywhere since.

Prior to that, I’ve done open mic nights at Acme Comedy Club, Rick Bronson’s House of Comedy and The Joke Joint. I made it my new year’s resolution to get out at least once a month to do comedy. Nope, not yet.

I’ve been going back and forth, do I want to do this? I am even capable of doing this? It would be good to swing back to the lighter side but nothing even feels funny… So, maybe I have to act opposite my depression and get out there anyway. Do I wait until I feel better to call a friend or do I call a friend and then feel better?

Getting back into writing comedy has been in the back of my mind, not the way back but further than it should’ve been. Until yesterday. I got an email from House of Comedy at the Mall of America. They are running their “Funniest Person with a Day Job” contest.

I thought, ok, here’s that little nudge I need to get me going. I went to the website to sign up and found there is an application process! I’ve never had to do that before. Usually, I submit my name and they email me back with a date and time, that’s it.

This application wants me to describe my act, tell them what makes me different than other performers, let them know of any needs upfront… I don’t know. It just felt daunting. Surprising. I thought about it for a day and about half an hour ago, I submitted my application.

Now for the fun part: ready, get set, WAIT!

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Daily Prompt: Pretend

via Daily Prompt: Pretend

Today I was a nurse. Well, someone thought I was a nurse. I was at an Asian restaurant tonight, grabbing some lemon chicken. At the register, the cashier asked me how my night was. “Fine” I replied.

“Do you have any plans for the rest of the night?”

“Oh, um… I’m going to go home, eat and try to stay awake until it’s time for bed.”

He asked “Are you a nurse?”

I squinted in confusion as if the sun were in my eyes.

“No” I said, shaking my head slowly.

He nodded toward me, the left of me and I realized I was wearing my sweatshirt with the End the Epidemic logo I designed.

“Oh, because of the syringe?”

“Yeah, that and you look tired. And you mentioned trying to stay awake until it was time for bed…”

“Got it” I said. “No, I’m not a nurse. I just wear this sweatshirt because I lost my sister to the heroin epidemic in May.”

As I was speaking, I was also thinking, “wow, that was almost completely painless”.

“Oh my God” he said. “I’m so sorry. I have two sisters that were heavily into drugs in the 70’s. One has cleaned up, the other… she’s still kind of a mess.”

“I’m sorry to hear that” I said.

We talked for a few more minutes and by the time I got home, I realized the opportunity I’d wasted. Here’s how I imagined the conversation went, had I been a nurse.

“Are you a nurse?”

“Yes” I would say

“Where do you work?” He’d ask.

“Um, at a hospital?”

“What do you do there?”

“What is this, the Spanish Inquisition?”

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“Sorry, just trying to make polite conversation…”

“No, I’m sorry, didn’t mean to snap at you. I change bedpans, start IV’s, bring people ice chips… that kind of stuff.”

He would nod, thoughtfully.

Wow. That was WAY LESS INTERESTING than I’d imagined. And really? The first thing I think of for my job description is changing bedpans? WTF?

Am I a Masochist?

I’m really starting to wonder…

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Me

Masochist:

noun
1. Psychiatry. a person who has masochism, the condition in which sexual or other gratification depends on one’s suffering physical pain or humiliation.
2. a person who is gratified by pain, degradation, etc., that is self-imposed or imposed by others.
3. a person who finds pleasure in self-denial, submissiveness, etc.

I’m asking myself this because of a series of events that happened today.

Sometime during the morning, around 8 o’clock, I made a playlist. I copied the lineup of the Overdose Awareness Vigil and put it into my phone.

Here’s the playlist prior to the vigil starting:

Katy Perry – Unconditionally
Susan Boyle – Wild Horses
Lukas Graham – 7 Years
Ruth B. – Lost Boy
Israel Kamakawiwo’ole – Somewhere Over the Rainbow
Adele – Remedy
Katy Perry – Rise
Mariah Carey & Boyz II Men – One Sweet Day
Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here
Wiz Kalifa – See You Again
Janet Jackson – Together Again
Dani & Lizzy – Dancing in the Sky
Everything But the Girl – We Walk the Same Line
Daughtry – Home
Puff Daddy & Faith Evans – I’ll Be Missing You
Michael Jackson – You Are Not Alone
Idina Menzel – Let It Go
Demi Lovato – Stone Cold
Tenth Avenue North – Worn
Prince & The Revolution – Purple Rain

I’m pretty sure it was Boyz II Men that got the tears going and Wiz Kalifa that kept them flowing. Puff Daddy proved instrumental (pun not really intended, but whateves…) in the transition from crying to sobbing to screaming. I grounded myself to the car until I could pull myself together.

At least I could take a small amount of solace around this thought:

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In case there is anyone out there who STILL DOESN’T KNOW, I HATE the Beatles.

I hate the news too.

That evening, I started talking to people about the Jacob Wetterling case and how awful it is that Danny James Heinrich will not face murder charges. I know the family signed off on it. I probably would’ve too, if it meant getting answers I’d waited 27 years for. I think… and I think about what I would’ve done in Patty’s position. Why? I’m grateful to not have to be in that situation, why do I keep trying to imagine what it’d be like on that side of Hell?

And I over schedule myself. A lot. Tomorrow morning I’m expected at a Recovery Breakfast at 7:30. Like a.m. As in the morning. Couldn’t we have a brunch instead? It’s not even so much the hour but having to fight traffic to top of the earliness. I need to get going on that invention idea for a horn that honks at the people behind you and also has an extendable middle finger to salute any deserving drivers…

Implement Evil Idea and watch the look on my face.

I also told someone I’d drop off needles for the exchange program. In Brooklyn Park. It’s a bit of a hike.

I have therapy on Thursdays too.

Fridays are my writing group.

Mondays are open mic night at Acme, after I work.

Tuesdays I usually work and then have group.

Wednesdays are my volunteer day

And then it’s back to Thursday.

I don’t HAVE to be this busy. Like I said, I think I may be a masochist…

therapy

Fooled You

Grief is a horrible tormentor. It mimics dementia, insanity, depression and at times, serenity.

Friday was the 19th. Three months since my sister’s passing. I’d had several days without crying. Without too many painful memories. Without too much emotion… This is where the serenity came from. It was the three month marker and the final writing group for two very talented writers. The prompt was “goodbye”. I cried silently as the gel ink flowed across the paper, as the tears slipped from my eyes, dripped from my face. It was quiet. And quick.

I wrote about Natalie, of course. And about losing these  two dear writing women to the promise of bigger, better and brighter futures. I wrote about seeing my brother less and less as he grows into the role of business man, promoting his livelihood, planning his life. I even wrote about my therapist, as he took a couple of days off to travel out of state (WI) to watch a football game with his wife.

I felt abandoned. Silly, I know. Irrational, I could feel it. I couldn’t help it. And, it was over quickly. I felt relieved… and like I was getting a handle on things.

These were a normal part of life. It was ok to be sad… and I know you “get to go there, you just don’t get to stay there”. I felt my “visit” was an appropriate amount of time and that I was really getting the hang of grieving.

Jessica called me after an out of the ordinary Friday shift at work. I’d just gotten home and was looking forward to staring blankly at the walls. I saw her name come up with a photo of her and Natalie. I reflexively pushed the phone away from me. After a few seconds of debate, I answered.

She came and picked us up, Tayla and I. We got to walk in the rain and play with her adorable puppy. We had good food and better conversation.

She also had the memory cards from Nats phone that the investigator FINALLY returned. (Three months they had it and did jack shit.) I spent the rest of the night pouring over 1,000 plus photos she’d taken, committing them to my memory before falling asleep.

I made it. I’d gotten through The Day, survived it with very little hysteria.

Saturday I worked on some comedy and managed to get to the pharmacy to set up “convince packaging” on my meds. Shar came over and we had great time, just sitting on the deck, talking.

Today was fairly productive. Unril late afternoon. I don’t know what triggered it, talking about the new found photos with Don I guess… but I cried. In the car, as I hugged the steering wheel close to my chest. My body shook with grief but even this lasted only a few minutes before I was able to calm down and go into the store for a quick for the necessities.

At home, Don made dinner. I turned on some music and smiled when I heard Natalie’s voice fill the kitchen.

“I’ll be there, I’ll be EVERYWHERE…”

The tears started, as they usually do and it got a little harder to swallow. Memories of her last text to me, “whatever you need my darling, just call, I’ll be there. I love you” filled the empty space inside me until I shook with uncontrollable sobs. I chucked the phone and grabbed a handful of tissues before running into my bedroom and crumpling to the floor on the side of the bed.

I grabbed “Noah” and cried into his tiny chest.

“How could she do this?” I wailed

“I don’t have the answer” Don replied

After what felt like hours, the cries subsided into a whimper.

Until I thought of Noah.

I clutched the replica tight to my body and rode another wave before pushing the lifeless, dead weight from my arms to the floor.

“He” lie there, face up and because I’d held him so close to me, my tears were in his eyes.

Then the screaming started.

The moving pictures in my mind danced in a collage.

Gone. They are both gone. GONE.

I briefly thought of suicide. Not so much the act of it but the longing to be out of pain. To be with my sister and baby. And grandparents and friends…

It was more of a fantasy than an actual thought. I couldn’t inflict this kind of pain on the people I loved. Neither Natalie or Noah did that intentionally…

The phone went off.

“Reminding you to send me the info on your comedy dates and times”.

I’ve been debating on if I’m actually ready for this. I have material written out but haven’t been able to concentrate on memorizing it or becoming familiar with it as to pull off a smooth routine.

At this point, I’m not ready. I don’t want to do it. It’s not funny, nothing is funny.

I took the day off of work tomorrow (now today) to give myself enough(?) time to prepare but I don’t know if it’ll do any good…

I’m caught between healing/growing and just wanting to pull the covers over my head, waiting for life to be done.

I don’t mean to end on such a heavy note but this is my life right now. It won’t always feel like this (I’m told) and I look forward to those days as I go through these days, looking for the gifts they too must hold.

 

 

 

The Day the Laughter Died

Yesterday I read a Facebook post from a comedian I respect. His name is Ben Katzner and among other shows I’m sure, he hosts an open mic night (with fellow comedian Mike Lester on Wednesday nights at Dulono’s Pizza in Minneapolis- check them out!). He presented his dilemma of is it ok to be laughing and making jokes when there is so much tragedy going on in our world right now. He linked a great article published by the NY Daily Times on the repulsive situation with Alton Sterling.

And then, this morning, I read about Philando Castile. In our neighborhood. Our backyard.

I’ve often wrestled with the question: Is there anything too serious to be joked about? And I’ve gone back and forth with my answers. Of course! People dying of cancer? Rape? Racism? You can’t joke about that stuff- it’s not funny.

But can it be? I don’t know. I have heard (and laughed) about a lot of serious shit. You can’t take life too seriously… no one’s getting out alive. Lighten up. “Don’t sweat the small stuff” and “it’s all small stuff”.

As a comedian myself, I feel like it’s my job to make people laugh. Take away their misery, even for a short period of time…

Then, life continues to happen.

I miscarried in April (I think, technically  speaking, that’s what they’re calling it but it wasn’t a miscarriage to me. He was fully formed. I saw him and felt him… Named him, loved him, made plans around his arrival including moving so we’d have another bedroom for a nursery). My sister died of a drug overdose in May. I have been able to joke about those things, gallows humor it’s called. Not because I think it’s funny or because I don’t want to be serious but because I will lose my fucking mind it all I think about is the devastation I feel.

I hate to think that any of this is race related but I cannot afford to be color blind at this point. There are far too many casualties to waive off as coincidence.

I remember being proud to say “I don’t see color”, we are all the same. It doesn’t matter. The truth is, it SHOULDN’T matter. We should all be the same, I mean, we are on the inside…

And, at the risk of serious backlash, I dare say- I don’t think it’s ALL a race problem. It’s a power struggle too. It’s police, armed with guns and a superiority complex that need to be addressed too. Blacks are not the only ones who suffer injustice at the hands of the people trusted to “protect and serve” us but they certainly seem to be the main focus right now.

So, is it okay for you to laugh?

I’ll leave that up to you.

In the meantime, I will try to continue to make people laugh, though I will steer clear of the tragedy occuring today.

What do you think? Am I onto something? Am I way off base? Let me know what you think in the comments below!

What’s So Funny?

A couple of months ago, someone recommended the cartoon humor site, FunnyTimes.com. “They’re accepting cartoons from freelancers… and they pay”. I wondered why she was telling me about this, (I can do funny but stand up funny. In person funny. Drawing? Cartoons? Not so much.)

I looked over their website to get a feel for what kind of humor they were into. Lots of single panel cartoon, basic drawing (still out of my wheelhouse) but I started to get some ideas. Then, I got to work. A few weeks later, I finished my first cartoon!

I’d originally intended on using a picture of a lotus flower but at the last minute, I changed my mind. It was the morning I read about that school in Kennesaw, Ga., who received some complaints about practicing mindfulness in the classroom. I can feel my brain start to catch on fire all over again… The school was teaching breathing techniques to the elementary age kids to help with anxiety and stress as a coping mechanism.

Some parents pitched a fit because “kids can’t pray in school, yet they’re pushing ideology on our students. Some of those things are religious practices that we don’t want our children doing in our schools.”

What?!

Yes, GOD forbid we bring awareness to ourselves or try to be calm, centered and in touch…

See? Sorry, it just… defies words.

Anyway, I was already wondering if the lotus flower was really the “right” image and after reading that article, I changed the picture from the lotus flower to a woman. Her hands were positioned in a way that mimicked what some people do when they have a headache. Perfect.

I was confident I’d made the right choice. I put it in an envelope and sent it out.

Last week I got a reply. It essentially said “Thanks but it’s not right for us” and they sent my cartoon back.

When I unfolded the picture, the picture I put together and sent out, I was a little shocked. I couldn’t believe I didn’t see it before…

It featured a Hindu woman in prayer. It looked like I was taking a shot at the Hindu religion. I know a lot of people get nervous with comedy and religion start to flirt but if I think something is funny? I’ll say it, write it, apparently cartoon it… I don’t shy away from controversy. Yet, somehow, I was almost offended! I guess it’s because the people at FunnyTimes don’t know me or know that I can joke about anything and not do it with malice. My only intent (usually) is to make people laugh. I laugh a lot. At myself. If other people want to laugh at me too? Great! The more the merrier.

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But suddenly, I could clearly see how out of context, the cartoon would be almost prejudice.

So now what? Quit? Fuck that. Find another audience. (Cue you guys).

Here’s my almost, sorta racist(?) cartoon about mindfulness and the ridiculous parents who are afraid of Vishnu (and all the other deities).

“There can really be as many Hindu Gods as there are devotees to suit the moods, feelings, emotions & social background of the devotees.”

~Sri Rama Krishna~

What about you? Do you think there’s anything too serious to be joked about? Let me know in the comments below!

***On a side note, it’s that time of year again! Acme Comedy Co is hosting their annual Funniest Person in the Twin Cities contest. I signed up already and my night to perform is July 5th at 8:00pm. Super glad that a) it’s not the 10:30 show I had last year (every show was at 10:30!) and b) I’m scheduled in July vs June… and then had to wait 2 ½ months to see if I advanced to the semi-finals (I did!).

Hello & Welcome!

Have a seat… or take a stand… your choice, I’m not here to tell you what to do… I’m here to tell you what I did! Or said! Or thought. Or wished. Or… you get the idea…

Here on this blog I’m going by SpiredOne. Or if you read it another way, SpireDone because WordPress won’t allow spaces or capitalization or symbols… free speech/expression my ass. It brings the phrase “WWJD” to mind and I’ll tell you, Jesus would allow all of those things…He’s totally cool like that.

I digress. I chose the name because I like the word spire~ not just for its meaning (1.The highest point or summit of something 2.End, extreme, limit) but because you can attach so many different prefixes to the word and have a myriad of meanings:

(A)spire

(Con)spire

(In)spire

(Per)spire

See what I mean? This is just the tip of the iceberg with how technical I can get with words. Not just in a blog post but everyday conversation!

Again, I digress. And apologize.

So what IS this blog about? I don’t know yet, but I invite you to come along with me as I discover what’s important to me and hopefully you will find what’s important to you too.

A few fun facts about me (I don’t know what qualifies them as fun per se but “fun fact” is a very common term and I’m in a hurry right now but I promise* not to be so lazy in the future)!

*Promise means I’ll try*

Ok, facts!

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a bit whacky and sometimes go all over the place to make a point, or, a joke. I have performed on stage in a few of the comedy clubs around town and even landed myself amongst the short list of semi-finalists in Acme Comedy Club’s “Twin Cities Funniest Person” contest last year. (2015)

I am a creative nonfiction writer who mainly focuses on personal essay/memoir writing. I have been published in two anthologies, a print publication and a couple of places online as well.

I keep secrets at my desk… not like a secret-secret but a … you know… a thingy of Secret deodorant to remind myself that writing is hard work. (What are those things called?! A tube? A roll? Those aren’t right… a container?)

I get easily sidetracked, but I can focus like a mo-fo when it comes to replaying mistakes or possible mistakes I’ve made during the day, the hour, my entire life…

I swear. A. Fucking. Lot. I’m holding it all in (mostly) for you guys, for now.

If you are easily offended, this is NOT the place for you.

How’d I do? I’d love to hear from you in the comments! Feel free to tell me what you liked or didn’t like & PLEASE for the love of Christ, tell me what that damn deodorant thingy is called!

 

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Yes, I am already bringing Jesus into this.