I performed in a comedy contest two years ago. One judge told me to never perform comedy again after my first night. I had two more sets to do after that. Honestly all he did was piss me off — I may or may not have semi-intentionally torched that bridge while I was still standing on it. I may receive the grace at some point to make that right and I may not. I don’t know yet.
A second judge watched all three sets and then called bullshit on 90% of my jokes.
“If who you are communicating on stage is who you really think you are, then someone lied to you. Go find out who you really are, she’s the woman I want to see in your comedy next year.”
I then went home and promptly broke my ankle, had two major surgeries on my leg and was left without my go to for approval places, giving me 14 months to think about what both comics told me.
Neither judge was wrong.
I let fear rule my choices in jokes.
I wanted everyone to like me.
That was my first “big” comedy deal and I played it safe and I played it weak. I played “cute” to win people over.
It’s no wonder they didn’t like me, I didn’t even like the woman I pretended to be on stage.
I spent 14 months taking more than my comedy set back to the studs, I took myself there and I ended 2014 with a lot of letting go.
My trash pile includes:
Friends on Facebook who were only there because I thought I had something to prove — They were there as a see, you should have believed in me – look at me now kind of thing. Some were people I used to know but am no longer friends with and others weren’t even people I actually like in real life.
Names I’ve been called, things I’ve been told. Words like “lazy”, “Slut”, “Bitch”, “unwanted”, “stupid”, “bossy”, “Controlling”, “Bastard”.
Filling that wound with applause and achievements.
My need to control people by being cute or overly submissive.
Mind reading. I suck at it anyway.
Places and friends that are not safe.
Tilting at windmills — wasting energy and trying to change what cannot be changed. Controlling others.
Purposefully giving people a reason not to like me if I think they already don’t. Burning bridges while standing on them.
The desire to be known being over run by the fear of being found out. — that’s a big one and I’ll write more about that as the year unfolds.
Now you’d think after 30 years in a recovery program, I’d have all of this down cold. Notsomuch. One of the worst tag lines that’s going to take work for me is being told,
“I can’t wait for the day when I can prove to the world what a bitch you really are.”
That sentence alone has been the root of so many choices. That’s the sentence that I’ve allowed to define my actions and word choices for so many years. It also defined my sets and choice of jokes.
That’s the fear both comics saw manifest itself in that small theater in Indiana.
I learned a lot at The Cove. I learned that I’m not a bitch and that seasons pass just fine without my interference. I’m not any of those other labels either.
I’ve learned that I can know that for myself without having to inappropriately lean on those who already knew that for me.
So, I call a do over not only in my approach to comedy, but my approach to relationships as well and 2015 is just the year to do that.
My first banjo lesson was last Friday. I learned how to hold it while sitting down which involved a brief lesson on the difference between boys and girls. I learned how to use the picks they gave me, and how to read a tabulature, a pick roll and three new chords (G, C, and D7). I’ve been playing until my fingers want to fall off. Seriously it hurts to type. I’m happy to report though that C no longer buzzes. yeah me!
Life after kids is an interesting journey. Not that I’ve stopped being a Mom. I’ll always be mom, even after they are married and have children of their own.
We are in the homestretch for graduation for my youngest. I cried for months when my oldest left for college and while I’ll definitely miss not having my youngest home every day, I need to learn new things that don’t involve mothering my husband. Really I do, he’s requested that I stop cutting his meat for him.
Having children changes you for the better in a lot of ways. I thought college prepped me well for sleepless nights, popcorn beggy prayers (as Anne Lamott calls them), and delusional hopefulness but it is motherhood that truly brings those gifts into fruition.
That and sewing.
A friend recently asked me what it is with Oklahoma women, is there nothing I won’t try? Most assuredly there is. For one, I won’t try tequila with a worm still in the bottle or snails. I definitely won’t try snails even with butter and garlic. Everything else however is fair game.
Much like motherhood, learning how to sew brings out all of my best gifts.
Gift 1. Delusional Hopefulness — Even though I haven’t touched a sewing machine – except to dust mine – in over 30 years, I’m going to make a quilt.
Gift 2. Popcorn Beggy Prayers — Oh God, I know my blocks are trapezoidal in some respects and not truly square, but PLEASE make them align correctly.
Gift 3. Sleepless nights spent seam-ripping, pinning, and re-sewing my fabric trapezoids in hopes of making them fit together.
Even though our instructor has officially banned me from the bobbin due to my creative squirrels nests, and the fact that she found “left over parts” sitting on the table after I exorcised replaced my bobbin for the umpteenth time, I think things are coming along rather well.
Here are some photos of the journey so far.
And there you have it. Once I convince the rows to get along with each other, I get to add a border and take my lovely new quilt top to a local gal where she will “finish” it for me by adding the batting, back, and machine quilting. I’d do that myself, but my instructor believes that “baby steps” is the way to go here.
Our soccer team made it to the state finals and I’m going to Bartelsville to see them play this weekend. I can’t wait.
One of my biggest fears is having my children grow up, move out and leave me behind. Marriage and parenting can take our all, every day, every week, every year. And then poof, just like that it seems they are grown, gone and testing their wings.
A lot of women fall apart at this stage in life. So do a lot of marriages.
I made a choice a few years ago. I do not want those things happening to me. I do not want to wake up six months from now without a clue of who I am. Or worse yet – I do not want to wake up six months from now, look at my husband and think “who are you and what are you doing in my bed?”
Just like weening a baby off the breast, I have to ween myself off the “mom roll” and come back to the woman.
It’s not easy to do. Actually it is very painful at times.
It takes soul-searching work, bravery, and conviction.
There is a fun side to testing my own wings and seeing what I’m made of beneath the sweat suit and pony-tail.
One of the fun things is watching this movie trailer and seeing myself in the crowd scenes during the trick riding. – I even got paid to be there when they filmed last summer.
A release date has not yet been set, but I can’t wait to go see it.
Life doesn’t have to end when our kids grow up. We can begin to prepare by getting to know that woman in the mirror again today.
Take some time and get to know her, who knows maybe she’ll surprise you.
When it comes to learning new things, I am like a two-year-old with a “me do it myself” attitude, only with better resources. Blame it on my DNA if you must, or the fact that I was raised by a boomer to be independent. Who knows. Either way, I’m a book nerd through and through, and have spent most of my 46 years believing if I can’t find it in a book – fake it. Pulling my nose out of the books and interacting with – gasp – humans while I learn, stumble, fall, and learn some more is a HUGE growing experience. The whole everything is better in community stuff. Getting over the whole I-hate-to-look-stupid mindset is a trip and a half down a dark alley. Fortunately my close friends know this about me and love me anyway.
I’m learning a lot of things right now. All of them on purpose. Most of these new adventures do not affect my ego really. Not much anyway. I used to design ss7 switching protocol for a living, complete with electronic and geographic diversity for a major player in telecommunications. (SS7 is, or perhaps was, to telecom what the central nervous system is to the human body.) While that isn’t exactly rocket science, it isn’t easy either. I remind myself of this fact rather frequently these days while I stumble through my new adventures.
Jo is teaching me how to ride horses –– We practiced jumping this week and while I fell off Cowboy during a jump last week, I didn’t die and we were right back at it the following week. We literally raised the bar and the speed and I am having a blast. I’ve known Jo for almost ten years. Having her teach me how to ride, race, and jump does not bother me. This is my escape from the testosterone around me. Nothing against the guys, but being the lone female in a house full of men can get overwhelming sometimes and I need a break. There is a coolness factor involved here to be sure. There is no way I could simply saddle up a horse and start jumping all on my own. I needed someone to step me through it.
Ruth is teaching me how to make a quilt. I cannot presently sew to save my life. I was raised by a woman’s rights baby boomer. My never learning how to sew is no big deal. My mother wanted more for my life than to be domestic slave. I mean housewife. – I am a housewife today. This kills her. That status is changing ever so rapidly, but I digress. I’m learning how to quilt because my grandmother was a blue ribbon quilter. She cut small squares, pieced everything by hand, and even quilted by hand. That’s a strong legacy. My mother also quilts, but uses a sewing machine. My mother is dying and does not have the time left to finish all of the quilts she had in mind. Mom gave me two boxes of material when I was home last summer. I’m learning how to quilt as a way to honor both her and my grandmother. Ruth is taking our small class through every baby step imaginable. This too is fun and does not bother me.
Soccer Mom meets Hipsters and Racers – oh yeah this one bothers me a little. – Broomfield this is for you. Riding bikes with the kids on our Mom bikes is NOT the same thing as wanting to go the distance with adults. I’m just sayin. There is a learning curve so curvy that it makes Dolly Parton look like an A-Cup.
My Bicycle evolution: (do not be fooled by the photos, owning bikes and knowing what to do with them – are not the same thing.)
I bought a new bike last fall because I wanted to get back in shape – easy peasy. It’s just a new bike, how much is there to know? Apparently a lot. I learned this week that leaving the sporting goods store behind and going to a local bike shop is fun, exciting, and scary. Scary because I’m a soccer mom. They are well, not soccer mom’s. They are mostly grown men (save for one nice gal that helped me pick out my bike) who get to work on gears, chains, frames etc in what I will call an oversized garage – only much cooler looking. — If I could pick a dream job for my youngest son, it would be this. They also race and I hear there is beer involved at the end of the day. — Testosterone heaven, minus the pin up calendar.
For some strange reason, I find myself slightly intimidated at this point. I love this store and I really like the staff. Yet walking in with my questions, I feel like Velma from Scooby Doo walking in to a surf shop wanting a boogie board. I could swear there were moments when I could see the backs of people’s heads through their eyeballs. — My first attempt at picking out a new bike last fall met with some quiet smirks and a few giggles. It seems I picked out a rather expensive trick bike that was primarily for “hipsters.” I wanted to know what a hipster was, but decided it was one of those words that if you don’t know, don’t ask. We landed on a just my size Giant and I’m very happy with it.
Not a whole lot of humility has been required at this point. I order a bike, I pick it up. I notice the tires are thin and bald, but I don’t ask why. It doesn’t have a kick stand either but I don’t notice that until I get home. — I later learn that street bikes come that way. OH! — I try my new bike out for two months and keep falling over because of the death straps on the pedals. I get a post card in the mail reminding me the shop will tune up the bike for free after 30 days and to bring it in. They lure me with the promise of 15% off any one accessory.
I get to accessorize? OOH! I’m there.
I wasn’t feeling intimidated when I dropped off my bike for its check up, I did however feel intimidated when I had to pick it up. Dropping off was easy, the store was empty. Picking it up, the store was full — of pros. Racers et al. Some nice fellow puts my bike back on the rack because whoever worked on it forgot to remove the death grips. While talking about those little buggers that want to kill me, I did learn that they are called “toe clips.” OH! — I can hang any hope for cool points out the window. This is Walmart meets Lance Armstrong all the way. Part of me was secretly wishing for my soccer van back.
Watching him work on my bike, I am suddenly transported back to Chicago, 1987. My car is in the shop, running badly, and the mechanic is little lady this, little lady that – trying to convince me that my sweet pinto is on it’s deathbed but for $500 he can hook it up to machines and bring it back ala Frankenstein. I grab my keys, turn the motor, and the car shakes like crazy so I pop the hood. I jiggle the spark plugs, reconnect the loose wire that wasn’t loose when I dropped it off for the oil change, and viola my car is resurrected from the soon to be dead. hmm. Jerkface was trying to rip me off.
Truth is, I knew more about cars at 22 than I know about bikes at 46. I also paid more for this street bike than I did for my first three cars. I am completely at the mercy of these guys. These men who probably have other jobs, but maybe not. Who race, sweat, get covered in grime, wipe out, drink beer and live to ride another day. If you really want to know, I’m not a mercy rule kind of gal, unless I am the one dealing the mercy cards anyway. I’m more often than not the two-year old who insists “I do it myself.” sigh.
Thankfully, none of them laughed at my questions – at least not to my face. I needed a “kit” and helmet. Having no clue what either entailed I had to rely on the guys. The kit I learned is made up of an inner tube, tire repair kit, bag that fits under the seat, some blue plastic sticks and a CO2 Cartridge. The look on the guys face when I asked what the sticks were for was priceless. Yes I’m sure I saw the back of his head through that one. He then walked over to the bike on the rack and mimed how one would use them to pry off a flat tire. That was nice of him. A real mountain biker walked in at that point and needed his expertise and so Mr Mechanic dude took over after that.
He seemed far more well, amused? Empathetic? Tolerant? Closer to my age – yes that would be it right there. He got me a CO2 kit that was “idiot proof, no offense.” none taken I assured him, put the kit bag together, double checked everything on my bike, and helped me size my first helmet. A simple grey deal which I consider my starter helmet.
Being helped to pick out a helmet that fits by a total stranger, that kinda bugged me. Dear lord, you’d think he helped me pick out a training bra or something. I’ve never worn a helmet in all my 46 years, there is no way I would instinctively know anything about sizing, so why it bugged me I don’t know. Must be my EGO pure and simple. It’s not like I put my first pick on backwards or anything, I just happened to pick up a kids helmet. Yep – I needed help with sizing. It only killed me a little bit. You know?
So now I have my re-tuned bike, a road kit, and a helmet. I’m ready to step up the challenge and learn to ride with a group. Maybe. That is my eventual goal I know. Can’t ride the MS150 by myself. I’m thinking I should try the trails on my own first, maybe? That way I know them and I”m not learning group etiquette and geography all at the same time. Baby steps and all that jazz.
I know I said I was going to post miles each week, but I can’t figure out how to gauge that. Probably another toy or something. I’ll figure it out eventually that or I’ll ask someone. Just not today.