Friday, January 13, 2017

Excerpt from Recipes For A Broken Heart

Michael picked me up in Harlem.  He took me to HA Comedy Club in Times Square to try and get me a set in front of the manager to ultimately get me a show and/or a lot of regular spots at the club.  Before HA we went to a Thai place.  I told him I was going to get a sugar daddy.  As a painter and a comedian making $50-$100 bucks a show – a sugar daddy seemed like a practical approach to remain in the arts.  He goes "but then you have to sleep with a saggy old guy"   And I laughed and was like "EEEEWWWWW !!!" deflated that I hadn't really thought out my plan that far.

He made me laugh.  He had a cool detachment that made him interesting.  But he also had depth.  He talked about being a recovered drug addict.  He was asking me about what I was doing with the comedy.  He also asked what happened to my marriage.  These were tough questions, particularly the marriage one.  It was an abusive marriage and hard to talk about.  Looking back, I realize I didn’t really know what I was doing with my life or my career.  I didn’t have any money and I was trying to put back together the pieces of my life like Humpty friggin Dumpty.  And I mean, who wants to cut to the chase and say “yeah I’m broke and depressed.”  I was not comfortable talking about that.   I craved that kind of honest, open dialogue.  I'm sure I talked and kavetched to my friends endlessly, as one does after a breakup, but that is just complaining, it isn't necessarily open, honest conversation.  That's hard to come by.  And I could have had that with Michael who, from recovery, I imagine, is well versed in people airing their dark stuff with no judgment.  But I guess I wasn't ready at the time.  He had recorded two storytelling radio hours on NPR and had done some television.  His career was taking off and I hadn’t even made the leap to New York yet. 

Another time we hung out, there was a big fund-raising event at Webster Hall that included music, art and standup.  The standup segment was in a large room with a stage and several bars, somewhere within the labyrinth of the many rooms that makeup the massive nightclub and concert hall.  We walked around after his set downstairs where they were selling merchandise.  He tried to buy me underwear but I was embarrassed.  So instead he bought me a pair of black, fingerless gloves with a revolver on the left glove.  We made our way upstairs on to a level that overlooked a giant stage below.  The art was hanging on this level.  We conversed with the other comic and his girlfriend for a few and walked around a little.  It wasn’t anything earth shattering, just cool, and I realized I liked being with him.  The event was really an interesting concept, but it was a little helter skelter, because there was so many things going on, so we left.

            He dropped me off in Harlem where I was staying with a friend.  I told him that was my gay boyfriend’s house… and he laughed and said “your what?”  Then he texted me later that night that in three separate texts...




-originally published in Recipes For A Broken Heart, compiled by Dr. Laura Hayden.  You can buy a copy here:


I just read an article that pointed out that when you hate work – the minute you clock out, you don’t want to do anything (almost in rebellion to having to do what you didn’t want to do ALL DAY) on mere principle.  My God, that is me. 

After work, a couple of nights I will go out and do a set.  But I won’t write or do anything productive, because usually what’s productive is a pain in the ass i.e. uploading or editing video, fixing your website, logging into this  – shit that non-millenials fucking hate.  (By the way Google didn’t used to monopolize on your very existence).  (I hate the computer).  I’m actually a little younger than the generation that embraces being recalcitrant to technology.  Although, my father was 84 and he was far beyond anyone I knew with computers. I mean, he was a mechanical engineer after all, so he was wicked smart, but he also had a bunch of computers and he was on Twitter.  (Shout out to Dad in heaven!!!)  But he was the exception.  I digress.  What I notice is, after working in the office all day; I will do something mindless afterwards, like organize or clean something, or go running.

When I was in college I was good at managing time because you had to be.  Now it’s as if in my free time, I’m just trying to cope.  Running, meditation and yoga are the best coping mechanisms I have, but if I spend all of my free time doing all that, I’ll never write.  Fuck.

I had an art studio which was the best, but in time, I couldn’t afford it. (or have the time for it) (depressor #3). 

Sorting out the lunacy has value; (which is what this blog is revealing itself to be) maybe perspective, even.  I’m only human.  I need support in this ridiculous performing/art career path.  That might be part of the problem.  I have no support.  My dad is gone.  I don’t have a boyfriend.  Fuck I’m depressing myself even more.  I thought I’d meet someone by now and that would cement some things for me.  It would be very grounding to have a person that believes in me that you can go to dinner with sometimes and maybe even throw a phone at once in a while. 

We would live in a big, old house in a river town like Ossining or Dobbs Ferry, and if he were a painter, I would abandon comedy totally and be his Lee Krasner.  Then, that one part of my life would be settled and I would be in this big house in Westchester, cooking a lot for my new husband and writing.  And there would be cats.  All of this would somehow make everything better. 

I have to fight the good fight a little more than I have been.  I keep trying to find balance, that old intangible, elusive whore. 

Balance is a good old fashioned archetype, like a fairy godmother.  You have to believe in her, in order for it to work.  (I’m trying to end on a positive note) 

A lot of us do productive stuff.  I’ve been writing a lot and that has been amaze balls.  Through writing just this blog (and writing a somewhat mediocre sitcom/webisode with another comedian) I have come to see that being productive - in and of itself - is incredibly valuable, and it has also gotten me back in touch with how process is a big part of being an artist.  There is no instant gratification.  You just have to make work (write, compose, paint) and keep doing it.  You will have ups and downs, but it’s always moving forward and the more you let go, the more beautiful the work will be that comes through you.

I hope you enjoyed this article and perhaps gained some insight and validation if you are an artist, writer, performer, dancer, musician, puppeteer or just a regular old human.


I’m writing all this out because it helps me sort out the lunacy of being a creative person in New York.

I got weepy on the plane coming back from Florida which makes no sense (I don’t really do that), and it made me want to move back to Boston.  I think that coming to New York because you’re a creative person is a great, yet terrible idea.  I think I take one step forward (was just at the Friars Club), and three steps back (I drink more now than I ever did).

I still have this issue where I don’t want to emotionally commit to comedy.  It’s hard to commit to anything, emotionally.  I think it’s funny (or not) that men have a hard time committing to women.  I resist committing to my career because that’s way scarier than giving someone half the house.  It’s a huge gamble.  A lot of people are taking the plunge into performing (in New York, at any given time, there is a free comedy show, somewhere; several, even, on a single block). 

New York is a gamble (and apparently I’m Ginger from Scorcese’s Casino) cuz I’m rollin’ the dice baby.  Men don’t want to commit because it might ruin their life.  That’s the same reason I resist pushing with my career.  It’s fear.  Ah, that little bugger.  It also depends on what day you catch me on.  When I used to work Vegas twice a year, I was, in my mind, in show business (to some degree). 

Comedians are an interesting faction of show business, because we work the hardest and get the least respect.  We are like boxers.  We take all the risk.  We are the writer, producer, editor, performer, booking and marketing person.  No wonder I want to quit often.  But I’ve only felt that way since moving to New York so I blame the Yankees. 

We get the least respect because we are alone on stage so we get heckled sometimes, and the bookers are all frustrated performers with fickle personalities, who are just looking for an excuse not to book you.  I think I’m going to a Met game.

When I got booked in Vegas, I worked at the Riviera.  You got a hotel and had meals at the employee cafeteria.  Let me tell you something, two shows a night for seven days, I woulda ate Chef Boyardee.  But the reality of a day job is enough to make you want to die by some epic, old school way like consumption or sticking your head in an oven.

This double life is what is getting to me.  (and I sort of get fired a lot).  I come back to the day job after Vegas, back to the meaninglessness and futility of it all, and it’s hard to take.  No wonder I drink too much.  It’s all garbage.  That is why I cried on the plane.  First of all, I am a New Englander.  Being in the 80 degree weather of Florida in December and then parting from it is reason enough, but as I find I am scrawling this out in an airport, I’m thinking there are other reasons as well.

Everybody who does comedy SPECIFICALLY in New York City has this I suspect – even if you’re doing well (this being=crying, wanting to quit, fear of commitment).  But there is something that we're getting as a payoff.  I suspect that it is the satisfaction that we are forging our own way in a city that many don't have the balls to move to, never mind navigate the pot hole-laden thoroughfares.  New York demands the best out of an artist.  That is a good thing.  It requires an amalgam of ourselves into what we aspire to become.  Ultimately it’s what we want.  We want to be changed.  We just didn’t know it was going to be this hard.