I don’t know what happened.
December 29, 2014
I’d written a bunch of stuff this morning at 6am, right before my eyes officially opened for the day; it felt like an epiphany. Every few minutes I’d grab my phone, make some notes, then close my eyes, roll over and hug my kitty, then open my eyes, etc etc etc. The whole procedure continued until finally JoJo had had enough, and jumped out of my bed.
I rehearsed the new material on and off in the bathroom at work. Throughout the day, I found myself little nervous about the fact that I hadn’t quite committed it to memory, but I still had some confidence left over from last night so I turned up my nose to the idea of working on material I felt more comfortable about. I was in a really great mood when I got to the mic; chatted with lots of folks and said hi to people I hadn’t met before.
Superstitions began to dawn on me when I took my first seat. A different seat from my usual, but the same as last night. Yet, I felt a little uneasy about it, as if I was going to jinx myself by sitting at an acute angle vs. an obtuse angle from the stage. I decided not to risk it, to resume my unofficially assigned seating.
All seemed well until two people I knew walked into the room (and actually sat in the first seat I’d been contemplating–doh!). I don’t have any ill feelings toward them. They’d been doing standup for a few years now. If anything, I felt intimidated. Not because they were any superstars, just because I figured that because they knew me, they must be better than me, and therefore, they would judge me mercilessly.
My aptitude for positive thinking amazes me sometimes.
Suddenly I felt like I didn’t matter, like I had nothing to say. Inwardly, I was well aware that I was in the process of putting a major mental kibosh on myself, but I just couldn’t shake it. I was about 5th to go up, and then…..it was my turn…
I felt awkward and self conscious, judging the words before they passed my lips. In the process of telling a joke about how fearful kids grow up to be when they’re from an alcoholic home and here I was, petrified, like a skittish deer during hunting season.
I tried to bail out, but people only offered warm words of encouragement, shouting out “C–mon girl, keep going!” and “You can do it!!!” Their encouraging cheers helped me to press on. I think I apologized a couple of times. behaving much like the women in the joke I was telling would behave.
I stumbled through the rest of the joke, and then switched to an oldie (like four weeks) but goodie, a joke about doing physicals on truckers in West Virginia. The breakneck topic twist caused an upheaval of laughter midway through the first line of this new joke. Unfortunately, I started the new joke at about the 3.5 minute mark, so I only made it half way through. Not sure where the lesson is here…I guess stick with things even if it feels like things aren’t quite right. falling apart. Maybe I need to take some time off?
I called Andrea, left a message, and picked up an Okra Roti from Thelewala.
I spent some more time wallowing and then took the L train back to Williamsburg. Walking up the stairs, clutching my okra roll, I heard Mrs. Robinson’s (my therapist’s) words..she’d first spoke them when I had a meltdown after my class critiqued See Ya Later Alligator, a chapter from my memoir….a story I’d written about letting go of my mother and stepfather. Mrs. Robinson’s words were “When the opinions of others don’t matter to you, then you’ll be a professional writer.”
I know what I have to do– get of the pity pot and get back to the work!