Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Robin Williams, My Depression and Stand-Up

Robin Williams' suicide has me very upset. I've always admired him tremendously. His energy, enthusiasm and wonder that exuded from his personality was a balm to my own depression.

I decided to try something new a few months ago. I decided to take a stand-up comedy class. It’s been a real challenge for me because of my depression, but I’ve been studying Williams’ old routines and marveling at his gift.

Someone so successful and who brought so much joy to people chooses suicide. I just feel so overwhelmingly sad.

I am not surprised, but angry, not at him, but at depression.

How can there be such a horrible illness that makes us want to end our lives? That makes us feel so overwhelmed that we just can’t live anymore?

I find myself in a haze. I find myself obsessing over his death.

When we connect to a celebrity in a strong way through their performances and interviews, we really do begin to feel like we know them. I feel like my crazy, goofy uncle died.

But I didn’t know him. But I keep wanting to be able to go back in time and be his friend and be there when the darkness got too deep. And I know that is just silly because he had friends and family and they loved him and he loved them, but still, tragedy happens.

That might be the hardest part—knowing that sometimes suicide happens and it’s horrible, but you can’t go back. You can’t change it.

Maybe that’s the real issue that’s rising for me now. I can’t go back in time. I can’t change anything. I can’t change my own past.

I can’t go back and make my mother well. I can’t go back and make better choices when I was younger. And I can’t seem to make my depression go away for good.

We just can’t.

I am clinging to my wonderful outer world—loving husband, three great kids, work I like, creative challenges—but my inner world goes back and forth between wanting to allow me to be great and wanting to destroy me.

I keep trying. I will keep trying.

I did my first open mike a few weeks ago; it was terrifying. The laughs I got felt good. Being onstage again felt good.

I understand why I’ve always needed to perform in some way, to have people look at me—because that’s when I can be someone else, that’s when I can break free of depression’s strangle on me. It’s all about looking out instead of in.

Tonight is our final class. And maybe I’ll try the open mike again. I need the escape. The release from the inner demons.

I want to be free to laugh. I want to bring joy to the world.

Robin Williams, thank you. You brought joy to me. I’m sorry the pain was too much. You will be missed.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Blister in the Sun

I'm happy to say I just finished grading my last batch of research papers. I have one class of final exams left to read, then I need to figure out final grades and then I am done for the semester.

I'm ready to move forward. Part of that may be stopping my dance videos. I think I've gotten a lot out of doing them: I practiced letting the need to be perfect go; I learned to trust myself; I had fun.

Now I'm ready to figure out the next step on my path of writing, dancing, performing fun!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

New York City Taping

Quick entry today and no time for my morning dance video.

I've got a car coming for me soon. I'm going to New York City to be a guest on a talk show.

My stomach is kind of not feeling so good.

Spring has sprung in our yard!
It's funny; I don't feel "nervous" about appearing except that I hope my message comes through clear and that I don't get thrown off by others. And doing something likes this forces me to look at what I really believe about tricky issues and try to articulate it well.

Not always so easy.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

I Love It!

Sometimes you’ve just got to say, “I don’t care!”

Well, I do, anyway. Some people actually probably should care a little more, but not me. I usually care too much.

So, as I prepare to go proctor my final exam and hand back three plagiarized papers, I chose a song to just not care to as I dance.

And it felt good.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

One Woman Show?

OK. I think I know what I want to work on now.

These past few months, or really this whole last year, has been about me trying to figure out where I want to go next, what kind of large writing project I want to work on.

I’d like to continue to push myself to write at least one essay-sized piece every week or two, but I think I need to really start fleshing out a performance piece. A one-woman show.

I’ve wanted to do this for so long.

Last year, I helped a friend of mine birth her one-woman show and now I’d like to really give myself that space, that mental and emotional allowance to make the story come alive.

I stumbled on Alison Arngrim yesterday when I was surfing the web; she wrote “Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated” as a memoir and then turned it into a one-woman/comedy show.

I wonder if I could do something similar. Take some material from “Stripping Down” and rewrite it into a performance piece.

I saw a comment someone wrote on an interview with Arngrim along the lines of—Man, talk about milking all you can from a TV character you played a zillion years ago. Geez!

I sometimes question whether I’m milking my life as a stripper for material to write about, but it’s more like—that was my experience. An experience that affected me tremendously on so many levels. You don’t just write about something like that once or twice and be done.

At least not for me. I see nothing wrong with mining the same life experiences to see what new insights I can discover from them.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Don't Have a Heart Attack or Anything

Lots of stuff stirring in my mind. Maybe I question myself too much about my motives.

When I was talking to my husband about making silly Vine videos, I said that I want to make people laugh.

He said, innocently, “No, you want attention.”

I was all like—what? No! I mean, yes, I like it if people like my videos, just like I like it if people like my writing, but it’s not just for attention.

“If it was just for attention, I could just take out my tits!”

Yes, I said that. I know—hilarious.

The only attention I’d get for going topless now would be a police officer giving me a ticket for indecent exposure.

Bah, dum, dum…crash!


His comment got me a bit riled up. I mean, as a performer or writer, yes, of course, we want people to pay attention. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

But why do I judge myself then? Or why do I allow other people who don’t like, or get, what I do to bother me?

And what is my overall mission with art?

There I go again! Wanting to know my every motivation.

Can it just be enough to know that I want to perform and write?

Friday, May 09, 2014

Vine it, Baby!

Goodness, it’s quite overwhelming how many different ways there are to express ourselves through social media.

I’d heard of Vine before, but just checked it out yesterday.

Who knew that so much could be packed into 6 seconds of video?

For my tutorial, I picked what was in front of me—cats.

For my follow up, I picked the other thing that is often in front of me—kids.

I’m so proud of myself for trying something new. I often hesitate on doing something before I know whether I’m going to be good at it or not, but taping my morning dances and not being plugged in to what other people think is really helping me break out of my rut.

Once we start trying new stuff, it gets easier and easier.

Try it! What have you always secretly wanted to do, but maybe you were afraid people would laugh?

Do it anyway! The reward will be tremendous.

And, oh yeah, if you're on Vine, follow me and I'll follow you!