This week’s blog is a quote from my book, friends. Surprise! The baby is me.
A couple of my blogs have been written when I woke up in the middle of the night to a racing feeling that I had something I needed to get out. I’d exit my bed, access the notes feature on my phone, and the writing would flow into what felt to me a coherent piece, heartfelt, and one that might help someone. I’d then go back to sleep and edit it later, and by the by ask my BFF Nova to read it, just to make sure what I wrote didn’t sound like it was coming from a lunatic.
Well, a couple of nights this week I again awoke at lord knows what hour of the night with the familiar inklings of that feeling, and thought “God! All I wanna do is SLEEP.” Also I told myself I didn’t have a set idea like I’d had with the other blogs that had quickly come to me. I told myself this to justify staying under my warm soft blanket though I was awake for probably two hours, as ideas, like bubbles, came and went, lost forever since I didn’t capture them.
So sorry for being lazy here gentle reader. Lesson learned: when my subconscious mind wakes me up to write, great Scott! I’d better write! Though in my defense I did spend a lot of time this last week prepping for three separate readings of pieces of my book. One took place last Wednesday, one last night, and the BIG one is tomorrow and I’d like for you to come!!!!
Wednesday nights I tend to tell or read a story at Story Salon, as I did last night, and beautiful Beverly Mickins, the founder, asked me to be a part of a four-person show in which I’ll be reading a piece from my book. I will be sharing the stage with three other funny, clever, and talented storytellers in this hour-long show (Mark Reis is a larger-than-life actor/dancer/singer, Stan Sellers is an attractive actor you may have seen on various TV shows, and Vicki Uditz is a quirky, insightful storyteller)!
Art Parlor – 5302 Laurel Canyon Blvd
Valley Village, CA 91607
7:30pm Friday, October 30th, 2015
Snacks and beverages included for donation.
Story Salon has been described as “Gemstones of Narrative. Something new, funny, astonishing.” -Los Angeles Daily News
I’d love to see you here!
I ran into the aforementioned Boy in De Longpre Park in Hollywood a couple of years ago. I didn’t smile upon seeing him. I didn’t think I needed to see him. He, however, did. He told me he’d been thinking about me and wanted to apologize. He said he’d tried to make me feel like a weirdo-freak because he’d felt intimidated by me because of “all those life experiences you had.” He said my past had made him feel inadequate about his. “Really?” I said, suddenly touched and surprised. It was unfathomable that he would be envious of anything I went through, since for me, part of the reason I worshiped him was because he’d had such a normal childhood, and came from what was undoubtedly a together family, his parents in a monogamous marriage and all.
His words made me feel light. Maybe I had needed to see him. I told him I was sorry for the crap I put him through too. During our relationship, for example, when conflict arose I’d shut down completely, my anxiety through the roof to the point that I simply couldn’t talk. I told him I’d since then gotten therapy, which had helped tremendously, among other things, and am writing a book. I told him we’d both been very young and had made mistakes. He said, “You knew and saw things at such a young age that I never did.”*
That’s when I took the opportunity to say, “Were your parents ever in an orgy?” We both laughed uproariously, a reenactment of sorts of the laughs we’d at one point shared, he being one of the funniest people I’d ever met, our good moments quite grand. With that we left each other feeling better than we had before. He back to the arms of his girlfriend, and me, to my Stanley whom I love so much.
*Boy’s dialogue has been paraphrased.
Yesterday I was hanging out with my brother, and others* at a pie festival on the beautiful UCLA campus, and a friend said to my brother “What was the cult like that you were in?” and my brother, who I’ll call Frederick, said “Oh, you know. Worse than some, better than others” and with that we all lost it laughing. Because how do you distill an experience that is so subjective and while you’re having it, ‘normal?’ With that in mind, here’s a tale I’ve distilled just for you.
Girl takes a class, Girl meets Boy, Girl falls head over heels for Boy, Girl and Boy move in together, Girl tells Boy about certain instances in her childhood, Boy reacts in such a way that Girl feel like a total weirdo-FREAK of nature. Girl feels she is tainted and thus worth less, and from then on is even more guarded about whom she shares information about herself.
That was me after college, and one of the reasons I distanced myself from my past. I wanted desperately to be ‘normal,’ like everyone else, and I worked hard for that to happen. It did. As time wore on, my past felt less relevant, and that was the reason it wasn’t the first thing that came to my mind when I decided to share stories about my childhood.
The next blog will tell what happens when aforementioned Girl runs into Boy in a park years after they parted ways. It ends up being a great moment.
*Nova’s child was also in our midst (off hula hooping).
One of my best friends Nova, some years ago, handed me a book and said “Read this!” We were standing in her kitchen in Valley Village and her babies were running around. The book was a green dog-eared copy of Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris. Up until then I hadn’t much read nonfiction books. But I found Sedaris’ personal essays recounting his growing up in a large family with six siblings, outrageously funny and one book later, I was hooked.
As a reviewer on Amazon* put it, “If you like witty and humorous stories about alcoholics and dysfunctional families, you will like this.” I did, and I loved Sedaris. Since then I’ve read his six personal essay books (all of which have happened to be immediate best sellers). They’re oddball, touching on such varied topics as “taxidermied owls and Pygmies” or “the bliss of colonoscopy sedation,” and as a NPR writer Helen McAlpin wrote, the best Sedaris Essays have “surprisingly moving conclusions about the nature of love.”
I can’t say how long it was after that, but I began to think “I grew up in a big family! I have stories!” If Sedaris could make someone like myself find humor in the dysfunction and get a case of the feels, I thought that perhaps I could do the same for other peeps. Several friends I’d told about my crazy big family had already said “You should write a book,” but I’d always thought “(Yawn), who would want to read that?”
But Sedaris had inspired me. I put fingers to keyboard and began to type, recalling outrageous stuff that happened when I was a kid. But then I it hit me. My family was big and different because we’d been in a radical Christian group, a detail of my life I’d tried to distance myself from. So I hesitated. If I did write my stories, by God, I would have to include zealotry shiznit, because to not do so would not only be untruthful, but would make no sense. “Well why did your Dad have two wives living in the home?” My future reader might ask and it would just get too damned confusing.
It took long conversations with friends, Googling others’ stories, and much thought, after which I decided that for the thousands of children born into the group, the cause of greater understanding, for my siblings, and for myself, I would talk. So I’ve been writing.
*If you use this link to order Me Talk Pretty, I get money (it’ll go to charity, pay for this site, and the like). Same for David Sedaris’ books Barrel Fever: Stories and Essays, Naked, Holidays on Ice, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, and When You are Engulfed in Flames.