never married, over forty, a little bitter

straight to the heart

I lived in L.A. at such a weird time. I was vaguely drawn to the comedy scene initially and then pulled in fully once Facebook and podcasts exploded (almost simultaneously). Then the fame game took over. I knew them, but they didn’t know me. It was all so seductive, especially for a single woman alone in the big city, but ultimately, for me, it was a tease.

This is not the fault of the podcasters, although I think they are playing with fire by producing such intimate shows. After all, if I had been socially embedded in a group of like-minded people, I would likely not have been listening to podcasts at all. When I was in college, for example, I never turned on the TV or paid attention to celebrity culture. I didn’t need to– I was surrounded by drama and fun and fascinating peers. It’s only when we are alone that we turn to the media to fill that void.

Maron: Look at Howard Stern, look at [NPR Fresh Air’s] Teri Gross, the medium is more versatile than radio now, where you decide what you want to listen to and when it. People can listen in their car, in their cubicle, at the gym. I get emails from all around the world. I’ve got soldiers in combat listening. I’ve got Americans abroad. They can listen wherever and however they want but I would say 99 percent of the time they’re listening to it in solitary. You’re in their head. You’re talking directly to them. Their relationship with you is very personal. It’s the nature of this medium. Then when people come to my shows and they’re waiting in line to meet me or take a picture or buy a t-shirt or a CD, I know they have an honest and candid relationship because of the type of radio I’m doing. And I respect that. I also realize that I don’t know them at all, and they know me very well, so I try to make myself as available as possible.

the gift of time

And a voice from down at the bottom of my soul
Came up to the top of my head.
And the voice from down at the bottom of my soul,
Here is what it said:

“This man is nothing!
This course is nothing!
If you want something,
Go find another class.

“Nothing”– from A Chorus Line

I’ve written before on here about a faddish partner dancing scene I was involved in during my early thirties. I loved it, but over time the social dynamics changed and it became too cliquish and competitive and I began to feel insecure and rejected in regard to my dancing skills. I do recall a skilled ballroom teacher once telling me that many of the people involved really didn’t know what they were doing in terms of teaching the dance.

I started taking ballet around that time in order to improve my general dance skills. As the politics of the partner dancing world began to wear away at me, I kept up the ballet classes, and I’ve now put in more than a decade of tendues and plies. I like the continuing challenge of ballet, whereas I wasn’t growing in the social dance scene due to the hierarchies involved.

Because of an injury, I’ve taken some extremely beginner ballet classes here, and one of the young women in the class is a teacher in the partner dance scene I abandoned long ago. And you know what? She is truly struggling in this class, a class which is a cakewalk for me. My perspective on those former years has now shifted. Perhaps I was better than I thought or at least had more potential than I was allowed to express.

It’s also possible that the rejection I felt had nothing to do with me and everything to do with the fact that the stars of the scene got younger and younger as the older people left to get married, and I just didn’t fit anymore. In a lot of ways, I think there was a similar social dynamic in L.A. It wasn’t “them” or “me,” there was just no place for me to fit.

Similar to my dance experience, in the late nineties I tried to transition into the dot com world, and despite years of experience in another field, had to start over at the bottom, answering phones. This was at the apex of the boom, and the employees above me thought they were hot shit. I returned to my original career before it all tumbled off the cliff, and, not due to any real desire on my part but more to time and circumstance, I worked my way into some prime positions. Many of my former coworkers, on the other hand, had to start over in other careers, and some of them are in middling jobs now.

I do feel a bit like the tortoise!

the green-eyed monster

Speaking of negative emotions, jealousy is one that tells me a lot about myself.

As I resign myself to going back to work and accepting my lot, I am sliding into insane jealousy over a never-married, childless comedienne around my age who is starting to get bigger roles. She has creative parts in smart projects and has large stretches of time off between gigs. She’s quite pretty so always has a boyfriend. Her beaus are totally my type– not GQ handsome but offbeat, razor-sharp, witty, anti-establishment, cute in a quirky way, right around her age (she seems to have escaped the ageism issue), and socially connected to a lot of creative people. She appears to have a large group of extremely bright friends and acquaintances.

Don’t get me wrong– I don’t want to be a performer. I’ve realized in the past decade that my constitution could not withstand the anxiety. I’d be a drug addict in three months.

What I would like is a smaller version of the type of life she has or to have at least ONE of the things she has. Just one.

She’s pretty, but I’m not hideous. I’m smart and can be funny, but I don’t make my living at it. It doesn’t seem like the divide between us is so great that I couldn’t make some headway in one of those categories, but I’ve been unable to do so. I’ve never had the type of creative job where one goes from project to project with stretches of time off. I haven’t had a long-term relationship in over a decade, and the last time I had a strong, connected group of creative friends was about eight or nine years ago.

I do know lots of other appealing women who are in my shoes, of course, so perhaps this particular celebrity is an anomaly. She complains and has stretches of unhappiness, and I’m sure she doesn’t feel her life is perfect, but it’s hard to imagine her trudging through mine.

tiny buddha

Of course I’ve had moments of wondering if I made the wrong decision by moving back here, but I’ve realized that there are few truly wrong decisions. Things have a way of working out when we make the best decision we can given the knowledge we have at the time.

I liked these posts:

Make peace with your emotions.

Emotions, even ones we assign negative value to, (like fear) provide us with valuable information and serve very specific functions. If you can get over the hostile relationship with emotions, they can be highly useful.

Emotions can:

let you know what’s important to you
prompt you to take some action
guide you toward an aspect of yourself that needs to be exposed and healed
let you know when you’re our of balance so that you can bring it back to center.

Understand that there are no “wrong” decisions.

It really takes the pressure off if you understand that every experience you have, whether you characterize it as “good” or “bad,” is exactly the experience you need to have at that moment. Some choices may lead to more painful lessons than others, but living life in fear of living life is no way to live.

1. Why did you want to pursue this goal to begin with—and has anything changed?

You had a good reason for committing to this plan. Maybe you visualized a financially free future once you started this new business, or you realized you’d live longer and healthier if you lost 40 pounds.

Odds are you still want those things as much as you did before; you just stopped believing you could have them because your attempts have yet to yield results. Now you have to ask yourself: If you push through the discomfort, will it be worth it in the end?

Bottom Line

In the end it all comes down to one thing: change isn’t easy.

Despite your best-laid plans, you will have a few very low points. Your chances of success are often a result of how well you respond to them.

This—the fear, the anxiety and the panic of starting—is just one of the low points.

If you can beat this fear, you will not just succeed at making a new start now, but you’ll significantly improve your chances of surviving through all the future lows.