Growing up I attended church. One Sunday I remember hearing the story of Jacob and the Angel. The story goes that Jacob wrestles this angel and gets pinned. In the tale the angel calls Jacob by name and they wrestle. It was a big deal apparently for someone to know your name in those days. Now it is easy with the internet. Anyway the angel pinned him and gave him a new name, Israel. The way I always understood the story was that the angel pinning Jacob was an allegory for the universe bitch slapping us from time to time back into reality. I am not terribly religious but have always enjoyed the symbolism.
This week has been a hard one. While things are starting to get better life has been kind of rough this month. It has been hot, so hot that my air conditioner is useless. Not to mention my audiobook was taking longer than I thought it would. As for the chip on my shoulder about being a female comedian, that has become a cinderblock. While I have been on TV a few times, I am by no means a household name. Sure, I am funnier than a lot of the guys performing, but this is a sexist business. The women at a certain level don’t help. It’s asinine that I pay for stage time because I am well past the open mic level, I have three fan pages and my followers max out. Some ass weed asked if I wanted to do a bringer. I asked if he owned a TV. My royalty check has been taking forever to get there and I hate having to chase people for money. Oh, and no one around me has been acting right.
Thursday I ended up doing a show at the Phoenix House. It is a therapeutic community, and in this case for young guys. Usually they are court mandated there. I do it with recoverycomic.com, headed by Keith Godwin. The guys range from ages 15-20, and for as young as they are have hit it pretty hard. For me, the trip is usually a mix of fun and emotional. Fun because I usually have a good time. But emotional because when I was a little older than they were I found myself at a bottom with food, diet pills, booze, an abusive relationship, and other bad decisions. I found it was either get my shit together and join the guys I was dating in jail. I found that it was either get my shit together or get another man like my ex who would eventually kill me. I found it was get my shit together or not live to see my twenty third birthday. I did and am grateful.
The show was a lot of fun and the guys were a riot. The dug May Wilson and myself. As a matter of fact, they informed me they had an extra bed in case we wanted to stay. I would have to say they were a good audience overall. They liked the comedy as well as the improv dudes. It gave them a chance to be a part of something. Of course they were on their best manners helping me with my suitcase because it had been forever and a day since they had seen a woman. I left one of my books with them for reading material. Not only so that they would get a chance to pass time, but to let them know they could do this too if they stopped going the way they were and turned it around.
That is when my boss called me and asked me if I could do a birthday cake show girl. I said sure. It was in Jamaica, Queens. Yeah, it was early but things have been slow and I need the money. The next morning I woke up. I got to the train and made the long trek. When I got to Queens I ended up in front of the place. It was a Health Center. The contact insisted on coming outside to get me. Glancing, I saw a group of men playing basketball and some women chilling. I was at a drug treatment center! What were the fucking odds?!?!? I took a deep breath. Maybe it was a mental hospital. Not that one is ever better than the other. I googled the place on my iphone. Drug treatment center. BINGO! What the hell was God/The Universe trying to tell me?
I was then met by a guy who asked if I was mandated. I said no. A few minutes later a black butch woman came out and helped me with my suitcase and brought me to the contact. I think she had been hanging out and was a regular trouble maker. But she was my friend. In a place like that you need a friend like her. It’s because the men in there are all gnarly in one way or another, and as a white woman with all her teeth I would be fresh meat. Walking in to meet the contact I felt a walk down memory lane that wasn’t so pretty. Somehow, I got out of that part of my life alive. How I did not end up as a client in a facility like that is an act of God, period.
The telegram ended up going well, but it seemed like the eternal wait in the contact’s office. The people were cool, and a lot were staff. In places like that many of the staff are former addicts themselves. I felt fine after delivering the telegram, and the contact was kind enough to walk me out. What were the odds my ass would end up in two drug treatment centers within twenty four hours of each other?
Just as my shocked ass was riding the bus back I ran to my second stop. My boss called. Apparently I left my hat there. Oh shit, my show girl hat. Monday I go to get it back. Maybe there is still something I have to do there. Maybe it is the fact I still haven’t dumped that little bit of attitude I have been sporting as of late.
Today I passed on a telegram job to do a shoot. In an odd twist of fate my boss’s camera was stolen, the shoot was cancelled, and it was too late to do the telegram job. I talked to my boss at the TV station about what was going on with me after a ten second explosion on my host page. I ended up telling him. He told me perhaps it was the universe telling me I had to be a power of example.
I thought about it. Lately I have been bitching about being a female comedian. I asked myself what was more important, the cinderblock on my shoulder or making people laugh. Thursday night at the Phoenix House showed me making people laugh was more important, and not to let the bullshit stand in the way of what I loved to do. Yeah, the TV shoot was cancelled but there will be others. Yeah, I passed on the shoot but there will be others. But these days I have TV shoots, jobs I love, work for people who love me, and write books. None of that was true once upon a time. Maybe I am not where I want to be, but these days I have a legit shot at getting there.
These days I worry about when my next book talk is, if my sound engineers will finish my audiobook, if I will be on TV again. I worry when strangers don’t recognize me on the street. This shit is what is known as luxury problems. I remember when my roommates wanted to kick me out because my ex and I would get violent when we fought. Or worse yet, when I had to get a separate mailing address so he wouldn’t find me. Those are real problems. Actually, aside from my whining my life is good. I have some awesome things on the burner. Maybe I need to finish cleaning my bathroom now that I work enough to maintain my own apartment. And as I am bitching and yelling I hear some of my friends who lost their lives going down the wrong path yelling at me. I also think of my former friends still going down that path. I think of how they reach out to me from time to time with updates on how shitty the bottom is and how they just keep hitting it. I also think of how blessed I am to have gotten out.
I think the angel pins us all in different ways. I am not saying this to convert you, but life gives us the backhand when we need it from time to time.
Yes, the angel knows my name and I lost the wrestling match. Translated, the cinderblock is off my shoulder and I think I have been humbled.
I Came, I Saw, I Sang: Memoirs of a Singing Telegram Delivery Girl