I waited to be the last one on my flight to try and steal a row, thank god it worked because I laid down and knocked out like that flight only took a minute. I landed in Baltimore to find Michael, my on-again-off-again boyfriend for about twelve years now. He’s a six-foot-three man standing softly wondering how I would arrive, with open arms or crossed tightly. It’s hard to go from completely on your own turning down anything that even comes close to advancement, to being full-on next to someone all the time because you took a flight for five hours. I spent the last two years single and celibate, Michael and I reconvened when I got back from Asia in March and have broken up once a month since. But Mike is understanding and patient, he tries to go above and beyond, and I bounce from why are you doing this to I don’t deserve it constantly. I told him I would cut him from my stories, there’s a lot I don’t say anyway, but after reading the others I think he feels there’s a huge hole and he doesn’t want to be the dark spot.
I went straight to a comedy show I could get on in Maryland, again to a subpar crowd at a crappy bar that I crushed (in a good way). I was so tired I didn’t care for any rekindling and asked Michael to take me to a place I could sit and didn’t have to entertain anyone. We had a fun night, but my mouth hurt and the next day it was significantly worse. I was in so much pain, and after finding out I had a pretty serious and painful infection I think Michael learned how much I don’t complain. All I said was it hurts and then it turned out to be something that had the potential to kill me if I waited. I only think this because of my friend’s dad who died that way. It has always haunted me like a potential aneurysm and after the doctor slightly mentioned it like it was a potential side effect of one of those mood pills I was convinced.
So a day before a big DC show that I scheduled with Mike Faverman, my mouth was numb and I could barely move it, oh and Mike had to cancel because the flights got messed up. This is going to work out… right?
It did work out, but I was a real stinker. It physically hurt to smile or talk, perfect for stand-up comedy. The venue was not set up for comedy: the bar was under the stage and people felt awkward using it. I also was sure I lost a ton of money on it until the manager gave me a check and I broke even. The comics were great and dealt with the setting well. So it did work out, I was just a d*ck about it. Michael brought his friends and blacked out in the first thirty minutes so I walked him like a dog and drove him home. I couldn’t sleep but still had to wake up four hours later to drive to Wilmington, NC for a show that got ended up getting canceled. Still, three shows left, someone give me a better attitude.
The second Wilmington show was in the arts district, a cozy outdoor room in a larger craft beer bar with a food truck outback. I stayed outside and waited for my slot with my oversized merch bag in the employee’s closet. When I bring it out I am pretty sure everyone thinks I’m doing a puppet show. I made Michael uncomfortable and he spent the next two days returning the favor.
The next night Michael didn’t want to drive me 45 minutes to my show and I lucked out on a last-minute lift. Eva, a friend I treat like a sister because of the length of our relationship and that we lived at my parent’s house together, got the day off because her work knew I was in town and she’d appreciate it. Her day off led to her realizing her musician friend had a gig in the same town and we all carpooled. It was cute, it felt like I lived there and was a part of a close-knit circle. Something about how green it is in North Carolina, the way the street signs are so close to the ground, the fact that it always smells like the ocean even when you drive away from it, it all seems so normal. The show was at a banquet hall in a small town. I was so worried they wouldn’t like what I had because I could only be clean for about ten of my thirty minutes. Turns out they loved it, except for Justin, the sleeveless shirt guy I made fun of the entire set. I asked him why he didn’t just get a Mohawk if he wanted everyone to try and fight him. I poked at the fact that he might just attack me in the parking lot and everyone lost it, I guess domestic violence is hilarious here and I’m not even mad about it.
I might have drank my feelings, I might have gone off the rails a bit. But when I came too, Michael and I came to terms with irreconcilable differences. I said that I tried to straight lace my boot and he had put in so much effort to untying his but in the end, we needed better socks. He hated that analogy and explained he’s not ready like he thought he was and he could see it was affecting me. That’s the lightest way to put it so I’m leaving it there. It was nice to be amicable but it’s a strange place to be. I can look through my old journals and see all the times I didn’t talk about when we weren’t amicable, it made me wonder if me printing it was holding us accountable.
I ask myself if I should take out the bad for the internet, probably won’t be getting affiliate links for paragraphs about depression. Should I take out the parts where I’m too high to be in public? Should I omit when things go wrong? I don’t know, but maybe you just mumbled your opinion to yourself and I’ll never know that either, after all, I did rant about how you can’t tell me who I am. But yet my decision to mutually end things with Michael came from external opinions. I have made bad choices in the past so I’ve created a system to check myself and it wasn’t looking good. So do I take advice? We’ll never really know (Just kidding, we know, and yes, I do).
The next day we laid in bed hungover, talked candidly, and watched TV. It was nice because it felt safe, but when he would leave the room I felt myself gag. Throwing up is a special gift I acquired in times of painstaking grief, usually when a loved one dies or the man you hoped to stay forever with agrees it’s not working out. There’s a special type of love you can feel from someone when they see you uncontrollably vomit without clothes on and subsequently fart from the push motions and still want to stay…
I was headlining a show that night, needless to say, it wasn’t something I was looking forward to anymore. It didn’t help that when I got to the place there were only 10 people, about six were there for comedy, and only four had never seen my act. I just wanted to lay down on one of the couches they put out just for this.
The show started and Cameron went up first, he is a newbie stand-up comic out of Wilmington. I’ve seen him before and his strategy is shock humor, saying the most outrageous thing possible, sometimes with no punch line. But he put together a pretty good joke where the premise involved a robotic George Floyd. A risk, sure, but this guy came out of the gate with comparing rape and racism so, to be honest, it wasn’t even his worst. This grey-haired pony tale woman lost her mind and jumped up from the bar to scream and try to attack him. I can’t lie, it made my night, it might’ve been one of the best things I’ve seen in comedy; not the lady yelling at him, but him attempting to do a bit about jerking off in your own face while trying not to cry about what just happened.
I spent 15 minutes of my 45 minute set making fun of what happened, it was hilarious. I started by saying I applaud her standing up for racism but was curious why she thought this would be the place to make a difference? “Do you want to die on the hill where you punch an early twenties kid in the face because you didn’t like the thought of Robo cop fighting Robo James Floyd?” Then I said the only advantage to being a female stand-up is someone would’ve stopped them, whereas we left him to fight for himself. Things escalated a lot when I started acting out his funeral after he kills himself. I acted like the funeral speaker said “I don’t know why he did it,” then I interject with, “Does anyone have an HDMI cable or auxiliary?” As I motion to my phone that I hand a video of it.
Michael came, and we hung out all night the way I wish we spent the whole trip. It is so nice to feel safe and supported in such a hectic and humiliating atmosphere that is the small bar gigs of comedy. But instead of hanging on to security, I found a ride to Nashville on Craiglist.
I found one with Stacy, an early 70s delight that says, “like I was saying” before the first time she would say something and I loved it, made me feel like we’ve been hanging out for a while. I didn’t have time to cry about Michael because we left at 9 A.M. and her blind dog kept me occupied for nine hours. She likes to joke that there are no bodies buried in her yard yet and that her dog will get tied to the roof again if he doesn’t shut up.
She wanted to take me all the way to the house I was staying in Nashville, but after noticing she couldn’t drive in the dark (because I was tumultuous when she accidentally ran off the road) I decided I would not survive the trip and let her stop at the nearest motel 6. She asked for comedy shirts in place of gas money, I am so grateful, I am so poor. I posted my car ride highlights on Instagram and a friend asked if he could grab me for dinner because we just so happened to be in the same city. It is so weirdly encouraging when everything just fits like I made the right decision.
I woke up the next day and was down; hungover, heartbroken, and lost. The only thing I needed to do today was to get pants. When I left Vegas it was 110 degrees and I only packed summer clothes. My pants were ripped, and the holes were just getting bigger. I was one wrong sitting style away from exposing my crotch. I spent the day walking around east Nashville looking at overpriced so-called vintage pants before I decided to bite the poor bullet and get on the bus to go to a cheap thrift store. Right when I was stepping on MK, a local Nashville comic, asked me to do a small spot at the 6 pm show. It took everything in me not to say no, I thought I shouldn’t be in public this sad with these pants. But when I went it turned out to be a vintage store with a clearance pants rack, perfect. I asked to pay for the pants and a beer while I was consuming both of them, then I handed my old pants over. They were too fallen apart to keep but I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic about them. I traded them for a pair of shoes with a girl I was staying with in Bali, when it got cold I wore yoga pants underneath and thought I was a stylish homeless genius. I’ve been wearing them for four years but every time I put them on this week they ripped over the back pocket. I was thinking about how much I love my new pants when I felt something biting me and pulled a stink bug out. Why do I think everything is symbolic?
The rest of the night I went to open mics that quickly became a blur, apparently the hard seltzer drafts in Nashville start at 8% ABV. I talked to Chad Riden, the comic who brought me to Nashville by planning a tour from here to Texas. He explained that for covid related reasons he had to shut it down, and I realized I have to figure out what to do.
My options are getting slimmer the more I weigh out the cash. The point of not going back to Las Vegas was to get out of paying rent, but everywhere that seems worth going to would cost just as much in traveling. I want to find a place that is optimal for stand up but everything is a book ahead of time and my plans just changed. So after deciding that I am more popular on the east coast right now, I am going to somehow get to Knoxville on Saturday to get a cheap standby flight to Las Vegas courtesy of a pilot friend and grab my car to head east. The Carolina’s have been good to me, I am excited to drive back; and all those other emotions.