Open Letter to Marc Maron

Dear Marc Maron,

I considered writing you personally, but then you wouldn’t respond and I’d feel terrible for having bared myself to a stranger I’ve projected expectations on. Like you owe me something. Like just because I love your work and it means something profound to me that makes me special or interesting. It makes me regular. Plus, I’m a writer Marc. I’m a creative. I’ve spent my life trying to make something. I want to be seen. Which is why people latch on to famous people because if they can be seen by their heroes then it validates them.

Anyway, I usually stop myself from actually believing my hero will see me, respect me, like me. But you’re different. (Deep breath. I know I’ll sound crazy. Here I go anyway.) When I first heard of you, years ago, I made a point to avoid you. It’s like when you meet someone and you think, “Oh Jesus. I’m about to fall into this person’s orbit and something’s gonna change. A shift will happen.” I’m scared. I hate change. I also hate not being in control and not understanding things. We’re alike. Right. Which doesn’t make me special. But this is more than that. Paulo Cohelo has a book, it’s a weird story about a warlock and a witch.

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Don’t know where image came from, but I stole it.

In each life they take on different forms and always find themselves drawn back together. Because, in the beginning, they were one person. They, along with two others, splintered off from the same self and the four keep coming together life after life trying to make a whole again. It doesn’t really work as a story. You have to make some serious logic leaps to go along. And a lot of times I feel his writing is him just trying to work out his own spiritual questions, which get weirder and weirder the older he gets. Like McCain before his brain surgery. He was still himself, but trying to follow his off-the-wall rant about Hillary during the Comey hearing was like falling down the rabbit hole. Poor thing. Everyone felt bad for making fun of him after finding out he had a brain tumor he’ll probably die from. I had a good Twitter joke about a Life Alert Spokesman. That got a lot of likes and RT’s. I suck. And now he’s come back from surgery and voted no on Mitch McConnell’s’ bill to strip millions of health care. Did you see the clip of him voting no? He votes no, then takes a beat and looks at McConnell like, “You don’t scare me.” Ha! Fuck you, McConnell. So good. Anyway, enough of that. I digress because I fear more honesty. And I think I’m showing off to show you we’re alike. Wow. Vulnerable. But it feels good. So there’s more.

I avoided you, your comedy, your podcast. Nevertheless, you were in the ethos. Somehow you got in. Especially when Obama came to your garage. I downloaded your podcast to listen to it, but I didn’t.

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Stolen from Vanity Fair

Instead I listened to the Judge John Hodgeman Show. He’s so wonderful, insightful, funny, soft, but biting. Isn’t he? He’s someone I know I’d be friendly with. But, he’s not enough like me to scare me. I could just enjoy his person as an other and not think too much about it.

So what changed? Glow. And there you were. And I thought, “OK, this is fine. I can do this now because he’s not playing himself. He’s acting. How much truth can be there? I mean, there’s acting truth, but that’s not the same as honest-to-god, here I am as myself, truth.” I studied acting for ten years. Got my undergrad in it. So, I know.

I’m listening to your show now and everything I feared is happening. Instincts are a strange thing. Like the first email I received from my husband. I just knew he was it. I was done dating. Like the college I got into even though I didn’t have the grades or SAT scores. Got in on probation because they liked my essay. How’s that for strong writing? OK, but I’m not successful, so there’s a lot of untapped potential. I’m working on it. Finally. And so that’s the thing. I don’t think I could listen to you, which is to say, really know you (you put so much of your truth into your work) until I was ready to deal with my own truth.

I’m jealous of you, Marc. Jealous of what you’ve been able to accomplish by being yourself. And with every blog post you write and podcast you create you are more you than you were the time before. I don’t think I’m imagining that. So I latched on. And I need to be around truth-tellers right now. Because most people you meet in life will never be that honest. People use words to obfuscate their truth. How’s that for a word? It’s too big for this letter, but I’m not cutting it. The editor inside is saying, “Don’t go academic! Stay real!” Well, what if I’m both at the same time? What if that’s just who I am and I don’t have to be one way or the other? I’m figuring these things out right now. And listening to you has given me permission to do so.

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Stolen from Netflix. The Internet is a beautiful thing.

And so there it is. The shift I mentioned fearing at the start of this letter. I came from a pretty strict religious place. I was a Republican when I could vote and a Christian when I could breathe. All that meant was that I spent my developmental years striving for an identity defined by Biblical teachings. Whatever that means. But finding out who you are when you leave behind everything you thought you were… I don’t know. It’s dizzying. Every time I start to talk about it again I lose sight of my original idea. The guilt I feel at leaving. The shame I carry about being an atheist. And so there it is. I say it and each time it feels like coming out of the closet anew. Terrifying. I’ll be stoned. Shamed. Kicked out of polite society. Doomed to wander with the worst of God’s rejected creation  forever. And what if there is a God? There might be. I’m not foreclosing on that possibility. What I’ve seen just doesn’t prove it out, yet.

So the shift. The truth. Here it is. There you are. Here I am. Weird, huh? This happened one other time. Hunter Thompson. God, his work brought my writing back to me. For several years there I read and re-read everything and I learned that I could write like I thought and it could be good. And I got published in several big places. One of my articles went viral! I got on TV! 15 minutes. Lighting in a bottle. Since then, which is to say 2014, I’ve been wallowing in fear, paralyzed by the idea of success. Just stuck. Only writing here, on my blog. And hating myself. And mad at everyone. Especially you. Well, the existential crisis you bring. Really I love you. Not in love with you, but love what you’re doing in the world, love that you’re on this planet, changing it. Like The Mad Hatter and Alice in Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland.  They have this intimate friendship that’s totally platonic. I’ve watched and re-watched those films to understand that dynamic. I think there’s just a deep kind of friend love that exists sometimes. Rarely. As rare as true romantic love. And it can exist between a straight man and woman. Well, this is pretty one-sided so I’ll never have to worry about the weirdness of having admitted it to your face. Once you say true stuff to a person it’s always there and you never know if the other person gets it like you meant it and maybe you don’t even know if you meant it the way you said it or if you’re still hiding something.

Anyway, that’s what being a fan is, isn’t it? You project a certain kind of love onto your hero and it’s pure. You never have to worry about the fractured darkness of the actual person. Which I know you have because I see you. Us knowing each other in real life probably wouldn’t be good. Too much of the same. It makes for shifting boundaries. Too intense.

Like this letter for instance. Because I’m baring my soul.

That’s what I want to do. I want my truth to help others understand themselves and the world. I’ve always thought it  was a dumb idea. Naive. Silly. Idealistic. Overly sincere. Who makes money doing that? I don’t understand money. I’m terrible with it. I don’t know how to make it and if I do I usually can’t keep it. So I’ve always doubted my art and hated my own creative process. I think you get that. You said you don’t spend your money. Your bathroom door is still broken. Which is like your  thing you subconsciously taunt pretty Hollywood people with. I think. Or it’s a test to see if they’ve listened to your show because if they have they’ll stop at the Starbuck’s on the way to your place to pee. If I’m ever famous enough to get invited to your place, I’ll have stopped at the Starbuck’s to pee. I like you man, but that’s just not the kind of thing we need to share.

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Peeing at Starbucks

So that’s it. I’m off. Boomer lives. Actually, I hate that sign off you use. It’s dumb and repetitive and glib. But I just say I hate it because I’ve bared my soul and feel like I have to tell you something I don’t like about what you do. It’s human. Deep down we’re all jealous assholes. Or, at least I am.

Amy

The San Diego Zoo and Other Thoughts

imageAmerica swirls the drain. The world is run by criminals. I don’t know where I’m going creatively. Chipped nail polish. Age. Weight gain. Time pulls me to the grave. OK, that’s a drag of a thing to write. But I don’t know where I’m going creatively. I saw a monkey at the San Diego Zoo studying the feces on his hands. I It fascinated him. Or he was pretending it fascinated him. He sat himself in front of the viewing glass, looked at all the people looking at him, and I swear to you, started playing with the feces on his hands to gross everyone out. He shared a habitat with the orangoutangs. The oldest one, the alpha. 42 years old. He looked like a sad version of Maurice from the Planet of the Apes movies. All of the animals in the zoo looked sad. Zoos are inhumane. The Reptile House was the saddest of them all. The reptiles lay tangled in small cages, pressed against the furthest corners or hiding altogether. Nobody likes to be watched for a living.

Except the penguins. They were having a ball. But they’ve only been there since June. Everything is new. They swam happily and played joyfully bumping up against the reinforced glass as children banged their little fists and adults dangled bracelets the penguins tried to catch. I wondered if they would tire and grow as jaded as the other animals.

In the Panda Exhibit the youngest panda went out of his way to defecate at the crowd. He came out from where he ate and sat on the closest branch with his back to the crowd, urinated and defecated, then returned to his place near his enclosure.

In spite of these things, there were a few magical moments. A male gazelle approached me where I stood and stared at me while he ate from a tree. It was strange and wonderful. Not many people watch the gazelles. But they seemed as smart as they were graceful, muscles on top of muscles moved over sinewy limbs. A baby was born only two hours prior. I couldn’t see it, but just knowing it was there was cool.

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It made me appreciate and respect my animals more. My cats aren’t human babies and I think I do them a great disservice when I treat them that way. Nevertheless, we’ve been together nearly 15 years. When I returned home they greeted me at the door and followed me from room to room. Chloe, my calico, waited at my feet until I picked her up. She’s always done that. When her head was bigger than her body I remember looking down at her little face when she was eight weeks old as she waited to be held. My husband read somewhere that domestic cats remain in a perpetual state of kitten-hood. As I sit Charlie, my orange male cat sleeps, paw stretched out pressed against my leg. He often sleeps that way. So, it’s hard not to think they’re not human. Or human-like. Or that they have achieved some kind of sentience through our relationship to them.

I don’t know. This is where it ends today. I don’t know where I’m going creatively. I’ve written a web series I will produce this fall. Stay tuned for that. I’m working on a feature, or a play. I’m not sure what it is yet. It seems to be a hybrid. I guess those are things. I just haven’t written in them in a week. And I have no way of knowing if they’ll ever see the light of day. But, build it and they will come, yeah? Yeah. Otherwise, there’s nothing.

I’m a depressive by nature. I can’t help but feel as if we’re all doomed. Aren’t we? Doesn’t it all prove out? I have to shake this off. Today I drive to the City of Industry for a gig where I have to look ten years younger and act even younger than that. Beauty and youth are commerce in my line of work. You never go looking how you feel. I’ve seen the girls who do that. There are a lot of them actually. I don’t know if they know that when they don’t wash their hair, or finish their makeup, or where clean black, they look like they feel. They look like I feel.

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Kitty in jail

Do you know where the City of Industry is? I’d never even heard of it. It sounds terrible. City of Industry, like a place for car dealerships and massive pharmaceutical complexes. Aren’t those the only industries that make legit money anymore? I used to work for a company that shot talking head videos for pharmaceutical companies. They were inner-office video memos and training videos. That was 15 years ago. That industry is dead. The professional video servicing industry. It got replaced by college students with a camera and Final Cut Pro. Cheaper, faster, less is more.

I don’t know where I’m going creatively, see. I have this web series. I need to finish it, but it’s a comedy and I’m not feeling funny anymore. Or right now. And it’s probably not funny anyway. And what am I doing writing screenplays anyway? Well, everything else is harder. I just know how to do it well. I teach it. Did you know that? Yeah. I’m good at teaching it. I just figured I should finally do what I say. I know what I’m talking about. I don’t know. You wouldn’t know it to look at me, or even to read this, but I’m good at writing stuff. Maybe not today. But in order to write anything you often have to lower your standards just to get past the first sentence.