The Six Year Shadow

I was 21 years old when I moved to Los Angeles and I believed I had the world at my fingertips. It didn’t matter that I moved down with a couple of friends with one unreliable car between us, or that none of us had jobs lined up or a place to live, that none of us knew anyone in a city of almost 4 million people, that none of us had a ton of money lined up. I believed I could work it out, and I did, for a lot longer than I had any right to. I had dreams of success, of being some kind of actor/writer phenom. Instead, I was taking $20-30 and using it buy two weeks worth of canned food from the dollar store.

I fell in love down there, deeply. I was too scared to say it first. She let it slip one night, sitting on a pool table in a bar whose name I can’t remember and we paused for a moment. I asked her if she meant it. She said she did, and maybe she lied or maybe she thought she did at the time, or maybe she really did, but whatever the case, that “Yeah” opened the floodgates for me. This woman took me in for the holidays. Both of my friends moved away and I was alone in L.A. with my job, my co-worker friends and this woman I adored.

We weren’t great for each other sometimes. We were perfect for each other other times. I didn’t realize at the time that I had emotional and mental issues that would roll through me like waves and because of that, I didn’t know how to prepare or cope with it. I got angry easily, spiteful, distrusting. I stressed and overthought everything. I was scared and far from home with hardly any money, no car, and the beautiful woman I was with that dudes often hit on right in front of me… I panicked.

And she wasn’t emotionally there all the time. I don’t think she would even understand how to deal with some of the things I was going through. I went into that relationship with a lot of baggage neither of us knew about and we handled it and communication with each other poorly a lot of the time. Goddammit if we didn’t stick up for and support each other a lot of the time, too. There was love there, but I wasn’t prepared to handle it properly.

I broke up with her to focus on me and fix my financial woes by coming back to Alaska for four months. I was trying to give us distance. What it did was hurt her and render our relationship unreconcilable. Because I was so desperate to fix things and get her back, I gradually lost my mind and found ways to sabotage everything. I lost my job, all of my money, I had to move from the place I lived, from the whole state. I lost a lot of close friends who, to this day, have not spoken to me since. And of course I lost her and her respect.

Deservedly. I committed a crime at work, unrelated to everyone and totally self-serving. I got caught, I admitted everything immediately, I paid back more than double the value of what I took, and I lost everything in return and I was fine with that. I own my mistakes. Whatever disorders I’m diagnosed with don’t give me a free pass to act like an asshole. Nobody was more pissed off or hated me for betraying their trust or throwing the life I was building away more than I hated myself.

So I moved to Seattle at the lowest point in my life I had ever been, and this one situation kept playing out in my mind. See, my girlfriend was going to college for social work, which is amazing and noble as all hell. College wasn’t in my future. I was a hair’s breadth away from going to Reno for a while, to be a History or an English teacher, but ultimately I wanted to MAKE IT. I was going to be a star, a famous actor or a famous poet or a famous novelist. And one night – I can’t recall if we were drunk, or arguing, or both – she told me that she didn’t believe that if I never went to college that I could ever be somebody. That I was basically destined to fail at life.

And I fucked my life up! Like, not even half a year after that, I lost my goddamn mind and I ruined everything I possibly could, doing things I would never normally do, acting in ways that would normally horrify me. I spent a year of literal blood, sweat and tears building up something great and with so much promise, and I shit on it.

So I’m in Seattle with almost nothing to my name. Starting from scratch again. Heartbroken, ashamed, self-loathing and again in a large city in which I knew four people. I felt hopeless, both in that I had no hope and that there was no hope for me to rise up from the ashes, or whatever. Then I took a trip up to Alaska to see my best friend’s newborn baby, and while I was up there, I met someone who would change my life.

When I returned to Seattle, I began to pursue writing seriously. I was going to write a novel and it was going to be good. It was going to sell. I was going to show my ex that I could be somebody on my own merit and that I, personally, didn’t need to spend $60,000 for someone to tell me how to string words together in an exciting fashion.

I wrote that motherfucker in six months. I’ve never worked harder and more consistently on something before or since, and when I self-published it, it got good reviews. People loved to read it. I pumped out new installments as fast as I could because people wanted to talk to me about. People were excited about it.

Cut to five years later. My books still sell here and there. They don’t pay my bills. They haven’t taken off. I work a job I hate to pay for a life I kind of shuffle through. I’m not where I want to be. My goals are still high. I’m not rich. My books aren’t on shelves. I don’t have a publishing deal. I can pack my life up into the same two suitcases I took with me to Los Angeles six years ago.

I never went to college and I haven’t – to my standards – become somebody.

Then I had a really, really weird day.

It started with me waking up from a nightmare, one of those hyper-realistic ones you could swear actually happened, where I was at some pool party  (complete with DJ, natch) and I ran into a woman I was deeply in love – I fall in love a lot; it’s a mess – and the guy she left me for when my grandfather passed. Now, I hadn’t seen or spoken to her in at least a year, and she hadn’t been with him for even longer than that. The event had happened three years previous and she had left me with barely a word or a bat of the eye. Due to how realistic the dream was, though, I woke up feeling crushed all over again.

Two hours later, out of nowhere, she messages me. We have a conversation that started off tense because honestly, it gave me anxiety to even hear from her, but gradually it grew into an honest discussion about how hurt I was and what she was going through back then and it struck me that she basically did what I had done. And then she apologized profusely to me, the only thing I really needed to hear to finally, finally get closure and find solid ground with her again. We agreed distance was still probably best for the foreseeable future, but that if either of us needed someone to reach out to, we could always, now, again, finally, reach out to each other.

That was a weight, man. Three years of grief and hurt alleviated with an “I’m so sorry.”

And then two hours after that, my ex from Los Angeles messaged me. I haven’t spoken to her in five years, outside of a message about some stuff I left behind or a Happy Hanukkah. She tells me she’s thought long and hard about it, and would understand if I said no, but she wanted help writing something that would help her get into a college program she needed.

The first thing I thought was that it was fucking hilarious. Now my writing is good enough? Now you trust that I know enough about this thing I sort of assed myself into doing?

But I said “Absolutely. Of course I’ll help you.” I’m proud of her. I still have so much love and gratitude for the things she did for me and the great moments we did have. I want to do whatever I can to help her get where she wants to be. I had spent years trying to find a way to be friends with her again that I felt she would accept or that I deserved, so it meant a lot to me that she would reach out. We talked a little over Thanksgiving, because it was six years ago from then that I went to her home for the first time and met her family, and it was immediately after that we decided to date. “I remember it like it was yesterday,” she said. “We had so much fun.”

Yeah. We did.

I’ve been feeling a little heartbroken lately, so I’ve gone back to drinking a little too much and bleeding my emotions out a little too dramatically and clinging to someone I desperately wanted to work towards a potential future with, so yesterday morning, I woke up, still drunk from a bad Sunday night, and called that person and told them I wanted them to have a safe trip to Japan. She flew out today. I’m hoping that’ll keep me from texting her in the wee hours of the morning compliments she’s probably tired of hearing. We didn’t talk long, probably for the best, and she told me to try and get some more sleep before I had to go into work.

I couldn’t sleep. It wasn’t coming to me, so in the fading haze of intoxication, I decided I finally, genuinely needed to be honest about something. I messaged my ex.

I told her about finally going in this year and being diagnosed with a few disorders that made me feel things erratically and severely and how for a long time, I had just assumed I would occasionally get fed up with things and I would lash out. I told her that six years ago, I fell in love with her and her family for what they gave me and that when she reached out to me, I didn’t do it out of a delusion that we’d get back together or out of infatuation, but because I still cared and wanted to help. But I wanted her to know something.

“If you never go to college, I don’t believe you’ll ever be somebody.” To hear that from someone whose opinion I cared so much about and whose affection and acceptance I craved more than anything during a time where I was broke and had nothing and hardly anyone else… it broke me. And when I didn’t go and when I fucked so many things up, I just kept telling myself, “Maybe she was right. Maybe I won’t be.”

And as I was typing this out to her, to let her know that one sentence has been this haunting, horrible weight on me for so long, something finally clicked in my head…

I’ve spent six years trying to be somebody because I thought she thought I couldn’t be, when I should have been doing it because I thought I could be. When I first moved down, I thought I could do anything. When it became increasingly difficult and I became increasingly emotional, I began to have doubts. When she said that to me, I stopped believing in myself entirely.

I was trying to prove her wrong these last years. I wasn’t trying to prove to myself that I was always right about what I was capable of.

She wrote back to me, aghast. She apologized profusely and told me she hoped I could forgive her words. “When I get angry, I try to hurt whoever I think is hurting me.” She told me she had never thought I was lesser, that she was proud of me when she found I had written books, and a few other complimentary things. “Why do you think I’d even consider you to read my personal statement? Because if anyone knew… it would be you.”

The world is yours if you want it. Not because someone said you can’t have it. I lost sight of that a long time ago, and I’ve felt like a shadow of myself since.

Fourteen hours later, I realized something else: I’ve been insecure about my writing because I feel like a fraud when I do it. Kerouac, Hemingway, Bukowski, Thompson… they wrote about love, life, loss, lust, pain and so much else with authority. Love is this. Heartbreak is that. They wrote with conviction and years later, their quotes are passed around social media and hung up on walls and in offices because the things they wrote resonate with people.

But there was always something holding me back. I think it’s because when I posted it on Facebook, my friends would take the piss out of it. They would see me as being over emotional or narcissistic or dramatic. Who the fuck am I to put myself in the footsteps of those men? Who the fuck am I to know what life is supposed to be about? What it is? When people have known me for years, they’ve created an image of who I am, and I’m no authority on anything to them.

In the same way that someone who tells a few jokes every other week on a stage wouldn’t consider themselves a comedian, I felt like writing a few poems, a few introspective posts, it didn’t make me a writer.

But why not? I remember the fucking mountain of private messages I got after my post about having been raped. I remember the messages I got when I wrote about being suicidally depressed. The people who have shared my poems. The people who knew my family members and reached out to tell me what I wrote meant to them, or because it reminded them of their own families. I remember the messages from people who were dealing with loss, or heartbreak, or budding love.

You know what I remembered? Finally remembered? I’m not fucking writing for people who don’t see me as a writer. I’m writing to put how I see and feel things out there for people to know they aren’t alone in their feelings. I’m doing it to reach out to others the way the writing greats once reached and continue to reach out to me.

If nobody else will say it, I’m going to. I have a voice that I’ve kept hushed and shyly uttered for too long. And frankly? I’m not good at anything else, except for eating and occasionally sex if their standards are low, so I better get goddamn good at this.

I need to do this because I believe I can. And I’m starting to again.

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Jessica Michelle Singleton

Usually I try to come up with some snazzy, artsy, punny title for my posts. You know, something that has a vague allusion to the subject I’m writing about, something a “Writer” *hair flip* would do. Not for this one. It’s important to me that right off the bat, we know what we’re dealing with.

Jessica – or JMS, as I (never) call her, when I want to make her sound like a battleship – is so many things to me. I told her at…let’s check….11 PM last night, when I wasn’t quite drunk but was starting neatly into my cups, that I had to write about her, that it would kill me not to. That wasn’t the alcohol talking. It’s the fact that she’s phenomenal.

I went to school with Jessica. She was a year ahead of me, and I had transferred from a different high school after my sophomore year, so we only got a school year together. I’m not sure exactly how or why we crossed paths, but we got along immediately and became friends quickly.  We’ve kept in touch since.

She had a dream, and it was… well, to be honest, a daunting one. She wanted to make a career as a comedian, one of the hardest artistic professions to not only break into but do well at. It’s a profession that very often doesn’t take women seriously, and Los Angeles is a city that I absolutely love but fucking eats the souls of those not ready for it. I know. I moved there when I wasn’t ready for it.

When I turned 21, I moved to L.A. with two friends and no plan. I was going to be an actor/writer, I thought to myself, with six middling theatrical performances and a handful of questionable short stories under my belt. I even got headshots done. Did it matter that they were taken in a mostly abandoned warehouse by a man with half a dozen cats, arranged by a guy who ran a softcore pornography website as a side business? Not to me. I didn’t even see it when my friend said that one of my pictures looked like someone had just told me my pet had been run over by a car.

I was going for, I don’t know, pensive? It doesn’t matter. I didn’t become an actor/writer and my sheer unpreparedness for the city left me chewed down to gristle. The distance from the only home I had known, financial concerns, an unsupportive woman and, ultimately, myself left me broken. I moved away, defeated.

Jessica didn’t give a flying shit. Or maybe she gave all the flying shits. Either way, she moved down with an idea of how difficult things would be, discovered first hand the reality that it was so much more difficult than she could have imagined, and she endured it. With the storm that raged inside her continuing to roil and churn, she pushed it back and let sheer force of will keep her there, keep her fighting for every minute she could get on stage, every single person she could tell a joke in front of.

And she made it work. She has been making it work. She’s made a full-blown career out of it, doing a mind-boggling amount of shows each year, a cross-country tour, an international tour, radio shows, television pilots, YouTube sketches. She’s partying with Brian Regan in Las Vegas.

She came home for her high school reunion and did a couple surprise performances. I caught the latter of the two, the fourth time I’ve been fortunate enough to see her perform live, and she absolutely slaughtered the crowd. Just killed it. In a scarce three years, she has gone from doing fifteen-minute spots for nobody headliners to headlining shows with an hour and a half of solid material and hosting tours.

She’s a woman who had a dream, a horrendously difficult one, and spat in the face of adversity, wrestled that dream into something that not only supported her but brought genuine joy to others, and continues to make it work for her. The opportunities continue to flow her way, due to her hard work and her talent.

Professionally and artistically, I respect and admire her a great deal. She is doing what I meekly tried to do and continues to pursue her dream ravenously, with a fervor and talent that leaves me dazzled. It was a pleasure and a privilege to see her give an audience so much, so gleefully, striding across her element with a confidence I haven’t felt in over half a decade. She’s a hero to me.

And if it was just that, it would be enough, but she’s still so much more.

Jessica has been an invaluable friend. She’s that rare breed that won’t bullshit you, but also understands exactly what you’re going through and empathizes. Empathizes, which is much more difficult to do than sympathize and is typically much more emotionally taxing for both parties involved.

There is parental resentment. There are creative struggles. Most critically, there is trouble with mental instability, something I’ve come to learn recently is shockingly more prevalent than people are comfortable discussing. She talks about depression and bipolarism in her sets. She mentioned it in the first (and only, so far) guest post I’ve had written for my blog, which you can read here. Fun fact: That was written exactly one year and two weeks from yesterday.

I have texted her drunk, and not, at 3AM or 3 PM, wracked with angst and insecurity and desperation, and she has walked me through some storms. She is patient and guiding, despite the distance, despite anything else, because she gets it. She has been supportive and encouraging, and I will always, always be grateful for that.

Three days ago, I caught her warm-up set at an open mic comedy show. Afterwards, we had an opportunity to catch up some, and I expressed how proud I was of all that she had accomplished and was continuing to accomplish going into her high school reunion.

“Mine’s next year,” I said. “I’m 27 years old, and all I’ve done is write three books that don’t sell for shit.”

“But you’ve written three books,” she said. “Do you have any idea how crazy that is? What you’ve actually done?”

It’s so easy to discount every aspect of my life and get into a rut where I feel like a failure. Like I haven’t done anything. Like I’m not doing anything. At several critical moments since I’ve met her, Jessica has been there to gently pull my head from my ass. She has reminded me of the positive things that I have, that I’ve done, that I am. She’s been there, a thousand miles away, while I’ve wept and railed against the world, and she’s made me feel okay and normal when I was anything but.

I love her to death. That my first novel is on her bookshelf is a deep moment of pride for me. That we are friends is a shining diamond in my life.

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Jessica Michelle Singleton. Beautiful. Loyal. Intelligent. Raunchy. Wild. Hilarious. True.

You can follow her on Facebook here, check her site out here, and follow her on Twitter at @JMSComedy. Also, just Google or YouTube her or some shit. She’s funny. You won’t regret it.

No Place Like Home

I’m a fan of a good homecoming story, the idea, of course, being someone who has left home for a while, years, only to find there way back for whatever reason, to the place they grew up in. There are a lot of options in how to tell them, for one: they can be heartwarming or sad, they can be a return to the past or a displacement story about someone returning to a place that has moved on without them. They can be comedies, dramas or romances. The best are some combination of these things.

Now, there are a couple things that have to be there for it to work. First off, it’s got to be a long period of time. This isn’t a case of someone moving away for a semester at college and then coming home and meeting up with their high school buddies. This isn’t someone showing up to visit family once or twice a year. I’m talking eyes-forward, home in the exhaust, build a life away from past-me until a death or an unemployment or something drags me back to my roots.

There has to be little to no contact with the people back home. A good homecoming story needs surprises on both sides. Who got married? Who had kids? Who has died, and how? Are you divorced? What do you do? Oh, she inherited her dad’s bakery. Oh, he opened a little bookstore. There needs to be high school loves that have moved on, though there will always be a little spark. There needs to be a resentment that either stays as fresh as if it were yesterday, or one that has softened over time so that now all that’s wanted is an explanation over a beer. Was it because I was fat? Did I offend you so much? You know, it was always you she loved, deep down I knew that.

The other thing about a solid homecoming story is it’s almost always a small town. There are exceptions, of course. There is a film called A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints that I love and recommend all the time because it seems nobody I know has seen it. It’s set in New York, sure, but focuses exclusively in a neighborhood in Astoria. The film alternates between the past (with stellar performances by both Shia LaBeouf and Channing Tatum, and I don’t say that lightly) and the future,  when Robert Downey Jr. returns home to see his ailing father. Rosario Dawson is also in it.

There’s another film that plays on a different homecoming trope: that of a reunion. You’ve seen reunion films before (10 Years, which is sad, beautiful in parts, and a little funny; American Reunion; Grown Ups; The Judge – RDJ again – which I want to see), but indie flick Beside Still Waters might be one of the best. I don’t know, I haven’t seen it yet, but I helped fund the Kickstarter and it got so much buzz that it went from a small independent venture to an upcoming theatrical release. You can find out more about it here, as well as see the trailer.

Why do I like that so much? It just seems so earnest and so honest. The chemistry feels natural, the relationships awkward and complex. It focuses on the simple things and the inside jokes and the layered relationships and past hurts and lingering loves. It looks like a goddamn beautiful film.

There is an inherent humanity in a homecoming story, whether it’s happy or sad or dramatic or hilarious. That’s because it’s about a person’s relationships with others and all of the history therein. These stories echo our feelings. Our fears, our dreams, our hopes, our loves and our failures. We relate because we, too, said the wrong thing once, or we didn’t say anything at all. We relate because we’ve wanted to escape, because we’ve had to watch people we love love someone else,  because we have had some action that we’ve taken torment us on long, rainy nights.

These are things we’ve experienced even if we’ve never had a homecoming. Many of us grew up in large cities or with a big group of friends, with a close family or no family. We haven’t necessarily needed to move out of state or to a “bigger” place to escape. All the same, those relationships that have been strained or forgotten or pushed aside in the name of a career, those mistakes made and loves lost, those are all things that happen anyway, because we’re human.

Setting it in a small town strips away the busyness, pares down the clutter of a cityscape and focuses on intimacy. It takes the time to explore all the thoughts and feelings that we don’t give ourselves time and energy to do the same with in our own lives. That’s why, no pun intended, those kinds of stories hit home so clearly.

Though Anchorage, Alaska isn’t exactly a small town with its 300,000 residents, it feels that way sometimes. Having been born, raised and lived here for over 20 years, I can find someone I know at just about any given time in any particular place. It’s not difficult to get around the city, either. It’s small, but not too small. It’s big enough to lose yourself in if you want to. But man, it’s easy to fall into a routine. The familiarity of the city is a comfort, but if you make yourself known enough, it’s easy to develop a rep. The funny thing about a reputation is that, for most people, twenty percent truth is enough. Whichever version is the most exciting can fill in the other eighty.

I had aspirations of being an actor rooted in a brief stint on theater during which I performed adequately and no better. I moved to Los Angeles in 2009 and lived there for eight months before having a mental breakdown. I moved back to Alaska for four months almost to the day, then back to L.A. for three more months. After I lost my job, I moved to Washington and lived there for nine months.

20 months gone away from home with a brief break in the middle. I lost a lot of friends for a lot of reasons during that time, and I grew distant from several more. While it’s not really like the pattern I described for the stories I like so much, it felt as such to me. By the end of my time in Washington, I missed those people. I missed hanging out with them and partying with them. I had just finished my first novel and I wasn’t really sure what to do with my life or where I was going, so I decided to move home for six months or so.

That six months turned into three years and counting. At the start, though, it felt weird to be back. I had that homecoming feeling. The four months I had spent trying to get my head in gear was largely spent drinking, reading and sleeping around Anchorage. I didn’t really pay attention to much else. When I came back for good (for now), I opened my eyes up a bit more. I wasn’t going anywhere for a while, might as well see what’s up.

A lot of construction had gone on in two years. There were some marriages,  some babies, a divorce or two. Some people were in jail. I didn’t let people know I was back for a while;  I just kind of wandered around being introspective and mysterious and shit. It was nice, honestly.

I have mixed feelings about this city. I don’t think it’s healthy for me in long stints, especially during the winter. I think other places might afford me better opportunities concerning my writing, and I like the busyness of a place like Los Angeles, and the weather,  and the sounds the waves make crashing against the sand while I write on the pier. I don’t like seeing the people I graduate with pity me, because I already feel disappointed in myself.

But I also love this city. I’m proud to be Alaskan. I like knowing my way around town and the best places to eat and having a bar I can walk into where everyone knows my name and my drink is ready for me. I get to have my best friend drop by with my little nephew out of nowhere and have the kid give me a big hug.

Long term goal? To have a place in a city better suited for my personality and my craft, where I can go as long as I want without seeing someone who knows my history. I’d live there for 8-9 months out of the year. The other 3-4 months of spring/summer, I want a place in Alaska to come back to. As much as this place drains me, I do have a fond spot for it somewhere in me.

That doesn’t fit the homecoming narrative, but it works for me. After all, that’s what stories are for.

GUEST POST: Life Is a Coping Mechanism

I am incredibly excited and incredibly blessed to bring to you my very first guest post. Jessica Michelle Singleton is a stand-up comedian who came from humble origins in Alaska and didn’t let it put a hitch in her step to becoming a successful stand-up comedian who does hundreds of shows a year. She lives and performs in Los Angeles primarily, but she tours the other states and even won a contest to participate in the Montreaux Comedy Festival, taking her jokes across the European nation.

Jessica and I are school mates. She’s prettier and funnier…and more successful than I am, but I love her dearly. In fact, that’s why we’re friends. I get her runoff paramours.

In all seriousness, I love her dearly. Artists tend to come from a certain place where things hit us a little more deeply, and Jess has been one of those rare few who understands where I come from in my darkest times and encourages me to pick up the pen and always get back at it. It’s a blessing to have such a support.

She’s home in Anchorage tonight for a one-night show and I can’t wait to see her perform again. I could use the laugh. AND SO COULD YOU! Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @JMSComedy. Worth every second.

Anyway, I asked Jessica if she would write something exclusive for my blog. Anything she wanted, I told her, and about any topic. She said she did better with direction, so I thought about it and I realized that – as with writers or actors or painters – there is more to comedians than their material. Fucking obviously. But when I asked her how her personal life affected her career, instead of rolling her eyes at me, she was eager to explain.

For you, this was her response:

Life is a coping mechanism.

I suppose I should preface the rest of this by telling you that this isn’t a humorous piece. That’s not to say you shouldn’t laugh at anything I’ve written here. It’s just that if I’m going to open up, I’m going to need to lower any expectations that everything I say is hilarious.

To be fair, most of what comes out of my mouth is meant to make the people around me laugh. It’s a sickening type of pride you feel when you can make people laugh in the worst of situations. I’m not great at having real emotional connections with people, but I can flip the fuck out of a frown. I don’t know if I would trade the ability to make people laugh for the ability to connect at a deeper leve, simply because I can’t even imagine my life without comedy.

People will always appreciate the person who can make them laugh when they feel like crying. And believe me when I say there isn’t a much more desirable thing to me than to have someone appreciate me. This is a skill I am so glad I can share with the world, but it hasn’t come for free.

If you are the type of person to get offended when someone makes light of a serious and sad situation: Congratulations! You have probably never really suffered. That’s where the ability comes from. When I make jokes about a terrible situation, or my own insecurities, or the fuck ups in my personal life, it’s because that’s all I can do. What are my other options? Wallow in sadness? If I didn’t twist the dark thoughts in my head into jokes to make others or, at the very least, myself laugh…all I would have is a head full of terrible thoughts.

Everyone has their own means of coping. Some people smoke, some people write poetry, some people sweep it under the rug and just pretend everything is okay by ignoring the problems in their life. I tell jokes.   There is a common saying that “Tragedy + Time = Comedy”. Given that theory, if I told you my entire life story, it wouldn’t make sense for me to be anything but a comedian.

I was abandoned, neglected. I’ve lost several friends in unbelievably horrific manners. I’ve been sick and I’ve more or less been on my own my entire life. But I wouldn’t be the person I am if I hadn’t gone through all of those things. There are moments when I think I would trade being a comedian if it would erase some of the hurt or if I could have the ability to let people in. But all of that fades the minute I get on stage and hear the laughter I’ve created. People need laughter. There’s a reason it’s called the “best medicine”. It makes you feel good. It takes you out of your own head full of dark thoughts and allows you to escape to a moment of sheer happiness. And if you ask me, in today’s world there aren’t nearly enough of those moments.

Yes, I’ve hurt. So many of us have. I don’t think character is developed through suffering, but I believe you learn a lot about a person’s character in how they handle that suffering. Laughter is how I handle mine. And if my pain manifests itself into material that will brighten other lives, then maybe life isn’t so bad after all.

I can’t say much more than that except reiterate how amazing Jessica is. She’s incredibly hard-working, so driven, ridiculously talented, one of the best friends you could have and an inspiration to artists of multiple arenas.
Again, check her out on Twitter and Instagram at @JMSComedy . Thanks for stopping by Jess, and break a fucking leg!