It's been a weird week. A beloved local comic took her life. I had my first date in ages. I missed a few days of blog posts and felt bad about it. I put off uploading the first episode of Season Two and no one asked me what's up.
The biggest thing in my little world is probably that I'm trying my best to get over my ex. Shit was complicated. She was probably too self-involved to ever make me comfortable, but she's the best woman I've ever known. (sorry Mom)
Went to my first and second love addiction meetings and in the interim I had zero recovery. Planning dates, perusing the hot girls of Instagram and trying to angle at least one lady friend into something more exciting.
Last night I had my first date in God knows how long. It was great. Before that I had my first random parking lot makeout session in I don't know if ever. So on balance its been equal parts shameful, exhilarating and incredibly sad.
Speaking of sad things, how about suicide? Cuz that happened. A Seattle comic made the ultimate decision Sunday, ending her pain. That decision also broke the hearts of dozens of comics and everyone else whose lives she touched in her short time on Earth.
I didn't know her. Let me make that clear. The reason I've been around and talking is not because I want to pretend I'm a part of this story. I never got to see her. But you know what? I recognized in her comedy, her story and her impact on her colleagues and it blew me away.
In another community perhaps someone dying in this way wouldn't have had the same results. But the amount of love pouring out from the hearts of these hardened criminals has been amazing. So much love, you guys don't even know.
Comics make sense of life by skewering our preconceived notions and fucking with our sense of morality. They speak from the deepest places of pain and foolishness, and they make our lives better for it. Meredith was a star in the making, but more than that she was a human being, one of the best. And her friends have shown how amazing they are in this terrible time.
You may not have been hit directly by the pain of a sudden death. You may know nothing about suicide or why people make that decision, but you know loss. You know sadness. And you know grief. It sucks. No one should go through it. If this world was as great as we wish it was, no one would suffer, or go hungry. No wars would be fought, no minorities excluded. And women like Meredith would be our greatest seers. Love is the only answer to pain. So love yourselves. Love each other. And when someone you love is suddenly gone from this earth, let yourself grieve.
Comics show us that life has meaning. They tease out the situations that plague us, and bring something amazing out of it. Laughter heals. Laughter sustains. And laughter brings us all out of the darkness when we need it.
Someone wonderful has left this plane of existence, but I believe she is not gone. She lives on in the hearts of everyone who knew her. Suicide is a shitty thing, but it's a choice some of us make. Mental illness, existential sadness, PTSD and grief can take anyone at any time. Love the people around you. Don't be a dick. And when someone tells you they're hurting, be quick with the hugs. Let them cry on your shoulder.
That's what they're for.
Today I woke up with energy and purpose. Unfortunately I also woke up with the crafty voice of addiction in my bones.
Most people I talk to about this addiction have no clue what I'm talking about. To them, I imagine love takes many forms. For me there is only one: the Goddess and the Whore.
The Goddess and the Whore first entered my life in seventh grade. Before then, my first and second crushes (the brainy beauty and the sparkly redhead) were relatively chaste and even charming. I never spoke to the first and was friends with the second, and remained a friend to this day, though the crush has long since faded.
At a certain point in sixth or seventh grade, I discovered Playboy (Cady Cantrell, April '88). I was hooked. After that I began to see girls in a whole new light, as if under the clothes lay an exotic, erotic creature I could only worship from afar.
And then I discovered Penthouse. I lightly skimmed every issue in the staco until I found her. The one. She looked a bit like Stevie Nicks if Stevie Nicks happened to be 13 and in my science class. This girl (I'll call her the faerie princess) was immediately branded in my mind as a sexual being masquerading as a normal child.
From that day forward, two patterns emerged. On one side were the dreamgirls: your Karas and your Jennys, who I loved with all my heart; and on the other, the so-called secret sluts, who existed solely to fill my fantasies and drive my obsession.
As I grew older, I tried and failed to make things work with either category, in fact never even having a first date or a first kiss until I was nearly 18. Fantasy ruled, and the Goddess and the Whore grew stronger and stronger until I wasn't myself if I wasn't pursuing a powerful obsession that manifested as a woman or a girl who would alternately drive me to kissing and embracing to chasing and debasing.
I attended my first love addiction meeting this week, and fifteen minutes later I was pursuing a gorgeous hairstylist and watching a new live interest do standup. I messaged an old girlfriend the next day and began obsessively engaging the beautiful models of Instagram.
I return to the meeting next week and will have to admit that my self-control is weak, and these habits are overwhelming. I will have to be honest and tell them part of me wants to indulge my desires and beg for acceptance. And if I want to beat this obsession, I will have to renounce these habits I can only indulge when single, which I had planned to be for another 8 months or so.
I have a choice to make. And it won't be easy.
I've been on a blogging tear this last week. Today things have been a little weird. Setbacks and worries. Not depressed, just second-guessing my life choices to this point.
Big comedy show tonight. Maybe I'll have more to say later tonight. Almost done editing the Happy Homecoming episode with Fred and Emily. They'll be there tonight. So stoked!
Seattle. The Big City. Land of Big Dreams and Fly Ladies. Since I was a little kid I associated Seattle with fancy people, fast cars, giant skyscrapers and smooth fashions. Anytime we came here, I felt like I'd stepped through a glittering curtain into a magical kingdom.
Usually when we came to the city it was to do touristy stuff: Pike Place Market, Seattle Underground tours, Mariners games and big national acts. Saw my first real ballet here. First big musical (Phantom of the Opera). The aquarium. Woodland Park Zoo. The pier and the ferry dock. The Olde Spaghetti Factory. Red Robin. The Violent Femmes, Mudhoney, Hempfest and Bumbershoot. Brought my first girlfriend here for my first date ever (watched Clerks at that U District movie theater that's not there anymore). Pagliacci Pizza (yum).
When it came time for graduation I was excited to move to what I thought was the big city: Tacoma, Washington. Unfortunately all my friends from high school and community college had moved to the real big city: Seattle. I'd visit sometimes, try to fit in, but something about this place made me feel small and provincial. The coolness, the closed off faces, the so-called Seattle Freeze. And all the money, of which I had none.
My friends got jobs, graduated from college, moved around the country and disappeared into the all-encompassing scene that is Seattle. And I was living in the "Big City" wishing I had had the guts to take my talents to LA and make cartoons, my first great love.
Fast-forward 20 years. I'm divorced, single, gainfully employed, and lonely as hell. I have multiple creative pursuits, a few new friends, mostly in comedy, and a hankering to make a huge impact on the media landscape.
So why am I in Seattle? Went to my first 12 step meeting for love addiction. We don't have any for men in the South Sound so I had to drive up. Met a lot of cool people with similar stories to mine, and scored a few hot tips on how to start a new meeting back in the "Big City".
Which brings me to the present moment. Posted up at a table in Jai Tai, waiting for the beginning of one of Seattle's most legendary comedy open mics. Two of my favorite podcasters, Mike Coletta and Monica Nevi, cut their teeth in this room, so I'm excited to see what all the buzz is about. Met a cool comic named Ryan, only been doing standup for two months! He was a musician for ten years. He was always the "witty guy" in his friend group, and now he's the baby in a room full of old hands. It's always so awesome meeting people who love art and are committed to the craft of performance.
I'm coming back next week. Going to my meeting, then getting my hair cut at Seattle Barber (shout out to Cherise) and then open mic at Jai Tai.
Capitol Hill. Emerald City. Comedy. It's good to be a tourist. Maybe someday I'll be a local. Til then I shall cast my gritty Tacoma light upon the vast frozen unwashed of the true Big City. Until tomorrow, my friends. Good luck, and Goddess bless.
This is so exciting! Season Two of Everything is Awesome is here! Following our most epically long episode to date, Episode 38 will be out very soon. In this episode, long-time guest cohost Fred Bowski returns to the loveseat, along with friend of the show Emily Bittrick to open and close my awesome Happy Homecoming party. If I didn't already mention it in the blog, I had to move back in with my parents and it has been a humbling adjustment. Emily was kind enough to host the party and she was awesome. This woman is so funny and so skillful even though she's only been a standup for maybe a year. It was her first time hosting a full-on comedy show and she did great.
Of course, yours truly had to make it weird. Ever since my ex-wife left me for my sports buddy, I've been trying to lead a life I can be proud of, while still having a good time. It's meant that I've stumbled in and out of bad relationships, developed a solid writerly voice and written some pretty cool songs, but it's also meant that I've come into relatively close contact with beautiful young women I'm intensely attracted to. When I was married, I ignored these women, kept them on the edge of my peripheral vision, and if they tried to engage me in conversation I'd try to be as surfacey and boring as possible.
Now of course, I can't really do that. Partly because I want to help cultivate an environment around me where young artists can flourish and collaborate and be successful, but also (sadly) because I'm a lonely creepy old dude who just wants to be loved and make out with a pretty girl who he admires for her talent.
So at the party, when I'm supposed to be entertaining the guests, holding court, tidying up the last minutes of the silent auction, and generally making sure that the comics were happy with their experience, I'm out in a car with a young lady trying to soak in all her beauty and energy in a vain attempt to fill some dark pathetic hole in my childish soul.
Which brings me to the present moment. The podcast is rolling, my writing has never been as good, my confidence is building and I'm working the steps in recovery. But this love addiction thing still haunts me. I haven't been able to find a suitable meeting for this issue near Tacoma, which means I'll have to travel to Seattle to find a group. This also means that week to week I'll be going into the heart of a city that says to me "here are the fineass women you've been looking for". Don't get me wrong, Tacoma. Your women are plenty fine. But most of them won't date me, and the few that have have been, let's say...challenging, to say the least.
So now I'm fixin to go into the belly of the beast, knowing my twisted desire is the one thing holding me back from being healthy and successful. So in the middle of all this confusion walks one of the hottest, funniest and intimidating women I've ever met. And she responds to my text.
So like a jackass I throw caution to the wind, and even knowing that it's a mistake I ask her out anyway. Thankfully she declined, but in the nicest way possible, which was very good for my self-esteem. The next twelve hours or so were spent obsessing about how dumb I am for risking my sobriety in a vain attempt to seize a woman I have no business chasing. Seriously guys, I'm maybe a Tacoma 6, and this girl's at least a Seattle 8. She'd have to be criminally insane and homeless for me to even have a shot. And yet, I went for it anyway.
That's the curse of this stupid addiction. It clouds judgment, damages potential friendships, and restarts the cycle of guilt and shame everytime the wheel comes back around. If only I could wear some kind of goggles that make hot women invisible, maybe then I could live a decent life.
Of course then I'd have nothing to write about.
I figure I should get this one out before the Seahawks fail and make me angry. I'm already fuming over the ungrateful behavior of the woman I love. I've been paying for the whole phone bill, hoping that eventually we'll both have done enough healing to get back together, but now I know this whole relationship was built on a foundation of sand.
My whole life I've lamented the lack of gratitude I've received from all the friends I've helped with this or that, and now it's reached the boiling point. As a Libra, I'm loath to express anger but when I do, it's not pretty. I've learned over the last two years to channel my anger in a more measured way, but after months of trying to help the woman I love get her life together I've finally thrown up my hands, and used a few less than positive words in the process. I know she isn't intentionally cruel or manipulative, but the results are the same. I'm broke, and she doesn't seem to care.
Next stop? The AT&T store, to pay off this expensive phone and end our association once and for all. All that's left are a suitcase full of wistful memories and an expensive engagement ring that's never been worn. I can't possibly forget how much I love her, but I finally have to start trying.
Dammit. No matter how much you want something, or feel like you've earned it, it doesn't add up to nuthin. Tom Petty already told me; I was just too stubborn to believe it.
So now I drink, curse the Seahawks, and dream of a better life. Not much has changed.
Today I went to Seattle (specifically Ballard) to attend a 12 step speakers meeting. It was great. Potluck dinner, a fascinating talk by a British sex addict, and plenty of loving fellowship.
After that I visited a friend's place nearby and lost my shirt in quarter poker. Thankfully I brought two shirts so I wouldn't be naked. Josh (his real name) hosted an excellent poker party, and he and his fellow Ballard Boy Tim Mattonen made with the funny bigtime. I drank several Guinesses, smoked a cigarette (while on the patch - stay tuned for heart attack news) and played with their adorable scaredy-cat pooch, the Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Highlights of the evening? Falling on my ass in a popazan chair not once but twice (thusly scaring the barky piss out of Ruth), and watching the scintillating yet fundamentally flawed 1998 reboot of Lost in Space (starring Matt LeBlanc of Friends fame). Now I'm chillaxin on the floor (chairs are too dangerous) and writing this blog post and trying not to fart loudly enough for the players to hear. This is how a Saturday night should be spent. Recovery never looked so good.
Tomorrow: house hunting in Tacoma and hopefully putting out another exciting episode of the world's greatest podcast. Everything is Awesome, indeed.
Keep being awesome!
I didn't think I'd get this one done today. I was wrecked after work. Not physically; I've had a really easy workday since coming off the overtime list. No, today I was plagued with depressive energy off and on, and by the time I got home I was essentially wrecked.
My bed demanded attention. But before I went out I texted a friend and asked her how she was doing. When you're in recovery, one of the best things you can do is reach out and talk to people you can trust.
At the same time, I made the possibly foolish decision to text The Love of My Life. I wanted to see if she truly never considered me or what I'm going through. The results weren't great.
But then my friend Kandie (not her real name) invited me to the hometown spot, and I got my ass out the bed and rolled Rusty into the car. Sunset Grill and old school homies.
Now Kandie, me and Chaos (not his real name) are chillin in the living room, listening to Stevie and talkin real deep.
Moral of the Story: say yes to last-minute invitations as often as possible. Magical things can happen.
I'm gonna go have a cigarette.
Today was one of those days you wish would hurry up and be over. Loneliness, loss, grief, sorrow, depression, self-pity, a whole smorgasbord of pathetic emotions. The kind of day you'd text your girlfriend and complain about. Except she's gone.
Going to a comedy show later. Hopefully some laughs will make the day decent overall.
Today's weather: early clouds with a few sunbreaks, 75% melancholy.
My folks left for a short trip as I was leaving for work and left all sorts of instructions and stuff in case they die. I slapped together a healthy (boring) lunch and left for work. While there I listened to my funny podcasts, but I couldn't seem to get into a good mood. It was like my laugher was broken. The guys from the Nerdist were on Doug Loves Movies and I remembered why I don't listen to that show. Doug seemed to be trying everything to make them seem interesting.
After work I had an existential crisis. My neighbor had let Rusty out so I didn't have to go back to the Harbor, but I didn't know what to do. I swung into a park near the bridge and tried to take a depressive nap. I realized pretty quickly that these difficult feelings were coming up because I wasn't doing anything to numb them.
I wasn't drinking, I stopped smoking, and most importantly, I wasn't chasing desperately after a woman. I miss Hilary every day, and it sucks not to be with her, but because I've made this choice to break my love addiction I have to learn how to deal with the inevitable consequences of that decision, without trying to get some other chick to make myself feel like a man.
Part of recovering from any addiction is forcing yourself to do things you don't want to do. I realized that my desire to go to sleep was my brain's way of running from my problems. I reached out to someone I trust (my dear friend and cohost Shakim Leckie), and just the simple act of reaching out helped me make my next move.
I went to the open mic at Reyna's in Parkland, figuring I'd eat, read Dune Messiah, and maybe see someone I know. While there, I did just that, but I also got to see Shakim do his thing, and even got a sneak peek at his newest masterpiece. I didn't talk much, and didn't stay past his set, but just forcing myself to go out and be around people was a good idea..
Things aren't perfect. Far from it. I'm still not over my lost love. In fact, I came across some old recordings we made back when we were planning our own podcast and it made me wistful for the good times. But hey, I'm not stupid. I know shit back then seemed great, but under the surface it was anything but. It just felt good to listen back to good times and hear the sounds of two bosom friends laughing and having a great time.
Love had potential then. I'd like to think it still does. But for me, at least for a little while, love will have to wait. I can listen to the old sounds without getting too sad because I know that at the time I believed it would be great. Hopefulness is a beautiful thing. Even if life sometimes tears at the edges, hope can remain intact.
So stay hopeful, my friends. We're all in this together. With luck, we'll find the person (or persons) who fits in the best possible way. Until then, I'm gonna keep laughing. And listening. Cause after all, that's what I do.
Keep being awesome!
You've got to be kidding me.
I'm trying everything I can do to fit into this new life inside my parents' house, yet still retain a certain level of autonomy that I may pursue life in the best possible way. This should not only be reflected in the decor and layout of my room but also in the sort of boundaries that will make for successful cohabitation.
These boundaries should include the relative privacy of the content aired on devices within the bedroom. Said individual's sanctum sanctorum as it were. Said individual's devices occasionally air some salacious material that can sound quite aggressive.
So when your son goes to every possible length to lower the sound or even run it through headphones, and thinks everything is squared away, he realizes the door to the hallway has been wide open the entire time.
You've got to be fucking kidding me.
P.S. A family member seemed quite alarmed that I was sharing so much with the Internet. This person believed that future employment or dating success could be questioned by my disclosures. Whatever, Gramps. Put some pants on.
In this extra special bonus episode, Jeff and Erica Knapp get down to business, sharing their darkly personal stories of sexual abuse and the path of healing. They also share some personal work that touches on their struggles to deal with the aftermath of abuse.
Closing Song: "On the Riverside" - Fiver's Dream
Painting by Jake Bowkett - "Forest Riverside"
by Jeff Richardson
Well here we are. Day two of the epic adventure I'm calling Awesome Blog. Not a great title, but hey, I'm just getting started.
Let's see. Today I got up, took an epic bath, as I am wont to do on my days off, and read Dune, one of my favorite books. Once I finished, I sort of languidly lounged until the water got too cold and my cellphone alarm went off in the next room.
After that I did some other stuff. Who am I kidding? My life is pretty dull. However, I did get up and do some outside work with my dad moving summer furniture under the deck and then we went out to lunch at this fancy-ass place in downtown Gig Harbor.
Hoo boy. I don't make enough money to even pretend I belong in a place like that. Ten tables, a wall of wine, a wraparound outdoor seating area with a vast view of the Sound, the harbor, a lighthouse, and a bunch of mammoth richy-rich homes across the narrow sea.
The dude at the counter was nice. Walked us to our table, gave us our water, brought our menus, and blah blah blah. Behind me was a super foxy redhead and a kindly older lady talking about this and that. At this point you probably know I got problems with pretty ladies, and today was no exception. The music was real quiet, so of course I couldn't help but eavesdrop.
Two minutes in I realized this woman was not for me. Of course, I never could have afforded her anyway. Plus I was in a hoody and dirty sneakers, my daily uniform, which couldn't be helping my game. Not to mention my shaggy blond locks, which have needed a cut for months.
Here is the central problem with love addiction. When we're in the depths of our disease, we don't care what makes our attractions seem ridiculous. Even though this woman was clearly too young for me, out of my league, raised rich (which um, no thank you), and on top of all that, I'm looking like I stepped out of a college dorm room in the 1990s, I still thought I might have a shot.
Here's the really dumb part: even if I had had a chance at snagging this chick, what would I have gained? Some uptight fancy girl who'd think I'm charming for about five minutes, and then run screaming to the nearest yacht club once she realizes I'm an insane, foulmouthed, working-class musician with a history of failed relationships? Seriously. Dumb. But that's the headspace I've been occupying for the last twenty-six years.
See, when you fall in love at age thirteen to a girl you never even try to talk to because you're ashamed of your own shadow, you're not really building up the necessary skills to be successful at dating. And then when your wife leaves you for your sports buddy at age thirty-five, and the only women who will date you are either a) in their twenties, b) as crazy as you are, or c) completely diabolical and only after what little money you have left, you're not exactly in a stable position for long term domestic tranquility.
Maybe if I hadn't been abused at age twelve; maybe if my wife hadn't snared me and controlled me and isolated me for thirteen years; maybe if I hadn't stumbled from one dysfunctional relationship to the next in a vain attempt to find a surrogate for the kind of love and support I didn't receive in childhood, maybe then I might have had a chance to woo this fancy girl and get the kind of woman who could help me get my shit together and possibly get my business up and running and finally make something of my life. But then what? I'm stuck with a woman who I like more for her looks than her soul and I end up being just as lonely as I am now, only with more money.
Fuck that. I got a life to live, a career to build, and a desire to find the right woman for me who can show affection, laugh at my dumb jokes, and give me the business in a light-hearted way, the way I've always wanted someone to treat me but had none of the confidence or calmness to receive. Part of me hopes that The Love Of My Life will work on improving the way she handles problems and deals with anxiety, and comes out of her shell enough to show me a little affection when I really really need it, but the simple fact is she's probably never coming back and I'm just gonna have to accept it.
Improving myself may mean that I never find a woman who fits everything I'm looking for. Hell, maybe I'll find out I don't even like women that much and spend the rest of my life going to movies alone and reading my favorite book for the twenty-seventh time. But I hope like hell that I can get her, because goddammit, I've loved her all my life.
by Jeff Richardson
Blogging is hard. But it's something I used to do all the time. Long before I was a ridiculous funny guy, I was a writer. I wrote all kinds of crazy things: video game ideas, roleplaying campaigns, nerdy genre stories, half-baked novels, you name it.
And then I discovered blogging. It was 2005. The war in Iraq had been going nonstop for two blood-soaked years. The siege of Fallujah had begun and the country was on fire with sectarian violence. Meanwhile, back in the States, the anti-war movement was just starting to get on its feet. I'd seen the Kucinich campaign rise and fall, John Kerry taken out through dirty tricks and rigged voting machines, and Bush and Cheney tightening their hold on freedom here and abroad.
I'd believed that blogging was nothing more than boring journals of ordinary people talking about their cats. I was mistaken. I found several blogs using hyperlinks to connect words and phrases to other websites, including legitimate news sources. Suddenly I had a tool I could use to assist the anti-war effort. I'd taken part in numerous protests, and I was on the board of a volunteer group trying to raise awareness, but here was something I could do every day. As someone who'd been writing since he was five years old, this was an opportunity to flex those muscles and gain some level of notoriety in the process. A fun way to feed my narcissistic impulse, and maybe, just maybe, to change the world.
Now I'm back. This new blog is unlikely to stop any wars or help any left-wing politicians get elected, but with enough effort, and a little luck, perhaps it will feed my need to be heard. And, if I do it right, make a few thousand people see the world in a slightly different way.
And if I really nail it, maybe I can make a few of you snort PBR through your nose. A boy can dream, can't he?
In which the further adventures of Erica Knapp are chronicled and her husband takes part in the discussion; some interesting content is left on the cutting room floor; and lessons of the cult are explained.
Closing Song: "Six Swans" by Aaron Willsie