Thursday, December 31, 2015



Got assaulted in January 
Wrote and published a comedic sci fi graphic novel
Found out several other men I had really previously trusted had committed assault 
Lost a lot of friends 
Was named one of the top 100 comics in the country in a television show! 
Became more isolated 
Gained about 15 pounds due to depression 
The television show I was supposed to be on was cancelled 
Got into two festivals! 
Didn't get into a different festival that I really wanted to do 
The television show was un-canceled and I got flown down to perform in the filming! 
Met a sweet girl I really liked romantically! 
Due to recent assault I couldn't commit to any type of romantic relationship all year 
Got to help participate in a really fun webseries with two of my favorite comedians Angela Webber and Lucia Fasano! 
My set was cut out of the television show when it aired 
Started a really fun podcast called Addicted to Heroines! 
Started a fun webcomic called Shut up, Diary! 
Got hit by a car while on my bike and my adorable bike got totaled 
Found a new therapist! 
The man who assaulted me showed up at my show, probably in an attempt to scare me, or just because he didn't care 
Got into a fight with my dad about genocide at Christmas

It's been a dark year for me, but many people had it way worse, so I can't really complain. I hope 2016 is better.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Ski Trip

There was this movie called "She's All That" that came out when I was 12 years old where a mousey nerdy girl gets bullied and then falls in love with a handsome tall man. (I think that's as complex as the whole plot gets.) It was very easy to put myself in the role of the short mousey girl with glasses who loved art and everyone was mean to her because of those facts. I saw myself as an underdog. The basis of the movie conveyed to my simple brain the stereotype that popular people were mean and nerds were awesome. Characters in my books and on tv were good or evil, bullies or victims, wookies or ewoks.

There was this girl named Caroline (name changed) in our grade who was mean to everyone. She said ridiculously cruel things and made me cry on numerous occasions. To be fair, I do cry over like every single thing. I'm like a raw nerve, wiggling about in the open. Caroline laughed at the smart kids and the disabled kids and the jocks and the nerds and the pretty girls and EVERYONE. She went for "low blows" saying hurtful offensive things that in the 90s constituted "bullying" or "playful teasing" and maybe now would be considered "hate speech." Adults in the 90s were always telling us to stand up for ourselves to our bullies, and I have never had that work out for me.

Around that time, my family was also going through some drama at home. Everyone's relationship in my family was somewhat strained, and my brother and I alternated between being at each others' throats or being inseparable best friends and each others' support systems. We're kind of like each others' rock, in that we make music that hurt old peoples' ears.

One day several kids in our class got to go on a ski trip after school. (No, I was not rich. I lived basically on a mountain so it was hard to avoid such activities.) Caroline's mom forced her to go against her will. Outside, before boarding the bus, I hugged my brother goodbye. Once on the bus, Caroline loudly asked me if I was dating my brother. The entire bus laughed uproariously. I was somewhat sensitive to the idea of incest because I had witnessed some sexual abuse when I was seven that had greatly darkened my idea of all sexuality, especially in relation to family members. This sensitivity combined with my recent familial strain hit me in the chest like a sharp heavy thud. Caroline smiled proudly of her joke and streams of silent tears cascaded down my face.

I sat by myself for the rest of the bus ride, sobbing uncontrollably and doing extra credit homework: still my two favorite activities! Why am I single? Oh right, because I want to be. Anyway.

Once at the ski lodge, I was over it. I loved the clean, muffled quiet of snow, the giant protective trees, and the dreadlocked hippies working the lift machines. The snow made me feel safe and separate from the stress of my family and school. I also loved (and still do love) moving super fast (not in bed; go away, men). The speed of downhill skiing made me feel strong, in control, and like I could fly. All traces of my recent crying dissipated and I returned to my happy, giggling self in the span of minutes. Puberty mood swings are so cool. Do they ever go away?

My good friend Meggy and I were on a chair lift high above the mountain and trees, looking down at the beautiful sparkly night. Meggy had just gotten the part of Glinda in the school play and so we were singing The Wizard of Oz. She had a really beautiful voice, and I... I just like to be included in things. Below us I saw Caroline fall on her snowboard. She sat in the snowbank where she fell and looked down, putting her head in her hands. The emotions of the stupid bus joke washed over me again and I was filled with a dark, painful rage.

"There's Caroline," I said. "I hate her."
Meggy looked down and then said, "There's no way you hate her as much as she hates herself."

I don't think I spoke again for a minute. I was as deep in existentialist thought as a 12 year old can be. The way I saw Caroline completely shifted. I no longer saw a cruel bully, but a very lonely child. She didn't have many friends; she wasn't doing well in school, there might be so many other things going on that I didn't know. She was mean to people because she was miserable and lonely. In her eyes, I was not the mousey underdog victim, but a sorta cute kid with good grades and seemingly solid relationships with people. Maybe to her, I was not the nerd, but... gasp... the popular kid.

She picked on people like me because she was angry and frustrated with herself. Meggy was so compassionate that she could feel empathy for someone that tore people down, which is impressive for a child.

The idea of certain characters being completely good or evil changed for me. Not everyone who is a bully is always a bully. Not everyone who is a victim is always a victim. Nothing is absolute.

I've never been the kind of person that tries to belittle people, either teasing or otherwise, and I never try to hurt people if I can help it. Often I find it baffling when people hurt others, with their words or actions. I need to work on remembering that people who hurt others do so because they are angry and miserable with themselves. People who hurt me hate themselves way more than they hate me. I still cry all the time and I still am too sensitive for my own good, but I try my best to remember to be compassionate toward everyone, because whatever they're going through in their own minds is way darker than what they're putting me through.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Shut it down

Recently (a long time ago in a galaxy far far- actually this galaxy) I was at a bar with a group of friends/ comedy colleagues and acquaintances. I was standing next to one friend and another girl approached us. The approaching girl mimed holding a microphone and said in an old timey reporter voice (which is always hilarious and adorable) “Here we are with channel seven news, here to comment on the recent headlice of local Comedian (Name of Male Comic)* Any thoughts, Lady Churchill?”

She held the imaginary microphone up to my friend who said, “My client has no comment at this point.”

She then took the mic back and said, “How about you, Widow Rutherford?” and held the imaginary microphone up to me.

I said in a gravelly tone, “Well, we don’t get much worked up about lice down at the harbor, not since the accident,”

Another woman interrupted me, “Weird how the widow has the same lisp as Barbara.” Then she laughed.

I stopped and looked down at the floor. A minute later I excused myself to go get a drink and I sat at the bar by myself while my friend and the two other women laughed and enjoyed their evening. I felt like an unfunny leper who had messed up the joke by having a lisp.

Some version of this has been happening to me on a regular basis since I was six years old. The familiarity of the subtle shut down was what stung the most. The words themselves weren’t cruel, but it time traveled me back to being a first grader at camp and struggling to say anything funny or cool and then getting corrected and criticized when I finally mustered up the courage to do so. Every teacher, friend, person I’ve looked up to has pushed for me to be more outgoing and then shut it down once I did so.

That evening my friends and I were doing what my good friend Yogi calls “a social bit.” Yogi defines social bits as funny jokes you do between friends, not something one would do on stage. My favorite of Yogi’s social bits involves him doing a super lonely dance where he mimes eating pizza and masturbating. He probably will do it for you if you ask him.

In Tina Fey’s amazing book “Bossy Pants” she writes about improv comedy: “The first rule of improvisation is AGREE. Always agree and SAY YES. When you’re improvising, this means you are required to agree with whatever your partner has created. So if we’re improvising and I say, “Freeze, I have a gun,” and you say, “That’s not a gun. It’s your finger. You’re pointing your finger at me,” our improvised scene has ground to a halt. But if I say, “Freeze, I have a gun!” and you say, “The gun I gave you for Christmas! You bastard!” then we have started a scene because we have AGREED that my finger is in fact a Christmas gun.”

I’m NOT saying I believe every silly social bit needs to follow Tina’s rules of improv. (Although, I do love rules so much I’d be willing to go to jail for them.) However, it’s clear that by tearing down the fourth wall and pointing out my physical handicap, my acquaintance had grounded the bit to a halt, and made it clear she didn’t think I was good enough at being funny to play along.

I have been consistently told that I’m too sensitive. Usually I disagree, but I’m crying too much to contradict them. I might be sensitive, but I think it’s a strength, because it allows me to sense (that’s the first syllable of “sensitive!” Weird!) when someone is uncomfortable. I like that I’m aware of feelings (mine and others’). Despite my tough badass pleather jacket wearing exterior, I find it’s easier if someone is my FRIEND not my acquaintance before they make fun of me. Additionally, there are some topics people who know and love me steer away from and there are some topics people who dislike me seem to zero in on

Things my friends usually do make fun of me for on a regular basis:
Being nerdy, being awkward, being clumsy, being messy/ dirty, having a little bit of a speech impediment, loving books, living in a fantasy world, being anxious, being a spaz (Basically, anything Sandra Bullock would do in a romantic comedy from my childhood.)

Things people who are not my friends make fun of me for:
being cruel, being bad at comedy, failing at a bit socially or on stage, being intrinsically** funny being annoying, being difficult to like/ love,

I’ve worked very hard on being a confident enough person to believe I’m even somewhat funny or likeable. I have a few friends and I love them unconditionally and would do anything for them, yet I constantly worry that I’m bugging them or being rude or annoying or stupid and not funny. I spend a lot of effort caring and empathizing with the feelings of others and it sucks when someone cares so little about my feelings.  It SUCKS being shut down and criticized for trying to be funny and social.

*I took out the male comic’s name because it’s not important to the story.
**Bullies don’t use the word “intrinsically” that is me paraphrasing. Bullies seldom have as apt word choice as I do. Hmm, I wonder if this type of thinking could be why I get bullied…

And finally, if lisps are so nerdy, then why did the best clarinetist at 7th grade band camp tell me mine was hot?

Thursday, July 30, 2015


I've been crying for like... 28 years. I cry in public a lot, so basically, I've proved these eyelashes are real! It's weird I can do something so often, so continuously, and SO WELL, and it still makes me feel shitty. It would be like if Michael Jordan was like "yeah I've been playing basketball my entire life, and I'm literally the best at it, but still, every time I touch the ball I remember how alone I am in the world."

Sometimes my body starts crying before my brain and heart even realize we're sad about something: oh this again? Time to start thinking about how no one likes us! And that's really what I'm crying about most of the time is me feeling alone, or other people feeling alone, or the concept of loneliness existing at all. I'm so rarely crying about something productive. Whenever I do start crying about police brutality I'm like "good job, Babs, keep it going." 

Today I started crying because Mike Birbiglia told some jokes about uncovering truths about himself and then had the gall to play DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE in the credits of the special. I started crying when I heard Death Cab, which is weird because I am not 16 and/or on my period. My boss was like "what's wrong?" and I was like "no one will follow me into the dark!" Wait, is that song about killing yourself because your friend died? Ugh... um, nevermind, no thanks.

Part of being a comedian is essentially crying because one thinks everyone hates them, which is stupid because some people don't know me well enough to hate me. I used to fool myself into believing I did comedy solely to make people happy, and I know for a fact that that is a big percentage of the reasoning, like maybe 58%, which is not exactly a passing grade. And I do not get non passing grades. 

2015 has been hard for me, as hard as it can be for any 28 year old pretty white person, but, um.... I didn't get into a festival I wanted, I didn't advance in a comedy competition I wanted to advance in, I didn't advance in a local comedy competition, but one of the judges and I had a conflict of penis size interest, so I think he was biased against me. Overall, there were a couple set backs in my still young, about 6 years in, comedy career. It's easy to go from thinking "am I not FUNNY?" to "do I not make people happy?" to "do I make people miserable?" to "am I a worthless piece of shit who everyone hates who doesn't have any friends and is totally alone?????" 

Yesterday a friend of mine posted on facebook that something very positive was happening for him. I don't want to discuss it, and I'm legally obligated not to, not that I think the people who wear the suits with the briefcases read my shitty blog, but just in case... let's use a metaphor. My friend posted that he was going to get a pot of gold delivered to his house that night. I had fought and bested the same leprechaun in battle, chased the same rainbow, but it is still uncertain whether a pot of gold will be delivered to me. I am VERY happy that my friend gets a pot of gold, but I hate thinking "now if I DON'T get a pot of gold everyone will think it's because I am a bad person and did not play the leprechaun's reindeer games, and then they will all hate me, and then I will be even more alone." Okay that's too dramatic...

I also recently had a death in the family, and I had a friend/ roommate kinda betray my trust, and a friend got sick, and I am feeling very secluded from my friends and family, and the festivals and comedy competitions and everything.... AND ON TOP OF ALL THAT, I MAY OR MAY NOT GET MY LEPRECHAUN SCHRODINGER'S GOLD????!!!!!

If people stop laughing, even for five minutes, does that mean the clown isn't making them happy and the clown is ruining everything and get back in her clown car but she doesn't have any friends so there's not enough clowns in the clown car?

My brain tells myself that no one likes me.
My body tells my eyes to start leaking liquid.
My brain says myself that I make people miserable.
My body tells my shoulders to shake.
My brain tells myself that I am alone.
I proved these eyelashes are real.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Yelp Reviews for States of Being

State of Being: Depressed

I come to Depression a lot when I'm feeling lonely, or when I can't feel anything. I really love the couches in Depression, or at least I think I love them. It's difficult to feel enthusiasm for the things that I normally love when I'm in the state of Depression. The food is kinda... meh... Lots of cheese and salted things just mushed together. It's fine and it does the trick, but it's nothing fancy. Oh, and the service is terrible. I laid on the couch for hours before I offered myself a blanket or a beer. Oh, there's lots of beer in depression, but it's all the way in the fridge. It's a good place to be if you want to curl up under the blankets and watch emotionally driven science fiction or fantasy all day.

Three and a half stars.

State of Being: Anxious

I um go to anxiety um a lot a lot a lot!!!!!! It's great! Well it's okay. I don't know. I'm sorry. It's super scary!!!!! Do you like scary things? Me too! Oh you don't? Me neither! SORRY IF I OFFENDED YOU THERE! Anxiety has some really fun exercises, like shaking and trembling while pacing: SO GOOD FOR YOUR CORE WORK OUT. The shower in anxiety is nice. You can sit on the floor and shake back and forth of the shower if you want to. Uh, sorry if that uh um... The coffee here is good!!! Come for the coffee! Stay for the panic attack work outs!

Five stars! I mean one star! I don't know.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Baseball

"Baby Beluga! BAAAABY BUH-LEWWW-GUH!!!!" sang the group of tonedeaf kids throwing dirt clods at me while I read my book in the grass. I looked up and made eye contact with my animalistic predators. My normal style is to ignore them until I can't take it anymore, and then I start shrilly shrieking and sobbing, like a chimpanzee going through a tough bout of puberty.

I hated looking at them almost as much as I hated being seen by them.

We had watched a documentary on whales the other day, and I had answered  a bunch of stupid questions. Ignorant imbecile that I am, I had forgotten the law that nine year olds should not ever raise their hands and try their best not to answer a teacher's questions, lest we be forever ostracized and burnt at the stake. I had been labeled: a show off, a know it all, a brain, simply because I felt it important to tell everyone the difference between mammals and fish. Ever since then, other nine year olds (especially the boys) had started calling me "Baby Beluga" because I was baby-like (full of tears!) and kinda chubby. (Sooooo clever.)

I made eye contact, my book closing in my lap. Andrew was one of the assholes!? Andrew used to come over to my house and play with Star Wars action figures when we were five. Oh, sweet youth and naivety!

My entire life I've always felt this terrible loneliness, this suffocating feeling that everyone of my friends hates being around me. I try to isolate myself from others, and I also hate feeling isolated. I was an overly anxious little kid, but as the feeling of loneliness inside of me, and around me, barricading me from the outside world, I would become almost like Gollum desperately scrambling for love, sabotaging it once I got it, and still valuing connection as precious.

"BABY Beluga! Baby BELUGA!"

I picked up my book and went inside. I ran into my teacher, Mr. King. (Think Mr. Rodgers but nerdier (in a good way).) Mr. King asked me what was wrong and I said "nothing." He then looked at me for a minute and my eyes welled with tears. Certain people have this effect on me, where they can just look at me, or ask me a question in a certain tone, and I will lose it, like a water fountain or a tiny person who likes coffee's urethra. I'm a very anxious, shy, sensitive, emotional person still. Back then I was more sensitive than a kitten's foreskin.

The next day I was in the same playground during the beginning of recess. The older kids were trying to get together a baseball game. I was less coordinated than an old aunt's boot, and equally as smelly when I did exercise. I started to feel anxious, like I was about to have a panic attack.

"Barbie! You're on Jonah's team!" yelled one of the older kids.
"Yeah!" yelled Jonah, grinning underneath his ridiculously handsome purple Tasmanian Devil hat. "Maybe we can change our team name to The Belugas!"
Everyone laughed.

I stood up and looked Jonah dead in the eye, and then turned and wordlessly walked away.

You know, like a psychopath or something.

A few minutes later I heard shouting.
"Where did it go?"
"You were supposed to catch it!"
"No way, it was totally left field."
"You were playing left field!"
"Seriously, where is the ball?"

Something covered in dust rolled in front of me and I knelt and picked up the baseball of the assholes that had been tormenting me for days. I looked over my shoulder, covertly ascertaining that no one could see me. I put the baseball in the waistband of my pink leopard print spandex leggings. (Early 90s.) I calmly walked underneath the fallen branches of a tree, into a covered secluded enclave at the bass of the tree. I called this area my tree cave, which is way less sexual sounding when you're nine.

I withdrew the baseball from my leggings and sat cross legged on the ground and began to bury the ball.

Two girls my age came scrambling clumsily into my tree cave.

"Barbara! We saw you come in here!" said Katrina. Katrina had curly black hair and was very fun.
"What are you doing?!" yelled Jenny. Jenny had light brown hair and religious parents.

"I'm... burying this baseball I found." I answered truthfully.
"Why?" asked Jenny.
"Magic," I flat out lied.
"What do you mean? Are you doing a spell?" said Katrina.
"Of sorts. I found this baseball, and I just... I had a feeling that it used to belong to a student here... a student who was MURDERED!" I had no idea where this bullshit was coming from.
"Wow. Why do you think that?" Katrina asked.
"I mean... um... look at how dirty and musty it is. It must be super old. It's practically fossilized."
"Oooooh," said both the girls.
"So, I just figured, I'd give the ball a burial, and then the spirit would be at peace and could move on to the next dimension and stop haunting the playground." This level of delusion and imagination is probably one of the reasons why I can kinda do stand up comedy.
"How do you know the ghost is haunting us?" said Katrina.
"Just.... listen quietly..."
We all stayed silent for a moment and then a branch rustled. We all screamed at the definitive proof. At this point I was starting to believe in the ghost myself.

"We should hold a seance," said Katrina, ever the innovative little yes-and girl. "We can find out who the killer is and bring him to justice."
"We could find out where Billy's body is buried, and dig it up as proof!" I said.
"I don't know if I'm signed up for that level of commitment," said Jenny.
"Billy?" said Katrina.
Damn it.
"Yeah, his name is Billy. I mentioned that earlier," I said. "Okay hold hands and try to picture Billy, just think of him, and feel his energy, whatever comes to mind..."
We closed our eyes and joined hands. We took deep breaths, together.

"What are you girls doing here?" The branches bustled open and Mrs. Hilton stood in front of us, crouching to get into the tree cave. We all screamed.

"Recess ended twenty minutes ago," said Mrs. Hilton. "You all better run inside now!"

I sprinted to my classroom, collapsed sweaty and in tears in my desk. Mr. King didn't do or say anything to draw any more attention to me than already was oozing my way like the evil ooze from My Little Pony (the movie!). He didn't lose step in his lecture and handed me a note saying that I had to stay after class for detention.

Detention had been one of my biggest fears of my life. I desperately wanted to please teachers and get straight As and gold stars and be the kind of weird creepy kid that educators give presents to and call "gifted." I hated when adults were disappointed in me. I was not the kind of kid who got detention. I was mousey, god damn it!

Detention was fine. Much like a pun about dogs, I knew this would not be the last time I had to tell everyone, "I got it."

During detention I helped Mr. King clean off overhead projecters, organize books, and then he let me go. I don't know what I was expecting, hard physical labor? A stern yelling session? Perhaps being dipped in a vat of boiling hot milk while everyone I knew spectated?

I survived detention easily. I also had successfully found my own whimsical, secret way to stand up to my bullies and I hadn't cried or had a panic attack in front of anyone that week. And, additionally, most imporantly, while doing so I had bonded with fun people. I could handle everything.

I met with Jenny and Katrina outside school and we started to walk home together.

"So," said Katrina. "I was thinking we should hit up the library research if there was any paranormal activity around our school ever... and also if there were any murders."
"We could be like a real life ghost mystery solving team," I said.
"As long as I can use your guys' library cards. My parents can't know what kind of witchy stuff I'm getting into," said Jenny.
"Oh!" I yelped. "We should be witches!"

Friday, July 24, 2015

Sick Notes

Sick Get Out of Work Notes

Barbara can't come into work today. She is lying on the couch surrounded by her humble harem of half empty thai food cartoons, feeling this Dawson's Creek episode plot a little TOO hard.

Sorry, Babs can't be there for team building. She had a panic attack in a large group recently and she's not sure she even believes in teams right now.

Barbara will not be able to attend the company holiday party. Holidays stereotypicaly have a higher suicide rate and everyone a the company reminds her of her wasted potential and that everything we love is meaningless. Happy holidays.

Barbara will be out of the office today. Someone said something accidentally rude to Babs and now she has to feel like a gross lump of gross for a few hours while listening to Solange Knowles.

Hello, Babs watched the Buffy Episode titled: The Body again.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Twilight Friend Zoned

Last night I had one of the most surreal experiences of my life. (And this is coming from someone who melts her clocks.) First I left an open mic because there was too much social anxiety. Lately I've been feeling super uncomfortable around other open mic comedians. I will just sit quietly by myself at a table and no one will talk to me or anything, and it's super lonely and depressing. On my bike ride home, I saw two racccoons and I followed them three blocks out of my way, but then they alluded me into the shadows, much like my goals and ambitious career dreams.

On the way home I stopped at one of my favorite bars for a cider and pinball. It's one of my favorite things to do, to be at bars by myself... It feels way less lonely than being at home alone by myself, or being at a comedy mic with a bunch of people who may or may not disdain me. To be or not to be... annoying?

When I went to order, I was looking down, (you know, the direction my self esteem grows) into my coin purse to see if I had pinball sized money, and if I would need to ask the bartender to magically turn some larger bills into quarters.

"What will you have, Barbara?" I heard the bartender ask as soon as the girl in front of me had ordered.
"Oh," I didn't really look up. "Um."

The girl in front of me spun around very quickly. She almost bumped into me in her hurry.

"Sorry," we both said as she almost bumped into me. She moved left to get out of my way, and I moved to my right to get out of her way, but sadly it was the same direction and we continued in a very awkward sad white girl waltz for a few seconds. She passed me (unlike Gandalf's balrog) and I quickly dismissed and forgot about the interaction and started chatting with the bartender.

"Do you need pinball quarters?" the bartender sweetly asked me. They might be psychic at this bar. Or I might go there a lot. OR BOTH.
"I have some but not a lot... Does road show take dollar bills?"
"I don't know."

I walked over to the pinball machines to assess whether I would be needing more quarters. I was standing there squinting (no glasses) at the machines when I heard a very soft high noise. I shook my head and realized the girl who I had almost dance collided with earlier was sitting between me and the pinball. It might have looked like I was staring at her, upon reflection, instead of inspecting the pinball dollar/ quarter holes.

"What?" I said. (Not the most graceful or polite response to mishearing someone. It was like 12:30, all the "Beg pardon"s were asleep.)
"Am I bothering you?"
"What? No! What?" I said.

She looked down at her phone.

"I'm just staring at the pinball like an idiot," I said, probably too quietly for her to hear. I then ran back to the bar to get more quarters.

Later, as I played pinball, she had been joined by two other people. I couldn't shake the weird notion that someone thought *I* was so bothered with her that I was just staring at her angrily and wordlessly. She had sounded almost scared of me, ridiculously apologetic, and like she was worried I would yell at her. When I realized that I desperately wanted to go back to her and explain that I wasn't that person at all, I was just an awkward dummy who loved pinball. But I didn't approach her again because her friends were there.

I kept eavesdropping and hearing the two other friends consoling the girl. It seemed like she had recently gone through a breakup of the s/he's just not into you variety. I heard a couple of key phrases like, "I wasn't trying to be annoying!" and "Am I not pretty enough?" and a few from her friends like "no texting them tonight!"

I caught a few extra looks and was surprised again by what I saw. The girl had long dark almost black hair, like mine, with heavy long thick bangs, like mine. She was wearing no makeup, like me, she had dark circles under her eyes from crying, like me. She was wearing a cute quirky dress, like me... She looked like a younger prettier version of me. I wanted so badly to hug her and tell her it was going to be okay.

I had almost had a panic attack today after being around people who don't like me all day, and then, exhausted and in need of a release, I had run to a sanctuary of pinball and beer, in an attempt to shake off my anxiety and loneliness. While there, in MY safe place, I had inadvertently scared someone and made them think I was angry with them. When she left the bar, I sat down on a stool for a second, and then burst into gushing silent tears.

Monday, July 13, 2015


I was five and not good at making friends yet. (And yes "yet" is optimistically overselling my later developed abilities.) My parents occasionally set me up on playdates, but I didn't pick those toddlers on any okcupid menu, so I lacked desire or drive to bond with these playdates. I had a brother and I had books, and that was good enough to fulfill my needs.

When I first started going to school I was instantly impressed and intimidated by how the other children made friends. Recess was terrifying to a five year old who had no idea how to interact with other five year olds. I followed other children quietly around the playground, watching them show affection like I was some kind of pigtailed voyeuristic Jack the Ripper.

Once a recess teacher (adult with whistle around neck) approached me, while I stood by some swings, staring at a few other little girls.

"Barb," said the adult. (I hate being called Barb.) "Why don't you go play with those girls?"

"I don't know them," I said. I didn't understand how these children knew each other well enough to play together. Were they all siblings? Had my parents unknowingly sent me to a cultish polygamous school? Were we going to sacrifice a goat later? I liked goats!

"That's okay," said the adult. "You can go play."
"But I have yet to be properly introduced," I said clearly, looking up at her.

She narrowed her eyebrows, squinting at me.

My friend and funny local comedian Sean Connery (yep, real name) has a joke: "If you've ever had your IQ tested, you were a weird little awkward kid." (SIC)
.... 130.

The adult leaned down and said, "Go introduce yourself then."

I followed the little girls as they ran across the playground, with me creeping a safe distance behind. They went into a small playhouse underneath a jungle gym. I remember thinking, "Perfect, only one way in and out! They're mine!" You know, like a fucking psychopath.

I entered the pink door to the playhouse. The two stranger children were sitting on the ground. I stood in the threshold staring at them. I grinned at them, proud of myself. I had done it! I had mustered up the courage to approach strangers!

"What?" said one of them.
"What are you doing?" said the other.

I realized I had no idea what to say. I was for the first time in my life (certainly not the last) overcome with a terror that I would say the wrong thing and make someone upset. I was such a sensitive kid that I could cry when people gave me certain types of attention, and I expected that others might have the same countenance I worried that by saying the wrong thing I might trigger that reaction. I continued to stand there, in the shadow of the plastic pink wall, the sun at my back, willing myself to think of something to say, maybe something to explain my behavior, maybe something to make them fall in love with me.

"Do you want something?" said the first little girl.
"Go away," said the second.

At this point that seemed like the best idea. But I still wanted to impress them, perhaps cement a respect or admiration for me in their mindset. I decided the best way to do this was to showcase my impeccable acrobatic skills and cartwheel out of there. Surely I was the only 5 year old lithe and aerobic enough to attempt something so dangerous as a cartwheel. They had probably never even seen a perfect cartwheel before, except on the Olympics.

I raised my arms, extended my front leg, pointed my toe and tumbled out the door, hitting my ankle hard and the doorway, crumpling to the ground in pain and anguish. My face turned bright red and I started crying and ran away before they could see me. I hid behind a tree for the rest of recess and made plans to spend this awful twenty minutes twice a day in the sanctuary of the library.

I have several friends now that I love very deeply, but I still struggle with my words around them. I still turn bright red when I'm trying to express myself. I constantly say the wrong thing and worry for days afterward that I've offended someone. I spend most of my evenings sitting near a group of cool comedians at a bar, desperate to join their huddle, but not knowing how to break into the conversation. Sometimes I will attempt to, I'll muster up the undeniable courage and audacity to attempt to connect with someone, but I'll say the wrong thing, and someone will either make fun of me, or just shut me out.

The cartwheels don't always work.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015


Catptain's Log

5:00 am: I try to wake Babs up. I can't believe she prefers to sleep during the dark instead of the hot boring sun. I almost worry about her. I try to wake her up by sitting on her neck, and when that doesn't work I gently rub my paw through her hair. She groans and pushes me off bed.

5:10 am. It's definitely time to be awake and have breakfast. I paw at Babs' hair until she finally gets up. Rubbing hair is a good way to wake humans up because humans keep their consciousness in their hair. That's why Babs' hair is so messy.

5:15 am: Yay Breakfast!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yummy fishhy mush!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Babs is a good human. I trained her well.

8:30 am: Babs immediately went back to bed after breakfast. I allowed her to sleep more but this is ridiculous. I paw at her hair again. Then I climb on top of her torso and paw around in circles until I can tell she is officially annoyed. Then I lay down and purr loudly into her face.

9:00 am: Babs gets up and gets dressed. I try to tell her to feed us again but she is of the old fashioned conservative mindset that there should be only one breakfast, like highlander or something. She cleans up our shit, which is another good trick I taught her.

9:30am: Babs leaves house to go to a coffee shop to "write" "jokes." I pity her sad pathetic attempt at a liberal arts career. Not only has she chosen a path that will seldom produce profits, but she is not of the mental or emotional countenance to comply with mainstream ideas of humor, nor does she possess the strength to handle the constant rejection that will accompany her failings.

After Babs leaves, my little sister, known to me as Other Cat, have the house to ourselves. We commence with some pleasant licking of each other and then walking around and sitting in small places.

12:30pm: Babs returns from "writing." She tries to pet me but she smells like she's been petting neighbor's dogs. I glare at her for a while. She tries to take "selfies" with me to show the internet how much like a witch she looks. I comply for a few minutes and then roll on my back and fall asleep. She tries to wake me up for more selfies but it is now day time and therefore sleeping time. It's not my fault she slept through the entire night like a goddamn savage.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Note to self

Dear Five Year Old Babs,

Hey, you know when you turned in your "write numbers in correct order" assignment without your name on it, and the teacher had to ask you to write you name on it? Then you cried for about ten minutes because you felt so shitty that you had created extra work for your teacher. Asking you to write your name on an assignment isn't that much more work; spending ten minutes trying to calm down a screaming kindergarder IS extra work for your teacher.

Dear Eight Year Old Babs,

Stop counting your calories. You're 8. Don't let anyone make you feel weird if you want to eat veggies or apples or an entire jar of pickles and coke or herring or or olives or just mustard by itself.

Dear Nine Year Old Babs,

Good job getting your first detention for conducting a seance during recess and being too intranced to notice the bell ring. I'm proud of you.

Dear Ten year old Babs,

Good job getting sent to the principal's office for the first time for writing a story about a sad little girl alien instead of doing the math homework. Again, so proud.

Dear Eleven year old Babs,

Don't try to kill yourself by eating the air freshner packets that come with sneakers.

Dear Twelve year old Babs,

You're not a witch. Stop collecting tree branches and "herbs" (dead leaves) and circling them around yourself while you nap/cry and listen to The Smiths.

Dear Thirteen year old Babs,

oh, buddy, it's gonna be okay.

Dear Fourteen year old Babs,

It's just food, not love.

Dear 17 year old Babs,

Don't date people you don't like.

Dear 19 year old Babs,

Don't be sad when people you don't like break up with you. Also don't go crazy. Also eat something.

Dear 20 year old Babs,

Eat something. Oh no not that much, okay stop!

Dear 22 year old Babs,

So... you're just gonna lay on the couch, utterly exhausted for no reason, eating pizza and watching Buffy naked for three months?

Dear 23 year old Babs,

Don't fuck him, or him, or him, or...

Dear 24 year old Babs,

Be better at making real friends.

Dear 25 year old Babs,

Everyone doesn't hate you. You aren't hurting or burdening people by being around.

Dear 28 year old Babs,

You're gonna be okay.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Social Anxiety

There are many different types of anxiety, and subsequently many different types of social anxiety. My anxiety manifests like an intense terror/ nightmareish constant worry that I'm hurting people.

It feels like there's an invisible wall around my heart. The wall is not simply to keep me safe, but to keep others safe from me, to keep me imprisoned. When situations get stressful that wall feels like it's squeezing in, trying desperately to cage the darkness inside of me, and subsequently resulting in real physical symptoms such as chest pains and trouble breathing.

I have the kind of social anxiety where I feel fearful going into social situations because I'm worried I'm hurting people by being there. I feel guilty talking in pubic. I worry that all of my words can hurt people, which is why I've stopped ending sentences with "Avada Kadavra."

I feel anxious and guilty believing everyone I know feels unhappy when I am there. I feel genuine guilt for my presence, even with people I love dearly. I feel remorseful for my own existence, which is stupid, because I really should be blaming the mad scientists who brought me to life in their dungeon lab.

For most of my life I felt that everyone I love would be happier if I disappeared from existence, but partially because everyone I love is super into magic.

When I was about 22 a therapist asked me what I had done that I felt so guilty for. The question befuddled me. I was just a bad person, right? That was reason enough to feel intense guilt for existing and taking up space. I just assumed that the reason I had felt this much guilt was that I was simply inherently evil, which is silly because I don't even have a fluffy white cat sitting on my spinny chair.

My therapist pushed be to think way back to my childhood, and truthfully, there were two experiences that caused this intense lifelong guilt. When I was five I witnessed something terrible happen to someone I love, someone I was meant to protect and take care of. The adult who committed the act convinced me that it was my fault, and despite the lack of truth of that, I will carry this guilt for the rest of my life. Additionally, when I was 12 my parents had a huge fight and one of them left for a while, and I was the topic of the discussion. In both those situations I had inadvertently hurt people I deeply loved, and that guilt and complex can never fully be washed away.

Since realizing the source of my feelings of guilt and anxiety, I have gained control over my panic attacks. I guess I really was the one giving them to myself. There is no santa...?

However, every now and then I start to feel the same intense heart clutching anxiety that leads way into my old panic attacks. Right now I'm feeling similarly, like I can't go out to social gatherings without hurting people I care about. I'm scared to leave my house for fear of running into someone I know or like. I cry several times a day when I think about how much everyone must disdain me. I worry that every word out of my mouth is causing pain. Again, I am forced to ask myself, have I accidentally hurt people that I love?


Of course I didn't do it on purpose, but a few of the things I've said recently have been perceived as dismissive or hurtful. Also, my close association with some people who caused hurt to others aligned me with them in their mindset as untrustworthy.

Both of these things are bad. Neither of these things are so bad that I deserve to punish myself with crippling fear and apprehension before every sentence I utter. Neither of these things should make me cry guiltily for hours that everyone I care about would be better if I wasn't around. Nothing I've ever done is so bad that I should feel intense shame and physical pain regarding my own treatment of my friends. Punishing myself won't make anyone feel better.

The only things I can do are attempt to apologize, if I can. I should apologize for what I actually am sorry for, instead of internalizing that guilt as part of my personality and apologizing for every single tiny thing. Someone recently noticed I apologized to a stuffed animal in a comedy video, something I hadn't even noticed that I did.

Also, I can attempt to go forward and not repeat my actions, to be more aware and careful, to make a real attempt to spread love instead of darkness. I really do want to be a good person deep down. I only have hurt people in the past because I'm insecure and weak, easily manipulated by more charismatic individuals.

I'm terrified that I'll hurt more people with my actions and words, but if I let that social anxiety cripple me, I also lose the opportunity to help people with my actions and words. I need to go forth and spread love and compassion, and that will be the only way I can melt the inner wall I have up.

Friday, June 5, 2015

What my unused antidepressants must be thinking

In the last year I gradually worked to get off of my antidepressants. (Unrelatedly I also struggled to get off on my antidepressants.) A few weeks ago I finally succeeded in tapering down to nothing. Now there are several bottles sitting in my bathroom, and I just wonder what it is they are saying amongst themselves.

- Yeah, there's been a lot of cutbacks at the old Barbara factory.

-Tell me about it. First she starts cutting Citalopram's hours. You know Cita has a wife and kids to support!

-Yeah I hear the Barbara facotry is outsourcing all the work to her natural serotonin.

-Ugh. I hate nepotism. 

-Natural body chemicals swooping in here and stealing all the SSRI's jobs.

-It's just wrong.

-Right. In this economy! 

-And you won't believe what I heard... I..

-What is it? 

-You know Klonopin? 

-Oh yeah, great dude.

-Well, she's been using less and less of him, but she's been cutting him up into pieces as she does.

-Oh my god. What a psychopath.

-She's a monster.

-She must be stopped.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

But you look fine

When people find out I have an eating disorder they are surprised. They respond, "but you look fine!" or "you're still really cute!" Right, I know. My mirror does in fact work. (I'm not a vampire in the literal sense.) I have a cute, albeit kinda chubby body with a very fluctuating weight. Everyone is always quick to tell me that I shouldn't be bulimic because I'm beautiful at any size, but those two facts are completely irrelevant to each other.

I have body image issues, but no, I don't care about looking thin or beautiful. I don't try to dress in a way that would slenderize me. I have never been desperate for people to find me tiny. I don't even really find thinner people more or less attractive than non thin people. Visually, I don't give a fuck. My body image issues stem from something else. I don't feel well in this body. I don't feel good being constantly full of food and drinks. I feel overwhelmingly full, even when I don't overeat, even when I don't eat at all, and I know that what I'm full of is feelings, anxiety, not food. But knowing that is not the same as feeling it.

I feel like Jabba the Hutt when I try to move.  I am surprised when I am able to fit through the doorway. I practically dive out of the way of people, because I don't think they're able to get around me. I feel grotesque and giant, and totally guilty for taking up this much space. When people hug me I feel guilty that they have to touch me. I don't care about looking more physically attractive, I just want to exist less. My eating disorder is based not on my literal body, but rather the fact that I have the supreme audacity to exist at all.

I've been bulimic since I was twelve years old. When I lived at home with my folks I was always around 110 pounds. (I'm 5'4 so that was slightly underweight but still healthy.) When I was in college it fluctuated between 90 pounds and 130 pounds (which is a big difference when you're only 5'4.) I was gaining and losing weight like crazy but no one seemed to notice, or rather, I've never let anyone close enough to me to care. I don't really know how to let people in. I think that's because when I need help the most it feels like I'm in a relationship with Bulimia, and I don't need anyone else. When I'm at that stage I also feel like I'm burdening everyone and that everyone hates me, and I'm hurting my friends by talking to them, so I just stick with my buddy Bulimia.

Every time I move I feel my overflowing love handles, giant arms, pot belly, etcetera, jiggling like Santa Clause. It practically hurts to be in this body. But, yeah, I know I still look cute. 

Today I actually really tried to eat healthy and take care of myself, but I still have pounds and pounds of flesh trying to suffocate me. I'm really upset because I was healthy, I didn't even purge or binge and it feels like I can barely fit in the room. I ate healthy vegetables and fish today, and yet I feel like everything inside me is a thick dark sludge, trying to ooze out through my layers of fat. The sludge is poisonous and trying to infect people I love as it erupts out of me.

Eating disorders are not based on our visual perception of ourselves. No one develops an eating disorder because they want to appear more attractive. They come from a guilty conscious for existing, extreme fullness of anxiety, and a multitude of other things.

Monday, June 1, 2015

A Fairy Tale

There once was a princess in a magickal kingdom. I know these stories mostly start with "there once was a BEAUTIFUL princess" and I'm not saying this princess was or wasn't beautiful; I'm just saying it doesn't matter for this specific story how physically attractive she was and by which patriarchal society's standards.

The princess was born in a big castle, with lovely gardens and all of the ample amounts of privilege in the world. On the day of her birth, her parents the king and queen were visited by an evil witch demon. (Not all witches are evil, however this one happened to be.) The witch appeared with a dark cloudy flourish in the delivery room in front of the happy couple and newborn.

"Oh shit, who the heck are you?" said the queen, stumbling to cover up her nude bits with the sheet.

"My name is Anxiety," said the witch. "I am the demon that torments the inner thoughts and feelings of humans all over the planet. I prey on women twice as much as I do on men, and I am the most common mental illness demon in the universe. Yet there is nothing common about me."

"Well, then in that case begone with you!" yelled the king. "You are not welcome here. You should have said you were one of those cookie salespeople. Guards!"

"I will begone with myself," said Anxiety. "But at the same time I will always be here, in all of you." She pointed at her temple. "Before I leave, I bestow a curse on the princess. On the day of her twelveth birthday, she shall prick her feelings on a spindle, and forever be captured by me, imprisoned in a tall tower, only to be set free by true love!"

With that the demon with Anxiety raised her arms and vanished. The king and queen searched everywhere for Anxiety, but she was nowhere tangible to be found in the realm. They asked the old wizards and mages and wise people of less gendered terms for more information on Anxiety. Alas, the research and books about Anxiety proved somewhat subjective to a case by case basis and not particularly helpful for battling the demon beast.

The princess grew older, as most everyone does. She laughed and played and tried to get a long with other children. It all seemed simple and pleasant, and the king and queen stopped worrying so much about Anxiety's words of impending doom. On the princess's twelveth birthday, the castle grounds were crawling with guards; where the royal family purchased grounds that can crawl is a mystery. Removed from the castle were all spindles, anything resembling a spindle, and anything that seemed dangerous because no one was quite sure what a spindle was.

And yet it still happened.

It was subtle at first. No one noticed that the princess had been kidnapped and imprisoned by Anxiety, because the tower of her prison was located inside the princess herself. The base of the stone tower started where her heart was and grew tall up into her brain. The princess lived in the top of the stone tower, inside her brain, peering out through the single window, through her eyes, and watching her friends and family. The tower felt heavy in her heart and brain, taking up too much room entirely. She felt crowded physically on the inside of her body, while still trapped inside the brain.

The princess continued to grow up, although experiencing everything through the tower in her mind. She grew quieter and more nervous and worried. She second guessed herself and became sensitive to everything. She worried constantly that she was going to make a mistake, that her thoughts and decisions were hurting everyone. Around the tower piled books, movies, and music, a moat of things to prevent the princess from ever leaving the tower of Anxiety in her mind. The door at the bottom of the tower was locked from the outside any way. Things could get inside, but she couldn't get out that way.

Anxiety began to visit the princess in the tower. First it happened only under the cover of darkness and nighttime. Anxiety would knock on the bottom door in the tower, and the princess would feel a thud at the base of the tower in her heart. Though she never invited Anxiety in, Anxiety had a key and would enter the tower. As the demon witch traipsed up the stairs in the tower, the princess felt a tightness in her chest, which grew as Anxiety rose each step. The princess's breathing constricted and her heart beat more quickly. By the time Anxiety got to the princess's room in her brain, it felt as though her entire brain was trembling like an earthquake. Anxiety called this visits "panic attacks."

When the princess turned 18, a slew of suitors attempted to rescue her from the tower. Princes and white knights from all over the realm flocked to her, drawn and attracted by the vulnerability and weakness of the princess. They tried weapons such as "I bet no one has told you how pretty you are" and "I hope you like yourself enough to let yourself be happy" and "You deserve someone who sees how special you are." But none of them worked. All the white knights failed and the princess remained trapped in the tower of Anxiety. Part of the princess was scared to leave the tower anyway.

The princess grew older, smarter, kinder, and more thoughtful. She began to be visited by good fairies who would spend time inside the tower with her, reading books, playing games, watching television, and just sitting next to each other writing in their journals in comfortable silence. The fairies spread light and warmth in the tower, teaching the princess their magic tricks and giggling together. The fairies never tried to rescue the princess from Anxiety. Yet, Anxiety hated the fairies and tried to sabotage the princess's relationship with them by casting an evil spell that made the princess feel nervous that she was hurting the fairies. This made the princess cry and cry. Her tears fell out the window of the tower, dark tears poisoned by the spell, and they fell to the earth, poisoning the flowers that were starting to grow around the tower.

Then one fairy told the princess about other princesses that had been captured by Anxiety, imprisoned in their own towers in their own hearts and minds. The princess felt empathetic for the other princesses and wanted to let them know that they were not alone, that she had experienced what they had experienced, and that it was going to be okay. She wanted to leave her tower to help the other princesses, like the fairies had helped her.

"You can!" chirped the fairy.

"But how?" cried the princess. "The tower is inside me. It's who I am. How can I escape it?"

"You just do!" sang the fairy. The fairy winked at the princess. "Watch me!"

The fairy began to sparkle and flew out the window into the starry night sky. The princess ran to the window and looked up and the sparkle in the distance. She looked down the shaft of the tower at the long fall to the ground. Thorns and poison ivy had begun to grow at the base of the tower, a treacherous fall indeed. The princess cringed and leaped out the window. She closed her eyes, expecting the violent bloody death, and was surprised to discover that she was light, floating in the cool breezy air. She breathed in deeply, the smell of flowers and the ocean filled her lungs, and she felt able to breathe deeply for the first time in years. She looked down at the ground so far below her and realized she was flying. The princess had turned into a fairy herself. She giggled, and as she did so, she sparkled and her wings flapped open, free, taking up space.

The now fairy princess used her new found fairy magic to travel around, searching for other princesses trapped in towers of Anxiety. She also found princesses trapped in sunken caves by the demon Depression and so many more princesses that needed her fairy magic. She also could go wherever she wanted and whenever she wanted, without being terrified of making a mistake or hurting someone. She flew around the kingdom spreading light and joy. Sometimes she did return to the tower of Anxiety, because it had been her home for so long. The tower wasn't scary any more to the fairy princess, because she had saved herself.

She lived happily ever after.

The end.

Saturday, May 30, 2015


Today I'm hyper.
Sometimes I cry forever.
But I am okay.

Deanna Troi feels.
How does she handle it all?
She just makes it so.

My heat races.
My legs are always shaking.
Anxiety dance.

Crying on a bike.
I don't know why I am sad.
Watermelon eyes.

Frodo has burdens
That mountain is way too high
Thank god for Sam Wise.

Bugs are so tiny.
Bugs are beautiful and weird.
You say I bug you.

So much inside me.
Feelings, beer, and the pizza.
No room for my love.

Buffy is stronger
I wish I could save the world.
Too busy sleeping.

Depression is bad
Just like once upon a time,
You feel all alone.

Monsters eat heroes
Heroes eat the sandwiches,
I eat everything.

Darkness inside me
So thick I can barely breathe
Get it out now please.

Vampires drink blood
They need an invitation
Don't invite them in.

Most wizards are boys
But I'd look good in the cloak
So would Bjork, duh.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Feelings vs Fact

Feeling: No one wants me around.

Fact: No one wants me around if I go around saying weird stuff like, “no one wants me around.”

Feeling: I’m morbidly obese.
Fact: I’m morbidly obese in Los Angeles.

Feeling: Everything about me is too big.

Fact: My heart and sensitivity are quite big. My pussy is not.

Feeling: I don’t have any friends.

Fact: I don’t have any of the NBC Friends tv show on dvd.

Feeling: I hurt everyone I love.

Fact: I kick everyone I love’s ass at air hockey.

Feeling: Everyone would be happier if I wasn’t around.

Fact: Some people would be happier if I wasn’t around, but they are probably men’s rights activists or something gross like that. Some people would be sadder if I wasn’t around. Most people would not notice or care. Some people would be happier if I was happier.

Feeling: My weirdness fucked up my parents' marriage.

Fact: 1/2 of all marriages end. My parents are still together. Most relationships go through a rough patch. My parents had a rough patch and I was the topic, but if I hadn't been the topic of the rough patch, something else would have been the topic and they still would have had aforementioned patch. Relationships are like jean jackets: lots of rough patches on the ones that last.

Feeling: My shyness and social anxiety hurt a lot of people's feelings.

Fact: ...Male seahorses carry the baby when they're pregnant.

Feeling: I’m an asshole.

Fact: Everyone’s an asshole sometimes

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Super Powers

If I’ve learned anything from spending countless hours reading Marvel Comics’ The Incredible Hulk, it’s that with great power… comes the loss of communication skills. Additionally, whenever I’m shy or nervous, my communication skills worsen as well. So if we can follow that logic, whenever I’m shy or nervous… I have super strength.

SCENE: White room, lots of computers, important looking sciency people and businessy people running about and saying things like “stat!”

General: This is a code green. We have to call her in.

Lieutenant: But sir, she doesn’t even know what she is, or how she’s doing it. Is it fair to do something like this without her consent?

General: God damn it, Last Name, I don’t have time to think about the feelings of one little nerdy girl when the entire fate of the world hangs in the ballance. This is it, what we’ve been training for. Let’s send her in.

Lieutenant: Okay, she’s being dropped off at the location now.

General: Good, stand by, men, this is what we’re waiting for.

On a huge monitor we see a dark grey evil mad scientist bad guy’s lab. (Open to interpretation and subjectivity.) In walks in Barbara, short brunnette with glasses and bangs.

Barbara: (on monitor screen) Oh, hey… this guy gave me a ride here and said some friends were um, throwing a party…

Super villain: (on screen): EVIL LAUGH there are no friends for you here!

General:  Good, she’s already starting to stammer. Her powers are heating up. Send in the trigger.

On monitor screen we see a cool looking young woman, short purple hair, lots of tattoos, great taste in clothes, she walks up to Barbara.

Cool woman: Hey Barbara, did you hear the new song by the Mountain Goats?

Barbara: Oh, um, yes, I mean… no I haven’t yet… but I want to.

Cool woman: Wait, you do know who the Mountain Goats are, don’t you?

Barbara: Um, yeah, uh, of course I do.

Cool woman: Yeah. What’s your favorite song by them?

Barbara: Um, I like, the one, I mean, I like, uh, all of them….

Barbara screams in agony, turns bright green, huge and muscly, growling in strength and hulk-like mania. Barbara smashes through all of the machinery, grabs evil villain by the shirt collar and shakes him in the air.

Super villain: Okay, I’m sorry! I surrender!

Barbara: Don’t make me socially anxious. You won’t like me… when I’m socially anxious.

Thursday, April 30, 2015


 I grew up around Seattle, or as I like to think of it, the crying man’s San Francisco. Most people I know deal with depression in some form. It’s super common. Sometimes I feel too depressed to leave the house. I just feel lethargic and I want to lay on the couch and close my eyes and do nothing but nap and eat, which is not as awesome as it sounds. I think I’m like a cat in an ill fitting human suit.

I go through ups and downs that seem to last anywhere from a few weeks to years. In college I was very very depressed, but I had to cut it out because it was totally cutting into my drinking alone time. I think I may be in a downward slump now. I haven’t gone on a date in five months, which is a long time for me. I just haven’t felt interested or motivated to put in any effort, really in anything except comedy. And even that: performance arts, though it used to enthrall and thrill me, is losing its allure.

I think of depression like a classic I-Pod, because any time I tell someone I have it, they’re like “Still?” and "I got over that in high school." For me, being depressed isn't so much about wearing all black, listening to the Cure, and rolling eyes with dark eyeliner: though that is a very fortuitous coincidence. Being depressed is more of a state of lethargy and listlessness.

I read an article that being depressed is very linked to overly worrying, which leads to intense dreams, which leads to less REM sleep, which leads to oversleeping, and slothlike behavior. But it's okay, because sloths are adorable, right?

I don't know if I always had depression. I remember being ambitious, motivated, driven, completley in love with school and work and personal growth. I struggled with intense anxiety my entire life but never depression. I used to get these intense panic attacks. I felt constricted by my anxiety like a hand was gripping my heart inside my chest. Whenever I was about to talk to someone who I admired and craved the respect from, it felt as if the hand was tightening around my heart. My anxiety felt constricting. I was in a glass clear box, and when pressure was applied, the walls and ceiling are slowly getting closer together incrementally much like the walls and ceiling in the trash compactor scene in the first Star Wars. At times this can result in disrupted breathing, heart racing, and restlessness. I believe my anxiety was the beginning seed which my depression sprouted from.

It was probably when I was around 18 when I started really experiencing depression. I started crying a lot, and having problems connecting with people. In college I was experiencing a lot of changes, gaining a sense of confidence, which conflicted with my 18 years of thourougly cultivated low self esteem. I had an intense guilt for existing, but I didn't deserve it. When I was younger I was nervous, anxious, and guilty about taking or taking up space. I shouldn't feel guilty for existing, because, it's totally the fault of the mad scientists that created me. The emerging of confidence mixed with the hot bubbling anxiety may have led to depression. When I got out of college, I lost a lot of my enthusiasm for constantly striving to better myself. Also I had my first real relationship end, which brought up a lot of abandonment issues, but now even those have left me. Now, unless I busy myself with an intense project, I struggle to get out of bed. For me, the best way to stave off depression is to throw myself into a project and to work on keeping up with my to do lists.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


I don't know if I've been shy my entire life. I certainly have been called shy enough that I have developed a complex. When I was younger, teachers called me shy. The other kids didn't call me that because "freak" and "weirdo" just rolled off the tongue so much easier. When I was in kindergarten my parents told me that the teacher was concerned about my shyness, that I was too shy to speak up in class. I tried to tell my parents that I was not too shy; I just had already learned how to read, write, and do math, so I was busy daydreaming about witches instead of paying attention in class.

The fact that my teacher expressed "concern" surprised me. I had no idea shyness was a negative quality. I had been raised by very polite people that believed in public a "good child" was synonymous with a "quiet child." I am quiet; I like listening and reading and daydreaming and being in my own imaginary world. I am also a very sensitive person to both my own feelings and that of others. I cry so often I should move to California to help with the drought. I am reserved partially because I am protecting my feelings from getting hurt. I like all of these qualities about myself and I don't believe they stem from a lack of strength or confidence. I think I was always introverted, but my social phobia developed more gradually.

I know I've been using the word "shy" a lot, but that word has a special significance for me. Shyness is the feeling of apprehension, lack of comfort, or awkwardness especially when a person is in proximity to other people. I definitely identify with that definition now, as an adult. I'm uncomfortable, especially in groups of men. I don't like going out to open mics where I know there will be large groups of comedians judging me negatively. Whether or not it is imagined, I sense an immense amount of hatred shooting from they eyes of many male comedians when I quietly sit down and read or write in my notebook before an open mic.

Because of my reservedness I have been called cold, off putting, intimidating, rude, distant, aloof and stuck up. A lot of people tell me they were intimidated to meet me because I am closed off. This raises a conflict for me. I don't want to be closed off from others. I think of myself as a kind loving person, and I'd love to seem open enough that people can talk to me because I like being nice to people. This is endlessly frustrating, because I don't want to inadvertently be an asshole to someone just because I'm awkward and uncomfortable.

However, several times (probably upwards of a hundred times) when I've been even slightly comfortable around straight men, they take that as an invitation to profess their romantic feelings at me. Because, why would a woman be sweet if not to lure them into the snare of her vagina? Then when I very coldly and factually tell them that I am not interested, they get angry. Sometimes they never hit on me, but just attack me for my political or social beliefs and try to make me admit I'm wrong for my strong feminist ways. This in turn makes me even more reserved and protective of my feelings around men.

Subsequently it takes me about a year to warm up to any straight cisgendered man. Did I mention I'm an aspiring comedian, so I work in a male dominated community filled with unchecked delusions of artistic genius and entitlement?
My shyness around women however, is more of the stereotypical nervousness and awkwardness around someone you respect and don't want to view you as an idiot. Sometimes I'm comfortable right away around a woman. Sometimes, I'm timid at first when I don't know her that well. That timidity usually fades quickly after a few chats with her. In a select few cases over my life, the shyness has worsened around certain people the MORE I got to know them, because they lash out at me or bully me. As aforementioned, I'm sensitive to my own feelings and that of others and this leads to heightened anxiety when I feel that anyone in a group (not just me) is uncomfortable. My fear is irrational, but I am still very timid around some people in some situations.

For me shyness is like comic books: because I have a lot of issues.

My social anxiety and social phobia has arisen almost as a learned trait subtly throughout the course of my life. I'm 27 years old, and I hesitate to leave my house sometimes to go out to shows and parties (though it's technically for my career) because I feel apprehensive about discomfort. Sometimes I catch myself quietly standing near other comedians, struggling to break into their conversation, not to take it over, but just to listen.

Friends say things like, "Barbara why are you so afraid of people? People love you." That's not really how fears, even social fears work. You wouldn't be like, "Barbara why are you afraid of bears? Bears love you. Bears love the taste of your organs. Bears love scraping open your soft malleable flesh."

A few years ago my social phobia was very bad. I felt unwanted in any social situation, and worried that I ruined any conversation simply by speaking. I was scared to be around others. I felt constantly guilty and uncomfortable speaking. That feeling of immense anxiety is impermanent, and faded once I surrounded myself with good friends who loved me and made some better choices with therapy. Sometimes the intensity of the phobia will resurface, but I know it will go away with time and work.

Perhaps my shyness stems from low self worth, from guilt for taking up space. Why bother talking at all when I'm clearly not the most interesting person here? Maybe I'm afraid to speak in social situations because I'm terrified of criticism, which comes from my overly critical perception of myself.

For the most part my social anxiety and shyness are under control. I greatly enjoy my alone time. I don't feel guilty for hermitting up some nights with a good book or tv show. It is still hard being in groups around people and worrying that they hate me. Depression and anxiety feed into my shyness, and my shyness can make me more anxious, but I’m coping with my issues and doing everything I can.