Wednesday, June 7, 2017

How Terrorism Helped My Relationship

It's a ten hour car ride home. It's just the road, my boyfriend and I. Usually this kind of long ride drives me insane and I end up picking a fight with Dusty just to pass the time. But today, I don't have to do that. Luckily for me there was a terrorist attack last night so social media is keeping me occupied with all the night's drama and its ensuing political debate. Being stuck in a car all day is hard but a tragic event and an Internet connection make it a lot more fun.

The attack was in London, a handful are dead and several more are injured. That's awful. But there's more. Trump is mad at the Mayor of London and the world is mad at Trump for being mad at the Mayor. That's interesting. But there's more. Wonder Wonder is number one at the box office. Cool! Oh wait. No one cares because yet again the accomplishments of women are over shadowed by the destructiveness of men. It's just another day on Earth. Scroll on!

We stop for gas and Dusty asks for an update on the attacks and instead of boring him with the facts I give him a politicized briefing: The left wants everyone to remain peaceful but the right wants the left to wake up and get rid of all the Muslims. Dusty either doesn't hear me, or is too exhausted from driving to muster up a response. Usually this kind of silent treatment irritates me but I've got a dozen headlines running through my head and no energy to get sassy. Instead, I go into the station, pee, buy some candy and return to the car. Just six and a half more hours to go. I go back on my phone immediately.

Even though I've only been away from Twitter for five minutes, I refresh my feed and there are a bunch of new updates. The attacks are spawning a glorious tug of war between liberals and republicans and it's all very petty which is why it's so entertaining. Each side *knows* that they are right and the other side is wrong and they all take to the Internet to prove their righteousness in a heated battle of hashtags and insults. There are also some heart felt condolences being sent to the victims and their families, but I ignore these because I'm trying to survive a long car ride and kind sentiments are about as fun as starring out the window.

My leg starts to cramp and the Internet moves away from praying for London and towards vilifying Trump.  It's an online debate, or as I like to think of it, a human civil war between tolerance and xenophobia-or, if you're conservative- realism and political correctness. I've been on my phone for a couple of hours, and most of the tweets about the London attacks aren't even about the attacks anymore. Liberals are attacking Trump, conservatives are attacking liberals and the travel ban is trending again (a fun call back to three months ago.) I look at Dusty behind the wheel and think how great it is that we haven't fought all day. Today, ISIS is the best thing to happen to our relationship.

After three bathroom breaks, two fuel stops, and one mouth-watering meal at Western Sizzlin, we make it home to Nashville. Dusty is spent from driving and my eyes hurt from looking at my phone. We are tired but we are tired together. I feel like our love has grown and to celebrate we order a pizza and watch Family Feud. We made it through a ten hour car ride with out arguing. I was too busy watching the world get a divorce to fight with my boyfriend and I consider that a victory.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Tortured Actresses Are The Elixir Of My Soul

It's three in the morning and I'm watching Lindsay Lohan on YouTube again. I will regret this tomorrow when my eyes feel like they've been dropped kicked from starring at my iPhone for too long, but right now, watching Lindsay rattle on about her refugee work while simultaneously looking like a puffy-faced crack whore, satiates my soul. This is the third night in a row I've binge watched clips of troubled actresses and I've never felt more connected to the universe. In the way that people watch Oprah for inspiration, I rely on interviews of crazy actresses for a better understanding of myself.

Lindsay is an awful role model and that's why I love her so much. She is the perfect antidote to a world that tries to force feed me yoga retreats and ah ha moments. I'm sick of shiny botoxed actresses selling me their daily skin care routines and inspirational journeys. Show me a liar, an addict, an entitled child star who blew all her money on coke and designer clothes and I'll show you someone who's Ted Talk I would listen to. In a culture that champions personal growth and teaching moments, Lindsay Lohan dares to be an abject, perpetual fuck up. She's not an empowered, strong woman and that's why I like her.

In my life, I've indulged in several self pity and booze fueled benders but I've never had enough courage to really fall apart. It takes a lot of guts to be an addict and I am too much of a control freak to have that much fun. I wish I could let go, abandon my ambition, and for once in my life be brave enough to ruin my life. But I won't do that, I like staying hydrated. I am a coward and it takes a bold woman to be a mess.

Judy Garland is perhaps my favorite horrifying example of the perils of being a child star. Like beauty, addiction is in the eye of the beholder and in every interview I've ever watched of her, Judy denies being an addict. She always insisted that if she was as messed as everyone claimed she was, she never would have been able to sing at all. Indeed, until her dying day her voice never showed any signs of corruption, but her frail face and emaciated body screamed a different, more twisted story. Her incredible talent never fell victim to her substance abuse- she could always wow an audience- but after only forty seven years, her body expired, exhausted from a life time of pain and the medication that failed to quell it.

If I was a genius I'd totally be an addict, but I can't party all the time and still be productive so unfortunately, I am doomed to a life of inner peace. Although I'm bummed that I can't rage and be successful, I am glad that I understand my talent has limits. I am only as good as the amount of sleep I get and this is a point where Lindsay Lohan and I connect.

Lindsay pranced around Hollywood thinking her talent was immune to life in the fast lane but she miscalculated and her career paid the price for it. Unlike Judy, Lindsay's gifts were not indestructible and as Lindsay's substance abuse continued, her once bright eyed, compelling screen presence morphed into one-dimensional, unremarkable performances. Lindsay Lohan was not talented enough to be an addict and not lucky enough to realize that her that gifts were finite. Lindsay should be an example of why not to romanticize drug addled famous people, but her stubborn pursuit of bliss in the face of her tanking career is the antithesis to self awareness, and so I relish her all the more, for her ignorance, her naivety, and most of all, her arrogance.

Pondering Judy and Lindsay's unfortunate lives is a respite for me; a happy place where I protect myself from positive vibes and strong woman. Judy and Lindsay are examples of weakness, people who were and are incapable of over coming their flaws. There's are not motivational stories, but real stories, human stories that remind me that sometimes whatever doesn't kill you, still kills you. I turn to these woman because they crumbled under pressure, and for that reason, they give me strength.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Pitch Of Love: A story about family, betrayal, and indoor soccer

The TV was so loud that I could only see, not hear, the phone call that changed my family forever. My dad stood still in the middle of the kitchen, clasping the phone between his chin and shoulder, but as the news sank in, his head began to move back and forth, twisting in such an over-the-top, directionless chaos, that I didn't even notice the phone drop; I blinked, and the chord was just swinging beside him, like deranged pendulum. My dad collapsed to the ground and I ran into the room, meeting him on the cold, hardwood floor. He broke the news to me fast: Hannah, I'm so sorry. You didn't make the soccer team.

My life would never be the same.

I actually did make the soccer team, just not the starting line up, but to my dad, being benched was an even greater sin than being cut. That a Hogan, a family respected for generations as supreme baseball, hockey and rugby players, would be condemned to the bench, was not only an embarrassment, but an egregious insult; an attack on our entire family too terrifying for my dad to accept. So he didn't, and, instead, declined the offer and immediately began plotting his revenge.

Invigorated by spite, my dad did something that had never been done before in the history of Peterborough sports. He formed another all star soccer team; a second, alternative squad, that was in the same league as, and would compete against, the team who had just rejected us. Like Hitler, my dad attempted a coup on the Under 13 Girls Indoor Soccer League, declaring himself the new coach in town and his daughter its captain. His bold seizure of power was poorly received by the original all star team- they were furious-and what should have been a fun loving season of soccer, a way for kids and parents to get through the long winter months, turned into a hellish nightmare of divided loyalties and tween in-fighting. Parent turned against child, child turned against parent. Friendships burned under a fire of bruised egos and Seventeen Magazines.

My team, unaffectionately referred to as the B Team, was comprised of several out of shape, flat footed, and athletically challenged thirteen year old girls. My dad, however, ignored these glaring deficiencies and began every practise with a melodramatic filibuster about being underdogs. I didn't buy into his propaganda because I had a talent for seeing through hubris, since, as a pre-teen, most of the time, I was creating it. In the beginning, I oppressed my disdain for my dad and the spectacle he called coaching, but as the season progressed, we digressed, losing every game. The harder our team fell, the more determined to win my dad became, and his competitive focus was always directly proportional to my rising levels of irritation. We began to argue. The shame of failure weighed on me. The stigma of being related to the man who instigated this civil war taunted me. I sucked, my team sucked, my dad was delusional, and I was in love with Leonardo DiCaprio. There were too many things going.

The playoffs arrived and since the universe enjoyed tormenting me, we were up against the A Team. We came out hard, but at the end of the first half, our team was down by five. According to my dad, we still had a shot, but I disagreed. Just as I had predicted, we were losing, and I wanted the game, the season, and this humiliating chapter of my life to be over. The second half began, but I was going through the motions, so I asked my dad to take me off the field- to bench me- but he refused. Hustle up, Hogan! Push, it Hogan! I don't know what bothered me more, the fact that I wasn't allowed to rest, or that my dad called me by my last name like I was his slave, or worse, his bro.

Annoyed, I did what I always do when things aren't going my way, I played dirty. I tripped, shoved, pushed, and sadistically chopped at the A Teams legs like I was a sous chef on Adderall. I cut a girl off from behind, and was given a yellow card, but despite my reckless behavior, my dad still wouldn't take me out of the game. This enraged me, so I faked a heat stroke, and the game stopped for five minutes. I pretended I couldn't breath, but my dad called my bluff, and hollered at me to keep playing. I should have channeled my anger into the soccer game, but I didn't, and instead, I snapped. In the middle of a play, I stopped running, quit chasing the ball, quite literally, I just gave up. I completely disengaged from the game, ignoring and avoiding the action, and soon my teammates instructed each other to not pass me, their captain, the ball.

When clock ran out, and we officially lost the game, I was satisfied in the way that only an unruly pre-teen can be satisfied, with a mixture of glowing contempt and stubborn resolve. In the car ride home, my dad declared that he would never coach a girls team again, he said that was too hard, that you can't push girls the same way you can push boys. I took things a step further, and banned him from ever attending any of my future soccer games. I exiled him from my athletic life forever and he never participated in the Peterborough Girls Indoor Soccer League again. I'm not sure if it's connected to me being a female, but I agree with my dad, I don't like to be pushed. After all, I am a Hogan- even if I lose, I find a way to win.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Nashville, Now.

I called myself crazy the other day, and my boyfriend tried to convince me I'm not by telling me a story about himself. He told me that when he was a teenager, he always called himself weird. Then his brother-in-law said, Why are you calling yourself weird? You're not weird. Stop saying that. So, my boyfriend stopped calling himself weird and eventually, he stopped feeling weird. In that vein, if I stop calling myself crazy, I won't be crazy anymore. It's an interesting anecdote, full of flaws, but interesting.

I can be myself with my boyfriend but I can't walk all over him, which is a true oxymoron. I always thought that The Taming Of The Shrew was a sexist story; that a woman must yield to a man in order to experience true peace. I suppose that, by modern axioms, submitting to the will of a man is the antithesis of feminism, but I know female activists, full of independence, free from the claws of men, and so many of them are hopped up on antidepressants and drunk most of the time. Sometimes I worry that feminism is the gateway drug to mental illness. I know a lot of house wives are closet alcoholics too, so maybe, life is maddening no matter what brand you follow.

I don't have the answers, so I try to listen to my heart, but it's deaf and dumb, and not very helpful. My boyfriend tells me, I love you, don't worry, everything is going to be great, but I'm so afraid I'm gonna die or he is going to die, or worse, neither one of us is going to be famous. If I'm not successful it's because I wasn't good enough, but if we stay together, and he doesn't make it big, it will be because I weighed him down. These are the thoughts that I think. I don't say them out loud, because that would make me a negative person and no one wants to date a pessimist, except for maybe an optimist, because opposites attract.

I'm viscerally aware that I could be making a terrible decision, throwing away my plans by moving to the south for a guy, yet the longer I'm with him the more I adore him. My heart has trapped me, or my co-dependance, which is the same thing. I spent ten years doing comedy in Canada, working to accomplish enough to move to America, and then I throw it all away so I can watch Family Feud in the arms of man that I met at an open mic. It's foolish, I know. But the idea of being a thirty something actress starting all over in LA, networking, beaching, traffic, woman in comedy, trying so damn hard to be famous, sounds way more depressing. I just wanna live, or so I keep telling myself.

They say you fall in love with what you need, so I needed a recovering alcoholic, Christian from a trailer park. Every room he walks into he shakes peoples hands. It takes him so long to walk through a comedy club, where as I can work an entire weekend with out saying hello to one waitress. If his gas tank fills up before he gets to the amount he paid for, he goes back into the station and gets his money back. When that happens to me, I always just drive off, but he will go in and get that extra ninety cents, every time. It's my money, he says. And I think, you're right. It is you're money.

I was feeling sorry for myself the other day, thinking that my unresolved childhood trauma is the reason I feel unstable. I said to my boyfriend, The accident ruined me. It made me angry. I'm always going to be terrible to deal with because of what happened. And then he said, But didn't you yell at your mom before she got in the car? The accident didn't make you like this, you've always had a temper.  And that should have been the worst thing anyone has ever said to me but because he said it, it was only kind. I'm not a bitch because I'm broken, I'm broken because I'm a bitch. It's an interesting anecdote, full of unfathomable, un-integratable realities, but interesting.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

It's Not An Apology He Wants

My ex said our relationship was toxic.

He took me out for coffee, two years after we broke up, to tell me that. Well, I paid for my own coffee, but it's the thought that counts. I was surprised he reached out to me, because other than when I emailed him to tell him that he might have HPV, we hadn't spoken since we broke up.

We met up, and it was awkward, but I'm a good conversationalist, so it was fine. There was some small talk, but we mostly reminisced on our tumultuous relationship. Always an opportunist, I apologized to him to for being a difficult girlfriend. I was reading a lot of self help books, so I was confident I had the right vernacular to trick him into thinking I'd changed. He assured me not to worry about it, that it was all in the past. He was always a really nice guy, so, not my type.

One time, when we were dating, I told him I was going home for the weekend, but I didn't go home, I locked myself in my apartment and smoked pot for three days. It was a self induced, really weird, super dark, weed coma- I do that sometimes- and since, like I said, it was weird, I didn't invite him. Instead, I lied to him. Thinking I was gone, and wanting to do something sweet for me, he showed up to my apartment. He was dropping off some candies for when I got back into the city, but smelling the weed through the door, he knew I was home and I was officially caught red-handed, or pipe-handed. I let him in, and even though I was high, he was the one who looked messed up. 

We continued to date.

Eventually, we did break up and he politely asked me to not do any stand up jokes about him. I did any way. He immediately deleted me from Facebook and we didn't talk for a long time. Then, one day, as exes tend to do, he suggested we catch up, and I obliged, because I needed some new stand up material.

I found out that he always suspected that I cheated on him, which is not true, I never cheated on him. I thought, wow, this guy thinks I'm a monster, so I put on my best, fake Hannah, and sincerely apologized to him. I'm so sorry. I was terrible to you. You didn't deserve it. Bla bla bla. After two hours, thank God, it was over. We parted ways and he added me back on Facebook. 

I thought it was over. Closure. I was wrong. Two weeks later, he asked me out for coffee again and we had the exact same conversation. Again. I thought we covered everything at the first reunion, but he wasn't done yet. I was running out of things to say to him, so I just kept apologizing. I didn't know what else he wanted from me.

The conversation started to lull, and then out of no where, he said, You were always mean to your dad. You should be nicer to your dad. This gave me pause. I definitely should be nicer to my dad, but I didn't know that he knew that. It hurt. I still think about it. I can't believe I dated someone so heartless.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Nashville, Now.

I only went to the Earth Day Protest because I was starving. I would normally never go to such a spectacle because I am no fool, not any more, any way. I've learned this year that if Christianity is indoctrination, so is Liberalism. This is what I have learned living in the south. I started listening to conservative talk radio ironically, but I was still listening.

It being a Saturday, and as I found out, the farmers market, the city was busy. Couples, families, children, and the majority of them, I observe, white people, frolick the quaint streets like a human dog park. I decide to go to the same breakfast place I went to the day before and, because I am a creature of routine, I order the same meal again too. I bet people think it's sad, me eating by myself, but they don't know that I'm a comedian and eating alone is part of the job. You have to be funny, but it's more important to be able to stay sane; to be able to face yourself in a hotel room for a weekend, that is the real craft.

In the restaurant, I notice a sign: This is a sanctuary restaurant, there is a seat for everyone at this table. I look around the room and, again, it is a sea of affluent looking white people. My first instinct is to mock the sign. Maybe it's because I'm a comedian or maybe it's because I'm too impressionable. For a second, I think, what do these people know-but what am I thinking, what is that thought? I remind myself that I am an immigrant, and sanctuary spaces are for people like me, anxiety ridden misanthropes, brunettes.

I leave the breakfast place, and I see that the farmers market is closing down, but I'm ok with this because I don't need anything. Maybe I should buy someone a gift? It will make me feel good to remind myself that I am, or can be, a nice person. But I don't buy anyone a gift. I just keep walking and working out a joke in my head about getting older.

I saunter toward the capitol building. The building is large and impressive and demands to be approached. I read that the city is built on an Indian burial ground and that the capitol building has burned down twice. I bet that most locals probably don't even know about the capitols sorry past, only the tourists who look into it. I wonder if places, like people, can have bad luck, and I decide yes, and add that, it's probably the places that engender people with bad luck in the first place. I take out my joke book and write this down. I'm feeling profound.

It's a beautiful day, a little windy, and I think, this place is just like Canada. Whenever Americans complain about Canada's weather, that's what I always say, I say Canada isn't so cold, it's just windy. But Canada is cold. It's cold and windy. Wind is cold. I like to defend Canada. Canada is easy to defend.

I can see with my own eyes that this is a good city, a safe city, and that it is doing cool things, like exercise and pet salons. I'm sure they have those in the south too, pet salons, but the name strikes me as ridiculous. I'm comparing the north and the south, liberals and conservatives, because even though I am a liberal, or was a liberal, I live in the south, and perform in the south, and walking through this progressive town is giving me culture shock.

I listen to the Earth Day speakers. The crowd is cheering and protesting, but everyone seems to be in total support of the cause. Who are they complaining to? They are talking to themselves. I do that sometimes. I talk to myself. I just need to say the things out loud, confirm my story, it usually happens when I'm at my healthiest or very angry.

I see a table with a man selling Socialism pamphlets. It says, Build the Left, Fight the Right, which sounds aggressive, and decidedly American, so I respect it. I ask the man how much the pamphlet costs, he says one dollar and smiles at me, and I think, this place reminds me of home. It's so nice here, but then I correct myself, but this isn't the real world, and then another thought, wow. it's weird that I think like that now.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Growing Pains: The Story of a Young Female Comedian

The comedy community means two things to me, comedy and boys. Over the years, I have entangled myself in both pursuits, with varying amounts of success on each account. I have suffered great pains and great joys as a comedian, or as the rest of the world calls me, a female comedian, but I am still alive tell the tale, and I regard my mistakes as battle scars and my victories as flukes.

A cool skater girl in college always told me how funny and talented I was, so, naturally, we became best friends. I liked hanging out with her because when we'd go out together she would pull me out of my shell, talk to anyone, and through proximity to her, people, or as I call them, idiots, thought I was fun too. I was interested in comedy, and she wanted to have a good time, so I asked her if she wanted to start a sketch troupe with me.  She said yes, and my first sketch comedy troupe was born; conceived in the womb of my insecurity and born into the world I was desperate to please.

I looked up sketch comedy troupes in the city and I stumbled upon a popular sketch comedy show that happened every weekend. I went by myself, watched their show, and it was packed and awesome and I was impressed. I sat quietly by myself in the corner, watching the show in awe and hoping the guy comedians would talk to me, but they didn't, and I didn't talk to them either. I don't think of myself this way anymore, but at the time, I was shy.

This is where my college best friend flirts her way into the story. Determined to befriend the guys in the sketch troupe, the next weekend, I took her to the sketch show with me, and my entire experience changed. She and I drank lots of beer, and after the show, without hesitation, she ran up to all the performers and introduced herself to them. She talked to all the cool people, like she was allowed to, and I followed her lead. We closed down the bar with the cool guy comedians, and it was the most exciting time I'd ever had in Toronto.

After that night, we were hooked. I dragged her to every show, and she enjoyed it, because it involved lots of beer, boys and often times, late night karaoke. We went to almost every show for 6 months, but slowly, our relationship with the guys in the sketch troupe began to change. At first, we were the cute, new girls, but soon, too soon, we became the drunk, annoying girls. Some of the guys, to be clear, were nice to us, but most of them were aloof and ignored us. I totally noticed the dynamic change, but we kept going to their shows, telling ourselves that, eventually, they will like us.

One night, or a couple, I slept with one of the guys in the sketch troupe. That marked the end of any hope I had of the guys in the sketch troupe respecting me as a person, let alone a comedian. It didn't matter that I was passionate about comedy, I slept with one of the guys, so I was a slut. I was officially, and this is hard for me to admit, a comedy groupie.

But we kept going to their shows even though I knew they didn't like us anymore, and I suspected that they made fun of us behind our backs. Who knows, maybe they never thought about us, but we thought about them, all the time. We wanted them to like us. I wanted them to think I was funny. But the harder I tried to win their friendship, the meaner they got.  Every week, they got a little crueler to us, but we kept going, kept getting wasted, kept trying and failing to impress them.

Finally, I accepted that they didn't like us and I stopped going to their shows. I tried to comfort myself  with the notion that maybe the cool guy comedians hated all young, female comics- that they just didn't like woman in comedy, that sexism was the root of the problem, not me personally. But my theory was blown wide open when, just after I stopped hanging out with them, two new, young, female comedians stormed the Toronto comedy scene, and became beloved by them and everyone else in the city.

I licked my wounds and watched the new female comedians steal my thunder, the thunder that I never had which is what made it hurt even more. The girls were just like my friend and I, best friend, female comedians, only they were way more popular and funny.  It turns out the sketch guys didn't hate young, funny girls, they just hated us. I didn't understand why these girls were welcomed into the scene, and not me. Of course, it had nothing to do with the fact that I was drunk for half a year, but in my defense, I was really good at Irish accents, so they were missing out.

I saw the new girls take everything I wanted, all the stage time and all the respect. They got on all the best shows, were considered professionals, meanwhile everyone just kept telling me that I had a lot of potential. I'd see pictures blow up on Facebook of the new girls at parties with the cool sketch guys, all of them getting along, seemingly patting each other on the back for how funny and cool they all were. I wasn't invited to the parties and no one was asking me to be on shows.

I smoked cigarettes on my back porch re-playing all the cold shoulders that had been thrown my way that year. I felt misunderstood and alone, but I wasn't. My best friend was there with me, going through the same rejection. We had no shows, no friends, but we had each other. It was the lowest point, socially, I've ever felt as a comedian, and eventually, I got over it, but I never forgot it. Since all this went down, ten years ago, whenever I've run into some of the sketch guys, they are still unfriendly. I guess they'll always see me as an annoying groupie, which is fine, because I'll always see them as assholes.