In the last few days, hundreds of people have reached out to Eric, my father & I, from all corners of the country and all walks of life. It’s been overwhelming in the best way possible to realize how loved we are by the people we’ve chosen to surround ourselves with. We take friendship seriously because of her example.
My Mom taught me to be a good friend. She was always looking out for other people – calling them on birthdays, writing cards for any occasion she could find, planning reunions with cousins she treated like siblings or just remembering the smallest details that you told her in a throw away conversation. She always listened, because she always cared.
And because of that, every single hug, flower arrangement, lasagna, cookie, pizza, sub, cake, salad in the past week… is a testament to the caliber of children that she raised & husband she married. Every person that’s called or emailed or sent a nice message is an extension of her legacy and a way that she lives on through us.
You can’t talk about my mom without talking about my Dad, because they were a team. Together they taught me that anything is possible with hard work… when we lived in Glen Burnie, my mom helped create a community parks system so we had a swing set up the street and a park to hunt for Easter Eggs in once a year. When Eric raced BMX and the nearest track was over an hour away, my Mom & Dad co-founded Chesapeake BMX a few miles from our house. They moved literal mountains of dirt and rock to give us a better childhood, and in the process gave hundreds of other children the same advantages. My mom has helped shape beautiful memories for countless strangers.
She taught me so many things that I am still discovering every day. My Mom and Dad were married for 35 years, and together for 41, they met when she was 19. They have taught me what love looks like, and that it is not a 24/7 fairytale and that it is hard work and sometimes pain, but that that work is so worth every moment because the whole is beautiful because of the trials.
My parents taught me to value myself, to hold myself to a high standard, to never lie and to have integrity above all else. You don’t realize you’ve learned lessons like these until you come up against circumstances that require them, and then in the aftermath, all you can do is thank your parents for caring enough to impart some of their wisdom onto you. I know that there will be moments in the future when I am challenged, and even though she is no longer here with me physically, my mom will be there to help me through them because of the time we did have and the person that she was.
My mom wrote up a notecard describing herself, the way that she saw herself and on it she had things like “loving mother”, “devoted wife”, “best friend to Sue Ellen”… and one of the phrases she wrote was “weak person”… which is so humble and so her. Yes, she was weak - in the sense that Multiple System Atrophy may have taken her from us far before her time. But it takes strength to be gentle in this world, and I don’t think I’ve ever met a gentler soul than my mother. She was selfless, more selfless than I know that I will ever be. She had the biggest heart and would do absolutely anything for you.
I cannot think of one instance, in the (almost) 30 years of my life when she demanded a thank you for any of the things that she did for me. So I want to take a second now to say thank you, Mom. For everything I’ve mentioned today, and for everything I’ll discover tomorrow. I love you.
New Year’s, growing up, was one of my favorite holdiays. My parents would throw huge parties with seafood & pit beef & I always got a new hostess dress & then me and my brother got to spend the night across the street with all the neighbor kids in sleeping bags. When I was in high school, my relationship with “(NOT) the one” started shortly before midnight at a party, and it made December 31st the best while we were together, and the worst for a time after we were apart.
I’m proud of my 2013, but I’m also glad to see it go, as I’ve felt with most years*. I did 186 booked shows this year, more than I have since I started, and I hope to crack 200 next year. In the last 12 months, both of the shows that I co-produce & host have come into their own & flourished - Picture This! has packed out NerdMelt time & time again, sold out the Hollywood Theatre at Bridgetown, was a festival favorite in Melbourne & Adelaide, and had 2 killer shows in NYC. And Lady to Lady… jesus am I proud of this juggernaut. We’ve had full houses at the Comedy Central Stages as well as at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, which will always feel like a dream & privilege to be able to set foot on the stage of. We released a Christmas Album that I could not be happier with! And as of January 1st, we’re on the Maximum Fun podcast network, a partnership I cannot wait to see develop next year. Both shows are going to be at the 2014 SF Sketchfest, and I could not be prouder of everyone involved in both shows - Sam Varela, Grif Kimmons, Mike Mayfield, Alexandra Howell, Tess Barker, Barbara Gray & David Janove are some of the hardest working people I know.
I travelled a lot in 2013, doing festivals all over the country including Bridgetown & All Jane No Dick in Portland, Cape Fear in North Carolina, Out of Bounds in Austin, Comedy Carnivale in Salt Lake City, plus I had shows in San Francisco, Seattle, Baltimore, Washington DC & Chicago. I love being on the road & the adventure & new people that that lifestyle brings. I’ve got big plans for a tour this summer, so I can’t wait to get back out there.
The beautiful thing about comedy is that it’s made me giddy about the idea of not only turning 30 in 3 months, but turning 40 in 10 years & 3 months… think about how much better I’ll be at my craft then. You need those years to master your skill, and I just can’t wait to see where my peers & I are then. (Plus I moisturize, so I’m not worried.) I am constantly inspired by everyone around me, and that is a gift that I need to remind myself of more this coming year.
I cut my boobs off in 2013! The three best decisions I have made in my life were moving to Los Angeles, starting stand up & getting a breast reduction. I’ve wanted it for years, and 2013 was the year that I finally made it happen. I am incredibly proud of myself for going through with it, and every day I feel more empowered by that choice. A part of me that I truly hated is not there anymore, and I really feel more at home in my body every day because of taking that chance.
I also said goodbye to my mom in 2013. Twice. My mom is dying & has been bedridden for almost 3 years now. She has a disease called Multiple System Atrophy - think Lou Gehrig’s but without all the sexy name recognition. It’s horrible & I’ve watched a woman that I always hoped to get to know better as I got older, disappear into a spiritless, unintelligible body that I barely recognize as my own mother. The doctors don’t give her much time, and I’ve flown home twice now because it’s near the end in their estimation. No one should have to do that twice. Confronting grief & death & loss of a parent isn’t something I ever thought I’d have to do this early in my life, but it’s the cards I was dealt, and I can only take comfort in knowing it’s brought those that she leaves behind closer together. 2013 hurt me a lot with this one, but 2014 will hurt more. At least I’m as at peace with it as one can be thanks to family, friends, the greatest boyfriend a girl could ask for & a wonderful therapist who knows what it’s like to lose a parent. We aren’t guaranteed a long, prosperous & healthy life, and it’s important to remember to make the most of what we have been given.
So 2013. You were a year full of laughs in distant lands, plastic surgery & struggling with the unflinching mortality that will one day take us all. Less of that last one in 2014, ok? At least you weren’t boring. I haven’t been bored in almost 6 years. And that’s a fucking blessing.
*The exception being 1998. I was ON FIRE in 1998.