“Um….who are you?”
Not surprisingly, this is the most frequently asked question I get on Twitter (I blame the blue check). The simple answer is: I’m nobody, just like you. Just like everyone. I’m a bag of bones and flesh made of cool stuff like carbon and stardust (so I’ve been told). My existence is pretty meaningless in that I’ll swing through in the blink of an eye (from the perspective of eternity) and be another one of many hundreds of millions of humans who came and tried and died. This fact terrifies many people, I find it immensely comforting when I remember there’s really no pressure because ultimately, none of this matters all that much. More on that later.
The short answer is: I’m a writer. First and foremost I’m a writer by necessity because writing is like breathing for me, if I don’t do it—I die. And at long last, after decades of waiting tables, hustling and doing whatever it took to make ends meet—I’m a writer by trade.
My former title was the “Playboy Advisor.” That meant I answered questions about sex and relationships in the iconic column in the magazine. I also wrote a column called “Just the Tips” on Playboy.com for two years and cool stuff for other websites such as The Atlantic, Newsweek, Tablet Magazine, NY Daily News, NY Post, Washington Examiner, Mel Magazine, The Huffington Post, Tonic, DAME Magazine and I have a monthly column at Spectator Magazine.
I’m also a stand-up comedian although in the recent years that’s morphed into what some consider a “media personality” and although that title makes me throw up in my mouth, the description is apt. In 2013 I got sober and inadvertently got caught in the crossfire of the culture wars. It’s a hilarious story that I’ll be releasing here in installments as I write my first book, THE ACCIDENTAL PUNDIT.
In addition to hearing my story, you’ll be hearing from people all over the country and world who feel politically adrift. LETTERS FROM THE POLITICALLY HOMELESS is a selection of emails from the thousands I’ve received over the years from folks who no longer feel represented by either of the dominant parties, people who have moved Left or Right, and international observers of the political shitshow that is the United States.
Now I go on shows where I’m supposed to talk about “the culture” but usually end up talking about recovery and addiction. Recovery happens to be where I met my husband, Jeren. He’s a therapist and together we’re launching our podcast, FACTORY SETTINGS, here. We will be exploring politics, culture, relationships, mental health, addiction, and media through the lens of how our built-in biases affect the way we consume information and form opinions.
If you really want a to get sense of who I am, you can check out my satirical news show Dumpster Fire where we try to laugh while the world burns or my weekly podcast, Walk-Ins Welcome in which I ask my guests to share their stories of overcoming hardship, how they survived their “dark night of the soul” and talk about the importance of grit and resilience. I contemplate these themes a lot because the long answer to the question, “Who are you?” is: I’m a survivor.
Now don’t get all excited, I’m not an actual survivor of anything real like cancer or a mass shooting; I wasn’t orphaned or bombed and I’m not a refugee; I wasn’t born with a handicap (are we allowed to say that anymore? I don’t know) and pushed myself to win the Olympics; I wasn’t chained to a radiator in a basement for decades (yet). Sure, I’ve had my share of challenging external circumstances beyond my control—but don’t confuse me for the true heroes who have conquered adversity out there in the world.
If I’m a survivor of anything, it’s myself. My bad decisions, my self-deception, my feelings of worthlessness, my privilege, my addictive personality, my laundry list of vices, my overinflated sense of self-importance and my delusions of grandeur. Most of my wounds are self-inflicted. And apparently this makes me “relatable.” I’m less Odysseus, more, plucky little underdog who can’t get out of her own way.
All of this has made me who I am. And who is that? Well, let’s start with who I am today. Because if I’ve learned anything from my visits to the dark side, it’s that today is all we really have.
Right now, I’m currently sitting in my office that also functions as a “gym” (i.e. yoga mat on the floor) and a playroom. My baby, Matilda, is at the end of her patience with mommy working, no longer entertained by the ceiling fan. The fact that I’m a mom came as a huge shock and now I’ll be chronicling it all here under GERIATRIC MOMMY.
My dog, Hope, is gnawing on a bully stick, which is really a dried bull’s dick. They smell disgusting and why are so many bull’s dicks just lying around? I’m pretty sure my ignorance on this matter is important to maintain.
Where was I going again? Oh, right. I was telling you who I am. But if this is the only opportunity I have to say anything to you, dear reader, it would be this:
We are made of the same stuff the entire universe is made of, stardust and atoms and exploding bangs echoing into eternity. We are part magic, part miracle. We are the void and we are matter. We. Matter.
It’s easy to forget that we do when comprehending the enormity of the universe and our puny place in it. It’s easy to forget that this dash in between two completely made up years, our birth and our death, means something. However fleeting. However irrelevant we might be. We partake in the dance. We are embodied carbon. We get to experience this chaotic mess in flesh and bones and breath.
And when I was drowning in depression or fear or wondering how I was going to figure it out yet again for the millionth time and my brain was telling me lies about the meaninglessness and hopelessness of it all—I had people reach into the abyss to remind me…
You are valuable. You are a priceless original hanging in the halls of the museum of humanity. You’re a Monet. Every single brushstroke will never be the same. Every single freckle and pattern on your body, will never be made in exactly the same space in the same time again.
Okay maybe it will be made again when they start cloning us. Or fuck for all we know, maybe they already did and we’re out there, perfect replicas! That would awesome. But even our potential already living clones don’t have the same scars. They don’t have the same rock bottoms and they don’t have the wisdom that comes from picking yourself up and starting again.
I know I said none of this matters but I that’s not entirely true. YOU matter. And I matter. And collectively our stories of redemption and grit matter to each other and the people we love and who love us. And they matter to the generations that come after us, if there are any, which there will be because humans are resilient fucks despite our best efforts to self-destruct.
Jack Kerouac said, “Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind.” And that’s what I intend to do—share my darkest moments in all their absurdity, tragedy and honesty in the hopes that my fellow humans passing through can read them and laugh and cry and recognize their own ability and strength and grace to rise like phoenixes out of the ashes of their ruin.
Or die tryin’.
A subscription gets you:
Ability to comment and join the community discussion threads
Access to the FACTORY SETTINGS monthly Q&A podcast
Ability to suggest topics for FACTORY SETTINGS and submit questions for the Q&A
Access to the ACCIDENTAL PUNDIT subscriber-only posts and full archives
Free content you can count on includes: the monthly newsletter, podcast episodes and other articles.