la Ketch

my life story

Sunday, December 02, 2007


A friend requested that I tell a story about the dog run. I’ve been trying to come up with a way to tell a good story that will be funny but I just can’t do it today. Sorry C, soon. It has brought up some big thoughts for me though.

I’m totally done with the dog run. The fence has been installed and I really mentally and almost physically, have emancipated myself from the place entirely. It’s just so strange when for almost two years it was such an obsession for me, now I’m just done. Of course, becoming the mother of a human baby has a lot to do with that.

I’ve been reluctant to meet other new mothers and I think my experience at the Dog Run has really informed that inclination. I’m a member of a list serve that is made up of the mothers of mostly infants in my neighborhood and they are always having these meet ups and I just don’t want to meet them. I’m too afraid that I will try to take over and put myself in charge.

The worst thing about putting yourself in charge is the fear that no one wanted you there to begin with.

I’ve been reading this new biography written by Steve Martin. It’s an auto biography called, “Standing Up” all about his formative years as a young stand-up comedian in Southern California. He says that it should be considered a biography, not an autobiography because he’s written it about someone he used to be, someone totally different.

Steve Martin is a pretty big deal for me because he went to high school at Garden Grove High School, which is where my mom and her brother and two sisters went. He was older than my mom and didn’t know her but he was just one year older than my Aunt. It’s possible that he would remember her because she was super popular in high school, the homecoming queen, etc... hmmm......

So he was really lauded in our family as a huge hero. I think I was shown “The Jerk” when I was about 5 years old and I’ve since memorized the movie. It is my all time second favorite movie, nearly neck and neck with “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure”. Both films have many, many similarities.

I highly recommend the book for anyone. Steve Martin is a really readable writer and it’s very interesting to listen to him talk about his process and how he came to be a successful comedian. It’s especially interesting to me though because he’s talking so much about Southern California and the cities and towns where my parents grew up and where I was raised until I was 14.

Steve Martin credits his success mostly to two things: perseverance & naiveté. I think he’s being kind of modest here (talent Steve?) but those two things are really essential for sure. I mean he started honing his craft as a young boy with these magic routines and he studied the greats, sought out mentors and worked, worked, worked, really hard and he was poor and let himself stay poor so that he could keep working on his craft. And then the naiveté, he just didn't realize how impossible what he was doing was.

This is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. I always compare it to doing gymnastics, little kids are so good at it because they don’t know that it’s impossible to flip yourself around through gravity like that, then one day they notice the impossibility and fall on their heads and that’s when it becomes scary because they remember the pain and they can’t do it anymore. I think that on one level, the older we become the more secure we become because we get to know ourselves and the world around us and hopefully we start to care less and less what people think but then again on another level we become less secure because we know what it feels like to fail. To be unafraid of failure, well that will get you quite far, won’t it?

I just reread the Bell Jar. When people see you reading this book they always say something like, “what a depressing book.” And when I was reading it I kept thinking, “no it’s not really because it’s quite funny and she gets better. It’s a hopeful story in the end!” It is, until you read the little biography that’s printed with the edition I have and you are reminded (not that you didn’t know already) that in real life she got better too but then she killed herself. The Bell Jar came back and she died so young; not before she was able to write her best poems but still, it’s very sad. It is.

The thing about her character in the Bell Jar is that she becomes withdrawn with indecision. She’s looking at her life laid out before her and there are just so many directions she could go in that she can’t decide. She can see the direction that society and her mother would like her to go in and she doesn’t want that but when she looks at everything else.... so many choices. How can a person be everything they want to be? They can’t. She wanted to be everything and she saw that she couldn’t do it and so she chose nothing.

Steve Martin could choose. He wasn’t always entirely sure what he wanted to do, he studied philosophy and was even going for his doctorate for a while and thought he might become a teacher. Then he basically couldn’t handle the degree of difficulty of the philosophy courses and decided to become a drama major instead. This is when his path became more fully illuminated.

Because of our age, a lot of my friends are now thinking they better start having some kids. Some of them are even going so far as to get pregnant or at least start trying. I always knew that I wanted to have a baby but I wanted to be an actor too. When I realized that I couldn’t keep pursuing my acting life and have a baby at the same time (without compromising my idea of what being a good mother is and without being dirt poor) I choose to have a baby. I’m really glad I did because I’m much happier now. I think some of my friends would feel the same way if they did what I did. Some would not. Some should probably keep going with their artistic lives and some just might be able to have both (albeit, not without compromise). Who am I to say which is which? I don’t know. It’s up to them.

I bring this up because now that I’m having kids, I’m trying to pull my friends with me. Mostly because I think my friends are beautiful and smart and they would make really good parents and the wrong people are populating the earth, so lets get to it. If they come to me and ask me how long it took me to get pregnant or anything else like that I definitely encourage them to start right away. I kind of feel like telling them, “well you better just wise up and quit your artistic pursuits and get a good job with lots of health insurance real quick because your ovaries are shriveling up just as we’re sitting here having this conversation. I mean why aren’t you over there having unprotected sex RIGHT NOW?!” I’m not saying this directly to anyone but by god I’m thinking it. And how horrible.

I mean, it’s not entirely horrible because I'm a realist and the biological clock is a very, very real thing and if you’re sure you want to have kids and you have a partner to do it with then you should get started before you are 35ish. I’m not the only one saying this. It’s a very shitty reality but it IS reality.

Still, just because that’s what I told myself, that it was time now and I needed to do it now, that doesn’t mean that’s what everyone else needs to do. This may seem very obvious to most of you out there but it wasn’t obvious to me until recently. Also, if you are one of my friends and you think I’m talking about you, I’m not. Well I might be talking about you but I’m not talking just about you. There are a lot of you going through this. Pretty much all of you are dealing with this in one way or another.

I guess I just want all of my friends to be doing what I’m doing. So that I don’t have to go to these meet ups and boss everyone around. Am I afraid of meeting new people? I want my friends to have babies so that I won't have to meet new people? I don’t know what it is really. I guess part of it is that I’m waiting to move to California and why meet new people when you’re just going to have to say good bye to them? It’s going to be hard to say good bye to the people here, very hard. I haven’t really let myself think about it yet.

December, January, February – that’s Winter folks! And here we are staring down from the very tip of it, about to slide into the ass crack of the slithery bitch. My very last winter in New York. Praise Jesus. It snowed today and I didn’t even go outside once. I put the fake fire on the television and listened to Christmas music and made pancakes. I will miss snow.

In conclusion! Steve Martin never gave up. Sylvia Plath did. Dog people are insane because their dogs are their babies and people with actual babies are going to be even more insane so I really shouldn’t try and put myself in charge of them. I’m glad that I had a baby even though I miss being an actor. I hope my friends have babies if they want them but if they want to be actors more than I did that they don’t give up like I did, even if it means not ever having a baby. I miss Southern California. I don’t like winter. I will miss my friends. I will miss the snow.


At 3:55 PM, Blogger Lauren said...

i know when you were writing about Steve martin--you really meant me-
and when you talked about sylvia's apartment--you meant mine.
and the stuff about the babies was about heidi.

At 11:03 PM, Blogger christine murray said...

you know i was just teasing when i ask for a little dog run story.

i have to say i was so happy yesterday not to have worry about selling calendars. i could just enjoy a lazy snowy sunday.

some times i am so happy that time just keeps marching on.


At 9:43 AM, Blogger la Ketch said...

No Lauren, the stuff about the babies is you too...

Christine, I can't believe that was a year ago. Yes, THANK GOD.

At 8:57 PM, Blogger Brikin Blog said...

We will miss you guys, too. Like crazy.

And yes I would take your advice but I just really hate sit ups.

At 9:08 AM, Blogger la Ketch said...

Thanks heidi. gosh we'll miss you too but also it seems like we never see eachother enough. i'm hoping you'll visit us in sunny so cal. i didn't do my sit ups again last night. it was going so well for a while there... i fear i may be slipping.

At 3:36 PM, Blogger L. said...

sigh. sigh.



Post a Comment

<< Home