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@loripalminteriTweets by @loripalminteri
Play Time & Worry Time
“What did you do all day?” Fellow comedian, Pat Brown, asked in the green room of the music box theater in the Borgata on our fifth night.
“I worked out. Did some writing and reading.”
“You didn’t do anything you like to do?”
“I like to work out, write and read.”
“Sure. But that’s not play. Play time is important. Especially for creatives.”
Play time, I thought. Images of the outdoors and the ocean come to mind. Hopes for warm weather. Yes, play time. I just want to run around in a field. Climb a tree. Splash in the ocean.
Pat Brown’s easy going and full of gratitude energy proved to be a positive influence on me that week, especially towards the end. Man, do I need more people that in my life. Not that I’m knocking my negative outlook leaning friends. Sarcasm, above all, is not only my favorite trait a human can have, but an absolute must for any friendship or relationship otherwise. For fucks sake, God knows I’m not shining rays of positivity. At least, I hope, that my complaints and comments are mildly amusing. At best, they’re slice to the core truths cherry topped with a belly laugh.
When I met John Cleese (thanks to my good friend Tim Krompier for this, the best) one of the things he said that resonated with me was that his mother was such a perpetual worrier that it essentially held her back from living her life. Even though he loved her dearly, it was that he didn’t want to end up that way that drove him to comedy. This reminded me of my late grandmother. The sweetest woman you could ever know. A terrible worrier. Died after a decade of suffering from Alzheimer’s. I don’t hate anyone enough to wish Alzheimer’s on them. It’s the dreadful fate.
There’s not a doubt in my mind that her worrying nature was a factor in the cause, longevity, and total madness that is Alzheimer’s. Stress has a tremendous wear on both the mind and the body. When I think of her, I am reminded that I come from someone so purely good. As a kid, I had no idea how rare that was.
You’d have a hard time finding a picture of me as a kid without a giant smile on my face. There was always laughter in my house. We weren’t without our craziness and issues, like any family, but my childhood memories are some of my best. Those memories are cemented in such happiness, that even when a bi-polar blue mood changes the lens and my thinking into a paranoia, my adolescence can’t be touched. This has saved my life, I think, many times. Still, even in my earliest memories I remember feeling anxious.
The homebody I am today is not so different from the homebody I was then. When my mom would bring me to the bus stop to go to kindergarten, I would quietly sob. On the bus, I’d place my hand to the window pane watching my Mom on the corner. This was my earliest memory of agony, given I lacked any sort of perspective an agony otherwise. Now, in retrospect, I imagine these moments were actually probably harder for my mom than me. Of course, I’d return later, completely fine, excited to be Home again.
The following year, in first grade, I’d have what I would come to later realize as my first panic attacks. It wasn’t a spectacle. Most of the class wouldn’t even notice until the teacher would pull me out of class to sit me outside or at her desk, as I’d be trembling with tears rolling down my face, and always when asked what was wrong I’d answer that I didn’t know and I just wanted to be with my mom. There wasn’t anything wrong at all. I wasn’t in pain or danger, I just had some severe separation anxiety. Then, at home, I’d be running around with my sister and brother, laughing, happy as ever.
Social anxiety would persist till… well… today? It never really went away. Despite this, it wasn’t like I was a simpering and scared little kid. In many ways, we were fearless, my sister, brother and I. This is a family of naturally inclined athletes. My parents were competitive and loved games, big kids themselves. In fact, all my 19 cousins said they always wanted relationships like my parents (their fun Uncle John and Aunt Donna), something in their present minded joy that didn’t disappear as adults. They enjoyed the bike rides, roller coasters, ocean, outdoors and sports as much as we did. The biggest anxiety I remember my parents having were financial (which never goes away). When it came to play and, say, cliff jumping into (deep enough) water, they always encouraged us to challenge ourselves. In this way, we grew to be half psychotic adrenaline seeking adults, but even if I was scared, I trusted in them. That was enough. They were our protectors first, always, our parents. And their excitement for not only showing us but joining us in pasttimes was contagious. We sought adventures together. We were pirates. When I see parents today on the sidelines of their kids leisure, wrapped up in work or sucked in by their phone, it’s genuinely heartbreaking to me. They’re missing it, I think, they’re missing the good parts.
From the start, Home was the epicenter of comfort and play, and while the outside world was worried about, there was always wonderment in exploring it. Surely the world is filled is playgrounds. How I’d devote my life to finding them.
Fast forward years to present day. Fast forward through high school years of biting nails and pulling hair from the back of my head. Fast forward through college years of hiding in my car with panic attacks. Fast forward through the years of working in a nursing home that would seal my fate as a nihilist. Fast forward through starting comedy, what I so wrongfully thought would be the answer to a combating inevitable depression. Fast forward through denial, turbulence, and acceptance that there is, in fact, something off, if not wrong, with me. Fast forward through guilt that lead to resentment towards myself that I should not be this way. That I had everything. That as far as humanity goes, I hit the fucking lottery. Born in a time where being a woman was finally fair in middle class America. Grew up in the technology boom. Have a loving family. Smart, healthy, funny, good looking. I mean, what the fuck, I should be nothing but grateful everyday. With this hand I’ve been dealt, I played it to do something I love. And while it’s unlikely I’ll reach any level of success I’ll be satisfied with– let alone survive monetarily, I still have accomplishments I’ll die proud of. My life is to be desired. It is good to be me. I know it.
There is so much chaos. Man loves war. Needs it. Thrives on it. It gives them a misleading purpose. Pick a side. Yell. Fight till your death, for what? For naught. It’s meaningless. On our polarized soil, democrats and republicans hate each other because they are the same: corrupt, greedy, hypocritical, fucking stupid if you ask me. Arguing over petty things when young women are traded for sex trafficking, not only in evil places, such as North Korea, but right here, all the time. Children die from mosquito bites all over the world. They could be saved by bottled water. Men murder each other. Rape women. Women kill their husbands, drown their kids. People still behead humans. The global suffering is immeasurable. The civil countries will betray anyone for a dollar. Our shallowness makes us liars. Social media perpetuates a false self. Relationships are held together by television and fear of being alone. The elderly wait for their death in the purgatory that is a nursing home, while “not for profits” bleed them of their funds and their families money as well. Religion breeds narrow-mindedness and hate for anything different more than it spreads the love it preaches. We reward assholes and cater to morons. No one listens to each other. It’s madness. So is it any wonder I’m worried? Is it any wonder that the only proper response to a mad world is madness itself? And I watch these nature programs on a loop. Nature, in all it’s divinity, balance and beauty, is just the other side of the coin of violence, death and sheer terror. Is it any wonder at all that I wake up some mornings and have simply no desire to participate? All this destruction. And for what? Please tell me. For what? Reasonable cause for sadness, fear, disappointment. Power over love. Power over goodness and kindness. We’ve barely covered anything at all.
The dread… don’t you feel it? Don’t you feel it too? It doesn’t overwhelm you? The masses are unhappy and lonely. The only way I can weather it is to laugh at it. The absurdity exists everywhere… that much I promise you. Some days I can’t find the punch lines. There are days I walk around and I’m an alien. Go home. At least there’s peace in solitude. There’s no use in lecturing you or anyone because, trust me, I’m not really taking action to make anything better nor an I innocent. This world it feels, though, was not meant for me. Do you not understand this? There’s something disturbing. I don’t like being here at times.
And I know this worries you, my readers. Family. Friends. Fans. I know I worry you because you tell me. You tell me I worry you. That’s not my aim. There is already so much to worry about. This is no battle cry for help. Don’t you worry about me.
You want to help me? Do you really want to help me? Go play. Go outside. Grab your best mates and have genuine fun. It’s important. We think everything else is so important when it’s bull shit. It’s all bull shit.
I’m not losing to the darkness. I have already lost. It’s okay. I’m okay. Because I still give it the middle finger. I still give it the middle finger and say, “fuck you, I’m going outside to play anyway. You’ll still be here when I get back. You’re always here.”
And then I laugh. I laugh and laugh and laugh. Oh how I laugh. Tap into a glowing happiness inside, echoes, rippling to my fingertips and toes. The light, it has a message. The message is always the same: Remain. Remain, it says. And then I can see the punchlines. And I want to share them with you.