Emotional Honesty, Independent Publishing & Other Ways To Say “F%&# YOU, MOM!”

“Some people are easier to love when you don’t have to be around them.” -Irvine Welsh

My mom is one of those people. She is fifty, a doctor, and has cheated on my dad at least twice. They’re getting redivorced now. The first time it happened, she told us that “it was God’s plan,” went to Hawaii and lived on a boat with a guy named Bob. This time she just went, “meh,” went for a run and bought some produce at the farmer’s market. Other things: She didn’t realize reindeer were real animals until this past summer, and recently expressed a bigoted distrust against “East Coast Jews” over pie. When my dog was a puppy, mom tried to strangle her for peeing in the kitchen. She has, on multiple occasions, made grown men cry and punched moving cars. We went camping once. That weekend three women were beheaded. Her first time at Great America was the day that mentally challenged boy fell out of the Drop Zone. At a Chinese banquet, the man sitting behind her suffered a heart attack, and I don’t even remember her breast milk being all that…


As some of you know, I do stand-up. I’m not very good. Mostly short shock laughs from absurd dark two-line jokes with no hope of connecting with an audience in a meaningful way. I don’t like connecting. I don’t like sharing who I am. That is scary. You have to be way more vulnerable than I am currently willing to be. But I really want to try crowd work, and I think the ability to reach out with goodwill and honesty is a good way to start.

So here goes…

I recently finished a long form writing project. It is a 25,000 word epic poem. More on that later… Upon finishing my first round of edits, I was exhausted. I sent it to my good friend Alex, http://thebewildered20somethingwriter.wordpress.com (check it), for a secondary round of clean-up and tried to rest.

Resting is stupid.
I hate it.

But I could feel the sort of “brain tenderness” you get from overuse, and knew that throwing myself into another huge undertaking would be pushing it. Countless others have said it before, but for there to be good writing, there has to be lots and lots of not-so-good writing.

Don’t say bad. Especially when it comes to your own work. Why kick yourself in the brain like that?


Yesterday I was feeling not-so-great and got in that mood where you just want to spend money you don’t have. Or money you’ve been saving. It’s an anxiety thing. Buying useless junk is a pacifier. It’s childish. AND IT WORKS EVERY GODDAMN TIME.

So I make my girlfriend drive out to Target at 9PM, and all along the way she is trying to convince me, “Eric, you’re freaking out a little. Why don’t you buy yourself something that will help with your situation, like a spatula (adults need those…)instead of a distraction?”

Yeah, but Smash Bros…

“Okay, but pancakes…”

“I know, but… Smash Bros… You can be Mega Man in this one.”

“You would be the most mega of men if you could make bacon without squealing when the oil burns you. Spatula.”

This went on for a while.

Target is sold out. Gamestop is closed. My girlfriend asks me if there is an EB Games around. I haven’t seen an EB Games since 1999. I thought they went with Suncoast, Hollywood Video & Meg Ryan…

The anxiety starts creeping up on me. I don’t like how it feels, so I convert it into frustration and righteous indignation. That shit feels great. You’re in control. You’re smarter than everyone. People leave you alone.


Now I’m wandering the aisles of a Daly City Target alone. I go to look at pens. That’s what I do now when my girlfriend takes me shopping. I look for cool pens or notepads and think, “which one has a good joke or poem in it?” At this point it’s a bit of a reflex. After sifting through the cheap ones (because I am a little tightfisted) and having nothing grab me, I look at the top shelf journals. The artsy covers, tassels and skins from tiny moles, presumably sewn together…

Then I see those half-journals, where one side is just a massive quote, and the other side is a general reaction to it with a specific angle. They have ones on parenting, lists, insomnia and hating people (imagine giving one of those to a unapologetic racist). I chose the one about hating people, and immediately began filling it with unapologetically racist comments about… I didn’t do that.

I wrote the thing at the top, and realized why I was so upset that day.

35 thoughts on “Emotional Honesty, Independent Publishing & Other Ways To Say “F%&# YOU, MOM!”

  1. so…i liked this…but I can’t tell what is real or isn’t or if it’s all fictional or all true…but I do like it. The tags creative writing and emotional honesty don’t give the answer either.

    • Consider it fiction informed by reality. Creative non-fiction? Most of what I write is fiction, but I do try to switch it up from time to time, which is what I attempted to do in this. This one is 90% true. The father and son thing is all fiction. Sorry for the confusion! But thank you for reading 🙂

      • I think it’s called “faction” – no really. I do like to make up words when the English language fails me, but I think this one’s real.

  2. On truth or falsehood: I was raised on a farm where we raised purebred cattle and horses. In agricultural communities, the same stories can be marketing, if you’re talking to one person, and story telling if you’re talking to others. Things either make a story better or they don’t; the notion of truth, exaggeration, or lie is ignored. And if somebody is foolish enough to believe the marketing, they shouldn’t have been masquerading as an adult. You want truth, buy a paper.

    • Thank you! I look forward to seeing more! I know all about the junk, and all of the many horrifically appealing responses to choose from… See you at the Reader!

  3. Thanks for liking my post! I too have limited my compulsive panic shopping to pens and notebooks. It both makes me appear exceedingly intellectual and it’s cheaper than most other things I could buy. Unfortunately, the gods of e-commerce are luring me in with free shipping, and there’s nothing more dangerous than a person feeling slightly off emotionally that has a credit card and the world wide web of shops at her disposal.

  4. Funny post even if you talk trash about your mother, but then a lot of stand up comics have mommy issues. That doesn’t make you bad of course, just neurotic. And yes, how we turn out is how we respond to what happens to us. Or was it…attitude is everything? I know I struggle with it all too.

  5. Great line! “I look for cool pens or notepads and think, ‘which one has a good joke or poem in it?'” I see where I’ve been going wrong. I’ve been looking for the blank notepads. In future, I’ll look for the notepads with more potential.

  6. Thanks for liking my blog post! I really enjoy your style of writing and hope you keep doing it. Although I’ve gotta say, I hope my son doesn’t blog about me in such a negative way some day. Although he probably will..

  7. Great post reminded me of endless forms of therapy and humour is definitely one of the best. Specifically art therapy where we just grab a pen and write to see what comes out. No thinking, planning or organizing just ‘bam!’ it’s out. Everyone views art (in all it’s forms) differently. I’d not asked myself if this was fact or fiction. It mattered not. It only mattered I’d got something fun and positive from it. Following.

  8. As a stand-up comedian, depression is your fuel and laughter your output.

    I just should suggest: Be careful about being too hard on yourself.

    I’m one of the most optimistic, happiest people most people I know have ever met. I don’t say that to brag, I’m saying it as an honest assessment.

    But I hold myself to a high standard.

    I would freak out from deadlines that I imposed on myself. Well, “freak out” would be strong. I’d be annoyed. Feeling like I was drowning under the waves of time, eroding away my life.

    I had a productive period until I was doing that.

    And now I’m productive again at exactly the same moment I’ve let myself free to do what I enjoy.

    This post is darkly funny and interesting. It’s well-written.

    As one artist to another: Just be careful about knocking anything you do too harshly. That’s the depression talking again. If you made even a few people laugh in a night, you did something miraculous.

  9. Who cares about truth. Expression is what matters. And this, my friend, is fantastic expression. Extraordinary writing. Can’t wait to read more. Subscribed.

  10. I’m jealous of your writing style. I won’t attempt to describe what it is, I’ll just say it’s brilliant. I’m completely with you when you say “I don’t like sharing who I am. That is scary. You have to be way more vulnerable than I am currently willing to be.” Yet we write blogs to send out into the www to live forever. Go figure

  11. “cause that shit feels good” Just when I think Im being about as honest with myself as anyone could, with out developing a crippling schizm leading to debilitating psychosis, something like this comes along and makes me realize why my hubby and I fight so much…only we both do it, and were both honest enough with ourselves to admit it….and we would argue with self righteous indignation about who does it more.

  12. Ha ha ha…touched the mother nerve there and dug me out of the silent stalking 😂. Felt a bit guilty seeing some of my mother in yours…and loving that quote.
    But when you mentioned that half journal thing my brain laughed. I couldn’t. Coz i would never forgive myself for laughing at myself writing a half journal. But then I think it will live forever.

    Keep it up. Glad I follow. Glad you follow.

  13. My mother has a stiff upper lip. It’s as immovable on certain topics as she is from her comfort zone of conservative radicalism. By that I mean she is a feminist and progressive thinker (for her era and insular origins) who while being the main breadwinner and ultra educated member of the family, subscribes to the practices of a surrendered wife, for a husband who doesnt give a shit but likes it all the same. That sort of thing. I hate her rhetoric sometimes, until I hear myself sound like she does on the same topics, which is why I intentionally dont have a live-in lover and have better uses for a spatula (I made myself) deep in these woods, than using it to cook.

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