In December of 2015, I got up in front of an audience in a rustic East Village loft and read the following essay. I wanted, for the first time, to be totally, publicly raw and honest about how I was feeling. I called it “getting naked.” Above is a photo of me doing karaoke, which is also a type of “naked.”
I was going to read you a portion of my play, an essay by one character about her trip on shrooms. It was silly. And stupid. People seem to like it. But instead I’ve decided, actually, to get a little naked. It’s Monday night, I’m listening to Taylor Swift’s “1989” on loop because I love it. I feel like I have to defend myself when I say that, like, so you know, I was also listening to A-Trak earlier, so … I’m still cool. But I definitely don’t have to defend myself for liking Taylor Swift – anyway.
It’s Monday night, and I’m thinking about “Master of None.” It’s funny, just introducing this to you, I feel the subject matter weighing down on me, aching me. Does that make sense? “Aching me?” Anyway, I’m thinking about “Master of None” because it hits home hard. This little show by this little dude about the frivolities of life in our late twenties/early thirties, it hits home hard.
Because Dev, Aziz Ansari’s character, he’s really self indulgent. I mean, he learns things. He grows. In this very funny, childish way he totally grows. But still, he’s self indulgent. Television, going out with friends, poop-stained sneaks, the best kind of date, the best kind of text … It really hits home. Because my life is self indulgent, too. I’m a freelance writer, which means between lucky gigs for MTV or the Times or cool blogs no one has heard of, my days are mine. Like, I get to decide what time to wake up and which coffee shop to sit at and how many episodes of “Master of None” is actually too many. And so my life is just a series of aimless frivolities as well. And it’s not that I don’t love it, I do. Barring constant nerves about paying bills and rent and loans, I feel very lucky. And I love it. But then I think … What right do I have to have been adamant about doing a career that makes me feel good? Not that my career should make me feel bad, but how I feel was really the motivation here. I mean, my friends are nurses and researchers and teachers and linguists … I write about Charlamagne’s thoughts on eating butts. What a brat (me, not Charlamagne).
I love the shit out of “Master of None” because it forces me to face this gluttony but in a really funny way, like, in a sweet, endearing sort of way. I think it’s beautiful.
I was talking about “Master of None” with this guy, let’s call him Tall. I really like Tall. I mean, I don’t even know Tall but he seems really beautiful and I’m, like, really picky about dudes I let myself like because that’s really it. I let myself like or not like dudes. It’s so stupid and futile and it’s probably why I’m single – anyway, here’s what Tall said about “Master of None:” “i feel like it captures the late 20s/early thirties moment pretty well. it all feels genuine and touching too, like its so obviously not just another mass produced comedy.”
And here’s what I was thinking after he said that, and then after that, after I read it again, and after that, after I read it again … Does the fact that he wrote in such earnest and colloquialisms, does that mean he genuinely wants to talk? Like, a real, human conversation? With me? That he likes me? It must, right … It’s so stupid. And the thing is, that’s representative of something much bigger, too, like “Master of None” is. It represents the fact that I don’t know anything. I mean, I really don’t know anything. I’m going to be 30 in 42 days, and I just don’t know anything.
OK, here is what I do know. I know that if there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s erecting emotional walls, thick, indestructible emotional walls. And I am masterful. Even when I’m performing, right? Reading my writing to people, the writing I’m reading is never about me – I hate writing about me, actually – it’s always about other people, real people or made up people. And the tones I use, sarcasm, storytelling, whatever, those are thick, indestructible walls, too. They’re yet another distance forged between the listener, you, and the deliverer of text, me.
So this time I decided I would try to do it differently. This time I decided I would get a little naked. Like naked, naked, actually.
So this is me. Ugly. Sick. But trying, I guess.