Monthly Archives: April 2010

#1: Read at Mortified: Epic Humiliation

April 15, 2010

Mortified: “a comic excavation of teen angst artifacts (journals, letters, poems, lyrics, home movies, stories, and more) as shared by their original authors before total strangers.”

I think reading at Mortified was on my 30×30 before I had a 30×30. It was the first thing I came across in a long time that I wanted to do for the sake of growing as a person and stepping outside my narrow zone of comfort.

Summer 2009:  car accident, boyfriend dumped me, car window smashed in a random act of gang violence/EZ Pass stolen, laid off from job, discovered ex-boyfriend was already living with a new girlfriend (and not paying me back the money he owed me for rent.)

I can’t remember how I heard about Mortified.  I probably read something, and luck!  for once! There was a show in NYC in September. An almost-friend took pity on my sad sack self and accompanied me and I thought it was hilarious and cringy and wonderful. 

I was probably at my rawest and lowest at that time.  I was feeling completely out of control of my life. I needed a positive change rather than all this misery forced on me.  I latched onto the idea of performing at Mortified as a way to take control.  When I finally wrote out the 30×30, it was “to do” item #1.

I am not a performer.  I loathe people staring at me, public speaking makes me shake, and well, I have been known to take myself too seriously.  I hate being laughed at. Embarrassment automatically generates tears. Mortified – standing on stage in front of strangers reading humiliating private teenage thoughts – was everything I avoid, the antithesis of Megness. And I felt like it was necessary to be antithetical to myself just to know that the gloomy, desperate box I was living in was not the only place I could exist. I wanted to surprise people who had “ideas” about who I was.

I wanted to surprise my fucking self.

So I emailed Mortified with a writing sample. They were enthusiastic about my material.  The next event was April 15, 2010, and just like that, I was on the roster.

This may be the thing on my list that is most terrifying. It’s neck and neck with skydiving. 

I honestly couldn’t look it directly in the eye for weeks.  Every time it crossed my mind, my heart rate jumped.  I’d get voicemails from Mortified’s producer and I couldn’t bring myself to call her back. I procrastinated preparing my intros. I thought I was going to hyperventilate. Or die.

But time will kick your ass every time and finally I had to just fucking do it.

Full disclosure:  I did drink a wee bit (ahem) before going on stage. I wasn’t drunk.  I just wasn’t shaking like a neurotic little leaf in a great big thunderstorm. 

I read too fast, and didn’t give everything room to land and the audience time to laugh.  I think my piece was much shorter than the other readers, but I have no idea.

I feel like I took a few good dramatic pauses.  I spoke a little bit off the cuff without tripping over my tongue. It was a straightforward reading rather than being acted out, but I’m okay with that. I like to let the words speak for themselves.

Here are some things I DIDN’T do, for which I pat myself on the back:  fall/trip, throw up, slur/bungle my words, acknowledge the hideous sixth grade picture projected behind me, comment/justify/apologize for my 11 year old self.

But here’s the thing.

I can’t tell you much about the moment itself.  It was definitely not a moment that I could stand outside myself and scrutinize what was happening for future contemplation.  I just had to plow through it, exist in it so fully there was no room for observational Meg. 

I think I thought (!!!) I’d feel different when it was over. I thought it would be a cathartic purge.  I’d feel braver, like I can accomplish anything.  Or I’d be horrifically embarrassed.  I’d feel more fully alive, more fully tapped into my own humanity.

But I don’t feel any different – as if eight minutes could truly change me in a profound way (I guess it depends on the eight minutes…if you experience a profound change it’s gotta take place within some eight minute period of your life. But most changes to our actual selves are sluggish and labor-intensive. No instant gratification to be had.)

Anyway. I think I just had fun. I think I’d do it again, too.

And possibly the best part, selfish creature that I am:  that people cared enough to show up and cheer me on.  These friends have no idea how utterly I don’t deserve them and how deeply grateful I am that they put up with me anyway. They all told me I did great, and if they’re lying, thanks.  

I am proud of myself.  I decided to do something completely random and completely “not me,” and I did it. I’d forgotten that feeling of putting your mind to something and actually achieving it, by yourself, for yourself.

For those of you who weren’t there, here is a sample of what I read, written at age 11, about Macaulay Culkin, whom I loved.  It also shows the grip repressive Catholic teaching had on my brain, that I was this anxious about sex in sixth grade:

“Mack and I are arguing. He wants sex, I don’t since I’m Catholic. So I write to him.
I don’t want to do this, but I can’t take much more of this. I think maybe we should break up. Everytime we go out you seem to be looking at other girls like you’re sure they would sleep with you. I’m not going to and won’t unless we get married. I’m sorry.
Love, Y.B.E.G. [ed: Your Brown Eyed Girl]

He writes back.
Darling Meg,
I’m so sorry! I had no idea you felt this way. I am not going to break up with you ever, Meg Schadl, you’re too good to let slip away.  I’m not stupid. Besides, I promised myself a long time ago that you would be the first girl I ever slept with. If I have to wait, I’ll wait. I love you forever.

Yeah. Now you really wish you’d been there, right?  Next time.

Categories: 30x30 | 7 Comments

#3: Run a Marathon – Am I F-ing Crazy?

It’s official.  I am registered for the Marine Corps Marathon.  October 31, 2010.  26.2 miles.

The most I’ve run at this point is 6. So, you know, there’s room to grow.

Sometimes I think I’m crazy.

I’ve never been what you would call athletic. The highlight of my sporting career came at the age of 10 when I received the most improved trophy on my soccer team.  Most improved from truly terrible doesn’t actually mean you’re any good. It just means you don’t suck quite so bad.

I never made it past JV soccer in high school. I got dropped from the crew team after 3 weeks in college.  (I wasn’t a fan of carrying the boat, so no loss.) In the 6 rotations of PE that Notre Dame required, I took as many health classes as possible, which meant sitting in a classroom learning about how to be healthy rather than getting out and exercising.

So. Yeah. Not a physical person. I’m a brain.  There have been times in my life where I felt like that was all I was, a great big throbbing squishy brain shelled in an unappealing but necessary body, useful only to, you know, protect the brain from point A to point B.

My dad is a runner. When I was younger and he was working and commuting, he’d “pound the pavement” at 10pm.  Rain, snow, whatever. 7 days a weeks. He’d come back dripping head to toe. He’d be cranky if something kept him from running.

I never understood the appeal.  The punishment to the body, the, the – NOT sitting on the couch watching TV. Didn’t make sense to me.

So why the f do I want to run a marathon?

(Totally lame) reason #1: I’ve been in NYC on marathon day, I’ve seen people walking around with their medals and tin foil shawls. And I’d burst into tears.

These are people who accomplished something.   The physical endurance, the mental stamina, the determination.  It’s not something you do on a whim. I was proud of these strangers, and jealous that they achieved something so impressive. I want to be one of them.

Reason #2: There is something appealing about the solitariness of running. It’s an activity you don’t need a single other human being to do. I often feel like I rely too much on others. I don’t like to do things alone (though I often do, because I can’t find people to do things with).  But running – it’s just me by necessity.  So there’s no need to feel bad that I’m doing it alone.

Reason #3: Returning to my throbbing brain issue – I’m very physically awkward. I don’t live fully in my own skin.  The me of me is all balled up in a corner somewhere, cringing at and attempting to ignore the grotesque husk of myself. The challenge of running, of integrating brain and body, of joining forces with myself to push myself to achieve something BIG, that’s appealing. I hope I can learn to feel things with my body more (rather than just with my heart or my head), to let go into my physicality more, to be less self-conscious and more comfortable with this dear old husk. It’s the only one I have right?

So I’m going to push myself beyond reason and physical possibility and do this.  It’s exciting to have a goal, an endpoint to train for.  It’s a slow burn of preparation, and I’m a slow burn of a person, and the metaphor all seems to fit:  Slow and steady wins the race.

Five hours of running will require an amazing, legendary soundtrack.  I’m going to buy an Ipod shuffle and fill it with 500 songs to keep me moving, pumped, and calm.  So I pose the question:

What is your favorite get-pumped song?  What makes you bounce? What do you listen to when you work out, when you take a roadtrip, before you do something that scares you? The happier the beat, the happier my feet.

I gotta get my ass to the gym.

Categories: 30x30 | 6 Comments

#13: Cherry Blossom Festival – Life is short and I fail at it.

Welcome to my life: Irony piled on irony, like a seven layer irony cake with ironic icing. A bitterbitter treat, no sweet to be had.

(I wonder about my understanding of the meaning of the word irony.  I think in a post-Alanis Morissette world, what is considered ironic isn’t really what irony is.)

# 13 on the 30×30:  Go to the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC.  Having lived in DC for two years, I was distressed that I had never seen the Tidal Basin in all its spring glory, gobs of tourists or no.  As you may recall, cherry blossoms have a special meaning for me, with the tattoo and its reminder to enjoy the shit out of life because it won’t last.  Plus DC = Good Friends, so any excuse to get me out of NYC and into the arms of my unconditionally loving loved ones is wonderful.

Bonus: taking pretty pictures, my favorite compulsive hobby. I found a sunrise cherry blossom photography class, focusing on using a digital camera’s manual settings that I usually ignore. I would knock two things off my 30×30 at once (#15: Take a photography class).

Little could I predict how everything would go horribly wrong. And yet since everything always goes horribly wrong in my life, you would think I could predict.

Being financially unstable (despite unexpected hours at my primary job – thankfully, blessedly, gratefully), I’ve been working two jobs lately, 60 hours a week that suck my soul and make my brain bleed but might mean I get to go to Europe.  But I didn’t think I’d be able to scrape two days off in a row to go to DC.  Job #2 gave me guilt for skipping out and leaving my responsibilities to an overworked colleague. Even my mother indicated maybe this wasn’t the time to go away, I should take the hours and money while I could, and – wait for it – there was always next year.

This is when I started screaming.


So, I jumped through all the hoops, I got my days off, I sucked up the guilt and stress and 60 hour weeks, so I could get my ass to DC for some relaxation and natural beauty.

And then, and then, and then.

I received an email saying the photo class was cancelled because


I missed it.  Despite all my determination, I failed.

Why did I wait until the end of the festival, why didn’t I research the usual peak blossoming, why does nothing ever fucking work out for me, no matter how hard I try?

The cherry blossoms, they mock me. I fail, I fail, I fail.

The 30×30 is an interesting exercise. It doesn’t matter to anyone if I ever get a single thing on the list done. It didn’t ever matter to me since I had never taken the time to do them. Yet now that it’s written down, out there in the ether of the universe, failing at any task makes me tormentedly disappointed in myself.

It’s kind of masochistic, huh?  Self-imposed, inconsequential missions that won’t make me live or die, won’t make the sun rise or set, and I hate myself for fucking this one up even though I tried.

Tried is one of those words that can be so fantastically meaningless embarrassing ugly.

I don’t cope well with disappointment.  Maybe the 30×30 will teach me how to handle crushed dreams with grace, with humor, with a philosophical shrug of the shoulders.

Because I have a feeling this won’t be my only fail.

I cringe to think, “I’ll try again next year.”  Not to sound dramatic, but I could be dead next year. That’s the whole point of SEIZING THE DAY!

But. I will try again next year.  Thankfully, blessedly, gratefully, I have dear friends in DC, whom I’ll want to visit next spring.  I’ll still have a cherry blossom tattoo to remind me that life is short, but beautiful so live it to the extreme.  I’ll still love taking beautiful naturey pictures. So…I’ll be back.

So long as I’m still alive, I’ll still – bleh – try.

In the meantime, not having the CBF to consume me, I still find myself with TWO DAYS OFF IN A ROW, in DC, with friends I spend most of my life aching for. I have time to sit still and breathe and write, which, God, I have missed lately.  The sitting still parts are just as important as the getting things done parts. Seeing kindred spirits is worth more than missed income.

So. It’s a fail. But it’s a fail I’ll take.

Categories: 30x30 | 2 Comments

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