After writing what I had deemed a perfect pitch letter for Bright Magazine only to find out that it had ended its three-year run, I felt the elevator drop, again.
I had already taken a dip when I wrote another pitch meant for Babble; yes, only to find that it, too, was shutting its doors. I hadn’t thought to double check any of this.
If I were stupid enough to tell this to my teenage children, they would smirk and tell me I’m so old. God, mom, everything’s different now. Everything’s faster. Therefore, mother, change happens faster. Then, they would return, in slow motion nonetheless, to their phone god.
But, I didn’t do that because I have learned the hard lesson that my children ruthlessly deliver their criticisms. All too often they enjoy watching me meltdown. Or, they simply walk away, abstaining from any feelings of guilt.
No, that was not the answer to this little problem.
I needed something special, so I did what actually makes me feel better. I binge-watched Conan O’Brien. There’s a lullaby in his snarky humor that has kept me afloat since I sat in a rocking chair with my newborn daughter in the middle of the night.
The tired I was feeling flew from my body and tears filled my eyes as I laughed. Since then, he has been my regular therapist who has consistently managed to draw laughter from me whenever I felt that drop of the elevator that would normally be moving up.
He’s the same therapist whom I ran to when Mother’s Day rolled around. My teenage children had burped a “Happy Mother’s Day” then had forgotten I existed.
So, I did what any sane person would do after having spent the school year waking up at 5:30 a.m. every weekday to begin the dropping off process, then rushing to work, then picking everyone up at the end of the day, then getting or cooking food, then doing laundry, then cleaning, and then somehow sleeping a few hours.
Find a quiet place.
I got in my car, bought a cappuccino, and parked my car. Then, I watched Conan on my iPhone.
He took the edge off by poking fun at the edge. That day I decided to watch the first episode of Late Night with Conan O’Brien where he’s walking to the studio and everyone he passes says, “You better be as good,” or some variation of that.
The pressure builds with the constant comments as background music is cheerful and he smiles as he walks with a light step; but, when he gets to his dressing room, he starts to put his head through the noose of a rope that’s hanging from the ceiling. Right at that moment, someone calls through the door, “You’re on Mr. O’Brien.” Without a minute to spare, he shrugs and heads to the stage.
Hold on to your happy place.
So, you see, Conan and his team knew just how to mess with my mind. I couldn’t get the smile off my face after that. I had to drive around before going back home. I didn’t want the happy to fade away too soon.
I’ve been to therapists and psychologists — none of which I left feeling happy. I’ve felt relieved, so I know the necessity of talking to them first hand. Using Conan as my therapist happens when I don’t have easy access to a therapist or don’t want to go to one because it’s not a very serious problem.
I used to have my sister around who is also a comedian and naturally funny like Conan. But, she’s in Los Angeles being funny with other people and sometimes it’s easier to get to Conan than it is to get to her. She’s kind of like that friend who you feel like you’ve used for your own benefit too many times, so you end up at your therapist’s office instead.
Swim out of your head.
So, I often turn to Conan for convenience and proximity. Seeing Conan show himself teetering on his edge makes my edge so much more bearable and often enough quite funny to contemplate once removed.
Comedy allows you to swim out of your head and laugh at yourself.
You stop taking yourself so seriously when you find a new perspective on a terrible situation. When you find yourself pressing the tip of your shoe to the edge of the cliff, step back, find a cozy place to rest, and chuckle at the absurdity of it all.
By observing the bizarre nature of a disappointment or a difficult situation, you also find that without it you might not have moved in a different direction, sometimes an even better direction.
You can view an archive of his early work at Conan Classics.
You see, after relinquishing my hold of Bright Magazine, I found the beauty in a lot of other publications and topics. I moved on. I wrote other pieces. So can you, once you’ve laughed off whatever may be troubling you.
And, ultimately, if you really don’t like Conan’s brand of humor, there are a bunch of other comedians and entertainers out there who can pull you out of your doldrums.
So, if you find yourself in a twisted situation with a chance to escape, take some time to laugh.
She’ll make you laugh.