Hi! It's R. Eric Thomas. From the internet?
This week: Maya Rudolph wins 2018, Donald Trump no call/no showed at work, and Congress needs to Google "How does Google work?"
One of the things I find so delightfully perplexing about therapy is that when I say something funny during a session, my therapist stifles a laugh and then apologizes. I love that. I think I see therapy as an on-going battle between my ability to be humorous and my therapist's professionalism. Someday, I will win. Is this how therapy is supposed to work? Who can say: I'm an American so it's in my genetic code to work against my own interests and pay for the privilege.
Years ago, my first therapy experience was with a Masters student named Brianna. I adored Brianna. She was v. chic but also very consciously trying to project authority and calm in the harrowing task of trying to clean up the puddle that is my psyche. She was very attentive and sometimes I could see her cycling through tactics and theories as we talked. It was quite an entertaining show and I nice distraction from my life. I was there to talk about me, but I was also there to do a 50 minute solo show and track the small adjustments she was making in her approach, style of dress, and demeanor. Most of the time she would wear muted colors--long wide-leg brown pants and simple white blouses, from what I recall. But every once in a while she busted out something wild like a crocheted stocking or a jumper and I'd spend the entire time thinking, Oh, my God. Brianna is so cool.
We did some truly excellent work knitting together the fragments of my life and I could tell we were making progress when it occurred to me that a good way to spend my time would be to see if I could make her laugh. She was a tough cookie. She was very friendly and would talk about whatever I wanted to talk about, but we were also often recording our sessions for her professor to review (I love to syndicate my work) so it was not an appropriate venue for Eric's Humorous Musing About the Mess of His Life: A Variety Show and Sometimes Cabaret.
Once, however, I was telling her about my weekend and I mentioned that I'd invited my friends Tim and James over for snacks and wine and popcorn so we could show Tim the first episode of Scandal, which he had never seen. Brianna's eye's lit up and she exclaimed, "Oh! That sounds so fun!" Even though we weren't recording that particular session, she immediately looked guilty. She mentally reset, cross ankles (she was wearing these amazing leather boots!), and apologized. "I just love Scandal so much. Please excuse me." And a new window in Cool Brianna opened up. "It's so great, isn't it?" I said. "Eric! I do not know what's going to happen with Olivia's dad!" Brianna yelled. I then launched into a very long story about our Scandal-party, which was ostensibly the importance and difficulty of making adult friends but which was sprinkled with my pet theories and observations about Scandal, my love of Keri Washington, and how hot Tony Goldwyn still is. Brianna didn't laugh once, but she hung on every word with a mix of attention that let me know that we were counseling me but we were also girlfriends having a brunch. It was my greatest artistic achievement to date.
My current therapist is named Brian (Did I entertain the hope that Brian was just Brianna in disguise? I won't say yes, but I won't say no. Brian does wear very fancy socks, so the investigation is on-going.) He's been a therapist for a while (I honestly have no idea how old he is--20? 40?--but he's clearly been in the business a decent enough number of years). So, he's less concerned about occasionally laughing. But he still apologizes, which I find so interesting. It's like, "Buddy, the laughter of the public is the only thing keeping me afloat. I would gladly give you this co-pay just for the privilege of watching you scroll through my tweets and giggle. Is this something I should talk to a therapist about? Who has time, with all the jokes."
The thing is! Although we talk about my work all the time, Brian has said multiple times that though he understands what I'm talking about and remembers the people and projects I've mentioned, he has never Googled me or read my work. And this is supposed to be a good thing! I'm just going to say it: professional boundaries are ruining my psychological development. Brian refuses to Google me no matter how many times I tell him, please google me and then like my tweets and perhaps subscribe to my newsletter and would you buy a tote bag with my face if I was selling them? I can offer you a discount! Can you believe this?
This week, I made this meme based on an Oval Office photo that spread pretty quickly online:
Lin-Manuel Miranda, who is name-checked in the meme, retweeted it, Ana Navarro did, too. You know who didn't? Brian, who gets prime position in the meme as "My therapist who is clearly over my BS." I think I may just start printing out my #content and mailing it anonymously to his office. It's part of my healing process. Really.
This week, a bunch of people who should seek treatment, from the woman who married and then divorced a ghost pirate, to the president who didn't show up to work, to the Congress, which doesn't know how Google works. But first! Maya Rudolph is all the therapy you need!
Hello, my precious little raviolis. As the days get shorter and the temperature drops, we reach that annual point in which End-of-Year lists and award nominations remind us of the best and brightest offerings in television, movies, and music. Remarkably, however, this year every list and nomination was cancelled because it was unanimously agreed upon that Maya Rudolph made the greatest contributions to arts and culture in human history. The Sistine Chapel was found dead in a ditch! [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
It's sort of telling that the President has the same work ethic as your teenage cousin who idolizes Post Malone and is barely employed at a banana stand. Trump is going to roll into the Oval Office tomorrow talking about, "I read the schedule wrong." It takes a lot of gall to skip your job in your own house. John Kelly's knocking on the bedroom door like, "So... we're gonna go ahead and keep the country running if you want to join us." And Trump is like "No. Shan't!" [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
It was a meeting of some minds that future presidential scholars will call "messy" and "not as interesting as the Cabinet Debates from Hamilton." It was Trump's to lose and on that he did not disappoint. And through it all, to Trump's right sat Mike Pence who looked, at best very unhappy to be guest-starring on this episode of Maury and at worst briefly appeared to be resting his eyes, as the grandparents say. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
I wish that congressional hearings, in which befuddled leaders pummeled tech company representatives with their most Ask.com-level questions about how the internet works and why it is mean to them, could be weekly occurrences. There is something so beautiful and so pure about watching a pompous senator or congressperson angrily hold up their phone and ask a very smart technocrat how this rich Nigerian prince got their email address. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
An Irish woman who married the 300-year-old ghost of a Haitian pirate earlier this year is saying "Thank ye, next" after announcing the pair has split. In a year of high-profile celebrity nuptials and equally high-profile breakups, this one particularly stings. Please lower your Jolly Roger to half mast. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
Let's Hang Out
Monday December 17 - The Moth StorySlam at City Winery DC
Monday January 7 - The Moth StorySlam at World Cafe Live Philadelphia
Random Thing from the Internet
An end-of-year roundup list brought me back to Doreen St. Félix's phenomenal New Yorker article on Beyoncé's Coachella performance. I love Doreen's writing and, of course, I love Bey. Revisiting this piece was a reminder that every year Beyoncé elevates the experience of being a human in unimaginable ways.
Brian, are you reading this?