Every time I write about The Crown or the royals in general, please know that in my head I am using a pinched and posh British accent and, yes, I realize this is 1) annoying and b) too much. Never la less! It’s not even a good British accent in my head. It’s the kind assumed by an American exchange student in the early 2000s who has just returned to the States (temporarily) (he thinks!) (alas, he is mistaken). Said fictional exchange student has spent his semester abroad discovering Zara and tea and insists on calling simply everything biscuits: cookies, crackers, rice cakes, English muffins. The lot of it.
I should make clear that this exchange student who does voiceover work in my head is not me. I have actually never been to England but I am married to an avowed Anglophile and there are ornaments of Big Ben and a red phone booth on our tree, so I rest my case your honour.
I’m hoping to go to London for the first time this summer to teach a class, which will be simply marvelous and just the cat’s pajamas (here we see the mental accent slipping from posh British to mid-century Mid-Atlantic. My inner dialogue needs a vocal coach.)
What do you sound like inside your head? Can you figure it out? I think about this a lot because I’m not really able to describe it except to say that I usually sound like myself (I think) but most of the time when I hear myself talk on recordings I literally have no idea who it is.
I listen to podcasts I’m on and I’m like “Wait, I agree with these opinions but I do not know whomst is speaking.” It’s like I’m Ursula from The Little Mermaid but with short term memory loss. What a caper that would be! Ariel’s like “Uh, we had a deal” and Ursula is like “First of all, take the fork out of your hair, you two-legged freak. And second of all, who are you and who are these eels that follow me everywhere and wow my voice is gorgeous, gonna go start an ASMR channel on YouTube called ‘Don’t Forget the Importance of Body Language [ASMR].”
I think the best approximation for how I sound in my head is the way I write. Which is sort of the way I talk but not really. For this reason, I sometimes spiral into an existential crisis when people say—as they often do—they wish I had a podcast where I read my columns for ELLE.com. Internally, I’m always like “I cannot perform the role of R. Eric Thomas today! Call the understudy! I’m on vocal rest!” What’s the thing where you have imposter syndrome about being yourself? That’s me. (OR IS IT?)
It’s really at an all-time high right now because next week I’m recording the audiobook for Here for It (OH! I’m recording the audiobook for Here for It! I didn’t tell you! It’s very exciting and please ignore the psychological mess I’m making as a preamble! You can pre-order the audiobook here and, of course, you can pre-order the physical book from your favorite local bookseller or any online platform!)
(Yes, I know it seems like this book has been forthcoming for a century. Publishing is long; we had to cut down the trees to make the paper and then we had to let the paper dry; it’s a whole process. We had to plant new trees in place of the old trees and watch them grow. You’ve read The Giving Tree? It’s an instructional manual. Also, there’s an ancient ritual involved with font choosing. You know the Papal smoke? This is Papyrus smoke. But, I assure you, the best way to stop the endless commercial breaks for this very funny and beautiful book is to buy it. Because if you buy it, I might get to write one of the other books I have cooking in the bootleg sound effects lab that is my brain. And if I’m writing a book, I can’t be on here tap dancing to get people to buy a book. Multi-tasking? With this level of psychological distress? I don’t think so, honey.)
Where was I? Oh! The audiobook! I’ve been rehearsing and it is very hard to play myself (even though scientists agree that I play myself all the time).
Years ago, Jarrod (he’s doing great; seeing him this week) directed me in a one-person autobiographical show that I wrote and performed in. This was a true act of sacrifice because every rehearsal I would read the words I had written for myself to say, immediately forget them, tell some jokes I just thought up, wander around for a bit, and then suggest we get something to eat. I, on more than one occasion, suggested we hire someone to play me more convincingly. Like me but actualized. It was not so much “play rehearsal” as it was “unsuccessful therapy.”
Anyway, the show was a hit. Sold out every night. It’s also how David and I ended up together. All this from an hour of me pacing a small cabaret stage and thinking “How would I say this line if I were me?” It was worth the effort but sheesh! I’m trying to avoid that this time. The thing that’s tricky about audiobooks (I’ve just discovered this but I am declaring myself an expert) is that I write to be read not to be spoken, more often than not. Well, when I write to be spoken, I write differently. Let’s put it like that. I write plays, you know, and the process is very different than writing the column or the book or this newsletter. And even though as I’m writing these words I’m hearing them in my head, a strange thing happens when they have to move from my head to my mouth. I think it’s a sinus problem. Cuz in between my head and my mouth is my sinuses. It’s a sinus problem. Science.
Which is why I’m doing, like, three Neti pots a day and eating my weight in elderberry-related products. Well, for that reason and also because I have a slight cold I am trying to banish like it’s a troll that’s just arrived in a fairytale village. I’m not trying to be on the record, in perpetuity, doing a fair-to-middling R. Eric Thomas impression while having nasal congestion. Y’all aren’t downloading this 8 hour book to listen to the beginning of a DayQuil commercial. (I have no idea how long it will be. The recording takes three 8-hour days! DAYS! OF ME TALKING! This is Jarrod’s idea of heaven, tbh.) Anyway, I’m obviously pretty scattered about the whole thing but also excited, so I’m going to go pour water through the holes in my head and then get back to staring at the words that I definitely wrote and wondering what they would sound like if they were coming from a me-type character. Maybe with an accent? We’ll see, old chap!
After Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced today that the House would move forward with drafting articles of impeachment, a reporter asked her if she hated the president. Pelosi, who was on her way out of the room, stopped in her tracks, whipped around, and said (I'm paraphrasing) "Okay, see sweetie, what we're not going to do is besmirch my good Catholic name out in these streets with talk about hate." And I am screaming. Today's events combine some of my favorite things: people yelling about their moral compasses, a dramatic return to a podium, and badass women leaders setting an entire room straight Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest-style.
In the new movie Knives Out, Chris Evans (6-feet zero-inches, max morning height) throws his entire big ole Captain America body into a chunky winter-white sweater that—no hyperbole—will send you into a thirst-induced coma for which the only antidote is a kiss on the lips from ::checks medical textbook:: Chris Evans.
Have I, in the last few days, proudly typed the words "I want that sweater to punch me in the face"? Maybe so. But to quote the song "Fast Car": "Me myself, I got nothing to prove." ::logs off::
Simple, eerie, haunting, like a scene set on a spaceship carrying humanity's last survivors to a new colony on Mars. For the holidays! But don't worry, frequent Oval Office visitor Kim Kardashian West and ko. have taken on the White House's mantle. In an Instagram video, KKW revealed that they'd combined those jarring red trees with the White House's 2017 all-white aesthetic to come up with something both stark and serene. You know, like sleep paralysis. FOR THE HOLIDAYS.
But wait a minute, who is that pompadoured figure next to Trudeau? To quote the Meatloaf song "Paradise by the Dashboard Light": "stop right there! I gotta know right now!" Why it's Princess Anne, just nodding and laughing along with a bunch of heads of state lightly reading the American president for filth.
Like Love Actually, we begin the new Project Runway season in an airport. Every time I'm in airport (or every time I watch Love Actually), I'm reminded of the classic Lindy West jeremiad against the movie and her utter outrage at the fact that this supposedly romantic story of people coming together begins in a place as soulless and maddening as Heathrow airport. Do I want to believe it's possible to find love, actually, in the Auntie Anne's scented air of a bustling terminal? Absolutely. Do I believe, actually, love and companionship are lurking just behind that over-crowded airport charging station? No, I do not.
Let’s Hang Out!
December 17 - Hosting The Moth: Philadelphia Grand Slam
Random Thing on the Internet
I made this cold roasted veggie platter this week and it was delicious.
That’s me. (OR IS IT?)