Things I’ve Been Putting in My Brain

“It’s also about what you ask for and what you do and how after, later on, when you finally get it, if you don’t want it, it’s not like Amazon. You can’t return it. You actually have to deal with it.”
-Ben Folds at Kleinhans Music Hall in Buffalo, NY (October 5, 2012)

“I guess God was right. I can handle this. I can totally take so much more.”
-Tig Notaro, “Live”

I had to stop reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. It’s suspenseful, which is what kept me with it through the first half, but then I decided I could no longer spend time with these hideous people. They were making me feel hopeless about life. It’s not that I have a problem with reality or even things that are dark, but I need something like humor or a wee little ray of hope or some affirmation that life is not endless suffering primarily fueled by people I could not stand to spend five minutes with.

On Friday night, I saw Ben Folds Five play in Buffalo, which was more my speed. Ben Folds writes about things like sadness and disconnection and despair, but I just love his music. He’s always playing and singing his heart out, and the songs make me laugh and nod my head in understanding and revisit some of the most difficult moments of my life. He has a couple songs I love that just blaze with anger. Turning up an angry song and singing along is a fine way to deal with that particular emotion, as far as I’m concerned. Seeing the group play live was energizing.

I also listened to Ben Folds on Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. Also fun.

Today, I finally got to listen to Tig Notaro talk about being diagnosed with breast cancer, which is such a sad and terrible thing, but she turns it into something life-affirming. Listening to the recording, I laughed and cried and laughed and cried. When it was over, I listened to it again. Notaro is at once hopeful and enraged, and she’s not trying to make anyone comfortable, and she manages to find humor in this most improbable place. The fact of her standing there performing is a way of asserting life; she’s not letting herself die before she dies. And good for her.

My brain needs more of those kinds of things.


  1. Tonderdo
    Posted October 7, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

    I don’t want to die before I die either. That was my favorite line & something too many give in to when faced with hardship.

  2. adrienne
    Posted October 7, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    I think you’d love Tig’s performance.

  3. Posted October 8, 2012 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    Did you notice who Ben Folds was playing for on Wait, Wait?

    National Book Award winning author Kathy Erskine! She’s a friend of mine, and I thought it funny because SHE’S famous enough to be playing for someone else. Plus, I can’t wait to call her over and over so I can hear Carl on her answering machine.

  4. adrienne
    Posted October 8, 2012 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    I hadn’t noticed that, Sara–how funny!

  5. Posted October 8, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    I think I need that tattooed somewhere… that bit about not dying before I die.

    When my stuff FINALLY ARRIVES, I shall ceremoniously replace my big fridge magnet which says, “May you live ALL the days of your life.”

    I need that tattooed somewhere, too…

  6. adrienne
    Posted October 8, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    You could always put them on a post-it note on the wall, too. Avoid the needles.

  7. Posted October 8, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    I’m pretty much all about avoiding the needles.

    Maybe I’ll just write it on my wrist…

  8. Tonderdo
    Posted October 8, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    Tanita- you could always write it in sharpie then when it wears off (in 5 days or so) rewrite in a new color & style. Less pain & more flexibility but the same concept. The post it note would work too.

  9. adrienne
    Posted October 8, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    Tanita, Tammy knows of what she speaks, as she has utilized this method on Lucas to remind him of things.

  10. Posted October 10, 2012 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    Adrienne, I am so with you on Gone Girl. I did finish it, but ugh. Those people were hideous. Jr. and I are listening to The Watsons Go to Birmingham–1963, and it is 1000 times better. It makes me really happy to be listening to it. Grace Paley once said something like “Every character deserves the open destiny of life,” and that is what I like in a book.

  11. adrienne
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Susan, I love Christopher Paul Curtis’s work. Always makes me feel better about life.

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *