Last night, after a day of making bad decisions, I decided to go on a bender. But because I’m a huge dork, my bender took the form of blowing $100 at Book People. Included in my short stack of books (when did they get so expensive??), was Amy Schumer’s new book, The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo.
I was really surprised when I first saw Amy Schumer’s comedy and liked it. I don’t usually like comedians who talk so much (and so graphically) about sex and other bodily functions– but maybe that’s because the comedians who usually talk about that stuff are men and they were talking about bodily functions that don’t happen in my body. Also, I’m a very cerebral person, so talking about body stuff usually makes me uncomfortable.
But, of course, comedy is about confronting discomfort. And I love Amy Schumer for her form of comedy. There’s one chapter about her experience at a camp for people with disabilities and she learns how to accept that bodies are different and you have to own yours. I had a friend in college who insisted on making us all go to the women’s tub at the spa so that we could see female bodies that weren’t air-brushed. I’m so grateful for that! Of course, Santa Fe had a culture of loving natural bodies and aging gracefully and feminine power. It was a great place for me to spend my early 20s.
Amy Schumer is my age and grew up on Long Island. When I first learned this, I concocted a whole alternate childhood for myself where my parents raised me on Long Island (it’s where my mom grew up and we have family there), and Amy and I went to the same school and were best friends. Reading her book and learning about her childhood, I realized there’s no universe in an oodleplex of universes in which she and I would have been friends.
While she was off scheming about boys and trying cigarettes and beer, I was in my isolated world, reading books. I would have been the awkward, weird girl that she ignored. The weird thing is, she writes as if she was the awkward, weird girl making people laugh because she loved the attention. Twenty years later and I’m at home on a Friday night reading about her adventures instead of going out and having my own. That’s me I guess, and Schumer’s book is all about being yourself with no apologies. And I don’t regret my nights reading books, I started this blog to make myself spend more time reading books!
Schumer’s book is a very rich, human autobiography (even though she writes in the “Note to my Readers” that it is not an autobiography, I beg to differ). I was expecting a rehash of her stand-up material, instead I got a real story about her life. That’s the key to her comedy, too, she tells real stories that are genuinely painful and makes you laugh at them.
Beautiful, ugly, funny, boring, smart or not, my vulnerability is my ultimate strength.
-Amy Schumer, The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, p. 314
There are a lot of things I connected with– but I’m not going to write about them here. I only recently have been able to admit certain things to myself, I’m definitely not ready to publish them on the internet– maybe I’ll never publish them on the internet. Again, that’s me. And I’ve been learning a lot about the strength within vulnerability. It has something to do with going out into the world, letting it destroy you, picking up the pieces and doing it again. And again and again… until what? I don’t know but I’ll have to keep going until I find out what’s next. That’s another part of being strong and vulnerable, having faith that this is worth it, even when there’s no plan.