Me and Dave Cave asked each other three questions each, and recorded our conversation for his video series, Amateur Therapy Hour.
Dave asked me:
1. Are you already better?
2. Do you exaggerate or embellish your crazy stories?
3. How can we improve ourselves, and at the same time, realize that we are already enough?
And I asked Dave:
1. If you were a girl, how would you dress?
2. What do you want your life to look like when you’re 30?
3. What are you doing to change your all-or-nothing, black & white thinking patterns?
Transcription is included below.
Dave: Okay, this is real, this is happening. We’re gonna do Amateur Therapy Hour with Maranda Elizabeth. I’ve never done one with them. We’re just gonna ask each other three questions.
Maranda: Let’s go back and forth, like, you do one, I do one.
Dave: Okay. I’ll go first. Um, these are – Are you already better?
Maranda: Better than…? I’m better in some ways. I feel like a lot of my negative-thinking isn’t as bad as it used to be. Um, my jealousy that makes me feel physically ill isn’t as bad as it used to be. I still have a lot of, like, “problems,” that, like, I guess I’ve learned how to deal with them myself instead of expecting somebody else to help, like a therapist or a hospital, ‘cause they’re fuck-ups. But I feel like I mostly only talk about positive things… Like, I make an effort to talk about more positive things in my zines and on my blog and the internet and whatever, but I think maybe I’ve done that to an extent that people think that my life is much, much, much better than it is.
Dave: Oh, right. Yeah.
Maranda: And it’s ‘cause I don’t tell people every time that I, like, cut myself, or every time I actually feel suicidal, ‘cause that happens frequently.
Dave: But it’s interesting, how, like, because so much of your life is writing about it, that because you’re writing about the good things in your life, you’re just kind of repeating the good things. So that portion of what you do in your life is reflecting good things. If that makes sense.
Maranda: Yeah. But I think that, like, writing is obviously what keeps me alive and – It started as a joke, but I said to my sister once, ‘cause I was feeling suicidal when I was visiting her a few months ago, and it was because I hadn’t written anything that day, not even in my diary or anything, and she was like, “How long do you go without writing before you feel suicidal?” And I said, “A day and a half.” And we laughed and whatever, but it’s very, very true, and it’s happened so many times since then. I hit the day and a half mark and I feel suicidal.
Dave: That’s specific.
Maranda: Yeah, it’s so specific! You can, like, count down to that minute where I get suicidal. And that’s why I’m ludicrously productive. I’m saying “like” too many times. But, there isn’t anything else I want to do; I just write compulsively because I have to.
Maranda: Okay, my question is less serious.
Dave: Oh, whatever.
Maranda: If you were a girl, how would you dress?
Dave: Susan Powter. Tabitha Coffee. I would wear black skinny jeans, I would wear a tank top, I would have a buzzed head, I would have henna tattoos.
Maranda: I was just gonna say, would you have tattoos?
Dave: I would have black high heels and red lipstick. Susan Powter is my fashion icon. But then sometimes I see – Oh no, I would be severe, severe fashion, like, edgy… What’s the word?
Maranda: Yeah, I picture you, like, kind of opposite of now, if you were a girl, you would care about fashion and style.
Dave: Oh yeah, yeah. I feel like if I were a girl, I would be, like, the type of girl with a six-pack and, like, jacked arms.
Maranda: Yeah, I picture you, like, muscular. You’d be a muscular lady.
Dave: Yeah. I’d be Susan Powter. I think that’s why I bond with her so much. Sometimes I think Joni Mitchell is my fashion icon. No, I don’t think that, ever. She’s not my fashion icon, but… Interesting question, yeah. Um, okay. I’m guilty of this. So, maybe, I don’t know if you… Whatever, I’ll just ask.
Maranda: Just ask. Yeah yeah yeah.
Dave: Do you ever exaggerate or embellish your crazy stories?
Maranda: I feel like I under-embellish, to be, like…
Dave: And that wasn’t me being, like, ‘I think you do this!’
Maranda: I know, I know. I know what you mean. Um, no, I… I’m not sure. I feel kind of like, I was thinking about how each time I’ve been hospitalized, or tried to be, or just whatever, it’s like, when I’m talking to people at the hospital, whether it’s, like, in the ER, or on the psych ward, when you’re talking to psychiatrists and stuff, it’s kind of like, um… If I’ve just become kind of speechless and paralyzed or whatever, then, you know, they can’t do anything because they don’t know what the fuck’s going on. But, if I’m too self-aware, or wordy, or, it’s like, I have too much information about myself to share, then they’re like, ‘Well, you’re sane enough to know what’s going on, or communicate this to us, so we can’t help you.’
Maranda: Um, I don’t know, I really feel like I don’t tell enough of it sometimes. Which is weird because, like, obviously I’m, like, over-sharing all the time, it’s what I do, but no, I, I – Because it’s really hard, I feel like it’s really hard to communicate what’s it’s like when I’m “going crazy” or when I’m suicidal, or when I’m manic, which is not even a thing I really ever talk about because when I’m manic, I’m productive, and then it’s like, ‘What are you whining about? You’re getting all this stuff done.’
Maranda: Like, ‘Look at you, writing all your things and publishing all your things…’
Dave: This isn’t my third question, but do you – I don’t know about other people in your life, but I can see through that. I can be, like, ‘Even though Maranda’s getting a lot of stuff done, like, I’m worried…’
Maranda: Yeah, you’re good at seeing that. I don’t think, like… My mom, the other day, told me to take a break from writing, because I was just, like, ‘I’m so exhausted, I can’t move my body, I can’t think, I feel half-dead, whatever, I slept all day. And I was like, ‘No, I can’t stop writing, that’s what I do,’ and I was talking about how it’s the things that distract me from writing that make me not feel good about myself. But then, I put my Etsy shop on Vacation so I don’t have so deal with that for a few days, and it’s like, I do need other people around me to tell me to slow down and take care of myself.
Dave: Yeah, slow down.
Maranda: Slow down. I wrote it in my planner yesterday, because you said it. Slow down. And I did. I did, like, hardly anything yesterday, compared to the shit I’d written on my to-do list that I had to do. And that was helpful. And then today, I, like, got shit done. I had a good balance of yesterday and today.
Dave: Do you…?
Maranda: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah! I was like, ‘Ask me things! Let me talk more about myself!’ Um, what do you want your life to look like when you’re 30? And how old are you now?
Dave: I’m 25. Um, hmmm. Well, the first thing I think about it still doing fitness, which I think I will still stick with. That’s not being like, ‘Oh, I’m super jacked!’
Maranda: Something about that word just makes me giggle.
Dave: Jacked? Oh yeah, it’s ridiculous. I mean, I still wanna be doing fitness, but I’m thinking about, would I be okay if I were still working where I am? Because maybe that’s the deadline for me. Non-negotiable, in five years, that has to change. I would still, honestly, my priorities have changed, but now my life goals have been, like, creating, doing art things where I live now.
Dave: Whereas, a year ago, it was like, oh, I’ll just live here and go to the city and do these crazy art shows.
Maranda: Yeah. Or, like, I’ll go to Toronto and everything will be perfect!
Dave: Yeah. But, like, just out of laziness, I’m like, I’m not gonna travel. Because I think, like, I’ll just go there for the audiences, but wouldn’t I be happy here if I could just walk to a place and do stand-up and have an audience of 10 people? I’d be way happier. Way happier!
Maranda: Also, even though Toronto isn’t far away, it’s like, now I realize how exhausting it is to go to so many different cities.
Dave: Yeah, yeah.
Maranda: And traveling, and being on buses, and it’s like, yeah, you’re just sitting when you’re on a bus, but it’s so taxing on my system.
Dave: Yeah. Yeah, so I think, still, be healthy, um, I don’t know, this sounds so stupid – I’ll be healthy and do stuff. I don’t know, I honestly don’t think of…
Maranda: You think ‘Be healthy and do stuff’ sounds stupid?
Dave: Um. Yeah.
Maranda: It sounds pretty great.
Dave: Yeah. Well, it’s pretty simple. Okay, my last question for you. How can we self-improve ourselves but at the same time, still realize that we are already enough?
Dave: This is a big one.
Maranda: Yeah. I think that that has a lot to do with accepting that this, life, art, writing, what we’re doing, is a process, and we’re not coming to a goal or an end point where it’s, like, ‘Check! Got that done! I have my self-esteem now!’
Dave: Self-esteem! Check! Self-realization! Check!
Maranda: I feel silly using words like ‘acceptance’ and ‘process’ and, like, but it is. And…
Dave: How can we have goals to be a better person, but at the same time, realize that we are already a complete person?
Maranda: Break everything that you want to do into small tasks, I think, and write it down. I feel like it’s too big to say, ‘I want to be a better person.’ Like, okay. What does a better person look like to you?
Maranda: Do you, like, go for a walk and eat a banana a day and write a couple paragraphs…?
Dave: What does a better person look like?
Maranda: Yeah. You just have to break it down into the smallest, daily parts.
Maranda: I mean, yeah. You can be on a continuum of improving yourself, and also taking steps backwards, ‘cause, like, yeah, we’re all gonna fuck up, we’re gonna hurt ourselves again, we’re gonna have shitty communication skills, we’re gonna have arguments, whatever, or self-hate-type stuff.
Maranda: But it’s just accepting that you’re not gonna reach and end point where you’re a good, better person now, and that’s how it is.
Dave: Yeah. I like how, as you’re talking about art things, like, with the numbers game, like online and sales and how many people have read your zine and, when is that point when, okay, I’m there?
Maranda: I know!
Dave: Yeah! ‘Cause you said, like…
Maranda: Well, I mean, I was thinking the other day, yesterday and today, like, yesterday was the day that my second book was published, and I was just like, ‘Okay. I’ve crossed this off my to-do list. I published two books. I did it. Does everybody love me now?!’ Now I’ve done these things. I’m still the same Maranda I always was.
Dave: That’s scary.
Maranda: A little bit of me, even though I know better, was like, ‘Now I have book and can hold this in my hands, everything’s fine now, and I have the perfect friendships, and my daily life s really great, and I’m a Real Writer,’ and all this validation and stuff, but, my life is exactly the same, except I have, like, more number to take care of… Not like, ‘Ooh, I’m making so much money, I’ve lost count!’ But, like, emails to take care of, percentages to do… All the little tiny daily things that I didn’t know were a part of publishing.
Dave: My god.
Maranda: Or how time-consuming it is to just get the word out, tell people that these books exist, go into bookstores and talk to the owners about putting the book on the shelf. Which is amazing, it’s my dream come true…
Dave: Yeah, no, I mean, let’s not pretend like it’s…
Maranda: But it doesn’t solve all my problems. It does give me bragging rights in this small town.
Dave: Absolutely. Everywhere.
Maranda: Like, hey, look at what I did!
Dave: Everywhere! Okay. Last question.
Maranda: Yeah. What are you doing to change your all-or-nothing, black & white thinking patterns?
Maranda: And nothing!
Dave: Oh god. Noticing it. And being, like, now it’s like, oh, there I am, thinking I have to be, like, swinging from one extreme to the other, like, there it is again.
Maranda: Yeah. And do you think you have to be All Sane, or All Crazy? Like, full-blown crazy or totally okay?
Dave: Yeah, see, that’s the thing. I’m always thinking of that, you know: Cured! Sick! You know? Better or not better! Is this good for you or is it bad?! Whereas, like, maybe it’s kind of in between. People who know me know that I’m a little intense about food.
Maranda: A little.
Dave: To say the least. Everything I eat has to be good for me, nothing bad, but then I’m like, with other things, like fitness, and writing, I’m like, ‘Oh, I didn’t write enough. It’s never enough.’ It’s that matter of, like, ‘Oh, I didn’t write what I planned to write, I’m not a writer.’ Or, ‘I can’t do anything, I’m not a creative person, I’m not doing anything with my life.’
Maranda: I sometimes write to a point where I feel like, ‘This is enough,’ and then I wake up the next day, and I’m like, ‘Holy shit, I have to 500,000 words today.’
Maranda: Otherwise, I’ve failed at everything.
Dave: And it can be the stupidest things. I’ll be, like, laying on the couch, tired, because I’ve done, like – I told you about this before, but I’m gonna brag about it now. I’ve been up since 5AM. I’ve been blogging for an hour.
Maranda: Which is real writing!
Dave: It is! It’s real writing!
Maranda: It takes time, and creativity, and imagination…
Dave: We’re yelling at ourselves!
Maranda: Blogging is real.
Dave: And then, 8 hours of work, I’ll come home, I’ll go to the gym, I’ll be out for another hour, then I’ll come back, and I’ll clean or whatever, and then I’ll be on the couch at 8 0’clock and I’ll be like, ‘Oh, I’m tired. I’m so stupid for being tired!’
Maranda: Why do we feel so awful when we’re tired?
Dave: I know. I don’t know. But then I’m like, oh, I’m just tired for a reason. Not because I’m lazy. I’m tired because I’ve been doing stuff.
Dave: Okay. Let’s wrap this up, just so it’s not, like, an hour. But maybe one day it will be an hour.
Maranda: Tell us if you want it to be an hour.
Dave: Lookin’ at you, HBO.