Less Marv, More Kevin
Updated: Feb 25, 2020
Now that I’ve drawn you in with Just-Intriguing-Enough-To-Get-You-To-Click title, I’ll say up front that this post is about me not having any idea what I’m doing. Yet. I will or won’t, but the journey to finding out is beginning in earnest this week.
By way of explanation, we need to talk about Marv screaming. Roll with me here.
Some of you may not have a problem admitting that, in at least a few areas of your life, you don’t really know what you’re doing. I am not one of those people historically - for most of my life, I never wanted anyone to see or suspect that I couldn’t do something well. This was especially true when I was trying something new and either 1) didn’t show any skill at it right away, or 2) didn’t enjoy it right away. As a kid and teenager, that led to the abrupt end of experiments with things like water polo (I made it through one practice - to be fair, the speedo I had to wear didn’t help sell me), piano lessons, Scrabble (who wants to spell words in a game when I had to do it at school?), baking anything, and working at a pet store (I made it through only one shift because they made me put the tarantula on my shoulder while cleaning its tank. My SHOULDER, people. That’s when I nearly replicated Marv’s infamous scream in the first Home Alone movie after Kevin puts a tarantula on his face. Needless to say, I retired from my pet store retail career a couple of hours after that).
Marv’s spider expression is the perfect visual metaphor for how I responded internally to anything new and challenging; to my way of thinking and feeling, any kind of risk meant possible ,failure, which meant possible humiliation, which meant certain rejection, which meant I was all alone, which meant I was worthless and unlovable. Quite the snowball into an avalanche, right? This kind of immediate catastrophizing was a recipe for constant anxiety and self-doubt, and sadly I had no idea that this Chain Reaction of Self-Talk Doom (and the width of its blast radius) existed in me until I was well into my thirties. I still shake my head when I think about its longevity and how completely I felt enslaved to something I didn’t know was a Thing.
I now realize this was all about image management based entirely on fear; if I quit something before I showed I had no idea how to do it, then I wouldn’t look stupid to others as I struggled to learn it. That way, no one could see (or so I thought) my fear and my lack of confidence. If I kept that hidden, maybe that avalanche wouldn’t happen. Such a mentality made it really hard for me to build a positive self-image, as did the accompanying assumption that I was the only one who struggled with new things. Everyone else had it all figured out or, at worst, was just better at trying new things and mastering new skills, which meant I was weaker / dumber / unluckier than everyone else. I felt like I was out on an island away from everyone, and as I’ve since learned, if you think you’re on an island long enough, you really are on one.
So began my three-and-a-half-decades-long habit of, as author Anne Lamott puts it, “comparing my insides to other people’s outsides.” Over time, it became the emotional equivalent of walking on sharp rocks barefoot and wondering why my wounds wouldn’t heal. I could walk, but not really. I couldn’t walk without pain. Yet I kept walking on those rocks because I just didn’t realize there were smoother paths right nearby. I stayed a victim of my own decisions and my perceptions of the world around me.
Being a “Victim”- of circumstances, of God, of others, of my parents, of girls who didn’t like me, strangers’ indifference, anything I could blame wrongly or even rightly - became an identity, as much a part of me as my blue eyes, brown hair, and having big toes shorter than the ones next to them. But unlike those body parts, I hated this part of me even as I fed it daily. It felt insane, but I didn’t know it wasn’t normal. That is the truly insane part.
Yes, I realize that I was a kid and a teenager during my Victimstance’s formative years, so it makes sense I didn’t see all of this back then. Yet it’s also true that I was well beyond my teenage years before I finally saw it and began to address it. In between those times, frankly, I was a mess, unable to connect with myself and other people in any meaningful way. I faked it as best I could. The results weren't pretty, and it’s taken a number of years of work to untie the knots of that stinking thinking and its often-grim consequences.
Depressing, right? It was, but I’m not retelling all this to depress you or have you feel sorry for me - lots of people have gone through similar things and worse. No, I’m telling you because it sets the historical context (a favorite term--get used to seeing it) for the real topic of this post--my upcoming podcast(!).
It’s my I Will No Longer Be Marv moment.
Yes, I am starting a podcast, one with producers and professional studios with really cool looking equipment and everything. The podcast has a title, a logo, and will be available all over the place (more details on all of that later this week). We’ve recorded six episodes already and will do a total of twelve in this first season. I’ll save its subject matter for the formal announcement, too, because what’s important to discuss at this point are two things:
1) This is something entirely brand new and unexpected for me, but unlike water polo, Shoulder-Tarantulas, and all those other things that once scared me out of doing them, this one I’m diving into with excitement rather than (too much) fear.
2) I can’t tell you exactly how it happened or why or why now - and that’s completely fine with me.
This podcast is further proof to me of the viability of the Next Indicated Step (NIS) concept I discussed in my last post. The short “how I got here” story goes back to the live-streaming trip I made to Normandy last summer to cover the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings, which is covered extensively elsewhere on this website. As part of that event, a friend arranged for me to do a couple of live radio interviews here in Seattle about the trip and about how my alternate history fiction novel, Krelle’s Inferno, explored an alternate outcome to D-Day. The show’s hosts are also podcast producers, including the popular The Bestseller Experiment. After my second radio appearance, they sat down with me and observed that my life has seen some abrupt turns. Their various inquiries can be summed up in just one: “What’s up with all that?”
It’s a question many others have asked me before, and I have been quite selective in who gets the various levels of detail necessary to answer it. There’s a delicate balance between transparency and privacy in life that we all have to work to balance, and appropriately I’ve always gravitated towards the latter until I know people well enough to share comfortably. But in this case, the NIS kicked in - I somehow just knew I could trust them with my story. So I told them over far-too-expensive coffee, and they urged me to consider doing a podcast that would discuss not only my efforts to get Krelle’s Inferno published, but also about how I have been rebuilding my life with no guarantees my hoped-for outcomes will actually materialize. It was a bold idea, which both intrigued and scared me. But it was the right thing to do at the exact right time, and I knew it on an innate level. It’s been a fantastic adventure ever since, and now its launch week has arrived.
And I have just about every emotion imaginable coursing through me about it.
A part of me still feels like Marv With A Tarantula On His Face. The podcast is definitely something new, something I had never considered doing, and something that I am very aware will be listened to and Decided Upon by whoever tunes into it. Like my book, this podcast is decidedly personal, and involves me putting myself out to public audiences in ways that I haven’t before. I hope people listen and like it, that it helps people however they need, and that it helps bring attention to my novel.
I’m also aware that the podcast producing any or all of those things isn’t a given. It’s a risk I’m taking, albeit what I know to be a healthy and timely one. I don’t want it to fail, and having it do so publicly wouldn’t feel good at all. But unlike my pet store career, water polo speedo adventure, and so many other things I gave up on in life, I won’t give up on this easily if and when the challenges emerge. I’ll learn as I go, in full view (or earshot) of anyone who comes along for the ride. No more bailing out when the learning curve goes hairpin. No more screaming at tarantulas.
It’s time to go all in on Me and what I am trying to build here, and I invite you all along with me.
So I declare here first, as a way of holding myself accountable and asking for support:
Going forward, it’s way less Marv and lots more Kevin.
If you don’t know what I mean by that, then I have only one thing to say to you:
How have you not seen Home Alone????
Tune in later this week here and on my social media outlets for the formal announcement. It’ll be as snazzy as I can make it.