In his podcast this week, comedian Marc Maron admonished listeners, "Don't screw up Valentine's Day"... and then he segued into a promo for his sponsor, Sherrie's Berries (presumably a delightful gift for your Valentine... or at least, better than an old Christmas stocking). And I suddenly realized, I'd heard all this before. He said the same schtick a year ago, too. I can measure my life's progress, it turns out, by Marc Maron's Valentine's Day message.
For me, it's Maron.
The man has played a strangely pivotal role in my life in recent years. In my book about becoming a mother, I share how it was listening to Maron's interview with David Cross that successfully distracted me from the terrible itchiness I felt as a pregnant woman in the last days before my daughter was born. (Later, his interview with Carrie Brownstein put me to sleep. No offense, Carrie... it's exhausting being an itchy pregnant lady.)
I don't listen to every episode of Maron's podcast. But I come back to it, again and again, the way you might come back to an old friend, or a favorite dog-eared book. It's always comforting. It always feels like coming home.
He's a 49-year-old man. Neurotic. Recovering drug addict. Has trouble with relationships (understatement). Travels nearly constantly to perform stand-up comedy. Is revered among his peers and increasingly known by a wider audience as his podcast following grows and other media deals follow.
From the outside, we hardly look like twins. I'm a woman, for one, and in my 30s, but more importantly, he's hip in a way I have never been hip, hip in the way you get hip from "seeing some shit." I am far more sheltered. I act out through my writing (including much that I never share), and through improv, not through my lifestyle...and I've always been that way. I'm what the outside world would call "healthy."
But I'm neurotic, too. I struggle with anxiety and depression. I find release (and redemption) through self-expression. When Maron shares his stream-of-conscious rants and worries, I get it. I feel it. It resonates.
Allen Ginsberg wrote, "I write poetry because I suffer confusion not knowing what other people think." Me too. Ginsberg is another one whose voice resonates for me deeply even though I probably would have bored him to death, and he would have annoyed me: "Get your shit together, Allen! Get some therapy! Try yoga!"
We would not have been BFFs.
It makes you wonder, doesn't it? All the people we connect with through art, with whom we probably wouldn't enjoy interacting with in any other context? And it makes me wonder: If Maron could get over his (probable) judgment of me as a sheltered chick who didn't "get it" or have "cred"...and I could get over my nerves about being judged that way... could we ever have a conversation that let us get to the point where what we had in common overcame everything about us that was different?
More importantly, where will I be next year when he starts peddling Sherrie's Berries again?