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10.24.2009

ruminations on the word doppelganger.


i have a friend at work. and she makes me laugh. belly aching laughs. 

i understand her humor. she understands mine.

i didn't use to be funny. ever. and now it's only ever occasional. if that.

yesterday, after explaining my brief panic attack to Dr. Bob (the therapist), and the feeling of being without a family, as well as the million other things i felt and thought and stepped in this week, he asked,

okay, so what will you do for yourself this week.

to which i replied.

i guess i'll have to go out and buy myself a new family.

i doesn't seem that funny when i write it down. but it was. i promise. it was the funniest thing i've said in months. the timing, the delivery--it was perfect. you just must believe me.

i brag about this boorish joke only because it truly is so few and far between that i strike comic gold (as i did), and when i do, it's never, ever in the right setting. 

i mean, my therapist? he laughed and all, but that's as close as you can get to being by yourself and still having an audience. 

oh if only my humor were to become widespread--common knowledge. my sparkling and dazzling personality fails in crowds and necessary situations. and i brag out my personality because even i am beginning to question its existence?

so back to this friend. at work. it is one of my great (and only) joys of my current position to listen as said friend makes proclamations (or rather snap judgements) about each and every person we work for (our bosses). mispronounce her name once? you're a neanderthal. she's done with you. can't figure out that a cabbie won't take a $100 bill. you lose all credence (okay, so maybe that was my proclamation, but done in her spirit). so we got this new...higher up, who when he first met said friend, asked if he knew her from somewhere else, because he could swear she was this other person and so on and so on. so my friend said: i guess i have a doppelganger running around. and he said, a what? and she said, you know, a doppelganger. to which he replied, no, i don't know. what is that? 

said friend immediately shared this story. we giggled, as school girls do, and conspiratorially decided he lacked the necessary breadth of knowledge. 

imagine my chagrin when, for the next two weeks i went around telling this story, it always ended with listener asking me what in fact a doppelganger is. which then became another two weeks of me asking everyone i know if they knew the meaning of the word, and very, very few did. including my mother. and my mother knows many words. she keeps lists and looks them up. many a night was there dinner and a mirriam-webster dictionary on the table. 

and then came the final blow. i asked Dr. Bob and he said, oh it sounds familiar and i'm sure i should know it, but go ahead and tell me. and Dr. Bob is the smartest person i know.

ah. the coup de grace. 

yesterday ended up being rougher than expected. and i went to bed praying and crying. the former not a common act and the latter becoming a bit too habitual for comfort. 

you see. i do know the meaning of doppelganger. but there is so much i have to work on. 

i know, i know i'm not a great listener. and i get frustrated easily. and my face shows every ounce of that frustration and angst. i don't hide my feelings (which i think is a product of hiding them for so long) and while i really, really like this about myself--there is in fact a time and place. i have to learn to put on the mask when needed. and i need to learn to play the game. i'm not well spoken or articulate under stressful conditions. and i act like i'm ten more often than twenty-four. i hate confrontation and i hate having attention focused on me. i need to expand my tolerance for those who aren't as good at some things. or as well-versed in german venacular

i got home last night. and the awareness of my countless failings seeped in and the tears began. and i thought, i used to smile all the time.

after my third year of school i headed to western new york to do Albert Camus' The Just. and there's this line my character, Dora says, "I remember when I was a schoolgirl. I used to laugh. I was pretty then. I spent hours wandering around and dreaming." and i thought. i know what she means. right now. in this moment. i understand. now, i get it. 

through failure and failings comes understanding and awareness. and humility. and that will make me a better actor, a better writer, a better whatever-i-end-up-being. 

a better person? yeah, that too. for now, let's work on that, cause i got some work to do. 

and how to make my humor more accessible? that too. i gots some thinkin' to do on that fo'sho'.

17 comments:

jcdelbalzo said...

I've always been that person who hides their feelings for the sake of others. and just like you, lately i haven't been hide my emotions nearly as well as i used to, or at all actually! it's really catching me off guard, but I actually feel a sense of relief somewhere along with the guilt i get after being brutally honest.

and as for doppelganger, it's one of my favorite words and i don't understand why so few people know it! i try to use it in my vocabulary as often as possible, which isn't very often because it has such a specific definition.

Sara said...

Okay, I hate that.

What's worse than trying to tell a story to someone you think is smart about someone else who might be a twit, only to have this "smart person" not get it?

Maybe sand up your crack, but not much else.

Signorina Svizzera said...

meg, you are brilliant. you can put words to things that i feel but somehow cannot comprehend well enough to express. fabulous post (along with every other)!
also, i know the word doppelganger... you and your friend are not alone :)

Emily G. said...

Amazing post! I love reading your posts because there's so much truth in them (does that make sense?), and you are such an inspirational person.

I am now going to ask every person I know if they know what a doppelganger is. :)

~*"*Dia*"*~ said...

Ten minutes ago I was sitting on the bench thinking about how much I've changed since I was a bit younger. And now I come here and read this thing..."I remember when I was a schoolgirl.(...) I spent hours wandering and dreaming." The coincidence brought tears into my eyes. Dear Meg, you have a much more pretious gift than humor. You pierce with your sincerity into our souls and translate us our own feelings, the ones that we cannot express in words.
P.S. - Belive me, your posts are full of humor in so many forms.So vibrant and spontaneous. And in all your pictures that I've seen you always have a broad smile. It's so hard for me to imagine you crying when all you write is so powerful. But I agree. Failure and failings make us wiser and deeper. They have their role. They make us rich, because in sadness we evaluate ourselves, we understand ourselves better. And that's something...A warm hug, Meg dear. Thank you! This post has been like a balm to my achy heart tonight.

jasmine said...

i get to join the doppelganger club too....i even know what zeitgeist. those germans have words for everything.

anyway, after reading this, i really really wanted to give you a big hug and tell you to try to be easier on yourself. all of it will come together. you just have to keep doing your best and let it. i was crying to levi last night about not knowing what i want "to do" with my life, and he told me that i don't have to worry about that. he said to keep doing the things i do with faith and love, and that God will take care of the rest. see? i'm allowed to give you this advice because it's advice i need too. (if you're a bible reader, go read psalm 37: 4-6)

lots of love.

Anonymous said...

I totally know what a doppelganger is!

And also: today I went to two auditions and got called back for neither. And I remember what my acting professor always said: "Only go into acting if you like rejection."

And today I felt like I was just beginning to understand how hard a career I've chosen.

alisha said...

dearest meg,

although i often read, i have never before left a comment about your lovely blog.

obviously- now, i must.
and my comment is:

HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! i heart you.

i really have so much more to say, but i feel like you already have an idea of what all of that might be.
and see??! see? all these people know what doppelganger means too!!

love,
me

beatrice said...

the german-descended part of me rejoices in all these people's knowledge of german words! i love how when germans need a word they just squish some together and get a new one, it's really quite delightful.

and i began thinking of all the things i need to change... big things, small things. the fact that i'd rather just never accept blame, and the fact that i seldom remember that respectable people vaccuum. and then goodbye pride! for what good is understanding 15th century vernacular if you can't accept the fact that you're to blame, and move on?

The Rookie said...

I adore the word doppelganger. I entirely understand never having an audience for such stories--it begins to feel a bit lonely and isolated at times, really. "I am a witty person," I think, "You just don't realize it!" I wanted to scream at a woman sitting beside me in the movie theater when someone on the screen said "Phantasmagorical" to describe the upcoming "A Christmas Carol" during the pre-previews. "Phantasmagorical? What in the world?" she'd said. And here I was thinking, ooh, I might like to see a phantasmagorical film translation of "A Christmas Carol." And I haven't had anyone to tell this story to because it feels as though no one would know the word in order to know my frustration at her ignorance, and then I would just be frustrated at their ignorance. And then I think, "What does it matter? It's just a word. Don't be so harshly judgmental."

I guess what I am saying is that this whole post resonated with me.

Word. Why can't I ever just leave it at that?

Jennila said...

Now you know you smart readers- they all know what doppelganger is! I love that word.

It's overwhelming when I stop to think about every single problem I have. And coming from all around (and I know it's true) is the statement, grades don't matter. Nothing about your grades matter. Getting into the right college doesn't really matter. I'm left thinking, but that's all I have. I test well. That's it.

There's a push to do more, be more, be good at more. Writing, creativity, charisma, imagination, those all are more important. We're told to find something outside of school and pursue it like mad, all the while making sure it's genuine.

It's hard.

Basically, this whole post had me nodding my head going yes

Randi Lee said...

You're not the only one!! I do the same thing to other people, and I'm trying to work on it... because it always makes me feel pompous when something like this happens! eek. I read a lot of self help books, and they all point out exactly what you did here... everyone has different talents and area's of strength. Whereas I am good with book smarts, when it comes to understanding other people's emotions... I'm horrible. But I'm working on it, and truly admire people who have a solid understanding of that and can love each individual for who they are and find the beauty in their strengths. If only I could get there sooner!

Marisa said...

my mother once told me.... "Marisa, you do not have an unexpressed thought, if you don't say it... it is written all over your face."

i relate. frustrating!

missy. said...

i have a friend like that at work. it is the best.

and you are lovely lady. this was a good post.

i'm sure your humor is fantastic and i am sure we would spend hours laughing together over things like doppelganger and buying a new family. :]

Mrs. Booms said...

I want to say that knowing the meaning of the word doppelganger makes you brilliant, but alas, I know the meaning of the word... So...

I also always say that only bad comedians laugh at their own jokes and guess who laughs the longest and the loudest at my jokes.

That's right, me.

Cindy said...

I know doppelganger. Only because some writer referred to Brad Pitt's daughter Shiloh has his doppelganger so I had to look it up.

That's why I also know the word "hirsute." Because of a fashion commentary on the world wide interwebs. lol

Lesley Finch said...

Oh Meg... I adore your words and thoughts! And as strange as it may sound or seem to you, I know very much how you feel about life. I am not, however, near as pretty or eloquent with my words as you are. What i say to you now is, don't be so hard on yourself, baby girl! Keep in mind that things happen for a reason, it just might take a little while for us to see the good that comes. Be patient and keep faith, pretty one! You deserve the world, and the world you will get!!