It All Comes Down To This

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I have one week left in Baltimore. I have signed my lease, and will officially be living in Brooklyn in October. This month has been far from smooth. Actually, it has been the most stressed out, unpleasant, and unsettling month I have had in a while. Being a chronic worrier and over thinker, I was convinced that this was a bad omen. I am really working on not complaining and venting 24/7 because it makes me inadvertently toxic, so I just will tell you that the lease process was a nightmare, I had close friends lose their family members, I had some issues with friends come afoot, each member of my immediate family is having a huge problem that they are projecting their extreme stress onto me, I have had to spend way more money than I anticipated on the move and it seems like the bills just keep pilling up, I’m being kind of a lousy friend, and the worst part, I don’t feel bad about it….and I got sick. What the hell, world!? I am very overwhelmed. The world isn’t going to end, but it’s easy to be overcome by life and its endless bs.

Something was telling me that I should stay home, that I should maybe wait until 2016 to make a move. While yes, I could save some more money and have more of a cushion to fall back on during my move, waiting a few more months won’t do anything for me. I will still be complacent, comfortable, and taking it easy in Maryland. I would have to deal with my parents (whom I love dearly) and the boredom of life in a suburb. I would have to keep waiting tables and working odd jobs, and only taking solace in shopping and over spending, which just off-sets all the work I just did to save money in the first place.

All of these obstacles that have gotten in my way this month actually confirms that I need to move to Brooklyn. It’s time.

I’ve been going to mics more frequently and I have been having a blast. I’m finally connecting with comics (not because they weren’t friendly, but because I was too shy to talk to them) and it has made each open mic something I’m looking forward to instead of freaking out and dreading it. I worry that sometimes I take the mic for granted and I don’t do that well, but I keep getting good feedback from my peers, so I guess I’m doing something right? I’ve been starting to feel like some of my older jokes are getting stale, so luckily this past month has been such a nightmare, it has helped my material be fresh and it has been fun to talk about it on stage. I even got the host to ask the audience to give me another round of applause for my set. That was pretty cool. I know that if I keep the momentum going things will only get better but it just is bittersweet knowing that I’ve connected with these comics and now I’m leaving them to start all over in NYC. Like I said, it’s meant to be, and I have to do it.

I have a show that I’m headlining before I move, October 2. It’s at Zissimos in Hampden, MD, starting at 8 pm. I am incredibly excited but I am still suffering some heartache over leaving. I know I’ll be back soon for the holidays but it just is tough knowing I have to start it all over again in a new city with a ton more expenses.

But if it was easy, everyone would do it. That’s what dreams are all about. I could easily go back to Marketing and get a job that drains me and pays well, have a 401k and be that cookie cutter person that society demands us all to be, but I wouldn’t be happy. Sure, money is incredibly important and I would love a pay increase, but at what cost? I’ll take struggling with money and doing what I love than having money and no joy in what I’m doing. When you don’t love what you’re spending most of your day doing, it affects every aspect of your life. You become toxic and unpleasant. I’ve seen it first hand and have experienced it myself. I used to let my professional friends make me feel bad or insecure about my path, and then I realized that they are just as lost as I feel at times. Ok, they have a job that pays, but all they do is complain about it, they’re single and have no energy to go out and meet people, and they’re lonely. I’ve never felt lonely since I started doing what I love. So if putting my path down makes them feel better about their lives, so be it. I won’t allow them make me feel bad because they’re noticing shortcomings in their lives.

Don’t let society, parents, friends, anyone tell you how to live your life. The reason they are telling you what you should do is to make them feel better about their choices that clearly aren’t making them happy. They aren’t out to get you, but they don’t know what’s best for you. The second I stopped seeking people’s suggestions on what to do, the better I have felt. I have my apprehensions because I’m nervous and scared and it’s a huge financial commitment, but I know that the cost of staying home is far worse than the $$$ that NYC costs. I’ll make it work because I have to make it work. I will work whatever jobs I need to work and hustle because that’s what you’re supposed to do to make your dreams come true.

I can settle for a corporate job any time. Maybe I’ll be there in a few years, maybe I won’t. Right now, all I want is to do what makes me feel alive and happy, and comedy is the most honest relationship I have ever had. I don’t pity my friends who have marriages, kids, or a corporate job–that’s great and I sincerely hope that works for them–but I wouldn’t trade my life for anyone’s, ever. I love being independent and not having to answer to anyone, I love meeting new people everyday, I love being immersed in the comedy scene and hearing jokes, I love scraping up money through interesting ways, I love not having to go to work at 8 am to commute, I love making ends meet (and then some) through my own hard passionate work. I love sleeping when I can. I love knowing I can stay up ’till 3 am and not have to worry about being tired the next day. There are absolutely corporate jobs that are great and make people very happy, and I am sure someday I will have to temp again and work in that environment. For now, I’m going to revel in being a renegade and just relax.

It will be ok, because it has to be ok.
I got this.

More Days of Stand Up, Death…and other stuff!

August has been one heck of a month. It’s been great, actually, but so much has went on that it’s hard to keep track. The first week of August I wrapped up the biggest sale of the year at my retail job, had my first tinder date, and then performed at the Comedy Extravaganza. I saw friends I haven’t seen in 7 years, and I met a lot of really interesting and supportive people. I got back into a stand-up routine and started making friends with comics. One of my best friends since middle school was in town from LA, and we had a blast like we always did. I lost 6 pounds. I put in the final two weeks at my retail job, and was really saddened to leave such great friends behind. It’s now September. My 25th birthday came and I went to Chicago. It was a great birthday. There were some really unfortunate events that happened that day, my dear friend’s Dad lost his battle to ALS, and a few days later, another dear friend’s sister passed away unexpectedly to a brain aneurysm.

Forgive me for being trite here, but life is so short, and it is so scary.

It should remind us all how fragile life is, and how blessed we are to be where we are right now. I know I can get wrapped up in my own world and problems, but when you see your friends lose their family members, you realize that there’s no point in worrying, because we could be dead tomorrow. There’s just no point in worrying so much. Freaking out over where you are in your career or who you are dating or not dating is so pointless. Live! Go outside. Volunteer. Get your head out of your ass and focus on someone other than yourself. We are all vulnerable and a little a lost, and all fighting a battle.

My heart goes out to my friends and their families, and words can’t express how sorry and sad I am for them. Everyone’s heart is heavy right now. Just know that you are loved, and I am always a text away.

I’m not sure how to segue this into stand-up, but I am just gonna jump right into it. Forgive me for changing gears here.

I’ve gotten back into the open mic swing of things now that I have one less job to juggle, and it has been fantastic. I have been meeting more people, and have been more outgoing. Everyone is cool and really, really funny. They aren’t all out to get me. They want me to be funny, and they laugh when it’s funny, and they smile when they don’t find me funny. That’s kind of wonderful. I’m really glad I’ve started to connect with more comics and building friendships, even if I’m leaving relatively soon. I’m officially moving to New York (GULP) in October, ideally Oct 1, to pursue my writing and comedy, all the while working my butt off at any job any time anywhere so I can continue to live comfortably. I would ideally work in Copywriting or freelance events/production, but I am not closed-minded. I will do anything if it keeps me away from Chevy’s in Times Square (no disrespect to my wonderful employer that I’ve been with for my 1 year anniversary this month!). I am beyond anxious about it, and I know I have a ton of work ahead of me. But if I don’t do it now, when would I do it? I could die tomorrow. That’s a scary fact to face. I want to pursue my dreams, even if I’m not totally ready experience or portfolio wise. I know I have a lot of work to do on my act, and I can always improve my writing. I just love New York, always have, always will, and I need to be there while I’m 25 and will just hustle until something comes about. If it does not work out, don’t you worry, I literally have 4 back-up plans, and they’re all good. One involves moving to Canton, MD…so maybe I will be around again.

For now, I am looking forward to this new chapter, no matter how scary it seems. I will always be a bus ride away, and I will definitely hit open mics in MD when I’m in town. I’m really thankful for the people I’ve met and connected with over the past year and several months. I had no idea I would love people so much, and the thought of leaving really hurts my heart. I’m so bad with goodbyes; I rarely do them. I usually just get up and leave and hope no one notices (they always do). I just want to say bye for now, and thank you for everything. You have made this really difficult time in my life an amazing journey that I will be forever thankful for for years to come.

Oh, right…stand-up…um, at the risk of being vague, last week was good! I was at Wits End again I just did a lot of old jokes just to tweak them a little. Some worked, some need more work. This week was all right, I was in at Venice Tavern in Canton with a comic friend of mine and I tried out some new material that actually worked better than all of the material that usually works at other mics. It was interesting to see how it just kind of flopped when I was always used to jokes landing. It was definitely my delivery that was different, because I was trying to be more ‘chill’, I guess…but I think that came off as apathetic, and people didn’t grasp it. Just trial and error, of course. I recorded this set and it was criiiiiinge-worthy at some parts (I’m my own worst critic, but it just wasn’t all that good), but I could tell I kind of was trying to talk slowly and that messed up my delivery. I’m glad I got up and did it, and I got some “good jobs” after the set. That’s all I can really ask for anyway.

Thanks, Baltimore. You’ve been so good to me.

Comedy Pigs Summer Comedy Extravaganza Set

Last night was so much fun! A huge thank you to everyone who made it out!! I had such a great time getting to see old friends and meet new ones. Missed out? Don’t worry, I recorded it. The phone fell off the chair, but luckily I was loud enough for it to pick up everything from the show, to me freaking out backstage. I hope you enjoy it!

Press: Comedy Pigs Summer Comedy Extravaganza 2015

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MET’s ‘Comedy Pigs Comedy Extravaganza’ Set for August

MET's 'Comedy Pigs Comedy Extravaganza' Set for AugustMET’s hilarious sketch and improv group, The Comedy Pigs, will play host to comedy groups from across the Maryland/Virginia/DC area for the “Comedy Pigs’ Comedy Extravaganza”. The “Extravaganza” will run for two performances this August, each with a different line-up, for two unique nights of comedy featuring improv games, stand-up comedy, long-form improv, sketch, and everything in between.

The Comedy Pigs, who have been making audiences laugh for over 22 years, are thrilled to invite some of their friends and bitter rivals from the DMV to Frederick for a weekend of hilarity. Writer, comedian, and personal shopper Suzanne Lassise will stumble into town as she has stumbled through adulthood, one over-priced (but worth it!) shoe at a time. Ladies Night Out explore what it means to be women, in more ways than one. Prettier Than You, a DC-based long-form improv troupe with a focus on character work, thinks that they are, um, prettier than you. Local comic, Isabel Duarte is a member of the Comedy Pigs, a MET company member, and a regular contributor to the weekly comedy show and podcast, “The Last Hurrah.” Tributes is an improv comedy act from Baltimore that specializes in friendship, mind-reading, and a lack of boundaries. While exploring the periphery of relationships, they fulfill wild dreams and realize impossible scenarios right before your eyes! Additional performers will include Topher Bellavia, The Last Hurrah, Porkchop Volcano, Trampus, Send in the Clowns, Tramped, Washington College Improv, Drop Three Improv, Devin Greene, Girlfight, Topher and You, Going to the Movies Alone, and of course, The Comedy Pigs!

In addition to the “Comedy Pigs Comedy Extravaganza” performances, The Comedy Pigs will be hosting improv workshops led by Topher Bellavia. Topher Bellavia is an actor, director, designer, and writer who lives and performs in DC. He has performed with the Washington Improv Theater and has won two 48 Hour Film Project Awards. He was the Managing Director for the Washington Improv Theater for four years and has continued to offer training in Corporate Improv and Creativity. He has worked with The Comedy Pigs over the years and is currently hosting the “Maryland Wednesday Drop-in” in Silver Spring to work with local groups on their improvisation skills. The first workshop will focus on “The Power of Positivity” and the second workshop will work on “Interacting with Locations and Objects.” The workshops will take place on August 8 at 12pm and 3:30pm.

“Comedy Pigs’ Comedy Extravaganza” will run Friday and Saturday, August 7 and 8 at 8 p.m. at Maryland Ensemble Theatre (31 W Patrick St. Frederick) located in the historic FSK Hotel. These shows are intended for mature audiences only and tickets are $17 (all fees included). The Comedy Pigs Improv Workshops will cost $25 and are intended for individuals of all ages who are interested in learning more about improvisation. Reservations for the workshops should be done in advance because there is limited space available for each class. For more information visit or call (301) 694-4744.


Day 2: First Up, First Out

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A week has passed since I last performed. After getting back on the saddle with stand up, at first, I felt a little disheartened. Not that I expected to kill, but I was just kind of jarred by how hard it is, how delusional I must be to think I can actually *do* comedy, and what my life will entail doing open mics more and more frequently. It was scary, and I didn’t feel ready.

Then as I got more support and wrote about it more, I felt more at ease about the situation. It’s miraculous how a week of just preparing and getting kind of excited will do to you. I wanted to do some more open mics but my work schedule just won’t budge right now. Tuesdays are typically good for me, so I do open mics then. I was back at Wits End Saloon and saw some familiar faces when I came in promptly for sign up. I was the first to sign up, Suzanne Lacease. I sat alone with my moleskine and waited. and waited. and waited.

The MC told me I was up first, and I was actually kind of relieved. I just wanted to get it over with, because my jitters were kicking in and I was starting to get nervous. He called me up, and it was like I was a completely different person than from what I was last week. I just sat on the stool, remembered my moleskine this time, and just chatted with the audience.

Now, there were maybe 8 people in the audience, but I got constant laughter and participation from the audience. It felt great. I was just talking to them like they were my friends, and we all felt much more comfortable. I wasn’t trying to hard to be witty or funny, I just said what was on my mind and it worked so much better. I forgot some one liners I wanted to say, which I’m still kicking myself about, but I am overall really pleased by how it turned out! I also ended too early and was at a complete loss as to what to say when I was done with my two bits. I wanted to tune them up for my big show so I forgot to make it long enough to fit into a set. I talked about dating again with this set, and have come to terms with the fact that I am just gonna do dating jokes as I start out because they are easy for me and it’s something I know, at least. I don’t know relationships, but I definitely know dating. I just got to suck it up and realize I’m not Chappelle or Carlin…yet. :)

I got up, did my thing, got some laughs, and PROMPTLY got out the door. I just did not want to hear dick jokes or any jokes, really. I just was not in the mood and I have an early morning tomorrow. I was home in bed by 10:40 PM. Now that is a great open mic to me.

My big show released its flyer today and I can’t be more excited. With this solid open mic under my belt and more to come, I am feeling more and more confident that I will put on a good show. I’m trying my best to not beat myself up or be hard on myself because I’m just doing it for once and not getting in my own way. It’s nice to look out on the horizon and not see me standing there blocking myself from my dreams.

I am tucking myself into bed and getting some sleep. Until next time!

Baby’s First Playbill

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Come join me and Maryland’s best comedy acts for the show that keeps on giving! I am so excited and nervous to do this big show and I would love for you to come see it! The show is at the Maryland Ensemble Theater in Frederick, Maryland. Tickets are available here!

Day 1: First Step to Stand Up

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I’d like to share with you my open mic life, as it helps me get better at my, dare I say it, “craft”. I started writing about open mics years ago (I can’t believe it’s been YEARS…yikes), then got a new job and a whole bunch of excuses to get in the way of my life. Now, I am getting back into it, and as an incentive, I want to write about every performance I do. The good, the bad, the ugly.

I have a big show August 8 (Marylanders, buy your tickets!! It’s a great line up of comedy Improv troupes and stand-ups) and I realized something: I should probably practice and get a tight 10 minutes of material ready. You know, prepare? Maybe? I am someone who rarely studied and got A’s (B’s…C’s…and D’s…but mostly B’s!) a pretty good athlete that always groaned during practice but always delivered at game time, and an improviser at heart, but I know I have to cut that habit out if I ever want to get that A. I can coast all I want but at the end of the day, you just won’t get good if you don’t practice. I’m learning that the hard way.

My girlfriend’s boyfriend, Devin, is a comic in Maryland who was kind enough to let me in on his open mic plans. There was a small show at Wit’s End Saloon next to Magooby’s Joke House in Timonium, and I’ve been to the bar before to eat some food, but never knew there was a stand up show there. I have been coasting a lot recently and haven’t performed in months. It’s my own fault, but I work every day just about, and when I don’t, I’m traveling. I don’t abuse adderall anymore so I just don’t have the energy I used to “have” back in the day when I worked 15 hours a day. I know I need to reel in my work schedule, but that’s another story for another meeting with my therapist. I just never think I’m doing enough, and honestly, I am doing way too much. Way. Too. Much. Comedy took a back seat because it didn’t make me money, and I thought I was hot shit and funny because my friends think so. I don’t know many newbie comics who don’t think that way; we’re all delusional to think we can become real comedians. That’s how all of the greats start–completely, utterly delusional, but performing every single night.

It’s about time I did the same.

We got to the show and like clock work, I pulled up next to Devin in the parking lot. It was cosmic, or it was just the closest spot by the bar. You decide. I met the other comics on the line up, and met the MC. He was very friendly. I was very nervous. I was wearing my lucky Nike kicks and my favorite red lipstick, and I still felt nervous. I signed my name on the line-up sheet “Suzanne Lacease” just to avoid the dreadful Lassie pronunciation. It was in ink. Boom. Done. Now it’s time to sit and wait.

and wait.

and wait.

Am I even going on? Did the MC forget me? I don’t blame him, but I can’t hear one more dick joke…

I went outside to take a deep breath and chat with some drunk guys who told me they’d laugh at my jokes ‘no matter what’. I was so nervous I believed them. The MC came out and told me I was coming on after a guy with a vest adorned with buttons a la Girl Scouts. This is it!

I was called to the stage, and I decided to record being called up and screamed “LET’S TELL SOME DICK JOOOOOKEEEEESSS” on video for Instagram. It was greeted with 0 response, I pressed ‘done’ and posted it on to Instagram. At least the people on IG can hear the clapping and not the ‘what?’ I felt like as the only woman on the line up I should call out the very obvious theme of masturbation and dick jokes that was throughout the hour and a half I was patiently waiting.

I decided that they didn’t really hear me (false) or that they really thought I was going to tell dick jokes (another false), and I made a joke about how I don’t have that kind of business to banter about. I got the giggle. Ok, phew, let’s go.

Then I look to the stool to open my Moleskine of jokes I wrote, or a set list I had scribbled, and I realize it’s on the table by Devin and I was a deer in headlights. I joked about being unprepared (everyone’s favorite…sigh) and Devin tossed me the Moleskine that I dropped on the floor. Welp, I thought, I’m gonna just wing it.

I started off talking about being from Baltimore, but I couldn’t quite remember how I set up the joke in my Moleskine and it fell flat. Wasn’t awful, but just wasn’t funny. Luckily I had a lot of guys in the audience who were from Baltimore so they at least were on my side. Kind of like a “ok, white girl, bring it home to Baltimore”. I slabbed on my accent and kept going.

On to the next!

Then I joked about my job in retail, and I got some tepid laughter. It wasn’t hysterical, and it was a little too long-winded to get to the punchline. Luckily, once I got to the punchline, it got the laugh, and I felt all right. I’m not killing, but this room is about 10 half-drunk comics who have heard it all. You just aren’t going to kill, and that’s ok! Tepid laughter from a comic means I should hold on to it for another open mic.

Then I kind of forgot what else to say. SMASH CUT: DATING JOKES!

I hate dating jokes. I don’t know, I just have heard them all from way funnier women, and they just are always the same. Amy Schumer and Whitney Cummings are the go-to dating joke gurus, and even then sometimes the jokes are like “uuugghhhhh we get it”. But I didn’t know what to say, and I felt like talking about something I know will get a laugh because it is fucking funny. Shout out to my newest Instagram follower “Orgasm.Giverr”. He saved my set. I can improve on it but I have a good set up and I built my confidence back up. The guy in the front was smiling. Devin was laughing because he’s a good guy, but when someone is a stranger and laughs, you feel good.

Then I had some joke about charmers that I honestly know was so good when I had it written, but completely forgot the punchline. I forgot the set up, and a huge chunk of the story. It got a giggle but it fell flat, but I know it can get better with some practice.

I stayed and listened to one last comic, then decided I had to get home for work in the morning. I got some smiles from the other comics, and nods. It felt good to be back. I chatted with a guy from LA outside and we chatted about LA and open mics. He was aloof, like a lot of comics, but he seemed like good company. As I was talking, the MC came outside and asked me how long have I been doing stand up. I just passively said “not very long”, because honestly, either answer isn’t going to make me look good. I was expecting a “oh, I can tell” or something like that, but he nicely said “oh, wow. Well that OkCupid joke was great. It was a great set up, and it was so obvious, yet I never heard anyone say anything about it before. It was really funny.”

That’s all I needed to hear.

So all in all, my “first” open mic (let’s just call it that) was a pretty good time. I was used to “killing” in front of my friends and it made me a bit delusional. I’m so glad I got out there in front of strangers in a room of dudes and just did it. I didn’t do amazing, but I did just fine. That’s how you should be when you start out. You don’t kill every time. If you’re killing when you’re starting, you’re in the wrong room. I learned that tonight, and I’m so glad I did. I texted Devin and want to set up an open mic on Thursday.

a la George Costanza, I’M BACK IN BUSINESS, BABY!

The Art of Finally Letting Go Of The Bully

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Despite my at times aloof disposition, I am incredibly sensitive. I get hurt by an off-handed innocuous comment and hold it in my heart for years, and I’ll never tell you how much it hurt me. I’m a masochist like that; I hold it in, hold it in, hold it in, until something triggers me and sets me off. It is a terrible habit I developed from my childhood, but that was just how I was taught to deal with feelings. “Suck it up, get over it, or pay a therapist to listen to it” is on our family crest. When I drank, I would bubble over with feelings that flung from my mouth without any inhibition. I would lash out at people with no filter or consideration for the other person’s feelings. I would mask my commentary as a joke at times, but everyone knew it wasn’t a joke. It was truly awful. Now that I’m sober, I have made it my mission to express how I feel and articulate myself when I am hurt, without letting it boil over into a much bigger deal than it needs to be. I have been pretty good about it so far, or so I thought, but I was tested today. Today I encountered a person I honestly hoped I would never see again, and often times fantasized what I would say if I ever saw them again.

After 7 years since graduation, I saw my high school bully.

Everyone has some type of childhood nemesis, and although I had plenty of people I didn’t see eye-to-eye with, this person put the rest of my nay-sayers to shame. To make an incredibly long story short, this person hated me the minute they met me, a loud, outspoken girl, because they too were loud and outspoken. Unfortunately for both of us, we were both loud and outspoken about hating each other. I remember it like it was yesterday, the guy transferred into our high school, and I had no idea who he was, but everyone kept telling me there was this person who says that I am the “ugliest, most annoying girl he’s ever met”. A tad dramatic, but I’m not bullet-proof. It hurt. I didn’t even know this person, but I was instantly rejected. So, like any sensitive high schooler, I fought fire with fire, and came up to him and confronted them. It was the start of an endless battle that lasted well through senior year. He would say or do one thing to hurt me, I would say and do another to hurt him; it came to a point where I would fear crossing paths with him, because, like me, he did not hold back, and he knew what would hurt me, just like I knew what would hurt him. It was, in a word, so very high school.

The worst part was that he became friends with my friends, because he was a very outgoing, charismatic, funny guy. I see what others saw in him. He had the whole mean girls thing down to a T and boy did it drive a wedge in my social life. Slowly over the years my once close friends began to pull away as they became closer with him, because he was more fun, and, well, he would make sure no one liked me. Some months I remember he would try to be nice to me, and I would do something to mess it up by shooting a friendly fire, and that would just make it worse. Sometimes I would purposefully annoy him just because I knew it would, and now in hindsight I just see how innately stupid and childish that was, but I was desperate to look like I had the control in our ongoing battle, and I’d be damned if I waved a white flag. It was, in a word, so very fucking self-destructive.

Once Senior year came, I was on the final strings with a lot of my friends, and I felt that we were all going different paths. We just didn’t have much in common anymore, but I wanted to have groups to go to parties with, groups to say hello to in the morning, a group to go to Homecoming with…I just wanted to be included, even if the group didn’t really like me that much. It was just survival, as I’m sure many of us can relate to senior year when we look around at all of our friends and go “wow…I don’t have anything in common with you”. Little did I know none of this would matter in a couple of months, but at the time, it was devastating feeling left out. And I am not going to pin it all on this one guy, but he did not help with my friends feeling uninterested in maintaining a friendship with me when it pissed off their friend they like more than me anyway so much. It’s basic psychology. I get it.

Then there was the final moment that I should have waved my white flag, but I didn’t, and it ruined my entire Senior year (dramatic, but accurate in the eyes of a 17-year-old). My friends were all going to a concert that I didn’t care about but bought a ticket to specifically because I knew it was the place to go that weekend. I also knew there would be drinking, something I had done a grand total of 1 1/2 times (essentially 3 times I took 2 swigs of vodka when I was 15 and was “hammered”), but that was what the cool kids did, and like any high school flick, I wanted to be cool, A-DUH. I remember taking maybe 2 shots at once and the rest was a blur. I blacked out and woke up outside of the concert, with one of my closest friends all through middle and high school, and him. I had no idea what happened, and they told me I was kicked out because I was falling and a mess. I started bawling immediately, because alcohol + embarrassment = ALL OF THE TEARS. He took my phone and called my Mom, telling her what happened so she could come get me, and my Mom went absolutely insane. I had a trip to New York with her the next weekend, and I knew she would cancel it if she found out I was drinking and got kicked out of a concert. In hindsight, I realize that would never happen, because the tickets to our Broadway show were already purchased and our hotel was long booked, but knowing her, she would find a way. My Mom sent my Dad out to pick me up, and I was continuing to be hysterical, mostly yelling at the guy who was helping me. This guy, who has been nothing but mean to me, was helping me out when I needed it, and sacrificing his concert to help me, and I was screaming at him. I was screaming at him for being so mean to me, for calling me ugly, for hating me for no reason, the whole 9 yards. I reached my boiling point and Burnetts let it all pour out all over the one person helping me out in my time of need. He didn’t yell at me, he just took it, and tried to calm me down, but never denied that he hated me. I always found that funny and in hindsight respect him for that. My Dad picked me up, and it was time to do damage control. Little did I know, I was going to make things 93576 times worse.

My Dad was furious in the car, and as I was sobering up, I began to realize what was at stake. My New York trip, my fun, the rest of my Senior year…I had to think fast. The first thing that came to my drunk mind was to blame the one guy who my parents know has “had it out for me” since day one. I told the biggest, most bullshit lie I could muster up, and that was that my bully stole my phone and lied to my parents about being drunk and kicked out of a concert to get back at me because he, well, hated me. I don’t  know what was more insane, that story, or the fact my parents, without so much as skipping a beat, believed it. I texted that very person I threw under the bus for my own selfish needs and thanked him for his help. He told me I should pay for his ticket, which I agreed. I was still in a ton of trouble anyway but the fire was put out, that is, until that Monday.

That Monday was the worst day of my entire grade school career. I came in, and everyone knew what happened. I was hammered, a shit show, and made out with some weird dude (apparently he was super old? I have no idea what happened, but I don’t doubt that happened), and my bully-now-super hero was fucking furious with me. Everyone stared at me and made comments when I walked through the hallways. I knew that everyone knew, and they knew that I knew. It was absolutely horrifying. I got it that the guy who helped me was mad, but I thought we were cool when I apologized and offered to pay for his ticket. We were all sitting at lunch, and I remember seeing him fuming as he came up to me. I said ‘hey, here’s your money’, and he turned to me, and screamed to the entire lunch room “You keep your money, since you told your parents that I fucking lied to them when you were wasted and making out with old guys”.

My secret was out. He found out because my dumbass brother posted on my facebook wall about how my parents bought my stupid story. It was in print, and there was no denying it. I was exposed. I admitted what I did and apologized, but the damage was done. My other friend who helped me that night was sitting with me, and I looked at her, and she was so upset. Everyone was staring at me. I mean, literally, everyone. The guy stormed off, and I just was alone, surrounded by stares and whispers. It took every fiber of my being to not cry, and I calmly got up, grabbed my lunch and walked off into the bathroom where I ate my lunch alone and cried, a la Cady Heron in Mean Girls. It was fucking awful, and I deserved it.

After my depressing toilet lunch, I spent the rest of the day hiding in the guidance office, sobbing for hours, missing the rest of school. I was inconsolable, and I had no idea what to do. I was exposed and that was the final nail in the coffin with any of my friends who were on both sides of Team Suzanne, Team Guy Who Helped Suzanne and She Fucked Him Over. I was done, he was officially the good guy, and I was the villain. The Senior year I was so worried about ruining by not making the effort with my friends was ruined just by me trying to be cool and drinking. I couldn’t blame anyone but myself.

The rest of the year was pretty bleak. I was tainted with “that girl” reputation and the bully now had all the power over me. He could say whatever mean thing he wanted to say, because I finally gave him a real reason to hate me. No one ever officially took sides, but seeing that my social life was just me going to work on the weekends being friends with people who didn’t go to my high school pretty much sums it up where I stood on the social food chain. I was a social pariah ’till graduation. No one was mean to me, but no one was especially friendly, either. It was a sea of apathy or hatred, and no one was buying what I was selling. It was so lonely, and it scarred me with my friendships and future friendships ’till this day. I was overcome with loneliness and guilt, and there was nothing I could do except wait until college to start all over again with people who may not know so much about my not-so-great high school resume.

Over the years post-graduation, I would hear through the grape vine of the horrible things my bully would still say about me, the Facebook statuses he would post at my expense, you name it. I tried to move on from my high school baggage in college, but as I drank it would bubble over and affect my friendships, and even relationships. I would think I was ugly and not worthy of any guy liking me, because that was what I was told all through high school. It is sad but this person had such a hold over me, even years after the fact. The back of my head just played a monologue of the things he said to me, that I knew other people thought of me as well, and it seriously messed up my psyche. I would fantasize of what I would say to him if I ever saw him again, how I would shut him down and shove in his face how great I am doing now, how I graduated with this and got a promotion in that, how some dude at a bar said I was beautiful once…just a pathetic list of accolades that for some reason I would think would show him what’s what! It was pretty lame, to say the least.

After years of therapy (for other reasons, not just a bully) and getting sober, I started to let go of a lot of my baggage, and he was one of the biggest pieces of carry-on that I had trouble shaking off. This past year I felt a lot more at peace with my past, realizing how I contributed to our war, and how he had a lot of demons that he was battling as well that contributed to lashing out at me, just like how I would lash out at others from my demons. He was dealing with being gay in a completely anti-gay environment, which I can’t begin to understand how hard that must have been, and I know he had family issues that I am not going to air out on the Internet. I had my family issues and mental health issues, too. We actually weren’t very different. I always accepted that I would hold on to that part of my past and it was a part of me, that shame, that guilt, that loneliness…until today.

I was at work at one of my part-time jobs, when all of a sudden a guy came up to me and was talking about a David Yurman bracelet he was returning. He just talked to me, and thinking he was just another unhappy customer, I tried to just lend an ear and listen. I made a joke about the bracelet, and he half-laughed, as much as the joke warranted, and then I looked into his eyes and realized who it was. It was him. THE PERSON. I was mid sentence when I finally realized who it was, and my heart began to race. In my head I was like “Holy shit!!! It’s him! He’s lost so much weight, holy shit I didn’t even recognize him…wait, is he going to beat the shit out of me like he threatened all the time? Am I safe? Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck, what was that one cool line I had saved from 2010 that I wanted to say to him? FUUUUUCK WHAT IS HAPPENING” and then literally as I was mid-thinking of something to say, something I always wanted to say to him, to confront him on how much he hurt me, etc etc… I drew a blank. Then I just had a clear head. There was nothing in there. I was completely calm. He was just a human I used to know 7 years ago. I asked him about his job, and he teaches special ed now, and seems really happy with it. I genuinely told him “good for you!”. I meant that. He asked me how I was doing, without a mocking cadence, and I told him what I was up to, and he was nice about it. We made nice small talk–small talk you don’t make with just anyone–and as we wrapped up I just blurted out “you look good!”. What? Huh? This person who made me feel so insecure and ugly looks GOOD? Suzanne!? COME ON! LET HIM HAVE IT!…but no. I genuinely thought he looked good, and I wanted to tell him. He lost a lot of weight and I know how hard that is to do. He said I looked good too. Now, that was probably a lie, but the fact he said it speaks volumes. I couldn’t believe it. We both had an incredibly pleasant conversation, catching up on each others’ lives, with no ulterior motive or putting each other down. We even complimented how we fucking LOOKED, the one thing we constantly ragged on each other for over the years as petulant teens. It felt completely freeing. We parted ways and I just sat down and said “holy shit” to myself as I let out a huge sigh of relief. I couldn’t believe it. All this time I had so much pain and all of these plans of “revenge” by living a super great life, and here he was, just being a guy helping out kids in special ed, being happy with himself as an out gay man, and here I was a girl being happy with myself as an admitted addict, having lots of odd jobs and working on this ole comedy and writing thing. It was better than hitting my one year sober, because instead of getting “revenge” on each other, we just both found what made us happy and went for it. We both were at peace. We could finally move on from being hurtful to each other because of our own pain that we may not have shared with others at the time.

I feel like everyone has some type of bully, weather it’s being their own worst enemy, their loved ones, or even just a bully from grade school that has affected our psyche in some way today. We all know it’s harmful to hold on to such toxic feelings, but it’s easier said than done. Now, I’m not saying go and reach out to everyone who did you wrong and ask what special ed class they’re teaching, but maybe take the time to realize how much those feelings of anger and or residual feelings of insecurity they left on your heart are holding you back in life. Forgiveness is the best revenge. Forgive them. Forgive yourself. Forgive me for being preachy. Take a deep breath and let it go. You’ll be better for it.

Maybe the entire conversation my bully and I had was fake and I fell for it, but I don’t think it was. What I can say is that the freedom from letting go of the bully I built up in my head is very, very real.

Take care, Jared. I hope you find that apartment you were looking for and got a refund for that tarnished bracelet.

Until we meet again,


#TotalHonestyTuesday Feature in “The Financial Diet” Vol 3

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Here’s another feature of ‪#‎totalhonestytuesday‬ in The Financial Diet! I have always been self-conscious of my thighs, as I’m sure many women can relate, and I decided to show them off to the world. The feedback has been overwhelming and awesome (from women, of course!). Love yourself and love your thunder thighs, ladies! Skinny, curvy, flat, voluptuous: you’re all beautiful. Stop rolling your eyes, it’s true!

Welcome to the #‎SummerofSuz‬!

#TotalHonestyTuesday Feature in The Financial Diet


I participated in #totalhonestytuesday and was selected to be featured in The Financial Diet! It’s a website about financial literacy for millennials and is co-founded by one of my Maryland writer heroes, Chelsea Fagan. I fangirled out when I saw that she selected and enjoyed my piece about how I’ve been feeling since I hit my one year sobriety mark. I loved this concept and was moved by what people shared. What would you like to be totally honest about next week?

Check out the first installation of #TotalHonestyTuesday!   
Here’s the caption I wrote for my contribution



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