In May 2007, my best friend L and I graduated from acting school in New York City. Like most acting students from super-serious pre-professional programs, we had a Showcase for agents and casting directors. We each got two 3-minute scenes to try and show all those theatre industry bossypants’ that they wanted us. It’s a psychical crisis waiting to happen.
During the time we called “Showcase Season,” L lent me her copy of Bossypants. Even after I finished the book, I kept it in the dressing room during performances. After facing a sea of our own headshots staring back at us from the audience of industry bigwigs, backstage L and I would refer back to our favorite chapter of Bossypants, in which Amy Poehler tells a room of execs that “I don’t fucking care if you like it.” Y’know what, big bad world, we’d say, “I don’t fucking care if you like it.” That line got us through (and I’m not hyperbolizing—we would have probably had severe nervous breakdowns otherwise).
Only two months into “real life,” on November 16, I went with L to a doctor to get some test results back. I sat with my best friend as the doctors told her that she had lymphoma. The world upended.
L is deep in chemo treatment now. Its physical effects are, of course, extreme, yet the emotional toll is in many ways even more difficult. To L, it often feels like she is losing time—two years of treatment is two years without a career, two years of living with her parents, two years of looking like a patient. She is learning, in the hardest way possible, how to find her identity when the only job she can have right now is to beat cancer.
Tina, your book helped L and I make it through the first test of our self-confidence together. Your words (and Amy Poehler’s) reminded us of the most important role of beauty (“who cares?), that it’s okay and totally normal to be “blorft,” and that life “will never be perfect, but perfect is overrated.”
Now, L is facing a frontier that she has to battle through alone. Yet even more than before, if that’s possible, your writing brings her comfort. You remind L of her identity. Me too.
Thank you for assuring us that there are perfectly imperfect, super-silly selves inside even when the world outside ourselves, like agents, critics, and cancer, seem to scream “NO!” Well, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to say yes. Yes to love. Yes to life. Yes to staying in more! And we don’t fucking care what you think.
If you have a moment in your busy time, might you write/call L? I can’t quite describe how important you are to both of us, and to our friendship. THANK YOU.
I’d really like to be you when I grow up.