Letter to Vanity Fair and Christopher Hitchens

In the last issue of Vanity Fair, the one with Dreamgirls' Eddie Murphy, Beyonce and Jamie Foxx on the cover, there is an article by Christopher Hitchens titled "Why Women Aren't Funny". If you haven't read it, the following may not make sense to you. It rankled me, so I sent them this letter:

"Dear Vanity Fair and Christopher Hitchens:

I have just finished “Why Women Aren’t Funny”, by The Jackass Formerly Known As Christopher Hitchens (TJFKACH). Well, that’s not entirely true. I finished it weeks ago, but I was so mad I couldn’t write a response that was funny. And I knew it HAD to be funny, because otherwise TJFKACH would be able to disregard it entirely as some woman being irrational. You know how men like him can be.

As soon as I read it I went to my Myspace page and immediately changed all my top friends to funny women I know. Which, by the way, is most of the women I know. And many of them are funny professionally, as am I, and while a few of them fall into the “hefty, dykey or Jewish” categories TJFKACH so narrowly dumps us all into, most of them manage to be hilarious without having any of those traits. (Okay, okay. I admit it. I’m Jewish. And I even tell a few jokes about it. I’m not going to argue that point. Jews are funny. And so are Canadians. And I’m one of those, too. But Jewish humour is essentially male? Come ON, man.)

It took me quite a while to figure out why on God’s Green Earth TJFKACH would even bother to write this piece. At first I gave him some credit. Oh, I thought, it’s going to be an article about how funny women are, or about how few women there are in professional comedy, and why, (that is a much discussed topic in my circles lately, and the basis for a smart and insightful piece of writing), or about how women have a tough time in comedy because of the maleness of the field, or some such thing. But then, it was actually an article about women not being funny. No, no. This is not possible. I looked and looked for the thing I missed, the thing which said, this is tongue firmly in cheek. Not one redeeming thing came of my search. TJFKACH’s ideas are unformed, his arguments weak and not thought through. He. Is. Dead. Wrong.

And then it struck me. I know why he wrote it! I get it! He came home one night a teeny bit tipsy, having stayed at the bar a bit late so as to avoid his wife’s monthly book club meeting, knowing how women can be when they get together like that. Knowing their penchant for white wine and witty banter. Sadly for TJFKACH, though, the ladies had not nearly wrapped for the evening. Having chosen Notes On A Scandal as their book for the week had led them to discuss the undeniable attractiveness of younger men, of VERY young men, and the conversation had become downright bawdy, eventually coming down to circumcision versus not. All were most certainly in favour. It’s prettier, you know. It was at this raucous peak that poor Mr. Jackass decided to return home and was blindsided by the rowdy girls. For a few minutes they were amiable, and Jackass, in his mildly drunken state, was amused and even touched by their flirty attentions. But then. THEN. Somehow Mrs. Jackass got the idea to pants him in front of the group. And there he was. His foreskin gloriously displayed for all to see, and the girls, well they couldn’t help themselves. They pointed and laughed, and some of them even asked if they could touch it. The Jackass blustered and yelled, tried to leave the room but tripped over his pants, still around his ankles, and was sent crashing to the floor, his aging buttocks jiggling from the impact. Red faced and full of the fury of the belittled man, Formerly Hitchens yanked himself to his feet, pulled up his trousers, grabbed two bottles of wine, and retired to his study to get very, very drunk and write what at the time must have seemed like a scathing missive. A dressing down of all the women he knew who thought they were so damned funny.

Sadly for the esteemed Ass of Jack, this is the age of email and he unwisely hit send and the whole mess went off to Vanity Fair. The editors may have thought he was slipping, but were too giddy over Jennifer Hudson’s usurping of Beyonce’s thunder to really notice and just printed the thing anyway.

That is the only plausible explanation I could formulate. What else could possibly have driven him to such depths?


Riel Hahn
Funny, Jewish, Canadian Woman"

I think that's the first letter I've actually sent to a magazine.

I have been oddly struck down with intense melancholy this evening. Nearly had a bout of tears while chopping garlic for the salad. I don't know what's going on. Except, I guess, that it's part of this whole process. It came on really suddenly, and I am almost desperate to cry, but can't seem to. Wish I had a copy of Beaches, or Terms of Endearment, or Steel Magnolias. Something cancery to really induce tears. No such luck. What's here. Spinal Tap and Mission Impossible 3.

Before the human race coined the term "depression", all forms of the mental illness were referred to as "melancholia", so I guess I'm right on track with it. I'm sure tomorrow will be better. It kind of started this morning when I woke up and there was MORE snow falling. In some places it is actually up to my ass now. That's a lot of snow. I like snow. So why did it make me so leaden? I am not sure. I think I might be a bit lonely. Hyup. But, as I said, it's likely just a down day, which I have been warned would happen. Managed to cook a gorgeous dinner, anyway, for all of us. Steak, green beans, baked potatoes, sauteed onions and salad. Simple, but very fortifying. Also did some work for my mum, sewing snaps on the little dress that the baby for which I was making baby heads wears. And playing with the cats. So you can see, it's not dire. It's just...blue.

Mission Impossible 3 it is. Maybe I can make myself feel better hating Tom Cruise.

Be careful and kind.



Art Therapy and Baby Heads

Oh, hello.

Yeah, that's right. I'm still hibernating. And why not? I figure what's gonna happen is one day I'll wake up and be like, "it's time to go", and then I will. Until then, though, I am keeping myself occupied in some very interesting ways. Not the least of which was going to Salmon Arm to get a massage today. Oh, sweet baby Jesus, it was good. I am, like, six inches taller and a whole new woman. Came right home and made a gorgeous tomato sauce, currently simmering and smelling up the joint with aromatic bliss.

What else has been entertaining me? Have been taking pictures like crazy. Have only posted a few on my Flickr site, a link to which can be found over there ==>, and when I get the chance to avail myself of some high speed internet I will post some more. I am thrilled to be taking pictures again, it has been years since I have done so and I have missed it terribly. My friend Garnet loaned me his wee digital camera, and it's good, but I'm also looking forward to getting a nice fat one again. My pentax slr is busted, and so far no one's been able to ascertain the why of it, hence the lack of snapping the last few years, but I think someone is giving me their fancy cast off digital cam when they get a new one, but I'm not going to jinx it by saying who that might be. Anyway, I have taken some real gems. Feels very very good. I had a bout of boredom/narcissism and took many, many, many self portraits one night. Put together they are actually kind of an interesting diary of my state. My mother suggested I write something to go with them and put them together in a book. I might just. Since I've been writing poetry, anyway. AND drawing pictures.

That massage I had today has me feeling a bit drunk. God, it was nice to be touched. And worked over. Of course, when I get drunk I get mean...so...watch out, barren wasteland, lest I hurl epithets out the door at you. Yeah, that's right, coyote bitches, you BETTER run.

Sadly, we're out of jell-o. Sigh. Trip to town required.

Oh, and now I have to go make twelve baby heads out of sculpey. They are props for a show my mum is designing. There's a doll in the show which has to get it's face smashed with a hammer every performance, so there has to be twenty faces. They are about life sized baby heads. There are baby heads everywhere in this place! I am a baby head factory! I'm feeling oddly attached to them and am a bit sorry they all have to get smashed, cause I MADE them, for crying out loud. Oooh, it is so nice to be making things. My hands were missing being used for good and not evil.

Care of selves, try not to fall off your bikes.



Where it's all at.

not back. not yet. i'm starting to get a bit squirrelly, but i don't want to come back until i'm very, very ready. i can't afford to slip back to where i was. i am grateful as hell that i have somewhere to be and the love and support available to really heal from this.

have been reading voraciously, thank god, since i kind of thought i'd lost my juice for it for a while. mostly, i thought i lost my brain. but it's honing again. it's been a big relief to make a decision to give up performing standup for a while. i'm starting to realize, as i peel away the layers of stress from my life, what a terribly stressful existence i've built for myself. so i have to kind of start again. from the ground up. i have a lot of building to do. i am just going to try to do my best every day. which i don't think i've allowed myself to do before. i've always beat myself up for not doing better every day. so.

it remains a rollercoaster. last couple of days i feel the anxiety lifting, and it's been sweet. i've been dreaming a lot, too, which i hadn't for a while. or, rather, for a while when i got my dreams back they were very difficult and full of unrest. they still sometimes are, but some nights, like the night before last, i get a night of sweet, peaceful, joyful dreams. i had a flying dream, and i can't remember the last time i had one of those. those are my most favourite ever, i never want to wake from them. the way i can fly is amazing in the very best of them. i can just think of being light and my body lifts off the ground and soars upwards until i am so high above everything and i can swoop and dive and spin in the air. oh, it's lovely. and the feeling kind of stays with me, or can be recalled, for days after the dream. it's a bit disappointing that i can't actually make it happen in real life, i'll tell you that.

i have crossed a nice line, i think, but am also deeply understanding that recovery is a much longer process than i have ever let it be before, and that there will still be very difficult days. i'm not gladdened by the bad days, but i'm learning to just let them happen, and let everyone around me know that they are happening, and not to be imposing about the mood. every minute i am thinking what is the right thing to do, and trying to do that. take care of myself and do the next right thing. breathe, and remember what will be the healthiest thing for me. eating well, going for walks, though some days it is harder than others to get myself up and out. today i almost didn't go for a walk at all, but then i did. kind of like flossing my teeth. just take the time and do it right, and the end results are better. if i don't do anything worth beating myself up over, then i can't beat myself up. neat.

i think the prozac is probably working. it's hard to tell because maybe i would have felt better without it, but also, maybe not. at the very least it's certainly not doing any harm. yesterday and today, especially, i have felt like it's taking hold. which is, scientifically speaking, about the right timing. just over three weeks now. i have an appointment with a psychiatrist, the one who saw me in the hospital, on thursday to do a check in with how the meds are going. i want to talk to her about the anxiety, because i don't want to up the dosage or anything, so i want to learn to live with a little if i have to, so i don't get too medicated. i don't want any fogginess or lethargy. i just want to be able to take care of myself. one foot in front of the other.

anyway, today i was really wishing i was in vancouver, because i'm a teeny bit lonely, but it's really okay, because i mostly need the solitude, and i was really only lonely for a couple of hours, and it wasn't sad, just kind of restless. i talk to the dog and cat a lot. i was hanging out with my buddy jane quite a bit, but she went to belize on sunday for three weeks. i have a couple of other friends up here, and i'm going to go stay a night in salmon arm and see a movie with my friend kim, so that will be good. it's the first time i've started to feel like i kind of want my life back, though. which is positive. i wasn't sure that feeling was going to come. i thought maybe i would never want to come back. but now i'm kind of looking forward to things.

when i was back for a couple of days i got a call out of the blue and booked a gig in campbell river in may for the rascalls, a well paying gig, and i got pretty excited about that. and i think we're going to play in bellingham for a weekend the end of february. and another friend and i talked on the phone for, like, two hours, (he is a remarkable friend), and he said he wants to submit a team to Ultimate Improv Challenge at Theatresports with me....we are going to call the team, "and you will know us by the trail of bread". for some reason improv doesn't inspire the same level of terror in me that stand up does. i'm really looking forward to doing improv shows. and writing. oh. my. god. i've started to be able to see how i could live very happily as a writer.

tomorrow i'm going to bust out the paints and make some art. i've been taking lots of pictures, too. thanks to my buddy garnet for lending me his digital camera. very generous.

in addition to the many books and smarty pants magazines i've been devouring, (smarticles, i've decided to call them, in harper's and the new yorker, you know the kind), i've been watching movies. sweet jesus, where have i been? talladega nights, little miss sunshine, a prairie home companion, no direction home and shopgirl. all have appealed to different parts of me. it's good to have so much input. filling the well.

okay. that is, as titled, where it's at.

thank you all for your kindness and understanding. the love that has been offered, (and there is more than i can believe, and from places i didn't expect), is so gratefully accepted and is going a long way towards my mending. i am in awe of all of your capacity for forgiveness and tenderness.



Where did YOU spend YOUR 35th birthday?

I spent mine in the psych ward at Vernon Jubilee Hospital. And a day on either side, as well. In case you were wondering where I have been, how come I have not been regaling you with sparkling tales of sleigh ride joyousness. The winter has been darker than I expected, and the end result is a major turning point for me.

Just know that I am still here. It has been a rocky time, and there is lots to tell. But I am not quite ready to tell it. I mean, I have been telling it all over the place, but this...this is going to take some thought. The writing down of everything.

I am safely ensconced in the Okanagan, care and feeding courtesy of chez mummy, or, as I like to call it, the Grizzly Hill Sanitorium. I made a brief attempt to return to Vancouver, but it proved to be too soon, my heartrate too high, my brow too furrowed. Upon Doctor's orders am back in the bosom of the quiet countryside.

Will keep you apprised.

Take care of selves,