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January 19, 2012

My Life as Told by the Shit I Left in My Parents’ Basement: Why Traveling Back Home Always Makes Me Feel Kind of Weird
by Liz McKeon - 0

By Guest Contributor Christa Weiss

Coming home is always a bit strange for me. Really strange, actually. The last time I visited my parents, I opened the door and immediately found my brother’s bull dog, Dudley mauling my old teddy bear, ironically, also named Dudley. 

 It was in this mildly traumatic way, that I was informed it was time to go through all those boxes I had left in the basement. My dad had a desperate need to create a suitable man-cave and I sure as hell wasn’t going to stop him. 

 Suddenly, I delved into a couple of nostalgia drenched hours, which I’m told is a thing you should care about. Say what you will about the preciousness of childhood memories and how the past might shape me as a comedian, that kind of stuff makes me feel vastly uncomfortable. My family and I are German, which means that we are largely incapable of any human emotion, aside from quiet resentment. (I thought I felt remorse once, but it turns out I was just PMSing.) 

 Thus I present to you a journey through my childhood, as told by the shit I left in my parents’ basement. 

Ages 3-6 

I discover what I’m pretty sure is my very first baby doll. He’s held up well. I should clarify something. He was born a she. And by born I mean manufactured. Ok, it had a girl’s name on the box but I, like so many parents intent on fucking up their children, raised him as a boy. I called him Harry, so it’s obvious I wanted a real man. I didn’t go for some sort of pussy name like Todd. I was a remarkably astute child.  

I thought it was ridiculous for a baby to be wearing just a diaper and nothing else so I goaded my grandmother into making some clothes for him. What I got were some pink crochet pants and a jaunty Hawaiian shirt with no buttons, so you could always see his manly-baby chest. When I got older I made him an outfit of my own, which ended up being a makeshift karate uniform. I made him a black belt. Looking back, it might have made more sense if I had a Miami Vice action fig-ure instead of a baby doll but then I’d need my grandmother to crochet a matching blazer. 

“Sorry Mom. This one’s a keeper.” 

Ages 6-12 

Various failed art projects. A scrunchi with googley eyes. The unicorn pin I used to put on my shirt every day, an inordinate amount of My Little Ponies and a Barbie winnebago. Nope, my Barbie didn’t have a sexy pink convertible and a dream house, she had them COMBINED TOGETHER in a vehicle that sucks at both of those things. My Barbies weren’t the kind of girls to spend frivolously. Even back then, the economy was shitty. 

“Look, I’m keeping at least one pony. I know, I know, but look how pretty her rainbow hair is. Yeah. That’s what I thought.” (I take the pony and slip the unicorn pin into my pocket in the hopes that unicorns are still lame enough to be considered cool.) 

Ages 12-16 

Scores of old sketchbooks. A lot of really embarrassing teenage suicide poetry. It’s amazing home many different ways I manage to put together “dies” and “your lies.” 

A couple of weird photos including one of my friend Kristin laying on the floor with a bottle of sparkling grape juice, pretending to be drunk. 

“Burn the poetry. Keep the photo for the purpose of irony.” 

Ages 16-18 

My years as a kleptomaniac. I should clarify that I specifically stole useless non-merchandise. I guess I just liked the rush. 1 Scores of aisle marker signs from the grocery store, a giant orange road pylon, one of those short cylindrical box things that they keep tortillas in and about six bath-rooms signs from the Jefferson Road Regal Cinema 8. We made of game of stealing them and then watching people who couldn’t figure out which bathroom to use get pissed off. It got to the point where the management had to start nailing down the signs at the movie theatre. It was a proud moment for me. 

Next, a couple of beautifully tragic prom photos. Fate does not shine on high school relation-ships. Neither does making out for hours in your boyfriend's mom’s basement and expecting to not get caught. 

“Okay most of this is useless garbage but I’m keeping the bathroom signs…and I guess those prom photos...but only the ones where I’m flipping off the camera.” 

Ages 18-22 

A bunch of crap from when I went to art school. About 100 rubber duckies. A couple of tragic handwritten love letters from a few misguided exes. A photograph of only a bruised bare arm and chest from the one of those aforementioned exes. I think he was showing off how punk rock he was by displaying how he got the shit beaten out of him at some show he went to. We wore bruises like badges of honor but what we really should have done was go to the hospital. Head injuries are kind of a big deal. 

Another photo of my friend Kristin, drunk for real this time. 

“Out go the shitty art projects. Those love notes are too pathetic to keep around so I’ll just throw them away without reading them. The photo of my bruised up ex is funny but only if you’re a jaded ex-punk rocker. I don’t want to look like a sadist, so that goes too. I’ll take the photo of Kristin and frame it alongside the other one for comparative purposes. You can really tell how the vomit dripping out of the corner of her mouth makes the second one seem so much more re-alistic.” (I find out later that Kristin is mad at me.) 

Ages 22-Uugh who cares anyway? (I guess this is kind of the reflection part.) 

I begrudgingly realize that at 22 years old I had much more money than I do now, at 28. Fuck it, I think. I get to perform at comedy clubs hidden in a variety of basements and attics every night, draw funny pictures for a living2 and have not one, but two different blogs. That’s right, MULTIPLE blogs. Truly, I have achieved cultural transcendence.3 My teenage self would think I was a goddess. At the very least I’m not constantly tripping on cough syrup anymore,4 so that’s something. 

Looking back this way made me realize my life could have taken me in two very different directions: 
1. Me, living as comedian/artist/writer/all purpose neurotic residing in Boston 
2. Me living as comedian/artist/writer/all purpose neurotic residing in an asylum 

All in all it looks like I’m winning. 


I finish up in the basement and ask to borrow the car so I can the meet Kristin at Java’s, our fa-vorite coffee shop. My friends and I virtually lived there in high school. 

Because I don’t drive frequently, my parents are convinced I will crash their stupid minivan into a drainage ditch and die in a fiery blaze. I explain to them that I can definitely handle driving in the suburbs because when I do drive, it’s in a large city. Cruising around downtown Boston is the equivalent of being chased by a giant tiger while walking on a tightrope.5 Also, unless you’ve been knocked into a coma, I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to forget how to drive. This doesn’t seem to make a difference to them and they insist on taking me there. 

I sulk in the car like a teenager as my dad chauffeurs me to Java’s. Bah! This is more nostalgia than I can handle. 

I ask him to drop me off a block away from the coffee place so the cool kids who are smoking outside don’t see that I’m being dropped off by my dad. It’s around then that I realize the only thing in my life that has changed is that I am less responsible and capable of living like an adult than when I was a teenager. The American Dream, she has been realized. 

“And…uh seriously Dad, when you come pick me you can just call me. Don’t come into the cof-fee shop and yell my name really loudly, then walk around asking the hipster kids that work there if they’ve seen me, just for old time’s sake. It’s weird.” 

1. Rush from stealing later replaced by drugs. 
2. A living if you count unemployment. 
3. Along with everyone else, especially a lot of 14 year old girls that really hate their parents, love Justin Beiber and think what that asshole Kanye did to Taylor Swift was just awful! 
4. In truth, I really only did that once but let me tell you, it was unpleasant. 
5. I believe that driving in Manhattan is the equivalent of being chased by a herd of T-rexes that shoot rabid flying cobras of their mouths during an earthquake, but I could be mistaken.

Christa is a comedian, artist, writer and all around snappy dresser living in Boston. Christa participated Women in Comedy Festival and performs in clubs all over Boston, New England and New York. She has a comedy/design blog at and co-authors a food blog at

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