Turning Forty and Outgrowing Your Passion
Selena Coppock spent 15 years performing stand-up comedy, honing her skills, and appearing at comedy clubs in New York City, arguably one of the worlds’ best cities for comedy. And then, shortly before she turned forty, it started to feel like the fun was gone. She wondered if there was anything left for her in comedy. But how do you walk away from a passion that you’ve spent 15 years working on? The onset of a global pandemic gave her the opportunity to take a break – and to rethink what made her happy. Twenty five year old Selena might think her a nerd, but forty year old Selena is pretty happy with how things are going.
Selena Coppock is a standup comedian, writer, author, and storyteller based in NYC. She is the creator and voice of @NYTVows, the parody Twitter and Instagram accounts that lampoon the New York Times Wedding section, the wedding industrial complex, WASPs, and courtship rituals of the rich and insufferable. She is also the creator and host of TWO WICK MINIMUM, America’s favorite and only podcast about candles.
In December 2017 she released her debut standup album, SEEN BETTER DAYS (Little Lamb Recordings) which hit #1 on the iTunes comedy chart. Selena was a guest star on the sitcom RED OAKS (Amazon) and has been seen on Bravo, Lifetime, VH1, CollegeHumor.com, RooftopComedy.com, and elsewhere.
Turning 40 in Lockdown in NYC
Selena turned 40 in April 2020 as the pandemic turned the world upside down. In January, her plan had been to throw a big, dress-up party at a private room in a bar for “toasts and light roasts.” She wanted to wear sequins and get all the people she loves together and celebrate.
She works in publishing in NYC and they were sent home on March 11, after a case of Covid was reported in their building. Shortly thereafter, all plans, birthday and otherwise, went out the window.
At the time, she lived in a 4th floor walkup in Park Slope. Even going out to get mail was scary. She didn’t have any private outdoor space, so the fire escape became her way to be outdoors. She envied friends with backyards. She snuck up onto her building’s roof because she needed to be in fresh air, but not around people, and that was difficult to navigate in NYC.
Getting into Stand Up
Selena grew up in Weston, Massachusetts and lived in South Boston for a few years after college, “as you’re legally required to do.” She lived in Boston 2004-2006 and then moved to NYC.
In college, she began to study improv, calling it a great onramp to comedy. After college, she moved to Chicago to study with Improv Olympic. She fell into a crippling depression and moved home and back in with her parents.
That’s when she started doing improv in Boston. And then, a friend was running a stand-up show where you could get 5 minutes. She tried it and, in classic beginner’s luck, she crushed it. She was hooked.
She says Boston is a great place to start in comedy. The audiences are smart. There’s a lot of college kids who want to go out for cheap events. And it’s a smaller market, so it’s not like starting in New York or LA, where you could be terrible, and people who matter in your career could see you when you’re terrible.
She did stand up in Boston for 2 years and thought she was really “doing it,” but she was only performing about once a month. If you’re serious about it, you have to perform every night.
A confluence of events in Boston helped her make the jump to New York. She got laid off from a job; she felt like she was spinning her wheels in stand up and her Uncle Jimmy offered her an apartment for her first year or two in the city while she got her feet under her.
She dove into the New York comedy scene, learning the hustle, and the community and who books what, and what’s worth doing and what’s a waste of time. It was a master class in comedy. She studied sketch writing and sketch comedy at Upright Citizen’s Brigade. At night, after UCB shuts down, there’s a secret dance party. Selena was enjoying this new, cool, fun world.
Stand up comedy proved Malcom Gladwell’s “10,000 hours theory” [affiliate link] for Selena. When you perform enough, and you’ve seen enough situations and been heckled enough, you become unflappable on stage. She learned which joke might lose the audience, and which joke would get them back – the kind of things that can only be learned by doing. She feels very lucky that she could “grind it out” and learn stand up comedy in New York.
She recorded and released an album of stand up comedy called Seen Better Days.
Push So Hard for So Long and Then….Walk Away?
After she released her album, she was still running around doing comedy but it stopped being fun. In 2019, after 15 years of performing stand up, she started wondering if she wanted to do comedy any more. She wondered if that’s how she wanted to be spending her nights any more.
As she approached forty, she started to wonder, “is there anything here for me in comedy? ”Women in comedy have a uniquely difficult road to walk. She ran a Facebook group for female-based New York city comedians. The group facilitated people being able to travel to open mics together, or walk to the subway together, or warn each other if a certain booker is really creepy and other things that only female comics would face.
In 2019 she thought she might be ready to “get off this ride.” The mere thought was terrifying because, if she didn’t have stand up, who was she? Stand up had become her identity; it was what she did outside work; it was her community; it was almost all her friends. Did it make her a failure to push so hard for so long to then, simply, walk away?
Right before the lockdown, she met a man who is now her live-in boyfriend. He is a musician who has played with many bands and traveled extensively as a keyboard player. Years ago, he stepped away from music for a period of time. He helped her process her urge to step back. He said, “It doesn’t mean you’re not good at it; it doesn’t mean you’re a failure; it doesn’t mean it didn’t work so you took your ball and went home.”
She’s proud of what she accomplished. She released an album. She wrote a book. She appeared on the TV show Red Oaks on Amazon (Season 2, Episode 7, The Anniversary).
Deciding to take a different path doesn’t undo all those accomplishments.
There are times in our lives (high school, college) where there are benchmarks and we switch gears every four or five years and that’s normal. It’s considered the pace that makes sense. So after spending 15 years doing something, it’s normal to decide to change directions.
Making the Break From Stand Up
The pandemic, which shut down comedy completely, facilitated a graceful exit from stand up.
The pandemic became a gift from the Universe, an opportunity to step away from comedy without having to do a lot of explaining. She was asked to do some Zoom shows, which she declined because she didn’t feel she had the mental wherewithal. She was asked to do some park shows in summer 2020 and that’s when she started feeling like she was just done.
In the time she used to spend on comedy, she’s been doing a lot more reading for pleasure. She and her boyfriend moved in together in February 2020 and they spend several nights a week together making dinner. And, after moving into a new space, she’s gotten into home décor and nesting. “Does that happen to every woman after 40?”
New Creative Outlets
She has other creative outlets as well. Performing may be a creative outlet, but she also runs parody Twitter and Instagram accounts called NYTVows where she pretends to be the NY Times Wedding section. And she has a podcast called Two Wick Minimum, described as “America’s favorite and only podcast about candles,” where she has “hot candle convo” with a guest in each episode.
She’s still creating, just in different ways. She’s gotten into cooking, another creative outlet.
Selena is reminded of Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic [affiliate link], which says that there are unlimited ways to be creative. It’s something you can do every single day.
Leaving comedy has resulted in a dramatic change of pace for Selena, now that she’s not out hustling every night of the week. Most of us slowed down during the pandemic but she felt grateful that, between the pandemic and turning 40, she was ready to stay at the slower pace. Whereas friends of hers are gearing back up to be going out every night again.
She has new calculus around the equation, “what’s enough in a day?” Now, working a full-time job, hanging out with her boyfriend and cooking dinner is enough.
Stand up is really a young-person’s game. She thinks back to an average day when she’d go to work from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., go to the gym after work, and then go out to do two shows. She’d get home by midnight or 1 a.m. and then, at 6 a.m., she’d start it all over again. It’s a lifestyle she can’t even imagine anymore.
Now, at night, if her boyfriend is working, she’ll get comfortable on the couch and enjoy reading a book. But she does wonder if 25-year-old Selena would think her a nerd. She’s enjoying the more reasonable pace.
Finding Boundaries, and a Partner
Looking back at her time of doing stand-up and running around every night, she thinks that a part of that was a search for a partner. If there was a bar where cute guys hung out, she’d go even if she was exhausted. And part of it dovetailed with her understanding the concept of boundaries. She grew to understand that if a friend invited her out on a night that she was exhausted, it was ok to take a pass on the invitation. She didn’t have to show up at everything all the time. For a long time, she didn’t have any boundaries. If she was invited somewhere, no matter how tired she was or even if she was getting sick, she’d show up. She hadn’t internalized that it was ok to say “no,” and it was ok to change her mind if the circumstances of her life changed.
Learning to give herself permission to say “no” and to stay home if she wants to has been a game changer for Selena. And it’s not that she decided to slow down and change her priorities because she had a boyfriend, but that the boyfriend showed up after she had given herself permission to prioritize her own needs and wants. She mentioned the old maxim: “when the student is ready, the teacher will come.” After spending years on all the dating apps and searching for “the guy,” she met him hanging out by herself at her favorite bar in New York City, Shade Bar in Greenwich Village.
She reflects on the normal course of getting older. In her 20s, she felt like she was frantic and always running around. In her 30s, she felt more confident and satisfied. Now, at 40, she feels like she knows who she is and she’s going to do what she wants to do and she doesn’t care if you think it’s cool.
Forty in NYC
Selena has known her entire life she doesn’t want to have children. In New York City, she has many friends in their forties who are single and don’t have kids. It’s not a “strange” lifestyle choice in the city. Whereas in the suburbs across the country, that’s a little more difficult choice to make.
Selena sees the city as magical and full of characters, despite subway cars occasionally being taken out of service because of the presence of human waste. She loves that there are so many people living so many different kinds of lives. The “typical” or “traditional” societal standards don’t seem to apply quite as much in the city that never sleeps.
She’s content building her life in the city where there’s a lot of people living a whole bunch of different types of lives and everyone adheres to the live and let live philosophy.
The Forty Drinks Podcast is presented by Savoir Faire Marketing/Communications
Stephanie: [00:00:00] Hi, Selena. Thanks so much for joining me.
Selena: Hi, Stephanie. It's so lovely to meet you. Thank you for having me.
Stephanie: Great to meet you too. So I understand that you are a comedian and a writer based in New York. Is that right?
Stephanie: Tell me a little bit about yourself.
Selena: Yeah. Well, I've been in New York since 2006, so a little over 15 years.
And by day I work in publishing, I was briefly a children's editor for Barnes and noble corporate, which was fascinating and so cool to see like how the layouts of the stores and what gets highlighted and all that kind of thing. And then I moved over to the more glamorous world of test preparation books, but, you know, it's a job that pays the bills.
I love the people I work with. I work for the Princeton review. So it's still prepping for ACT, SAT, MCAT, LSAT, all that fun stuff. So not beach reads. And whenever I meet people and they're like, oh, you're an editor. Okay. I have an idea. And I'm like, I don't think you want to do my thing, but
Stephanie: I've got an idea for some great questions.
Selena: I [00:01:00] was like, unless you want to write the SAT, trust me, I can't help you. Um, but we have thankfully been able to do some books that are a little more fun that are just like general high school level chemistry preparation. And we can do a lot of visual. It's a, it ends up being a very rewarding job. I've been at the company now since 2007 and I really love it.
And they totally understand that a lot of new Yorkers have a bunch of different plates spinning. So I've been doing standup. I really moved to New York for publishing and stand up. So I was doing standup for years and years and hustling around every night and kind of running at a breakneck pace. And I had the energy for it for a long time.
And it was free. Yeah. And it was great fun. And, and then I, in, in the pandemic sort of moved away from that, but that was like my world for a while. So now I'm still in publishing and I really love it and I'm glad to be in New York, but yeah, I've done a little bit of a shift in the past couple of years.
Stephanie: So remind me when you turned forty.
Selena: I turned 40 April 2020, [00:02:00] so,
Stephanie: Okay. Did you have any plans for your birthday before the world tilted?
Selena: I know. It's funny because January, 2020 I'd been, I was single and I had been thinking about, I just was like, I don't know if I'll ever have a wedding. I don't know if I ever want to have a wedding, even if I could.
But I wanted to throw a big party. I love getting dressed up. I love wearing like sequins and like fancy stuff. And, and so I was scheming up and my sister was going to pay for it. God bless her. I was scheming up to rent a room in a bar and ask all my friends to dress up and we were going to do toasts and light roasts.
I'm not big into like heavy roasting, but, but yeah, I just thought toast and light roast and like passed hors d'oeuvres and just to get all the people I love together, you know, and I have kind of a big blowout and it would all be on me really, on my sister. Um, but yeah, that had been the plan. And then of course the world went sideways and, and right before the pandemic, like right around that time, I met a guy who then we got pretty [00:03:00] serious. So yeah, when the lockdown happened and all plans just went out the window, of course.
Stephanie: Right, right. Yeah. Cause at that point in time, but New York was truly the epicenter of everything you guys could hardly leave your rooms.
Selena: Oh yeah. It was a terrifying time. My office switched to work from home on March 11th, which was a few days before everything shut down.
So. I feel lucky that my company was sort of like, we had one case of COVID in the building. So they were like on the 10th, they were like, go home and bring your computers and all that stuff. And yeah. At the time I was living in a fourth floor, walk-up in Park Slope and to even go out and get your mail was very scary.
It was, we didn't have a backyard. Like I would go on my fire escape to get fresh air. Like it just, not that it's like a contest for who has it harder, but, you know, my friends who had backyards, I was like, oh, you guys like your it's just a different experience. If you literally don't have access to, I like went on our roof illegally.
Cause I was like, I need to be in fresh air, but I need to not be around people. And that's so hard to [00:04:00] navigate right now.
Stephanie: Yeah. We were really fortunate. We lived in a condo for almost 15 years where I lived in a condo for almost 15 years, my husband had moved in with me obviously, but we ended up buying a house in 2018, the end of 2018. And I'll tell you when 2020 happened, we just couldn't have been. And it felt any more grateful or fortunate to have just a little bit more space and a little yard and yeah.
Selena: Remind me. Where are you located?
Stephanie: So I'm in Manchester, New Hampshire. About an hour north of Boston.
Selena: Yeah. Oh, awesome. That's great.
Stephanie: Now you've spent a bunch of time in Boston, right?
Selena: Well, yeah. I grew up in Weston right outside the city and near like, Wellesley, Waltham. Yeah, exactly. And I think I've done standup in Manchester. It's a beautiful, yeah, like cool little downtown, very neat. Yeah, but yeah, I grew up in the suburbs of Boston and then, and then lived in south Boston a few years after college, which I feel is you're legally required to do.
Stephanie: [00:05:00] Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah.
Selena: And then I was in Southie like around. '04 to '06 and then moved to New York. But, but yeah, I'm a Red Sox fan. My roots are all there. Of course.
Stephanie: So tell me a little bit about stand-up. How does a gal from Weston get into stand up and uproot herself and take herself to New York for that?
Selena: Yeah. Oh my gosh. Well, I, in college I did improv and I feel like improv is such a good On-ramp to comedy. And the tools of improv are so useful in any form. Just the ideas of like heightening, and the game of the scene, and like just all these sort of things that you learn, and saying yes and, and all that jazz.
So I did that in college and then after college moved to Chicago to study that at Improv Olympic and I ended up in a pretty crippling depression when I was in Chicago. So moved back in with my parents and God bless. I think they knew I just needed a lot of TLC. I was in a bad space and, but then sort of doing improv in Boston.
And then this guy I knew was running a sort of funny Friday [00:06:00] night show where everyone could get five mintues. And so I had some jokes, so I tried them and, in classic beginner's luck, like I crushed. It was the greatest set of my life. Like it went, so well. Of course, it did. The audience, like, I think the audience knew it was my first time, so they were so nice.
Like, it's just, that's how they get 'ya trapped, like
Stephanie: Just a taste, just a taste for free.
Selena: Excactly. Yeah. And you're gonna do great. And you're gonna think that every show's going to go great. But then I was pretty hooked. Boston is such a great place to start in comedy. There's smart audiences. There's, you know, a lot of college kids who want to go out for cheap events and it's a smaller market.
So it's not like starting in New York or LA where like you could be terrible and people who matter in your career could see you when you're terrible. It was great to start in Boston. And I started mostly at the Comedy Studio in Harvard Square, which is like the greatest, and now it moved to Inman Square, I believe. But, but it was such a wonderful place to sort of learn about it and, and to see people who, you know, like Mike Kaplan and Aaron Judge and people who were [00:07:00] like a little bit older than me, and really were crushing. And then watched as a lot of people then would move to New York or LA.
And so I was doing standup in Boston for about two years. And I think that I thought I was like hustling and making it happen, but I was performing like once a month, which like, if you're serious about it, what do you do? You gotta be up every single night. You have to. So then, and I'm a big believer in the Universe pushing you in different directions and telling you when things are for you and are not for you.
And. Yeah. And which is why I had to leave Chicago. Like the universe was like, this is not for you. I was like, I'm picking up what you're putting down and I'm going to go live in my childhood bedroom. But then yeah, in Boston it was sort of this funny confluence of events where I got laid off from a job.
And I felt like I was spinning my wheels with standup. And so then my good friend, Anithia who I adore, she was like, what about going to New York? And I don't know if I would have had the guts. So then my uncle Jimmy was like, Hey, you could live in my apartment for the first year or [00:08:00] two while you get your feet under you.
Yeah. Which I was just like, wow. And then I found a job in publishing very easily. Like everything just was so easy and this is where you're supposed to be. You're on the path. So, and then the New York comedy scene is like, whew, that one, it took me a while to really plug in. And to understand, okay, you gotta be out every single night and do a mic and then do a show.
And like just the level of hustle and learning the community and learning who books, what, and what show is a good hang, and what mic is actually worth doing and what mic's a waste of your time, so don't go. And all that stuff. It's such a, it's like such a kind of masterclass in comedy in New York is the spot. Like it, it was so neat, like to be able to, if this one mic is too bad, okay, there's another one over here. Or like I took sketch writing and storytelling at UCB and UCB was such a great place to meet other people. And I made so many great friends and, at night UCB closes down, but then they have a secret dance party that was like, it was just such a cool fun world.
Stephanie: Sorry. Upright [00:09:00] Citizens Brigade.
Selena: Exactly. Yeah. And there's so many great theaters in New York. There's the People's Improv Theater for the Pit, the Upright Citizens Brigade. There was the Magnet for a little while. So all these great spaces, good hangs. A lot of them have a bar, so you can make other friends and like, it was just such a great community.
And once it's just, it's like the whole sort of 10,000 hours thing, like you're just doing it enough and enough times. And you have enough situations that you get to the point where you're sort of unflappable on stage because you've had hell gigs. You've been heckled before you've had great gigs.
You've had to dig yourself out of a hole. Yeah. You know that this joke might kind of lose the audience, but this joke will get them back and like all that stuff that you only learn by doing. And so I feel very lucky that I was able to sort of grind it out and learn all this.
Stephanie: Wow. And so you did that, you said for about 10 years in New York?
Selena: Yeah. I guess it was, yeah. I, I recorded an album. And it released it in, it was forget it was December, 2017 or December, 2018. [00:10:00] And that was like 45 minutes. I'm so proud of it. It's called Seen Better Days and it's available wherever you get your albums. But yeah, after that, I, I don't know what, I don't know if it was like I had this mental switch where it was like, okay, take a breath.
But yeah, I was grinding for a while and then after my album, I was sort of still running around, but it stopped being fun. And the 2019 was really when I was like, I don't know if I want to do this anymore. And I just, I started sort of wondering if my nights were worth it. If I wanted to spend my nights, so many stand-ups are wonderful people and what a blessing to get to see them at.
Oh, we're on the same show. Great. Let's catch up. But then there are people that aren't so great and you're stuck in a basement hanging out with them. So I think I just started to wonder, like, is this for me anymore? And, as I at the time was approaching forty. Uh, is there anything for me here in comedy? There's I hate to say, but there's so much ageism.
And, and, and for women in comedy, it's such a sort of uniquely difficult [00:11:00] road to walk because it's just so different. I used to run a women's Facebook group for female based New York city comedians. For people to be able to go to open mic's together or walk to the subway together or warn each other, if a certain booker is really creepy or like it's just such a different road for female standups.
And I just in 2019, I sort of was like, I think maybe I'm ready to get off this ride. Maybe.
Stephanie: And was that I can only imagine, or I'm projecting here. Was it terrifying? To think I've invested all this time. I've learned all of this. I've put so much of my heart and soul into this and now I'm, meh.
Selena: Oh exactly. I think saying terrifying is such a good word for that, because exactly.
If I don't have stand up, who am I? This is my identity. This is everything I do after work. This is my community. These are all my friends narrowly and exactly. Am I a failure if I pushed so hard for so long, and then I'm just going to sort of [00:12:00] walk away? It was so intense to even think about. And, and I remember noodling on when I was thinking about throwing a big 40th birthday.
My birthday is April 25th. That was a Saturday in 2020. And I entertained the idea for a moment of "what if I did one more album and I recorded it that night and I had it as a birthday party?" And then at the end of it, I was like, "and I retire!"
Stephanie: Super cool idea.
Selena: Oh, I thought that could have been really neat, but then obviously everything went to shit in every respect, but I sort of thought because also there's so much money to be made in stand-up albums. I mean it's, which is very surprising, but because if it gets played on Sirius Satellite Radio. I used to get sweet, random, unexpected checks once a month.
And it was, yeah, it was so cool. So part of me was like, I should do another album before I tap out. But, then part of me is, I don't think I even have that. So thankfully right before the lockdown, I met this guy who is now my live in boyfriend and he's wonderful.
And he was a musician for years and years and years in all types of bands, he plays keyboards and he traveled around the [00:13:00] country years ago. He stepped away from music and. It was such a blessing to have him as I stepped away from stand-up because he was like, "Selena. I know it doesn't mean you're not good at it. It doesn't mean you're a failure. It doesn't mean that oh, it didn't work out. So you took your ball and went home." I'm so proud of what I did. I released an album I'm so proud of. I wrote a book that I'm not as proud of, but it's out there. And I was like on the TV show, Red Oaks on Amazon, which is like a fun little show.
I did all these things that I'm so proud of and deciding to go on a different, to turn it on down a different path, it doesn't undo all of that. I've done all this cool stuff and it's still there and it's still out there and I'm so proud of it.
Stephanie: I have one relevant experience. So, but it goes way back further. So when I was in high school, I remember clearly sitting in my parents' house and knowing that when I grew up, I wanted to not only just write for newspapers, but I wanted to write for the Boston Globe. Right. My dad was a subscriber. We [00:14:00] had it every day, you know, so, and then I chose Northeastern because by my sophomore year I could be working at the Boston Globe.
Selena: Yeah. Wow.
Stephanie: So I co-oped at the Globe my entire way through, through Northeastern. As a matter of fact, It was a five-year school. I went six. So I did actually a whole extra year of co-oping. And my last session at, at the Globe was something called the student reporter where you were essentially a general assignment reporter in the newsroom.
And most of your shifts, you were working two to 12 and it was, it was awful shifts and it was you're chasing ambulances and firetrucks. And I, it happened to be winter it, and I. It turned out. It was the most grueling thing I had ever done in my life. And at the end of my six months, I thought, I don't want to do this.
Well, I got to do this, but here I was. Right. So from the time I was 14 or 15 [00:15:00] till, I don't know, I was probably 22 or 23 at the time that that had been the goal. And I knew that when I graduated, the Globe would say, okay, you've worked for us for four and a half years, but now go get some experience. And that meant at the time, going to work at the Patriot Ledger for $16 K a year.
And it was like, oh, I just, I don't want to dig that hard when I've seen what this is.
And so I had to come to terms with giving up a dream.
Stephanie: And much the same as you. It was like, okay, it's not giving up a dream because I achieved it. I did it.
Stephanie: It's deciding check.
Stephanie: Check that box. What's next? What's the next dream? Where are we headed next?
Selena: Totally. That's a great way to think of it. Because when I think about it, I'm like I did stand up for 15 years. It's like you only go to college four or five or six years, but there are, there are benchmarks in our life during which you switch [00:16:00] gears every four years or so. And that's very normal and it's considered the pace. That makes sense. So yeah, spending 15 years on the same thing. Yeah. It's very normal to be like, okay, cool. I think I want to take a left turn now.
Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. And it's about 2019. You were starting to get a little sort of feeling in your belly about it. And so how did you finally come to leave, walk away?
Selena: It was really because of the pandemic entirely, because standup has shot down. And it's so funny because I sometimes think I'm like, what was my last time on stage? Like I can't even remember. And I also, I almost don't want to. the memories that I have of standup that are the most precious are like recording my album and headlining. The Funny Bone used to have this great series called Chicks Are Funny, which like, huh? The name's not so great, but you know. It was so it was great. Cause I was able to go to different, Funny Bones. Like I went to Syracuse, Rochester, like a few different ones and do 45 minutes to an hour, and bring friends with me and they would open.
I have such great memories of [00:17:00] performing in a sketch show at UCB with my friends and we were in a trio. Those are the memories I want to take, not the last time, which was probably in a basement in Long Island City, but, but yeah, then stand up, closed down and I really was like, you know what? This is going to be a gift from the Universe. I shouldn't say the word gift because it's the pandemic, but, but an opportunity from the Universe to step away without having to do a lot of like uncomfortable explaining. Because stand up, closed down so entirely, there were some Zoom shows that started pretty immediately.
And I was asked to be on a few of them and I just said, "oh, right now. I just don't think I have the mental wherewithal to be doing stand up by Zoom." And then people started doing park shows in the summer of 2020. And if I was asked to do just one or two and I was like, I think I'm just done. And so it all, it was a really good opportunity to step away from it without having to do a lot of kicking and screaming myself. You know what I mean?
Stephanie: Yeah. And so has there [00:18:00] been anything that's sort of like bubbled up to take the place of that interest, or pursuit, or the time?
Selena: The time. Gosh, like I've been, because I still work in publishing nine to five, nine to six, really. Um, and I've been doing a lot more like reading for pleasure, which I love, I used to memorize it.
You know, I would have all of my jokes inside my head at all times, because like, you might want to use this opener, use this closer and then have different stuff in the middle. And like you're always kind of flowing with that. So. Honestly, not having to have so much memorization go on is such a blessing. I love it.
Also, my boyfriend and I moved in together in February of 2020. So it's just been lovely to, I spend my nights. He's a bartender. So the timing's a little tricky, but you know, three nights a week, we get to be just me and him together, cooking dinner. . With moving into this apartment, I've done a lot of I've gotten pretty into, I don't know if this sounds cliche, but, I'm pretty into home decor now, which. Does that happen to every woman after forty? She's [00:19:00] going to be very into picking paint colors.
Stephanie: Oh, so you're nesting.
Selena: Yes, majorly.
Stephanie: Feathering all the edges of the nest.
Exactly. I'm like so into it. I love it. And it's, and it's nice too, because my old apartment, I lived there for 13 years, which is sort of unheard of in New York. But it was such a great place, but there were deals to be had during the pandemic. So we moved in together and it's been fun to just have a, kind of a clean palette here of like, okay, let's paint an accent wall. Let's buy some furniture. Let's get some plants looking nice. So I've been doing that and I still do have some creative outlets. It's just, it's funny too. Cause. It's also been an exercise in reminding myself performing is a creative outlet, but so is. I have a parody, Twitter and Instagram account called NYT Vows where I pretend to be the New York Times Wedding Section.
And it's just really silly and it's just one liner jokes. So I'm still doing that. And I have a really silly podcast called Two Wick Minimum. It's about candles. It's like the [00:20:00] dumbest greatest podcast.
When I was looking you up, it was called America's favorite and only podcast about candles. That cracks me up. It's amazing.
Selena: Oh, I know exactly. What's too bad though, there are some, some candle brands have started podcasts since I started Two Wick Minimum. But mine is the only one that's just straight up about candles. I'm not trying to be about anything else. Like I've seen some candle brands and there'll be more about cultural stuff and what's going on and not just candles, like fashion trends and whatever.
And I'm like Nana. Now mine is pure as the driven snow. We just talk about candles. That's it. I have one guest per episode and it is hot candle convo. And that's been keeping me, it's just nice to feel like, yeah, that's been really helpful too. And feeling like productive and arranging booking guests and talking to people and having laugh.
So I'm still creating, it's just that you create and all different ways.
Stephanie: Yeah, for sure. And not for nothing, but home decor is creative.
Selena: Yes, exactly.
Stephanie: It's all kinds of decisions and things to do in that and that whole [00:21:00] process.
Selena: Totally. Yeah. And I it's so much fun and even like cooking. I really, I never, I didn't use to as much.
And now I do, and it it's really satisfying. It is creative. Yeah. That reminds me of Elizabeth Gilbert's book, Big Magic [affiliate link]. Do you know that book? It's all. I love it so much. I feel like you and I are kindred spirits. But, but I love how she just talks about there's unlimited ways to be creative and it's not just write a successful book or don't it's every single day you can do something.
I love it whenever I mention Big Magic. I love it when people are familiar with it because it's such a remarkable book.
Stephanie: Yeah, yeah. And such an easy read too. The first time I went through it, I kind of read it, and I was like, wait a second. And then, cause it's almost so like light and frothy that you're like, come on and shouldn't there be more, shouldn't it be heavier? Like, wait a minute. And then it kind of, it comes around, it settles on you. And then you like kind of go back and like, wait, what is it? That one surprised me.
Selena: Yeah. Yeah. And it's neat. Then it'll kind of pop up in life. Like I love when she talks about that, she had an idea for [00:22:00] a book that's in Brazil, it's about building this street highway and go a block.
And then that someone else had that exact idea. I think about that a lot in standup there, sometimes people will accuse people of like jokes to stealing or whatever, and it's the reality is parallel thought is super normal, and it's not nefarious and it's not suspicious. And we're all swimming in the same, like cultural references. So yeah, you might come up with the same idea as someone else, and that's totally cool and benign. No one's doing anything bad, but I don't know. I think about that in particular from that book a lot.
Stephanie: And you see that too in like movies, wait, there's a illusionist, you know, a magician movie. Nope. There's two of them in a year.
Selena: Always, always two of everything. Yeah. It's like an alien, who's also a clown, there's two of them. It's like every time every movie it's always two of the exact same thing. And maybe it's because someone's shopping around a script, the house says no. And then they're like, oh wait, they're doing it. We should do it too.
Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. It sounds like the pace of your life has changed quite a [00:23:00] bit. Tell me about how you feel about that.
Selena: Yeah. Wow. Yeah. I agree. I've definitely slowed down and it's funny because we all slowed down during the pandemic. That coupled with turning 40. I feel very fortunate that I was ready to slow down and then stay at that pace because I have a lot of standup friends where they're like getting back in gear and going out at night again.
And I just, I feel very fortunate that I still have my job. I've always had this job and now I can just say what's enough in a day? Working my job and hanging out with my boyfriend and cooking dinner. Because stand-up is, it's a young man's game. I think back on how I used to work nine to six and then maybe go to the gym after work, get in a quick workout, then hop a shower.
Maybe do two shows. Be home by like midnight or 1:00 AM. Sleep. Get up next day, 6:00 AM. Do it all over again. Yeah. Now I'm like, I just, I can't even imagine. I think we've all [00:24:00] adjusted to the postpaid. Like we can't get back to that rat race and there's so many great articles about how people just don't want to be , commuting, and just all of the sort of hustle bustle that we all used to do really no longer works for most people.
I feel that exact same way and have really slowed down. And I love that in the evening, if my boyfriend's working, I'll just sit on the couch and read a book. And it feels great and appropriate, but I do wonder if 25 year old Selena would be like, what up nerd? I've noticed, like my body changing in certain ways where I'm like, oh, wow.
Like I used to be crazy about working out, like in college. I was very compulsive about. I don't think I had disordered. Well, I think somewhat disordered eating and working out was like, I was crazy. I would do it so much. I would really beat the crap out of my body. And now I've just really slowed down. I don't work out the way I used to.
And when I see that I'm not as toned as I used to be. Okay, that's fine. It's funny. Cause I kept thinking, oh, that bully in my brain is going to come [00:25:00] back and be like, let's get to the gym Selena, come on. And the bully just hasn't you know, I dunno.
Stephanie: Yeah. As soon as you said that you like said like a magic word for me, the bully.
Yeah. Yeah, there are, um, two voices in my head and there's the nice one and the mean one. And for a very, very, very long time, the mean one was very loud and the nice one was, was she even there? And it took a long time and a lot of work to get a little bit more balanced and to train that bully to be less of a bully and more, just a guideline or a guardrail kind of thing. It's interesting though, because I so relate to a lot of what you're saying I used to be, but it wasn't stand up. But for me, it was in the business community and going to events, and out for drinks and dinners, and four nights a week during the event seasons. And that was great. Cause all my friends were out with me and it was social. It was professional. It was fantastic. And these days, well, I have been managing a chronic illness for about five years. And so that has, that has completely changed my life [00:26:00] and my pace and what I can do.
And so it's amazing to sort of have that mind shift. I'm sure there are some days where I sort of look towards the window and think, "oh, there are fun things happening out there." But for the most part, much like you as like, and my husband, we have our lovely little nest. We have dinner together.
We Netflix and chill. Like we are professional Netflix chillers. It's magical because it's, it's actually where I want to be. Right. It's like even those days that I am sort of wistful or yearning for the energy of the sort of out there. I can just sort of like have that wistfulness or that yearning and kind of like, let it move on because I don't actually want to be out there anymore.
Selena: Yeah. Oh, completely. And yeah, I think back to our, I don't want to portray it as, oh, you found a boyfriend and everything changed, because I think everyone should find happiness on their own, with their own hobbies, with their own life, in their own heart. [00:27:00] But yeah, some of that, like running around at night, I do think was I was seeking a partner.
And so it'd be like, I'll, even if I'm exhausted, let me go to this one bar where cute guys hang out and okay. Exactly. He never know. Yeah. To me also, part of it dovetailed with understanding the concept of boundaries and just being like, if I'm burned out, but a friend invited me out for drinks, like I'm allowed to be like, "you know what? Tonight I really can't." I think for a long time, I had no boundaries. If I got invited anywhere, I went, even if I was exhausted, I was almost sick. It was a Friday night. All I want to do was go and be in sweatpants, but I really wouldn't let myself do that. I didn't really prioritize, what do I want? I could say no to this, or I could say, you know what?
I thought it would on Monday when we made the plan, I thought it would work, but it's Friday. And so changing that and giving myself permission to just stay home . Yeah, or really prioritize my own, like health and wellbeing has been a game changer. And just letting in, sometimes I'll see on Instagram where all my old [00:28:00] comedy pals are. They're all at the Knitting Factory tonight, but I will sometimes have moments of "huh, I miss that." But also like, I can't even think about putting on pants and riding the G train right now. Like I think it's okay.
Yeah. And it's interesting, cause it sounds to me just from the story you're telling. Some of these things started to shift for you around 2019, you started feeling like stand up wasn't fitting and, what else?
And like that stuff in your belly and in your heart. And that's it, it's just, it's messy because you don't even know what it is, but you know, whatever you're doing, isn't working. Right. So you sounds like you worked through some of that and. And then the he showed up when you were ready for him. Right?
Because it is very much the same for me. I've just out at all the bars and meeting all the guys and chasing, chasing, running, running, running. And it wasn't until I sort of had, was shifting a lot of things inside myself, and sort of becoming more grounded and more confident in myself, and not looking for that [00:29:00] validation from the external source, that the perfect match showed up.
Oh yeah. Very like when the student's ready, the teacher will come. And, and it makes me laugh too, because like I did probably every app you could do, like I was on like Tinder or Match all that stuff. And my favorite bar in all of New York is this bar called Shade Bar. That's in Greenwich village. Yeah. I used to be a tour guide in addition to working in publishing and yet, which I'm like, I don't know how I had the time, but after my tour guide shifts, I'd always end up at Shade and I would count my tips, and relax, and have dinner and a glass of wine.
And so I've been going to Shade Bar for about, it was the first bar I went to when I moved to New York. And it's just so funny. Cause I was in there one night and I always thought, well, I have to be out on the apps. I have to go meet guys. The guy who's now my live in boyfriend, he happened to come into Shade Bar.
Like I just felt like God, I spent my whole life going on dates with all these dudes. And then I'm just hanging out at my favorite bar where I was convinced. It's just my favorite bar. I wouldn't meet a guy here and he shows up there and now we're together.
Stephanie: So we are [00:30:00] definitely kindred spirits, because that's exactly how Patrick and I met too. I love to say we met the old fashioned way in a bar.
Selena: I know. I'm like half-blacked out, in a bar!
Stephanie: Yes, yes. Yeah. Crazy town. And it's funny too, because the question you asked about 25 year old Selena, cause I know 25 year old stephanie would think that, man was I lame. And you know what? She's a silly little girl who doesn't know anything.
Selena: Exactly. Yeah.
Stephanie: You keep going 25-year-old Stephanie. You keep playing and doing all the things you want to do, but this Stephanie is going home to her man, and we are just going to be happy and content and in love, quiet and it's okay.
Selena: Totally, totally. I think it's such a normal flow of getting older and you think your twenties? I felt like I was sort of frantic and always running around. 30 is [00:31:00] I did slow down. I just felt like I gained more self confidence and self satisfaction. But 40, it just feels, okay, I know who I am. And I'm going to do what I want to do. And I don't care if you think it's cool.
Stephanie: Right. Right. So it's interesting because that's sort of a common theme among some books I've read and, and a bunch of the people I've talked to. That sort of coming into really being confident about your own opinion, and your own judgements, and your own authority. And not looking for all of the external validation and external decision-making based on what some other person or authority , said you should. And so coming into your forties now it's oh, no, I'm good. This, this actually feels good for me. So this is what I'm going to do and I don't care what you think.
Selena: Yeah, completely. Totally. Yeah.
Stephanie: So you've got family in Massachusetts I'm sure, friends in Massachusetts and other parts of the world. Is it different to be a 40 something woman in [00:32:00] New York than it is out here in the hinterlands?
Selena: I think so. I've always known, I didn't want to have children my whole life. I've known that. And in New York I have a million friends in their forties and late thirties who are single and don't have kids and no one thinks it's strange. And I don't mean to generalize anywhere, but I do think that out in the suburbs or the country, it might be a little bit harder of a row to hoe if you are single at 40, or don't have children, or don't whether or not you want them, that's such a hard path.
But yeah, I feel New York is a very, it's an expensive city. It's a difficult city. Just the other day I was riding the subway and they had to take it out of service because there was like just human feces on the door, which is like the fourth time I've encountered human feces on the subway since I moved here.
But there are many things that make New York somewhat of a nightmare. But it also is a magical place where I just love all the cool characters. There are these two women who I think are in their sixties or seventies, they have this cool Instagram account and they're really into fashion [00:33:00] and they're at all the events and they're best friends and they'd go out for drinks.
And it just, there's so many people of all different ages, leading all different types of lives and those sort of traditional societal standards don't apply quite as much, which I really do appreciate that as someone who always felt like I was going to be on a little bit of a different path, between standup and also getting married, it's not a really priority to me.
Like I always wanted a partner, but I didn't really care about calling it marriage or whatever. Especially before marriage equality was happening. I was like, I'm not joining a club that wouldn't have my friends as members. But I think it's, it's just nice to know that there's no, no one kind of on my shoulder being like, when are you guys getting married?
Or it's, I'm just sort of living in the city where there's a lot of people living a whole bunch of different types of lives and everyone's just, they love how it's sort of like live and let live very much.
Stephanie: Okay. Amazing. And so I'm guessing that New York is home for you now for the long haul.
Selena: I think so. It's funny, like the pandemic made me think about that too, because in theory, if you have a job that you could tele-commute [00:34:00] from anywhere, where would you be? Palm Springs, California is like one of my favorite places in the world. It's just so cool, but my boyfriend's a bartender, so he kind of needs to be in a place where there's a lot of good nightlife.
So yeah, I do think New York is our spot. We both love it so much. He's been here for a long time too. And we have a lot of friends, still despite disconnecting from standup. I do have some friends and professional contacts and connections and people that I used to work with who are my buddies still. So yeah, I do feel like New York is home.
Stephanie: That's amazing. Well, this has been a wonderful conversation. I so appreciate you taking some time to spend with me today. I have really enjoyed our talk.
Selena: Me too. Thank you so much, Stephanie. This is such a wonderful podcast topic and I can't wait to listen to a bunch of the episodes.