Thursday, May 05, 2005

I am so lucky

I am so lucky. I am so lucky. I am so lucky.

I got cast as the voice of a main character in an animated show – well, it’s a pilot that Roz Chast (my very favorite New Yorker cartoonist) is drawing, creating, conceiving and which she wrote with David Steven Cohen. David flew out from New York and we spent the better part of today recording my lines. The script is really funny. I completely relate to the character. I cannot wait to see how it's going to look.

Tomorrow in New York they will record the other actors. After we finished up David and I went and got some Indian food across the street from the recording studio on Melrose. We shared show business stories and ate good food and I even had a beer in the middle of the day. I had so much fun doing the part – and I just was reignited with how much fun performing other people’s lines are. I really hope, after Letting Go is over and the film is made, that I can be an actress again – like where other people write the part. My friend Chris says that I should write something called Letting Go of Letting Go of God.

Sometimes I forget how much I love to act in character, and not be me. In fact, I’m starting to find “me” rather trying. When I’m doing a show like this, several times a week, talking about it all the time, it’s just so…no escape from…ME. I am really looking to the future lately. And back to the past.

Last year I got to do two episodes of Frasier – it was in it’s last season. The character was really fun and weird and challenging and exciting to play and the shows were really well written. And then, of course, the cast was superb. And I had a moment in the second episode, where I had an extended scene with Kelsey Grammar and we were screaming at each other and I was on crutches and I was swinging them around and I had this moment of pure joy, pure unadulterated joy – here I was acting on the Paramount lot, with this amazing actor, in this coterie of other amazing actors, doing a funny and fun part. And I just wanted to freeze that moment.

So, today, it wasn’t like I was doing something with my whole body, it was just my voice. But it was still just one of those wonderful days where I am so glad to be here, so thrilled that I became an actress, so DAMN lucky that I continue to work and I get to meet really interesting and funny and smart people like David Steven Cohen. He regaled me with a great story about meeting Frank Sinatra backstage at a concert. We ate yummy tandoori chicken and vegetable curry and nan. And we both sincerely hoped that this pilot gets picked up and becomes a series.

I also met a guy today who is going to put the map up on my garage door since I can see that I am not going to be able to do it myself before the Skeptic party on the 15th. He’s from Buffalo and from a Catholic family with ten children. He commented on the statue of the Virgin Mary that I have in my backyard (it was a gift fifteen years ago and she’s been hovering over my backyard for almost all that time – once, during an earthquake, she broke in two and I had to lovingly glue her back together – another time, during another earthquake, she fell into the pool. I found her the next day, looking up at me from the deep end – and I thought, “Oh Mary, you and me both…”) and that began a discussion between the wallpaper guy and me about religion and growing up Catholic and having parents who are devout and what do you say to them? Of course most people just are quiet around their parents, but I was all confrontational. Well, sort of. Now, I’m not so confrontational about it. It’s amazing what everyone knowing where you stand does for promoting acceptance. Before I would just pick arguments and sigh a lot, but now we just say what we have to say and quickly move on to other topics.

Mulan said earlier in the week, “When I’m at school I believe in God and when I’m at home, I don’t.” I could tell she’s trying to come up with some way to be, some way to understand where we stand and how she’s going to maneuver herself in this world where religion is expected and promoted. This all started because of the Pledge of Allegiance being required at school. I was and am amazed at how much these kids already push the religion, even on each other. I told Mulan that she didn’t have to say the “under God” part of it and this was a source of many questions and discussions.

Anyway, I said, “Mulan, frankly, you are too young to know whether you think there’s a God or not. You have to wait until you are older and you can see both sides of the issue and make a decision then. Up till then, tell the other kids that you don’t know if you believe in God or not.”

Mulan looked at me like, oh mom – that is the suckiest answer.

Being indecisive about God is not an option for Kindergarten apparently. I said, “If you want to say ‘under God’ go ahead, Do what you feel is right.”

Anyway…today when I went to pick up Mulan from school, she ran at a fast pace up to me on the playground and said, “I found another Kindergartener who doesn’t believe of God!!!” I love how she said, “doesn’t believe of God, not in God.” I said, “Wow, who?” And she said, “Danielle, in Mrs. Navarette’s class.” And I said, how did the subject come up? And she said she went up to every single kid in the afternoon kindergarten classes and asked them point blank if they believed in God. And when she got to this kid, she had said, “No, I don’t.” And I said, “Did you ask her if her parents had said that or…” And she said, “She said her family doesn’t believe of God.” And I have to say, my heart lept with joy. Even thought I can’t be sure that this girl even know what Mulan was talking about to begin with. But I could see what an enormous relief it was for Mulan – she doesn’t want to be the only one. Even though, in my mind, she shouldn’t be saying that she believes in God or she doesn’t believe. She can’t possibly know one way or the other. But when you’re a kid, it’s so obvious that “individuality” is not high on the priority list. You wanna be just like everyone else. Or at least you want to know there’s someone else out there just like you.

It’s astonishing to me how much this is already talked about at this young age. I even heard one kid yell at Mulan that HER family went to Church on Sundays and they PRAYED! And it was so self-righteous, so arrogant, so damning the way this kid said it too, I was breathless after I witnessed it.

Now I am rereading “The Bible Unearthed” – this book put out by this group of leading archeologists from Isreal and Palestine who show that there is not only no evidence that the Exodus ever happened, there’s a lot of evidence that it didn’t happen. It’s interesting and I love rereading this stuff. I gotta say, I’m going to be happy when I don’t have to read religious books anymore. I’m also trying to finsish Christof Koch’s “The Quest For Conciousness” and that it is much more interesting to me. He writes a lot about how we see, and how we store visual images, how we turn them into memories.

It is striking me with much greater intensity recently at how ephemeral our memories are. How much do I really remember from this year or that year? And how does our need to turn our histories into a narrative corrupt our memories and our experiences even while we’re experiencing them?

I have been thinking a lot about my dad, lately. And I have been thinking about how little I know about his life. And, I mean, I probably know a lot about him. Yet, it’s so little. How many experiences he had, and how little I knew about them, really. A few stories, a few important people. It’s the impression of his personality that I remember the most. The being with him. And not so much knowing about him. Maybe that part isn’t important anyway. I guess I am just letting the impact of how much we don’t remember about ourselves, let alone other people, just sink into my awareness.

Maybe that’s why I’m writing this blog too – this desperate attempt to solidify memories, opinions, me into some digital eternity. I don’t know exactly.


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