It’s snowing in Palm Springs.
Yes, the weekend I am here, the first time in twenty years or maybe more, it snows in Palm Springs. And I love it! I get it! I get the whole Palm Springs thang! I thought Palm Springs was just older Republicans who liked to play golf on grass that has to be completely replaced twice a year since it’s the desert and they don’t care about that because they just need their golf and their Reagan and their vodka tonic and their conviction that the poor people just have to earn their own way, just like they did – cause they earned their own way, I mean, mostly, right?
People like that.
But, I’m wrong! I’m totally wrong.
Well, I’m probably not wrong about that. But there are so many OTHER people here too. And the mountains are gorgeous. They are covered in snow. It’s absolutely freezing. I brought all the wrong clothes. I have been shivering for two days.
I am at a hotel; it’s late at night, and all wired up from performing. I just did “Letting Go Of God” at the Annenberg Theater. It’s a beautiful theater of 500 seats at the Art Museum. I had a great time doing the show. I mean, mostly as you will soon understand. The audience seemed appreciative. It’s one of the first places I’ve done this show outside L.A. or New York and not at some science/skeptic type convention. I could feel it was different in that way too. When I talk about Jesus “having a really bad weekend for our sins” I didn’t get a big laugh. I got more of a gaspy type of silence. Not completely, just more than I’m used to.
The blog entry I posted yesterday I actually wrote on Thursday in Los Angeles. Blogger used to allow me to back date a blog entry, but not anymore as far as I can tell. In any case, here I am in Palm Springs.
My friend David Lee, who was instrumental in getting me here – like I think underwriting part of the show or maybe even all of the show – was kind enough to take me to lunch yesterday. I got to see his house, which is one of the most amazing houses I’ve ever seen in my entire life. It was Dinah Shore’s old Palm Springs house. It’s restored perfectly – he has impeccable, whimsical, sophisticated taste. His house is elegant and funny at the same time – just like he is! What a major, major treat. Wow. I am so lucky. We were laughing about Dinah Shore and Burt Reynolds – Jeez, remember that? I have not had that thought in my head since my mother whispered it to me when I was a kid – the scandal. Dinah with a man twenty years younger! At the time, Burt Reynolds and Dinah Shore looked to me like they were exactly the same age: adults. I couldn’t get it. And now, I think: wow. Right on, Dinah. Damn. That’s amazing.
I had a horrible moment during my show, however. I went up. (“Up meaning: I lost my place in the show and couldn’t figure out what to say next.) I never go up. And I went up. I haven’t gone up since I was first learning the show. And it was bad. It was really bad. It makes me wonder if I can even do this show in New York a bunch of times a week. Oh jeez. I got to the Deepak Chopra part and there was a sound in the theater. A weird sound. A zippppy zappppy ripppy sound. But I hear all kinds of odd things on stage and I just keep going. I have to endure coughing fits, older people saying to their companions, “What did she say?” I even had a guy have a heart attack during my show once and I just kept going. I did stop during one show at the Hudson Theater when a person with an oxygen machine was beeping so loud the entire audience couldn’t concentrate either. But this was different. It was horrifying. Scary. Freaks me out.
So, I hear this sound. I’m saying something about Deepak Chopra – we are all made from a universal consciousness or something. I hear the sound. This is what goes through my head:
“Wow. What a weird sound. I wonder what that was. Sounds like someone slipping out of a jumpsuit that is also in a wheelchair. Wow, that sound was distracting. Another, less professional performer than myself might be thrown by that sound. But I don’t get thrown. I just plow through. I’m so good at my job. My concentration is great. OH MY GOD I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I JUST SAID TO THE AUDIENCE.”
And then I stuttered and stammered and eventually, finally, after about five years, no twenty years – audience members left, had children, those children had children – finally after much “oh…ah…uh..ing,” and “I’m sorrying” I figured out where I was and moved forward. But it was highly embarrassing and really scary. That is truly like standing on the edge of a cliff. A cliff like the Grand Canyon. It is leaning over the roof at 30 Rockefeller Center. It is having one foot slip off the path in Bhutan on your way up to the steepest monastery and you look down and you can’t see the bottom. It took me a while to get the audience back with me. Oh how awful that was.
So, this is my new thought: meditation is going to help me from doing this again. You see, this happened before. Well, actually it didn’t happen before. It almost happened many times when I was in my Broadway run with “God Said Ha!” About two months into the run, when I was doing eight shows a week, and I knew the show upwards and backwards, I started to almost go up. All the time. I didn’t go up, but I almost went up in practically every show. And it was horrifying. I began to panic that I was going to go up. When would it happen? What would I do?
There were moments when I got a laugh, and I took a deep breath in, and it was as if I had been transported into myself from some other galaxy. I had no idea where in the show I was. I didn’t know what they were laughing at. I didn’t know if I was at the beginning of my show or the end of my show. I didn’t know if it was the Wednesday matinee or the Wednesday night show. It was a nightmare. Even though, never once, never ever one single time in New York, did the audience know – it was just a moment of panic that happened completely inside me and lasted, in reality, for less than a second.
But it was sooooooo scary – like the scariest thing I’ve ever experienced.
See, I got so good at doing the show while I thought about so many other things. And I was giving a good performance, it wasn’t that. I was not dialing it in or anything. Believe me, I’ve dialed it in before, but I wasn’t doing that. I was just able to think of too many other things. On a certain level, you have to be able think about all kinds of things while you are performing. You have to notice what’s happening to the light on stage, with certain audience members, you are aware of the tech people watching you and sometimes they are gesturing towards you. So there’s a lot going on besides just what you are saying and performing. Cues get missed, people walk out, people walk in, cell phones go off – the whole gamut. So you can think of a lot things while you are performing. But then – and this is when it gets scary – you can think more. You can see the lights and the techies and the audience and deal with them, and you can do your performance and you can muse over why a certain friend hasn’t called you back yet or if sushi is really worth it to learn how to make or that scene in that movie which is just like that other scene in that other movie.
And sometimes even this is not bad. I had a performance on Sunday where I was thinking vaguely about a personal situation I’m in with a friend and as I did my show – it’s like my show reminded me of who I was, why ethics were vitally important to me and how compassion for others is not an optional quality in my dearest friends. And it was healing for me. It’s like the show gave me a good talking to – to myself and I felt centered and grounded in myself afterwards. So, sometimes, thinking about other things makes the performance better, more unique – there’s more going on than just what you might think.
So, the game is not in learning not to ever think of other things. But it’s tricky. Cause really, what other things are okay to think about and what things aren’t? This just freaks me out. Because I don’t really know.
If I do the show in New York, I would hire a meditation teacher to come to me before each show and lead me in a meditation for forty-five minutes before each show. Maybe that would help. Or, in order to save a zillion dollars, I could listen to a meditation cd. It could be my personal ritual, something I absolutely must do before every show. And I would be focused and never worried I would go up. Because the worry creates this feedback loop, the worry makes it more likely to happen. OH MY GOD!
But then, maybe the meditation wouldn’t help, anyway. Sometimes when I meditate my mind is like a damn three ring circus and the meditation does not help, it actually makes it worse. The three-ring circus wants to do its show, but my regular life and obligations keep it from doing its thing. And then I meditate and the circus goes, “Yippity Yah, now is our moment.” And sometimes I meditate and I feel calmer and more focused and that circus is so far out of town, I can’t even remember what acts are in the show! Wow, this could be a true problem.
Let’s go back to how great Palm Springs is, shall we? Mulan and I had a great time together, we swam (even though it was so cold outside) and sat in a Jacuzzi and walked up and down the main drag and got a couple of stuffed animals and had Mexican food. It was really fun. I got to see Beth and Greg’s house – my friends who started and run the
Uncabaret and we got caught up. I stayed with them Thursday night, not arriving until late and we stayed up and it was great fun. I love their house. I want to remodel a house. I am jealous of their efforts. I am in the mood to build something.