Friday, March 17, 2006

Well, last night I had one of my favorite performing experiences ever. Really. Like it’s got to be in the top ten. I had the most amazing time. I still feel giddy and shocked and blinking, did that happen?

I have been a fan of Jill Sobule for years. I love her. My friend Wendy turned me on to her music when we were writing a pilot for me to star in about ten years ago for Fox Television. Anyway, if the TV show went, we wanted Jill to do the music, maybe the opening song or something. I think representatives were even called. But the pilot wasn’t picked up and so it never happened. Later, after a terrible romantic break up, I listened to the song, “Now That I Don’t Have You” about a zillion times in my car.

Anyway, I met her at TED, which was a thrill in and of itself – just getting to meet her. Then, Jill invited me to perform with her at Largo. Largo is a club that I’ve performed at many, many times. It’s a small, intimate little club, nearby, that mostly hosts comedy and music. Jill and I got together on Monday for an afternoon of listening to songs and of talking about the topics and stories the songs brought up for me. It was great – having Jill in my own living room playing songs on her guitar! Awesome. (My nanny came in while we were talking and Jill was playing her guitar and later she said, “Was that JILL SOBULE!?!”)

So, last night we did our gig. Jill played songs and I told stories in between some of her songs. I was worried at first – I had never seen her live before and she is such a force, so commanding, so vulnerable, so funny – I didn’t want to horn in on her thang she had going on stage. I suddenly felt so unprepared and I was sure it wasn’t going to be good chemistry. But it turned out to really work, I think. The audience was so into it. I had a blast. It was really fun to be onstage with a band. Jill was great – what a wonderful night. I am still high from it. Jill thought it went really well too – we are already planning more nights. I am so thrilled. I think we should write a musical together!

The music did something. It was different than just doing straight comedy. I didn’t have to make it always so funny – sometimes it could just be sad, and then, it would be funny anyway. I think our sensibilities are really similar. I feel so good – to have met her, to get to have had this wonderful experience. Jill is so amazing to see live that I was shocked I was even a fan before I ever saw her on stage. She has such a way – such a strength and quirkiness. She’s mesmerizing to me.

Today I am wiped out, just wiped out. I don’t have much to give, even to this blog. I worked out and have been wandering around in a daze since then. I got my receipts done for the first three months of the year, that was my big accomplishment. I started to think I was getting sick. Mulan has been sickish for a few days. We stayed in tonight and I read her a kid’s book about electricity. I realized as I started it that I didn’t know a damn thing about electricity. Honestly, nothing. I would read a page out loud and then go into a deep silence, reading the next page. I actually had no idea how they would explain it. Mulan said several times, “Why aren’t you reading out loud?!? Are you reading to YOURSELF?!??? You are supposed to be reading it TO me.” But I was so shocked. I didn’t know that electrons formed a current and jumped out of their atoms and all that. We wandered around the house tonight before I put her to bed looking at all the things that required electricity. I am astonished, amazed. Dear GOD, my science education is ridiculously lacking. I have so much to learn. We learned about turbines and alternative ways to generate electricity. We just saw all the windmills in Palm Springs. Mulan said, “Yeah. Yeah. I knew that they made electricity.” But the thing is, I never knew exactly how they did it! I am dumbfounded at my lack of knowledge.

If I was the last living human and another species came and asked me how things were done, I would have almost nothing to say that was useful. I would be able to tell them the story of how I became the last living human and I might make them laugh, but other than that – nothing. How did our cars work? I dunno. How did we light our houses? I have no idea. How did we communicate between computers? Sorry, no clue. I know you have to have this and that happen in the first two pages of a sit-com. I know how to blur your eyes so you don’t see the camera in front of your face when you act. I know how to use Final Draft for scripts. I know how to tell a joke.

Wait, I don’t even know jokes.

I may be taking a blogging break. I just feel beat and I need to be working on my book. I won’t make any declarations, but I think I need to concentrate and force myself to write the big long thing that’s standing between me and peace of mind.

But before I close, I wanted to say that I have just read all the comments to my last blog. And yes, to me mediation has nothing to do with religion. It’s a technique for focusing the mind and blasting through the din of all those blabbery mouth concerns that compete for prominence in my head. I don’t see it as anything other than that. I certainly don’t think I’m connecting to the universe – except that I can appreciate the universe a whole lot more than I would if I weren’t meditating.

And I thought about the idea that I’m trying to convert others to atheism in my show. That’s a good question. I am certainly arguing my point. But then, it’s not like I care about winning someone over as much as I care about taking someone on a dramatic journey that I experienced. Did I write “God Said Ha!” to make people more sympathetic to those battling cancer and their families and me? Maybe. But mostly, I just wanted to tell this story that means a lot to me. So, it’s a mix, I suppose. When I first wrote it, one of the reasons I wanted to tell my story was just so my family understood where I was coming from. They thought I had lost my mind. They couldn’t understand how anyone could come to the conclusions I had. But I figured I had spent thousands of hours in church, listening to people on TV and on radio, telling me all about God. And I just wanted a couple of hours to tell them what I experienced.

O Sheldon, how I love your comments. And Dejan2, I will remember you if I need a meditation person in New York. And as far as the “Jesus has a really bad weekend for our sins” line – remember I didn’t write that line, I heard it. I tried to find out who said it, but I couldn’t find out. That’s why I say, “I heard someone say once…” But in any case: yes, I suppose I want to get a laugh out of that line. I mean, it’s not even a hilarious line. But I guess that for me, it was also meaningful. I had been raised to always think that Jesus suffered more than anyone else could have EVER suffered. I just accepted that automatically without stopping and questioning Jesus’ suffering. But then, it occurred to me that not only did Jesus not physically suffer more than a lot of people, but what difference did that make anyway? Adding more suffering to the experience of a person or even a God doesn’t seem to make any difference to anything besides adding more suffering to the big pot of suffering that has been experienced. I guess that was when I really stopped and thought about the fundamental idea of atonement – that suffering can make up for other suffering.

Oh, and yes. It wasn’t exactly snowing in Palm Springs proper. But it was snowing just up the hill from the hotel we were staying at, just up a few feet. We could touch it. And so, that meant snow to me.

In any case. I am beat and headed for sleep. Thanks everyone for writing, I really enjoy hearing people’s comments. If I don’t write a blog entry for a while, please understand!

P.S. for some reason, my blog wouldn't accept my latest entry last night. So, I am now trying to publish it. Top of the morning to you! Next year, I think I'm going to do a special St. Patrick's Day show at Largo, the club I just did the show with Jill Sobule at. Irish poetry, songs, and stories. I have been speaking to the owner of that club for years about doing something like this. Next year St. Patrick's Day is on a Saturday, so it could be pretty great.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

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.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

I am on the “Joey” set at Warner Brothers. I am stuck in my dressing room waiting to shoot my scene. I have my computer and I should be returning e-mail or writing my book or organizing myself, but I am writing this blog instead. Forgive me in advance if it’s meandering and overly long. It’s embarrassing because at TED a woman came up to me and said, “I read your blog. You need an editor.” Eeek. And yet, here I am blathering away again. I will have a crisis about why I write my blog tomorrow, for today, I’m going to write about what I’m thinking about.

I am having a great week on this show. I really like everyone, and Matt LeBlanc is hilarious. I guess I should have expected him to be funny, but I’ve met lots of comic actors who aren’t really funny individuals. They just have a certain way, a certain type of funny character that they are particularly good at. And then, conversely, a lot of dramatic writers I know who never even write comedy are hilarious. So, you never know. In any case, LeBlanc is funny – really funny - and extremely professional and he’s even helping me with my part and he’s always trying to make the scene better. My part is small – one scene of several pages. And I play a woman in prison. Matt and I end up holding hands at the end of the scene – it’s funny and weirdly sweet. There’s a moment in the script that calls for a reaction from me – I look at Drea De Matteo – and I didn’t know what kind of reaction I was supposed to have. Matt said, “How about this.” And he did this look, and then he said, “I think that’s stock reaction number 43. You could also go for this.” And then he did another look. “That’s reaction 45, which, if you think about it, is really just the evolution of reaction 43.” That anecdote might seem not all that hilarious but the way he delivered it was funny to me. It reminded me of something Phil Hartman would have said. And then that made me miss Phil Hartman so much.

I haven’t even watched this show – I haven’t even seen “Friends” really – maybe about six or seven episodes over the whole ten years. I liked it a lot, but for some reason I just never watched it regularly. In any case, I hope this show, “Joey,” continues. Everyone is waiting to find out if it’s picked up for another season. Working on this little teeny part makes me want to do a sit com for real someday.

The woman who did my make up today also did my make up when I did an interview for the Candace Bergen talk show a few years ago. I was on the show with Patty Heaton – I was talking about being an atheist and she was talking about being a Christian. It was a nice interview, and everyone was warm and friendly. In any case, the make up woman reminded me how much fun that was. And how much I love that about working in show business, you always meet someone you worked with – even if it’s just in a small way – on something else. Maybe this is true for all professions. But it’s something about being in Hollywood that I really love.

This is one of those weeks where I think it’s impossible for me to move to Spokane. I love working in Hollywood. I love walking onto the set, I even love driving onto the studio lot. So many wonderful things shot here! Lots of great memories for me, personally. When I first moved to Hollywood, my first job was as an accountant right here. This was when the lot was called TBS, short for: The Burbank Studios. Columbia Pictures and Warner Bros. shared the lot. The accounting office was just off the lot, but I came over here for lunch all the time and walked all over this lot – I know it pretty well. And jeez, that was over twenty years ago! That’s a long time. Also, I can’t not think of “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure” when I’m on this lot, because of all the scenes shot here, just around and in between the stages.

Oh! I read some of the comments to my last blog entry. And, yes, I’m adding the question mark to the title of the show. I think it’s fine, makes it slightly more ambiguous, without out and out changing the title.

Late yesterday afternoon, even though I have so much work to do, it was plain irresponsible; I went and saw the movie, “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada.” It was so good! I think it’s one of the best movies of this year. I cried my eyes out. I had mascara running down my cheeks when I glanced in the rear view mirror on the way home. That movie is like a Faulkner/ Peckinpah, myth and redemption road movie. And Tommy Lee Jones is just wonderful. How come this movie didn’t get Best Picture? It’s just a masterpiece. I would see it again. I am trying really hard to see one movie a week in a theater. It was so nice to absolutely love a movie, everything about it. I was replaying it in my head all night long. The entire movie theater’s audience consisted of me, and two gray haired ladies in the back. Wait! I’ve got gray hair too. Jeez. I’m one of those ladies now. Shit! Me and my popcorn, out for a nice late afternoon matinee. Is this liberation or a tragedy? I’m not sure.

Speaking of tragedies, I can’t stop getting all welled up over Dana Reeves death – the widow of Christopher – and she just died of lung cancer. I didn’t know her – well, I met her once at a Reeves Foundation benefit party. Anyway, while I was on the stair master at the gym, watching TV, I saw some footage of Dana & Chris together towards the end of Chris’s life. The look of love on Christopher Reeves face – just looking at his wife -- was profoundly moving to me. Actually, come to think about it, he wasn’t even looking right at her – he was seated in a wheel chair and she was talking behind him. So he was sort of glancing up, listening to her, but smiling with such sweet, appreciative intimacy. I think she was squeezing his shoulder. Oh, gawd. So tragic. I am so sad for her kids.

But the footage they had on TV felt more than tragic, it was haunting somehow. It was as if they were sharing an in-joke with each other even though they were in this interview and even though they were also totally in whatever discussion they were having. They looked at each other like, “Can you believe how weird our lives turned out?” Or “Is this some crazy dream we’re having? I’m so glad I’m with you while I’m having it.” Like that. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a look like that between a husband and wife – so genuine, so trying to be casual, but so filled with love and appreciation and humor – on both sides -- without being smarmy or falsely intense. And then, I just can’t believe she got cancer right after he died.

She must have wanted to tell him about it so much. I’m sure she knew he would have wanted to be with her through her ordeal. There must have been so many eerie, familiar hospital moments she probably wished she could tell him about. It’s the kind of thing that makes you want to make heaven real, just for them to be together. How could it just be that they’ll never have that last laugh together? Oh, man. It’s like she really died of a broken heart and the only way her body could figure out how to do it was to get lung cancer. She must have thought, “Wow, my grief probably is making me sick, maybe even making the cancer grow. And then you want the grief to have it’s fair due – it is enormous. It is so big it could kill you. It almost becomes like if you don’t let it kill you, you’re dishonoring your grief. But then, I want to live! I have so much to live for. Or maybe it’s just this freak accident, here I am with lung cancer – and I never smoked. Think about it, lung cancer. My body can’t breathe anymore.”

And in the end, she died. Oh.

Oh.

Oh.

After my brother Mike died, and then I had to go through cancer treatment, there were so many things I wanted to tell him. That was the most excruciating part of it – wanting to tell Mike about the snippy nurse or the stuttering doctor. Or just wanting to be able to look up at Mike and widen my eyes with someone who so totally knew how humiliating and discombobulating everything was at the hospital. But he was gone. Of course at that time, I had a vague idea that Mike was with me, in some spirit-y know-it-all-way. And I did have some dear friends with me all the time. But, I swear, it’s nearly impossible to go through something like that and not let yourself think that the other person is watching you somehow, some way. But they aren’t. And seeing Christopher Reeves’ wife on that television clip – well, what a terrible tragedy. I bet Christopher Reeves thought, “After I’m dead, she’s so wonderful, she’s get over this terrible ordeal I’ve had and marry someone great who’s not paralyzed.” At least that’s what I would imagine what he probably felt. And yet – no. She just died, too. Their own story is so much more filled with super-heroism, love and triumph and tragedy than anything that he ever did in movies.

Life is so fucking precarious. And then, even as we are alive and healthy, how much of it do we truly appreciate anyway? Yesterday I was reading this Buddhist quarterly, “Triangle,” and there was a sentence in one of the articles that I have been turning over and over in my mind. I can’t remember the phrase exactly, but it was some comment about how we almost never have a direct experience with reality (even the reality we are capable of experiencing) because we are so intent on projecting our preconceived egos onto everything and every situation we encounter. We are constantly spinning everything that happens through the filter that supports the ego we absolutely must protect.

Obviously, I have thought of that before and read about that before – it’s not a new idea for me by any means. But reading it this time, it really took hold of me. I was aware as I was doing this myself during the day, like my mind has it’s own P.R. department and everything has to go through that department first. I’m sure this is the way our minds have evolved – otherwise we’d be like babies and every experience would take enormous mental energy to digest. But even while it makes things much more efficient for us, it robs us of a certain visceral authenticity. We become that type of parent who we already know what they’re going to say about this or that, even before we tell them about it. And so what’s the point of telling them anything?

I think this is why meditation is so important. I mean, for me, at least. I’m not making any proclamations for everybody else. The kind of meditation I was trained to do, the one I get the most out of, is all about body awareness. It’s a mindfulness style of meditation with the use of breath and body awareness to focus the attention. It has been really helpful to me to concentrate on what something feels like. Say, I feel sad – if I just stop and let myself have that feeling of sadness, it dissolves so much faster. I can visualize it: this sensation of something getting poured into the pit of my stomach; this doomy liquid sadness that I can almost put my finger in: my heart physically feels heavier, my breathing is shallower. Anyway, it’s helpful to concentrate on this, it actually distracts me from what I’m feeling low about in the first place. Then I remind myself: life includes a lot of sadness. Happiness is probably not even what we were evolved to feel all that much of the time. And I don’t try to push the feeling away, I just try to let myself feel it. And remember that I will eventually not feel this way.

AGH. Why I am writing this? It’s like I’m writing it to myself, I guess, to reinforce these ideas to myself. My personal strategies for dealing with natural or rather, typical daily mood shifts. Sometimes I don’t even want the highs of the day to be so high because I know my body will make a subtle compensatory shift later – not dramatic in my case, I’m not bi-polar or anything, just what seems right. Like a muscle got taxed and now another muscle will soon be sore, one I didn’t even think might be compensating for the over-taxed muscle.

I think what I’m saying to myself is that I need to start meditating again. But when? Just finding the time to meditate is stressful. The meditating just relieves the stress of finding the time to meditate. It’s like years ago when I saw a therapist in West L.A. and the traffic was so bad that every time I got there I spent most of my time talking about how horrible the traffic in L.A. was. Then it occurred to me that I could stop going and I would not have anything to complain about anymore.

Oh, here’s another thing I’ve been thinking about. New Scientist Magazine, which I’ve also been reading this week, has several articles about belief and the advantages of belief. They talk about type one errors and type two errors that pattern seeking humans make. A type one error is in seeing a pattern that does not really exist. A type two error is in NOT seeing a pattern that does exist. Michael Shermer writes a lot about this in “How We Believe.” But I swear, I need to be hit with a concept about twenty times before it really, really sinks in. In any case, type two errors are potentially much costlier than type one errors. A type one error might be, “When I’m angry, the tigers run after me.” And if someone gets angry and the tiger doesn’t jump out of the bushes, so what? It’s better to be extra vigilant than dead. But a type two error might be in NOT seeing that when someone gets angry, the tigers rush after them. The cost of not seeing that pattern is death. So it’s makes sense that we tend towards more pattern seeking than might be accurate.

So where do I do this in areas other than religious areas? This is what I’m wondering about today.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Well, I guess that’s it. “Crash” won best picture. How disappointing. I mean, the Academy misses so often, but this year – with such wonderful films, it really missed. In spite of this, I am going to take back my announcement that I won’t ever watch the Academy Awards again. That’s because this year I went to an Academy Awards party. Not an official one, just a friend who had some friends over. I’ve been invited many times, but I’ve never gone. I usually prefer to skip it all together or watch the show and read a magazine or a book at the same time. But this year I went to my friends’ house and I had the best time. I barely had to pay attention, I got to catch up with my friend Wendy, eat some great food and laugh a lot. People thought Jon Stewart wasn’t so great, but after his torturous beginning, I thought he handled himself nicely. I liked the little mock-ads, I laughed at them. I felt safe with him up there on the stage.

Afterwards I went with another friend to the Elton John after party. Again, fun. I didn’t have the time of my life or anything, but pleasant. I laughed, caught up with my friend, and ate some really amazing pizza. Had two gin and tonics. Watched Elton John sing with another band that I’m too much of an old lady to remember who they were. All the women at the party under age 70 were wearing a square inch of clothes with their breasts almost fully exposed. I was fully covered, but still I felt pretty and relaxed. I did not fall into a shame spiral. See: progress!

This week I am doing a guest spot on “Joey,” that “Friends” sit com spin off. My friend Jennifer Coolidge is on that show, although she’s not in the scene(s)? I’m doing. In any case, I hope we get to catch up too. Then I head to Palm Springs on Thursday night.

The cd must get finished this week. Everything is done, and I am the one holding things up because I can’t finish tweaking the transcript that will be the book/text of the show that will be inserted along with the CDs. What is wrong with me? I get 90% of something done and then I freeze. With the “Letting Go Of God?” screenplay (yes – it now officially has a question mark in the title) a friend literally stepped in and took over the final organizing and editing of it. So far, I’m getting a very good response to the script. I think with this situation I will have to turn it over as well. This afternoon, I am paying someone to finish it. I can never decide whether to overcome my shortcomings or accept them and move forward with help.

Oh, yesterday the L.A. Times had an article about my show and me. It’s a nice article. I got several calls about it. I guess I’m the smiling atheist. That’s so funny. Who would have thunk it? And for the record, I am not always smiling. Witness: my blog.

Yesterday I did my show at the Groundlings. It was sold out. The audience was very quiet during the first act. It turns out that the piano bench I sit on, on stage, had one of it’s legs precariously hanging off this wood-podium-like-thing it balances on. Several people, after the show, said they feared for my life and that’s all they could concentrate on. One guy, a paramedic, said that all he could think about was how my head was going to hit the stage floor when it toppled backwards and what he was going to do about it when it happened. Not exactly what you want your audience to be feeling. In the end, after the piano bench was sturdified, I seemed to regain the audience’s attention. I was upstaged by a piece of furniture! ARGH.

Wow, I have been a spectacularly absent mother this weekend. I only spent Saturday all day with Mulan and during the day I went to two meetings and took several long phone calls. It fills me with guilt and sadness. But, she did say one hilarious thing to me on Saturday as we drove to my eyebrow appointment in Beverly Hills – yes, my eyebrows are professionally managed every two weeks, it’s my one area of major indulgence on my grooming I think – and as we were driving Mulan said with a touch of exasperated ennui, “Can you make these eyebrow appointments during the week, when I’m at school?”

That doesn’t look all that sad and funny, but at the time, I couldn’t stop laughing about it. She’s right; I can make them during the week. But just the idea that she’s aware that she’s being drug around to my appointments makes me realize she’s not a baby anymore. I used to be able to say, “Mulan, guess what? You get to play with your dolls and color in your coloring book…at an office building! Yes, a big office building where we’ll take an elevator! And while you play Mommy is going to chat with a few people!!!” And she would laugh and clap her hands, “Coloring!” “Elevators!” And now the jig is up. She’s aware it’s all about me. Shit!

Okay, now I’ve had a good hour and a half with Mulan and tonight we have an evening to spend together. We played "orphanage" - a game she insists on playing over and over. It's a sort of heartbreaking fantasy play game where she lays in my bed and I pretend I come into the orphanage and find her and then I give her a hug and a cuddle. She would play this game day and night if I would go for it. I think this is okay for us. She seems to need it. I am a weary actress in the scenarios though, I used to have a lot of enthusiasm for these games, but now I have to fake it slightly. Plus, we break character now all the time, stop and talk about what she's going to wear to school or what I'm going to put in her lunchbox, and then going back to the orphanage game.

Today I will recover from the weekend.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Wow. I dropped the ball on writing my blog. I actually have been writing a lot, just either stuff for my book or working out such personal stuff that I could never print it. Oh this blog, off in in-between land between confessional and professional.

So, I went to the TED conference and I was just…blown away. There is no way to write about it without resorting to superlatives and clich├ęs. I got to hang with some of my heroes: Daniel Dennet (AGAIN!) and I was mostly touched, moved, excited, blown away by getting to hang out with Robert Wright – who wrote “The Moral Animal” among other important books – but “The Moral Animal” really, well, to be honest it fucked me up. And that’s what I told Wright. I don’t think I’ve actually fully recovered from reading “The Moral Animal.” It wasn’t just that I learned about evolutionary psychology especially in regards to women’s eggy-ness versus men’s spermy-ness. What really threw me for a loop in that book was learning, understanding, having to admit that my altruism, the do-gooder in me that I was trained so well by the nuns to incorporate into my soul, was really all just ultimately selfish behavior all along. It’s hard to explain if you haven’t read the book, but Wright is right. It is all for ourselves, even if some of us are lucky enough to think that ourselves means those we care about and those we care about means the human race and the planet. This is the part that I’ve never really recovered from. In any case, it was nice to find that Robert Wright is kind and bright and charming and I keep pinching myself that I got to spend the time with him that I did.

Tonight Mulan and I celebrated five years with Eddie. Eddie is the stuffed animal in the shape of an elephant that Mulan has gone to sleep clutching for five years. It was five years ago that Mulan and I stepped off that plane from China. My friend Teri Schwartz was at the airport and she handed this fluffy elephant to Mulan and it’s been her talisman ever since.

It’s hard to believe it’s been that long. So we made a little cake for Eddie and had a candle on it and sang to him. Five years of finding Eddie before she falls asleep. Five years of Eddie on planes here and there. I can’t believe that I’m all worked up over a stuffed animal, but I actually am!

Well, this is all I can post tonight. I am hoping I get back in the groove.