Friday, August 06, 2004

August morning

It's early morning on Friday. This is surely the most sacred time of day. I have been up since 5:30 and got enough sleep. When the world converges to allow me to get to sleep early and up early, before Mulan gets up, I can almost hear the monastery's Gregorian chant in my mind as I walk through the house. It's simply perfect. I have been off coffee for five days and I believe the headaches are gone. I am drinking tea. Oh! How civilized life can be!!!

So, I am in the throws of the hysteria of getting this show up and going. This is my third time to do this, my third monologue, so I sorta know the drill. It's frightening. And it's so exciting. This show is two hours long, an hour first act and an hour second act. I don't even know if I'm capable of memorizing two hours worth of show. I mean, I guess I will figure it out. "In The Family Way" is like, about 60 to an 65 minutes. "God Said Ha!" vacillated between 90 minutes to 95 minutes. Everywhere I go, I am memorizing. In the car, on my hike, walking around the house. I have a new approach to memorizing this one, I'm going backwards. I am memorizing it bit by bit from the end. It's like I keep adding to it. I don't know, it makes me feel safer, like...if I get to opening night and I'm scared I might go up on my lines, I will feel most confident about the end.

I feel so vulnerable. The show is costing a lot more than I thought it would. In fact, it needs to run for 14 weeks and sell most of the tickets in order to just break even. I am constantly justifying to myself how this risk is okay, even if the show goes bust. I think my business manager thinks I'm a little nuts. I mean, I've chosen a very unpopular topic. Or maybe it's a popular topic, but I come to a very unpopular conclusion. So, jeez. This all puts my mother in a very awkward position. She doesn't like what I'm saying, but she doesn't want me to lose money, so I think she vacillates between how she wishes it would turn out.

I have really great designers. A wonderful sound, media designer and a great lighting designer. It's so exciting! I mean, this is about as fun as it gets. Yesterday I spent the whole day picking out music for the first act. I am going to use mostly Vivaldi's Mass in D Major. I got a great recording from the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and I have been playing it on my ipod while I hike and it's just perfect, conveys all the feeling in all the right places. It's sort of an obvious familiar choice, but I think it works. Today I go through the second act, which I have less pre-determined ideas for.

Things are hectic but going better than they were. I finally figured out how to control my dog, and mostly, my kid. All with the same concept. It all started when I went on the Runyon Canyon hike with my neighbor, Marc, and his two dogs who are playmates and friends with my dog. And when Arden would start to misbehave, or even seem like he was going to misbehave (like smell some other dogs butt too long -- Arden, like all dogs, says "Hello" by smelling the behind of another dog, but honestly, Arden takes it a step further. It's like he tries to stick his nose in and then Arden goes into this reverie, and the other dogs are like, "Okay, buddy, jeez." Sometimes it can get heated as some other dogs feel justifiably violated.) Marc would say, "Arden!" in a deep authoritative voice. And Arden would immediately back off and run to us! And when he seemed like he was in a group of dogs who were on the verge of either playing or scuffling, Marc would do it again and Arden would look almost thankful and come immediately to us. WELL.

So, I figured I had to try that. I figured my previous way of calling Arden, saying in a sing songy voice with no malice whatsoever: "Arden, what are you doing? Don't do that to the other dog...don't you think that the other dog doesn't want to have your nose up their ass? Ha, ha, ha." wasn't the best approach.

We started hiking together and I would try the lowering the voice thing. AND oh my god! It worked immediately! It was amazing. I can't believe it. I mean, I guess I knew about the tone thing, but it was so dramatic. And most surprising was the feeling that Arden wanted me to control him. I mean, that's probably projecting, but still! Then I started this with Mulan. It didn't work as well, but it did work. I think the thing with Mulan is to make eye contact. But again, I realized how much she also seemed to secretly want me to discipline her, like she herself could be afraid by her own misbehaving. Oh, I am learning, slowly but surely.

I went to a parenting class and it was really helpful. But at one point the teacher was telling us how we shouldn't laugh "at" our child. That feeling humiliated or shamed was very bad. And even if our kids did something like fall down or walk into a wall or inadvertently say something funny, we shouldn't laugh. We should only laugh when they were trying to be funny.

I can't stop thinking about this. Because I don't know if I agree. The fact is, when a four year old is trying to be funny, it isn't all that funny. Like it's not funny at all. When Mulan tries to be funny, she is often obnoxious or just goofy. And I feel it's my responsibility to not laugh. I don't want her to grow up thinking that stuff is funny. I think it's my job to laugh when it's genuinely funny. She often says things that I laugh at and she says, "Why did you laugh?" and I try to explain how it's the way she said it, or how it's the context of what she said given the situation, etc. I try to explain that I laugh just to show appreciation and not always just because something silly happened. In fact, I don't laugh at things that are silly, most of the time. (Unless it's in a Preston Sturges movie...) If I encouraged her to be "funny" by being goofy, I fear she would turn into Carrot Top.

Mulan is attending a summer school, this ballet/tap/hip hop school. She hated it at first. She sobbed for half an hour on the first day. And then when she finally went into the group, it was like she was walking to her execution. The next day she cried for fifteen minutes, and then next day five. Yesterday , she just walked in with no problem. There is one other Asian girl in the class, a couple of white girls and then about 25 African American girls. Yesterday, when I picked Mulan up, about four or five of the African American girls surrounded Mulan and said to me, "We all think she looks just like that girl, we can't tell them apart!" They pointed to the other Asian girl, who then came up to us. They said, "We think they look like twins!" Of course Mulan and this other Asian girl, to me, look nothing at all alike. All the kids, naturally, being just beautiful. But I laughed all the way home that they were so blatant about not being able to tell them apart.

Sometimes I am full of fear that my show will be a bomb and I will have to sell my house and move back to Spokane. Then I think about how much I love Spokane and how I could go work at Auntie's Bookstore and how happy I would be. And then I calm down and just settle in for the ride.

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