Sunday, February 20, 2005

Rain and Thunder

We have gotten three times the usual amount of rain this year in Los Angeles, according to the papers. It has transformed the place. I am smitten with my home-town at the moment, and that’s saying something. It reminds me of Ireland or Kauai – wafts of fog and droopy gray clouds waft by spilling rain on me. And most wondrous of all, just beyond them is blue sky. Everything is green. My usual hike, in Runyon Canyon with the dog, Arden, is like traipsing along in the hills of Connemara: a thousand shades of green, verdant bushes dripping wet, light gray clouds making themselves into reflectors for a shining downtown. From the top of the hill you can see Santa Monica too, and beyond it, all the way to Catalina. I have never been so happy here. I just did the hike three times around, (Mulan is having breakfast with her Chinese babysitter and her family) and it took over two hours and I am achy and wet and have never felt so shivery and giddy.

Last week, I drove down my street and looked up at the Hollywood sign, shining and bright, framed by palm trees with little rivers of water running off them in an arc and then behind that the greenest hills. If I saw this in a movie, I would laugh at how unreal and gorgeous it looked. Oh, I love this rain. People are beginning to complain, but I wish this would go on forever. Maybe it will, maybe this is what global warming has brought us here in Los Angeles, and I am back in Seattle without having to move at all. Mulan takes her raincoat to school now as a matter of course; like this is something she does all the time. Coffee suddenly tastes a thousand times better, shops are warm and inviting and offer refuge. People are chattering more with strangers, we see each other as comrades in this sudden change of scene, jumping under doorways and letting our hair get wet and who cares about our shoes. It’s mad and wonderful.

Last night, during my show, rain pelted the blackened windows on the back of the theater so hard, I nearly stopped the show to remark on it. It was like people had hoses aimed at the windows outside and were pelting them with water. I have a moment in my show when I talk about rain, and we have a sound effect and it was ludicrous when this came on, it was so dribbley and unnecessary with the downpour happening outside. I felt very cozy in the theater and people were huddled and happy to be warm. I have to say, last night was one of my favorite nights performing ever. I appreciated my audience so much, we all seemed to be floating out of space and time or something. And to think, this was the weekend I was sort of deciding not to go to New York after all with the show.

Oh dear, oh dear. What to do. What to want. Yes, that’s the problem, deciding what to want. I always think that the hardest thing in life is just knowing what you want. Trying to get it seems to have it’s own pitfalls and successes, but the hardest thing for me is just knowing where to point and staying convinced that this is what is right for me.

So, I was planning on going to New York with this show, but suddenly this week, I decided to just think, just imagine, NOT going. Why? Because it’s all so romantic and exciting in the imagination and in reality it might be hellish. Even if I can do only six shows a week, it means not putting Mulan to bed myself for five nights a week at least. And it’s suddenly dawned on me with a ferocious intensity that I am completely on my own in regards to my family. And when I say family, I mean Mulan and myself. Mulan doesn’t regard the two of us as a family, which made me very sad when she started to say it, but now I actually sort of agree with her and I don’t argue it anymore. She says we are a mother and daughter and a “family” is, well, like my family of my mother and brothers and sister, or a “family” is like what everyone else has at her school but her. And I can already see that she will be spending some time on the therapist’s couch over this and I’m not sure what I can do about it. I don’t mean to bemoan this here, this reality is the result of lots of things, some of which I have no control over and some of which I sort of do, but none of this is really here or there. In the meantime, it has rushed into my consciousness that I would have to go to New York and do a huge, enormous, big, big job and then hire someone to be with Mulan for a gigantic amount of her waking hours. And people who are hired to look after your child have a much smaller chance of being fantastic and devoted than if it were someone who expected to have a lifetime of relationship with this child. Or someone like her current weekend babysitter who has known her since she was a baby and has a whole developed relationship with her already and expects to have for years to come. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t lovely people out there who I could hire. It’s just…what are the chances? Plus, I don’t want to be away from Mulan that much. I like her. I like being around her. I am sad when I am not with her.

Because Mulan is a person now. That’s the bottom line. When I went to New York before to do a show, she was basically a baby – three and a half, on my most recent multi-month sojourn, and her sense of time was still in baby-land and she often had no idea if I’d been gone for two hours or twelve. But now she’s a person with her own thoughts and a more real sense of time and we have conversations and she has friends and classes and a neighborhood and all that. I have a big support system here in Los Angeles and this would all be gone. And if Mulan went to school in New York, I would be doing two terrible things: seeing her for about an hour after school before I whipped off to the theater and also, getting up much earlier than I would want to be doing to get her to school, all the while feeling guilty at how little time I had spent with her. And she would be in a totally foreign environment with all new people and I just…oh, things are already so great here.

Plus, if I film the show in June, I could edit it in July and August, maybe while I’m up in the Seattle area with “family” and then perhaps take it to a film festival or sell it and so many more people would see it than if I ever went to New York. I was thinking, “How many people would have not seen ‘God Said Ha!’ if I hadn’t gone to New York?” I think it’s a small percentage. I don’t think Miramax would have bought the film for any more or less, it didn’t really have that much impact. So…given the child situation, given how depressed I would be to not be spending time with Mulan, given all that – why not skip New York and just film the damn show?

But then, this morning, I had another thought. What if I home schooled Mulan in New York next year? And then I had a babysitter come at four o’clock in the afternoon and be with her until midnight when I was home from the show? Mulan would go to bed at midnight or after and we would both sleep in and maybe I would just take her to a violin class every day and forget school for a year. I mean, she’d be missing kindergarten! I can cover that, I think. I think, I think.

Oh dear.

Now I have to rush off to the theater for another show. And then I’m taking next weekend off to go to a conference in Monterey – TED, it’s called. It cost a lot of money and I totally wouldn’t be going if I hadn’t paid for it a year ago. Plus, it’s time for a break. We haven’t had a whole weekend off in…well, we haven’t. We have been on every weekend since the show opened in September, so everyone needs a break. And then, with the exception of one weekend in the beginning of April, we will be going until Memorial Day. Yippee! I love doing this show. I am so happy we are selling enough tickets to make it work.