Monday, May 30, 2005

The Show Is Closed

Boo Hoo. I mean, yippity yah.

Well, after a Herculean effort by many, the show closed this weekend. We added a matinee on Saturday because of the demand for tickets, which of course, just thrilled me. Doing the two o’clock matinee instead of a three o’clock made a huge, enormous difference when it came to the eight o’clock show. If I ever do this show again, that’s good information. I got to come home, eat something, take an hour nap, and I was as ready for the eight o’clock show as I would have been any other night. The audiences were great and it wasn’t too hot outside. I feel really glad about the whole experience.

I’m saying the show ran for ten months, when I suppose technically it was only nine months. We started to sell tickets Sept. 3, but we were in rehearsals all through August. That’s pretty much a year. And in retrospect, this is really all I’ve done for a year. It makes me feel great that a year ago, I was still writing this show, and now it’s finished the L.A. run. I’m not even sure at this point if there will be any more “runs.” I may just do the show here and there in a specialized way before I film it. And then, there is also still the possibility of taking it to New York, after this next year with Desperate Housewives is over.

My Aunt Bonnie, who is a faithful Catholic, and who is one of the most wonderful people I know in the world, keeps telling me, “Julie, this topic isn’t going away. You could do this show for years and years.” And that statement has stayed in my head and made me feel calmer about closing it. Yeah. I can wait a while and do this show again in a year or so. In the meantime, I will finish the book and the Cds.

Last night, after the matinee was over, we all took down the set. It took two carloads and a small pick up truck full of stuff to get everything back to my house. Steve Mallory helped me put the rug back down in the living room and put the sofa on top of it. We put my Stickley chair back in its place, and the round end table next to it and suddenly my living room was back to it’s old self. It was as if I had never moved that furniture and never done the show at all. Last night I sat on my chair, the same chair I use in the show, and read. Everything old is new again! Mulan was with us all day and sbe danced all around as people took down lights and cables and the star drop curtains and we loaded everything into electrical boxes. I am going to miss Zeke and Sabra at the theater, and my crew, Heather and Sean and Steve and Jamie – I mean we got to know each other so well over this year. We knew each other’s weekly frustrations and dramas. Oh, it makes me sad.

I am going to sell one of my video monitors to the Groundlings Theater, and I’ll keep the other one. Declan, who helped make the set and who did a great job on the book shelves on the set that hid a post that was in our way, suggested that I sell the video monitor to the Groundlings as they need one desperately and have a limited budget. My ex-husband -- Steve Hibbert, who I am still good friends with, is directing the new Groundings show and I bet he'll be happy to have that equipment.

Drew, my video and sound designer came by while we packed up last night and he convinced me that if I ever do a run of this show again, I can just buy another one and that prices are constantly dropping and if it’s a limited run, it’s easier to rent them than buy one. Drew took out his computer that had the sound effects on it, out of the booth. We are going to make all of this into one Keynote file on my computer so I can do this show with one set of images and one stream of sound where ever I go. This way I could perform the show at colleges, which really excites me more than doing a whole run of the show again. In the meantime, I have one more performance to give for the Independant Film Festival on June 23. But for that I only need one computer to run the show.

Heather came over last night at like, eleven or so and brought me the keys to the theater (which I have to turn in tomorrow) and we sat in the living room and talked. It was really a pleasant, easy, smooth closing.

I can’t believe how much Mulan has grown up in the ten months since the show opened. It seemed really stark to me yesterday because I can remember her so well when we put the set up! I mean, she was sort of a little kid then, just out of toddlerhood when the show opened. Four years old. And now she’s five and a half and she pranced between our legs last night dancing and everything about her is now a girl; her body, the way she talks. She can barely remember when I wasn’t doing this show. She has her crayons and dolls in my dressing room that had to get packed up – she knows all the terms, “the booth” “backstage” “the set” “house manager.” I wonder how much she will remember. I used to think, “Oh, she’ll forget all this.” But now, I think she’s in the realm of personal history. She was very excited last night when she realized that we now own a set of walkie-talkies.

I have been sleeping much better. I have been taking Arden on a walk at night. I was only able to do this, this last week, while Lisa was here to watch Mulan. So for three days I got to walk Arden around the neighborhood for an hour around seven or eight o’clock. When I used to see people walking their dogs at night I was so jealous. And it made a huge difference in my sleep. Just enormous.

Well, now I have to get ready for this Saturday when we fly to Hawaii with the Desperate Housewives writing and producing staff. I can’t BELIEVE how great everything worked out. I mean, I just cannot believe it.

I have felt so stressed out lately, with the pressures of the book and the show. But I can feel this deep psychological muscle just…relax. I already feel a thousand times calmer today than I did yesterday. I don’t know if it will stick, but I bet it does. Even though I love performing, I am fantastically relieved to be stopping for a while. This was a really great year. And it just got even better because now it’s over. It’s so funny how that’s the case. It’s like, now this wonderful year working on this show is something I can savor in my mind and I don’t have to be bothered with any of the petty details of making it continue. I was thinking last night, what if I never did this show again? Would it be okay? What if it was never a movie or anything? And I thought, it WOULD be alright. I mean, ten thousand people saw my show this year. Ten thousand! Right there that’s worth it. If only for them. And that makes me so happy, like I already won and anything else that happens is gravy.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Not So Desperate Anymore

Okay, the best thing of all, the very best thing of all, is that I had a great night of sleep last night. I actually slept seven straight hours last night. And this just makes me want to cry with happiness because I have not had any decent sleep for days. Man, my sleep problems are really my number one problem. I figure there are two things that lead me to getting a good night’s sleep. One is working out really hard during the day and the other is not having any excitement in my life or performing to do. The excitement and performing thing is a hard one because, well… I am a performer. And that means excitement. And when I say excitement, I don’t mean, y’know, “excitement”! Excitement can mean bad things too, anxiety, worry, and just wrangling the level of uncertainty that I have in my life.

Now that I’ve been in “show business” for twenty years, I can see that one of it’s biggest plusses is also it’s downside. Which is nothing is ever regular or predictable. It’s a high uncertainty field. And I think my temperament is really made for this in some ways. I can tolerate pretty high levels of uncertainty about my future and I do thrive in some ways on the adrenaline that comes with getting projects done at the last minute or never knowing if your show is going to tank or run for a long time. But I also see that it’s just killing me. Honestly, I feel so worn out. And sadly, although I have become accustomed to this uncertain, this constant uncertain life, the excitement and nervousness that comes with it is getting actually harder to deal with in my body. Which is how I get to the sleep problem.

My father was a notoriously poor sleeper. He had sleep debt all the time. I can throw these types of terms around with confidence now that I’ve read this book, “Counting Sheep” which had a huge impact on me and a book I recommend to anyone who sleeps. FYI: Sleep is really important. Anyway, I think I either learned or inherited my dad’s poor sleep habits. And now, in my mid-forties, it’s really taking a toll. I mean, it can really ruin your life. And now I even have Fear-of-not-sleeping and that just makes it all worse!

What’s sad is that many of my favorite moments of my life, the memories I hope to cherish as long as I can cherish memories, are of performing. I feel I am most “me” and at my best performing on stage. I’m not saying I’m so great at it, I’m just saying, this is the thing I do that I’m most proud of and I get the most enjoyment from. But then the adrenaline that builds up in me is just almost intolerable. I cannot sleep. I just cannot. Now even Excedrin P.M.’s don’t work, I’ve taken so many of them, so regularly. I haven’t resorted to prescription pills because that would mean admitting that I have a sleep problem that is BIG. And it means taking a prescription which, which just makes me sad. I don’t know, but I get a lot of pride from not taking any prescriptions. I don’t know if this is because my parents are/were on ten or so different prescriptions and were my whole life or what. But I just…resist that. Plus, I honestly don’t know if there’s something that would work.

What I’m thinking is that I have to just have a more predictable life and stop performing for a while. Pull myself together. I really feel like doing “Letting Go Of God” has aged me ten years in the last ten months. I am pudgier and puffier than I have ever been. I am tired so much of the time. I am not eating really well, too -- much food on the go and eating too much of it. I haven’t been regularly exercising other than taking Arden hiking five days a week – and we usually go only once around Runyon Canyon which is only between 1.8 miles and 2.4 miles depending on who you listen to.

Oh my goodness, I have gone on too long about my problems. But there is a hopeful future! For one thing. I took a job. A great job. A regular job. That will have, like, some predictability in it. I mean, I think anyway. And I’m not in charge, it doesn’t all hinge on me. And it all worked out so well, I am just astonished that it worked out so well.

So the headline is: I’m going to go write on this little show called, “Desperate Housewives.” The deal just got done on Friday. It’s really -- see, I was gonna write, “exciting” shit! But yes, it’s exciting. The offices are at Universal Studios which is only twenty minutes from my house. I’m like…on staff, a regular employee, part of the team! And everything fell into place the last few days: Lisa, Mulan’s babysitter is available and back from China, so I’m hiring her on a part-time regular basis, my show is ending next weekend and I start on June 4 basically so that worked out eerily perfectly. I am not working full time on Desperate, like…3/4 time, so I will have some time to volunteer at Mulan’s school and work on other things. The writing team is going to Hawaii together for a week in June which is…like…AWESOME. I get to take Mulan with me. So…there you go.

Also, the This American Life show that is going to be about my show, Letting Go Of God, is going to be on June 3 (at least here in L.A. where the show is on Saturdays) and I am recording it on Monday and Tuesday with Ira Glass at KCRW. This is also mind-bogglingly exciting. See, there’s that word again! But still, yes. Exciting beyond belief. And I’m editing the shows together to be a CD and that might be done fairly soon.

The bad news is that I’m going to have to majorly extend or get out of my deadline on the book. Like I’m thinking I have to give back the advance. Oh, that is so humiliating. And painful to even think about. But what I’ve come to realize is that I cannot get this book done in the time that they have given me. Which is already so much time. My book editor has been generous with the time already, and still, it’s not enough time. I AM going to finish this book. I mean, I have so much of it written already! But I want to have a more leisurely time to write it and -- I don’t know -- I am just not dealing with the deadlines on this book well at all. I really want it to be thorough and great and it’s just not thorough and great right now. So this means a really humiliating and awful conversation with my editor. What I wish is that they would let me take the next nine months to finish it. Which I think I could do. Plus, having an office somewhere else is going to help me get things done. And what’s really going to help is stopping performing the show. I think. I mean, the whole thing, the whole book disaster makes me feel like an enormous failure and untrustworthy to boot. I have never NOT delivered on a project. But I just haven’t been able to get the time to do it while I’ve been performing. It’s only been in the last month of so that the Figuring-Out-The-Show hat has been taken off and the Figuring-Out-The-Book hat has been put on. ARGH.

The last few days I’ve been going over the decisions I’ve made. It’s hard to tell if I’ve done the right thing. But I will say, it all feels right right now, because I’m so happy about this job on Desperate, so thrilled, I am just pinching myself. But I basically could have taken his show to New York, and I turned it down. And I think this show is not only my best show, I think it’s culturally and politically relevant right now. And yet, I just could not do it. Six to eight shows a week – moving, what it would do to Mulan. No partner to help me out, it would have been horrible. I even had a last ditch New York fantasy where I went and only did matinees. Matinees are the perfect show for me, plenty of time to come down off the show and get to sleep on time. I would get evenings with Mulan and I would be the one reading her the story and putting her to bed. So I had this elaborate fantasy that I went to New York and only did matinees all week. Wouldn’t that be fantastic!? It would be a job like any other job. In the DAYTIME. Ah, well…

This also means postponing the filming of Letting Go for the time being. I was planning on filming the show in the fall, but now I bet I will have to wait a year. And I want to finance the film and direct it myself, and that means coming up with the $, which I could also do if I borrowed from myself – money I vowed never to touch, or take a mortgage out on the house. But if I save all year and I could probably do it without dipping into that money next Spring. So that’s the current plan. Shooting next Spring. I am doing the show for the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival in June – June 23 and things might change based on that.

Wow, now THIS is a personal blog. Money, sleep, body image – that’s the real personal stuff.

Yesterday was Mulan’s school’s Fair. We went for most of the day and we ended up buying six baskets of stuff. I really didn’t expect our bids to get taken on SIX baskets of stuff. So now my living room is filled with…well, junk. All the stuff I am trying not to accumulate. And we’ve got to clean it all up before the matinee. We got a Hello Kitty basket and a Baking basket and a Arts & Crafts basket and a Beach basket. Let’s just say that I have birthday presents for kids covered for the next three years at least!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Fast, Cheap, and Good

I'm not an entrepreneur, just yet.

Because, now I’m not doing the CD anymore. I mean, I am. But not NOW. OHHHHH! Yesterday had so many hours spent discussing something that’s just going to get postponed. Right now it feels like I wasted the day just talking about it so much. But I think it’s the best thing to postpone the CD a little bit.

See, I recorded three shows to edit together to make one Letting Go Of God (LGOG) Live CD. While I was doing this, I was, of course, as always, listening to This American Life every time it came on and I was thinking that LGOG would be very good if it were done as a Spoken Word CD as well. The medium of telling my story directly into the microphone to one person. You wouldn’t get the audience there laughing, but then you would gain an intimacy and my performance would be so much different if I were doing it this way. But then, after many discussions with friends, I decided that it was too confusing to do two different recordings of the same show, and that I should just go with the one, and that ONE should be the live recording.

But then, yesterday, I literally spent hours on the phone with Ira, talking about my experience and how we are going to do this This American Life show. And he felt that I should do the show as a Spoken Word recording. I mean – of course he likes that better, he’s Ira Glass for crissakes. But he said some things that make sense about the intimacy of the writing and how he read the script first and had a certain feeling, imagining me say it, and was different when he heard the live recording I sent him. There was something lost in the live recording. I was playing more for laughs, more for the audience.

Of course I can completely see what he’s talking about. But which to do, the live or the spoken word? Then, after talking to Ira later again about it, he suggested and I think he’s right, that after I record the sections of my show for his show, which will be a spoken word format and listen to them back again, I will know which way is best.

But this means not getting the CD done in time for the show to air. And it means that I told a jillion people the CD is going to be ready soon and it won’t be.

So, now I’m not making the CD right now. I’m going to wait. I think it’s better to get it done right rather than fast or when the most people might want to buy it. ARGH! Also, to get it done this quickly would incur a lot of fast-track prices that make it more expensive. Plus, there is so much I need to learn about how to do this, and I want to put a lot of time into it…I heard once that you can do any creative project two of the following three ways: Fast, Cheap, and Good. Your project can be Fast and Cheap, but not Good. Or it can be Good and Cheap, but not Fast. Or Fast and Good, but not Cheap.

I think that’s right.

I’m going with Cheap and Good. And Slow.

Then I had another talk with my editor yesterday, who I love so much, but who is understandably frustrated that my book deadlines are continually delayed. This caused me so much anxiety that I was up, again, last night all night long. Really. I finally took Excedrin P.M.’s at five in the morning, just desperate out of my mind for some sleep. They should make Excedrin A.M.’s for when you are up at five a.m. and you just need two good hours of sleep. Because now I have that sleep medication hang over. In the night as I frantically paced the floor, I decided I have to give the book advance back. I don’t know if I can write this book with this much else going on. But of course, this is not the state of mind to make these decisions, with two hours of sleep.

I may take a job – well, it looks highly likely I will take a job writing on a TV show today – the details are getting worked out. Of course it could all fall through. But man, I so want some stability. I am tired of freelancing my way through. Ira and I talked a lot about freelancing versus being on staff on something. Right now I want very much to be on a staff, working on something other than my own projects.

While I was up in the night, I had my New American Bible out and I reread parts of each book of the New Testament. I am going to have a conversation with a theologian soon and I need to bone up. It’s just amazing to me that anyone thinks that the four Gospels are anything other than different drafts, different versions of the story – the clearly fictional story – of Jesus. In this one they cut the birth scene, in that one they make his family travel 60 miles for a census, in that one a star moves around showing where Jesus was born, in this one three guys with incense and myrrh come, in this one draft Jesus dies and cries out “My God, why have you forsaken me?” And in that one, Jesus just says, “It is finished.” It’s like a typical group of screenplays up for arbitration at the Writer’s Guild. In this Gospel, Jesus is related to David with 42 generations between them (and that’s related through his father, Joseph, who he’s not even related to directly anyway) and then in that one Jesus and ABRAHAM have 42 generations between them and they are completely different people named as ancestors as the ones between Jesus and David.

Anyone who says there is no inerrancy in the Bible clearly has not read the Bible. In fact, the Bible makes mistakes about itself! The Bible itself is lax in it’s OWN reading of the Bible. There’s a reference in the New Testament to a passage in Jeremiah that isn’t there – it gets things wrong all over the place when it refers itself.

In one Gospel Jesus says, “Whoever is not against me, is with me.” And in another Gospel he says, “Whoever is not with me, IS against me.” I mean – isn’t that direct contradiction? Hmmm, could it be that Jesus is just like all of us, on some days optimistic and other pessimistic? Who knew that only two thousand years later the most powerful man in the world would use this pessimistic quote to threaten the entire political landscape to coerce them into joining us in a war in that very region of the world?

Wow, I must seem like a crazy woman, up in the night reading the Bible. It’s so funny, there I was with my grade school Bible, and I figured it must have been handed to me in about sixth or seventh grade. I bet I have used that Bible more than any other kid who was handed that Bible in that class! I even have a note in the Bible from high school, because we were to use the same Bible’s all the way through, that excuses me from gym class for a doctor appointment. The note is written to our P.E. teacher Mrs. Roberts (even though Mrs. Roberts herself asked to be “Ms.”) and it’s signed by Sister Mary Howard – not even her real signature, just a stamp of her signature. Ms. Roberts is dead now. I wonder where Sister Mary Howard is?

Okay, this is going to be one of those blogs where I’m worried people will be worried about me. Not sleeping, reading the Bible in the middle of the night.

Oh, now Mulan is up and we must start our day. I will take a nap today. I will get clear on things. I will eat well. I will take Arden on a hike.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The Entrepreneur

So I spent the whole day yesterday figuring out how to make my own CD.

I have these three shows that I’m editing together on Pro-tools. Then I have another recording of “In The Family Way” that I could also put out on CD, and if I do both CDs at the same time, I can save some costs. The margins are small, a dollar to a few dollars if I sell the cds on Amazon. Amazon takes 55%. This is all a reality call for making the film. It’s going to have a big learning curve, and for something I don’t really intend to do again! But still, I am glad to be doing this myself and I’m glad I didn’t allow another company to do it for me.

My show may be the featured story on This American Life in the next three weeks, so there is a big push to get the cds done. This is really a big deal if it all comes together, which it seems it will at the moment. Ira did one of his very first shows on This American Life all about God Said Ha! And it was transformative for the show even back then, suddenly it was a national thing rather than a smaller L.A. thing. We will see.

Today is another day when I will not be writing, just continuing to edit the audio version of the show and talking to my designer about the cd cover and booklet. I don’t see how I can get much done on the book until the show is closed. The poor book, it’s continuing to be shoved off to the side. But when I look back on it, it was impossible for me to write the book until the show was done. Now I must call my editor and have a difficult conversation. And Mulan and I have our violin class this morning.

Yesterday when I picked up Mulan there was a group of girls standing around the snack shop table with a violin, taking turns playing. They were really good! I was so impressed that we could even happen upon a scene like this. Mulan looked impressed and I was open-mouthed. When one of their mother’s arrived, I asked her how long her daughter had been taking lessons. Five years she said. Oh man – five years. But wow, imagine being able to play like that at age eleven. Really exciting.

Last night I went to bed reading James Randi’s “The Faith Healers.” I started getting so riled up about these charlatans. It’s so insidious; this type of exploitation preys on those people with the lowest thresholds of critical thinking.

Mulan and I are continuing our discussions about God, all prompted by Mulan herself. Last night while I was making dinner and she was sitting at the kitchen table doing homework, she said, “When the kids at school talk of God, I just keep doing my work and don’t talk.” First of all, it’s so cute to me that she always says “of” God for some reason, not “about” or “in” – it’s always, “You don’t believe ‘of’ God, right?” Or, “Let’s talk ‘of’ God.” And I find myself bizarrely saying to her, with continual firmness: “It’s IN God. IN God.”

Anyway, she was telling me that one of the girls in her “group” at school (they break the kids up into groups to work on certain projects and problems) keeps talking about God. And so we talked again about it. And you know, I think she’s really getting it. I was saying, “You know, when we see Dora The Explorer on TV, we know she’s not real. She’s a made up character. And when we went to a show where there was a real-life Dora The Explorer, we knew she was a person dressed up like Dora The Explorer, right?” And she totally got that. And then I said, “So that’s like God, it’s an idea, he’s a made up person that is in people’s imagination just like Dora, and he’s exactly as real as Dora is. Some people think God is real, but I don't think he is."

And you know, this time, she seemed to get it. You know, a year ago, she would have just said, “Dora is real.” But now she understands that Dora is not real, she’s a TV character, people can dress up like her. That seems significant to me. She gets that characters are fictional. The characters in the book we read last night are not real, they are made up by the author.

But then, again, at the end of our discussion, I said, “You are way, way too young to know about God. I wish kids didn’t even talk about God.” And she said, “But they do, all the time.” That is so shocking to me. I don’t remember that. Although I suppose we must have been talking about it. I was at a religious school. Or maybe because our family believed in God, and I did too, I just didn't even think about it, the conversations didn't make any type of blip on the radar. And I know that this is more about Mulan realizing that we are different than other people than about anything else.

I suppose I cannot control this, it’s just going to happen. And I was thinking that my biggest job with Mulan is to teach her how to have critical thinking skills – just like that guy said at my party. I don’t want her to be a person who is going to be easily swayed by whatever someone’s trying to convince her about. I want her not to spend all the time I spent being so gullible and as easily convinced like I was. I suppose this is what every parent hopes. But still, I think that with our non-mainstream views of religion, it’s a plus, it allows us to talk about what critical thinking is at a pretty young age.

At the conference, there was some talk about a person’s level of absorption. Absorption is a person’s ability to give themselves over to a story or a fantasy. I would imagine I have a high level of absorption. This is something I like about myself. It’s what children have in spades. But this absorption level is correlated with belief in the supernatural – which I guess, is a pretty obvious correlation.

Maybe that’s why it’s so important to me, this whole God thing with Mulan. Because I know what it’s like to enjoy believing in something. And it took me so many years to distinguish between believing in things that were real and not real. Not just God, but in other things too: synchronicity, destiny, fate, pre-ordained coincidence. But life is not any less wonderful for not letting myself succumb to those fantasies. In fact it’s more wonderful. But it’s exactly like how a kid makes sense of the world while he or she also takes part in what is such a great hallmark of our minds, our ability to fantasize and think about stories and give ourselves over to the narrative. It’s tricky, but doable.

I am so glad that I waited to have kids. I would not have been able to have any of these discussions with my child if I’d have kids in my twenties. See, sometimes it’s better to be older. Even if you’re tired a lot of the time.

Monday, May 16, 2005

A wonderfull time had by...well, me for sure.

So. Yesterday. A big day. I had to get ready for the show and the party. I had Mulan with me all day, basically talking non-stop. And a dog leaping into the air all morning because he thought I was taking him on a hike, which I wasn’t. And we filmed the show yesterday – not for selling, but for a reference for me for the future – and then we had the party at my house after the show. I was really stressed out in the morning, getting alcohol, ordering the dessert, putting out flowers, tucking away all the odds and ends and all those things you think won’t take much time, but ends up taking LOTS of time. I was so happy when I got to the theater and I knew that I was basically done with the hard stuff. All I had to do was the show and enjoy the party.

I think it was a big success. I know, I had a fantastic time. About fifty people came to my house and we ate Mexican food and had margaritas and I got to meet so many amazing people. There were people from all over – I got to talk to the Irish Skeptics, there were two of them who came all the way over here, and James Randi was here too and he even did some magic for Mulan, which blew my mind! I was so tickled to even have him in my home. It was fun to have Michael Shermer here – I kept thinking of when I read, “How We Believe” and how it was such an important book for me and then, wow, here he is, coming to my own house!!! I was having to pinch myself.

People stayed until about 11:00, we all ended up hanging out in the living room. It was just fantastic. I was so glad to have the party. I can barely move today, of course. But I’m very smiley today.

I am thinking of two things and then I have to get to work. One is that Mulan kept asking me for the phone number to the place where I called to have her adopted, because, well, she’s going to adopt a baby from China too and she’ll need to know the number. It was so hilarious. I kept saying, well, you can’t adopt a baby for a really long time and you’ll probably get married, and she said, “No! I’m going to adopt a baby just like you and I need to know the number!” And it was so funny to me, us going back and forth like that about the phone number.

Also, somebody last night, I forget his name – oh that’s so bad, but I couldn’t remember everyone’s name! Anyway, he was saying that it doesn’t matter whether people believe in God or not, what matters is if they are critical thinkers. And I really like that. It’s true. What really happened to me is that I went from being a non-critical thinker to a critical thinker. What went out with the bathwater was my faith. But I have no problem with people who feel they have sufficiently researched their religion and feel they are making a wise critical choice. But what gets me is when religion encourages no questioning, blind faith, and then when it’s taught to children I go nuts. Children should not be taught about religion at all. They have no real critical thinking skills, they can’t. It’s really abusive, in my mind, that people teach children about God without letting them know the arguments for the other side and explaining that they will make their own decision about these matters when they are skilled at critical thinking.

Of course, barely anyone would believe in God if it were that way.

In any case. It was a great day yesterday and I am beat beyond beat today.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

I should just go ahead and take Valium

Because…you see, I get all excited like I’m a little kid. And if I’m really looking forward to something, I get all hyped up and I cannot sleep. I mean, I am up, looking at the clock every fifteen minutes. And then I wreck the thing I’m looking forward to because I didn’t sleep enough. Y’know, like I’m nine years old.

In fact, right now, right this moment. I’m going to go take an Excedrin P.M. so that it will start working on me and this won’t happen tonight. Right now it's late after Saturday's show. Mulan and the dog are sleeping. And I really wish I were too.

I’m back. And I took two. And I’m drinking a beer. Should I be worried?

But tomorrow’s a big day and I just gotta get some real sleep.

Okay, now I am seized with why I am even writing this. I think this blogging all the time thing, this thing I just started last week, will just go for a period of time, and then either I will just stop it, slow it down considerably, or become so embarrassed by something I’ve written that I will erase all of it. I have to keep reminding myself that blogs are only for those who wish to read them.

Okay, I’m blogging.

So, I was sooooo excited about the Skeptics conference at Cal Tech today, that I couldn’t sleep AT ALL last night. I mean, I usually have a hard time on Friday nights getting to sleep. Sometimes I don’t even get to sleep until two in the morning. But last night I was up until four. I was literally jumping up out of bed thinking I had overslept, only to find that it was merely ten minutes after the last time I did the same exact thing. And I had to be up at seven to get there in time for it to start.

Which of course meant that I went to the conference today and was so wiped out that I couldn’t stop dozing off and I had to pinch myself to keep myself focused. I’m not saying I didn’t get a lot out of it. I did, I did. I only was able to hear the first two sessions. But I got to hear plenty of wonderful people, Christoph Koch, Susan Blackmore – who I did get to meet and even get a picture with, and Alison Gopnik, too. It was really stimulating, fascinating, disturbing, educational – everything it should be. Of course, Michael Shermer was articulate and funny. I cannot wait until I don’t’ have to be performing myself and I can stick around and really hear everyone at these conferences.

The topic was consciousness. Susan Blackmore convinced me that consciousness is an illusion. She says it’s like the light in the refrigerator, only on when you look in, otherwise, it isn’t. Alison Gopnik convinced me that all children are scientists and that it’s the ones who retain this childlike wonder that become scientists as an adult. This really rings true for me. I learned about sleep and the areas of the brain that process visual information. I was in heaven learning all this stuff. (I have to say, I thought that the women were the best communicators during the speeches I heard. Not that the guys weren't good, of course, they're all geniuses. i mean that -- not sarcastically - they are. But the women, they seemed to see things differently and to me, more clearly and were able to pick out the obvious and communicate it better, more succinctly. Maybe I'm just sexist, but there you go...)

Oh how I wished I could have stayed longer. But I had to leave at four p.m. and get ready for my show tonight. I really had a great time doing the show tonight. I honestly feel lucky each and every time I get to do my show. (P.S. I am not articulate after a show. I repeat myself. And then repeat myself using words I just repeated in the previous sentence. Can you tell?)

Tomorrow is the big skeptic benefit party here at my house. I still have to buy tequila, some flowers, and the Italian cookies from Susina. This is all doable tomorrow morning. James Hammond is going to come to my house early and man the fort until the rest of eveyrone arrives -- the caterers, the servers, the bartender. THANK GOODNESS FOR JAMES.

My show is sold out, every single seat for the rest of the run. And the waitlist is already started. So I decided to go ahead and add a matinee for the last Saturday over Memorial Day weekend. May 28. We are going to have it at two o’clock, so that will give me from four thirty to eight to recover and do the next show. I think that will be okay. Previously when I did two shows in a day, it had been a three o’clock and an eight o’clock show. That extra hour will mean a lot. I don't think it will be hard. Plus, all the adrenaline from the knowledge that it's the last weekend, at least for some time, I think that will get me through.
Oh, I am so sad for the show to close. I am so sad. But I can’t perform anymore until the book is DONE. And there I go again, repeating myself. Good night. I can feel the drugs working. Yes, there we go. Relaxation, relaxation.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

A Small Window

Well, it was a really fun show tonight. It was packed, we had as many people as we could possibly have in the theater. I was seized with a wish that I wasn’t closing the show in three weeks.

Even though I really must.

I can’t seem to finish the book while doing the show. I don’t know why, but I just can’t seem to. So I gotta take a break.

Plus, there are lots of interesting job possibilities afoot that I cannot talk about. That has been keeping me up at night. Reconfiguring, rethinking, imagining, worrying. All will soon be clear. Or gone.

Oh, how cryptic of me.

Okay, here’s something. I have two friends who are about to be ordained Jesuit priests. Well, one is someone I consider to be a friend. The other is an acquaintance. I really like them both a lot. They are funny and smart. They are eager and sincere. But, we obviously have very different views of the world.

I got an invitation to the ordination in Spokane. (They are being ordained at the same time.) I sort of didn’t know what to do. Imagine if I had sent them an invitation to my “High Priestess of Atheism” ordination. What would they do?

I finally settled on sending the one who I truly consider to be a friend a note saying, “I am so happy for you. You know I feel so differently about the world and hope that someday you see things my way, just as you probably wish I saw things your way, blah blah blah. But I am happy that you have achieved your dream.” And I figured out a present that I think he’d like.

But then, this week, I got an e-mail from the other acquaintance-person-about-to-be-ordained that said, “Protect the God-ordained institution of marriage! Go to and sign a petition to save marriage.”


What am I to do with this? I opted for: ignore it.

Then I come home later in the day and see that another person who received this message (there were about fifty people on the address list) wrote to all us “reply all”s, and said, “What difference does it make if two consenting adults want the same legal rights that marriage affords? Please take me off your mailing list.” And then another e-mail from another person said, “Yeah, I agree. Please take me off the mailing list.”

So that made me feel better about writing something. And I wrote something short and quick, something like, “are you talking about the Judeo-Christian God who’s Bible is full of men who marry as many women as they can afford and have relations with their female slaves, and it’s all condoned by God?” or something like that. And then, of course, “take me off your mailing list.”

I almost regretted the last part because I am sort of intrigued by what these types of people send each other. I hate to only hear from those who have opinions I already agree with. But on the other hand, these types of people – there’s no getting anywhere with them. They are stuck in their point of view (as I imagine they feel I am about mine) and there’s no changing it. It’s pointless and depressing to see their e-mails.

Anyway, I write this whole long boring story to get to one thing. I got an e-mail back from one of the people on the list that said “Keep this kind of thing off the internet!”

At first, I thought this person was responding to the entire group about the entire topic and message. But then I realized it was addressed to only me. So he wanted ME and MY message – not just off the e-mail list, but off the INTERNET.

Which made me laugh, almost, all day. Honestly, I giggled about this intermittently all day long.

Me, me? Me and my measly off handed comment about the realities of the God they worship’s views about marriage? Not the 50 ads for penis enlargement or the 75 ads for lonely housewives waiting for fun that we all must get in our e-mail baskets every single day? Not the full-on pornography, bestiality or child porn? ME??? Me and my little comment, this is what this guy wants to keep off the entire Internet?

Then I got a one other comment from a woman who said, “If you are going to quote the Bible…” (I didn’t quote the Bible, I merely made a comment about the God of the Bible’s view of marriage) you must know that the Bible says, “A man shall not lie with another man.”

And then, before I could even fantasize about writing this woman back, saying, “Yes, the Bible does say that, about two lines after it says that children should be stoned to death for disobeying their parents and about three lines later it says that you can’t eat meat unless the animals first born male has been sacrificed (by burning) and about five lines later it says that if you are a woman and you are menstruating, if you leave the house, you will be outcast from the tribe for all time…

But oh yes, that’s what the BIBLE says – a man should not “lie” with another man!!!! Before I can write this rant, or even fully fantasize about it, this woman says, “I have banned you from ever e-mailing me again.”

HAHAHAHAHA! Oh. Oh… Like I’m going to barrage this woman with e-mails. Like…she really got me! I was looking forward to a big e-mail debate!

Now, dear reader, can you see how I am so burnt out on the God stuff? And yes, I hear you, why did I even write my e-mail to begin with?

But let’s not think of that. Let’s think about my delightful audience tonight. And what a lucky girl I am to be able to perform this show. And how sad I am it is about to end…

After the show I spoke to a woman about how my show appeals to people over forty for sure, and mostly people over fifty or sixty. And she said, I think that hormones control your life for so long, you can barely think. And then you get older, the hormones die down and it’s not all about procreating anymore and you get to wake up and see the world for what it is. And then when you think how dementia and Alzheimer’s and so forth can easily rob you of your brain in your older years, it only leaves you with this small window of clear thinking.

Wow. I never thought about it quite like that before.

I do think she’s right, there’s such a small window when you are smart enough to know things, courageous enough to see things clearly, and have enough acuity of mind to really experience the world. Its so short. Such a short little window in life.

Tomorrow, oh, now in fact – today – I am going to go to the Skeptics conference at Cal Tech. So I gotta get to sleep. I think if I meet Susan Blackmore I will absolutely die from happiness.

And! My house is so ready for the party! I hardly have to do anything. I got almost everything done today.

Yippity yah!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

A Day In May

What a difference a day makes.

Okay, today is one of those days where I wake up, thinking I can conquer the whole world. I probably won’t get beaten down into reality until at least noon. Also, Mulan is still asleep and this is the magic hour where I whip around and get things accomplished.

Tonight I’m making a dinner for a friend’s birthday. My friend Julia. Our kids were best friends first and then we became friends. She is wonderful. We are exactly the same age – well, she is six months older than me. I am always asking her for her sage advice. She is astonishing, this Julia. She is majorly into crafts and is fantastic at them. And she gets these enthusiasms. She was really into quilting – well she still is. But she was getting all these wonderful quilts made in the forties and fifties on e-bay and then repairing them. She got one for Mulan that is amazing. She got me a book about quilting (I was actually already into quilts, but I’ve never made one) and now we are going to take a quilting class this summer. All I’m saying is that I’m thinking: bowties or maybe octagons, or then there’s the wedding ring style. Oh, it’s all so exciting. Then Julia got into vintage glasses. She would buy these amazing vintage glasses on e-bay for like…a dollar. The thing Julia really has, I realize, is taste and stamina. Which means that if I were going through six thousand vintage glasses on e-bay, I wouldn’t have the wherewithal to look at them all, and then I wouldn’t have the good taste to pick out the best ones. Then Julia got into vintage class rings. She got one for herself and it ended up having her husband’s initials on it, without her realizing it would. It’s from the thirties and it’s gold and it’s gorgeous. It’s from some technical college in the Midwest. And it cost like…three dollars. Then she got me a ring, it’s from 1937. We aren’t sure where it’s from. It’s silver. It’s gorgeous. I like wearing it. It cost about four dollars. I am always looking forward to Julia’s next enthusiasms. Also, Julia is a very good writer on top of it. But she’s being a full-time mom right now. Julia’s next project is a home made doll house for her daughter. She went and bought wrapping paper to be the wallpaper in each of the rooms and had someone cut the pieces of wood. She bought greeting cards to be paintings in the rooms. I can already see it’s going to be a work of art. Julia worked at Martha Stewart Magazine before her mom-gig. Like that wasn't already obvious. She comes from the world of periodicals. And she's got great advice about clothes and writing too. It's almost too much for one person to be good at all that.

Speaking of wallpaper, the garage map-of-the-world is going up today. I cannot wait. And Mulan is ahead in her homework. And Lisa is back in town and everything is much, much, much better. Last night I had Lisa babysit because I had to go to a meeting for a possible job as a writer on a TV show. The meeting was at seven and lasted until eight. I had Lisa until 9:30. Lisa drives an hour to get to us, so I don't feel good unless I have her babysit three hours, cause it's not really worth it for her.

And so after the meeting I had an unexpected hour and a half to kill with a babysitter and no where to go! Not enough time for a movie. I don’t want to shop. I called my friend Wendy and she was busy and then Bob and he was busy. I should have called Greg. But he would probably have been busy too. But anyway, it all led to this ridiculous hour of me driving around with no destination in mind saying to myself: I can do whatever I want! I can do whatever I want! And really having no place to go.

I ended up eating Chinese food at this little restaurant on Beverly and reading my issue of New Scientist magazine. This is just my favorite magazine right now. I read all about how lightening bolts create themselves inside clouds along with stuff from outside the Earth’s atmosphere (cosmic rays help make lighening!) and then, this amazing article about reconciliation between animals. Conflict resolution. Turns out we have a lot to learn about conflict resolution from other species. Revenge, this is the problem. Conflicts arise, of course, but in other species, they can get resolved quickly. In the quickest scenarios, it’s the loser of the initial conflict that comes and makes up. Makes some gesture at a truce. So it's the losers who are the ones who are really responsible for resolution. If they accept their state and adjust and reconcile with the dominant one, then peace is restored. But if they go off and lick their wounds and plan revenge, then it's another story.

Bonobos just have sex to make up for everything, even between members of the same sex, Sex is a huge communication tool for them. But our problem is revenge. Wanting and planning revenge. That really should be one of our seven deadly sins.

Anyway, the article did have all the usual scientific statement-of-the-obvious based on studies over years and years. Like: after careful examination of lemurs over ten years and graphed observations of every interaction, an estimated six million interactions, we have come to the conclusion that it’s more likely that reconciliation will occur when the two conflicting animals depend on each other for survival.


That’s when I don’t think I could be a scientist. Imagine working on that project. I would be running around saying, how many interactions does it take to prove something everyone knows already? And I know that is not all that scientific of me to have that attitude.

Oh my gawd, it's so gorgeous here. Really sunny and beautiful. I hope I get time to go around twice at Runyon Canyon. And write ten pages for my book. And get the house organized. And make pizza on the grill for tonight. And a cake. And get the house sparklingly clean.
Yes, I can make it happen!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Late night blatherings about motherhood. Warning: could be pretty boring!

I am so wiped out on Mondays. I have learned to discount any depressed feelings I have on Mondays because I am so tired, so blindlingly tired from the weekend, that I usually just weave through the day. After I get Mulan off to school, and Arden walked, it’s about noon and I just want to lay down.

I was lucky today because I got out of jury duty. I called last night with my jury number and my group number and the automated voice said that I had completed my jury duty and not to check in today. I was so shocked I decided I had to have made that up and I called back and sure enough that’s what it said.

But then, I didn’t get all that much done today anyway. I may as well have gone. I was just so tired. Is this because the show is so hard, or am I older and have less energy, or is it the child care? Or what? I don’t know.

My parenting duties are expanding. Mulan goes to afternoon kindergarten and she really doesn’t have to be there until 11:20. Then she’s done at 2:45. There are a few activities at the school after-care program she’s signed up for. So I can get her at three thirty if I want to on three of the days. And then, she has a few dance classes during the week – violin and tennis too. And I only use babysitters on the weekends during my show for the most part – unless it’s something huge I cannot avoid or want to do desperately. Something that I am willing to spend an extra $60 on for babysitting. But in the end, it means I am on duty all week. And you know, I love it. I really do, I am glad to be the person picking Mulan up from school. I get the first report, I get to talk to the teacher if there’s something wrong. I have gotten to know her friends at school. When she says she sat by so-n-so, I know who that is.

But honestly, how much can I expect myself to get done between eleven and three? I get the dog walked, that takes an hour and a half. I return a few phone calls and some e-mail and if I’m lucky, and if I’m Herculean, I get in three hours of writing on the book. And that often includes writing while Mulan is in a class and I’m outside typing away.

Except Monday’s when it’s hard. Because I’m so tired. All I think about on Mondays, it seems, is how I’m going to move to Kauai and look at the stars and just retire. But I can’t retire for a long, long time.

Next year will be the same. Mulan is going to repeat Kindergarten next year. She only started at this school a few months ago, this public school in our neighborhood. It’s weird, but the private schools often attract the people who have the most money AND the most free time. There is usually a spouse that is primarily in charge of the kid or kids, mostly one that is not working. And they have their kids at private schools, wonderful private schools and the kids can be there from eight a.m. to five p.m. and get all the best classes and activities in the world. Often these families also have a full time nanny as well. There is an abundance of child-care options, spontaneity is no problem for these parents. And it’s not like I think these richer parents aren’t working hard, they ARE working hard.

But at the public school, mostly, it’s people who need to work – work as much as they can, every hour is an hour they could be earning more money somewhere – money that they need. And yet, the school is set up for maximum parental input. There are no teacher’s aides, so parents are encouraged to fulfill that role. There is no money for all day kindergarten, so it’s only a few hours. There is no P.E. or music – or it’s very limited.

But I love this school. I love public school. I think everyone should go to public school. I don’t even think private schools should be legal! I love that it’s our neighborhood and that all these kids are from all kinds of economic backgrounds. Several parents in our neighborhood who could easily send their kids to toney private schools have opted to send their kids to this public school and I love that sooooo much. I feel very glad to be away from the pressure of contributing time and money at a private school that already charges a lot of money and has an abundance of parents trying to jockey for position to volunteer. I really didn’t fit in at the private school. I always felt a little less-than. I mean, no one made me feel that way, but I did feel that way. I felt guilty that I wasn’t giving more or doing more all the time. I felt jealous of the women who could spend their mornings directing traffic into the school as volunteers and then go out to lunch with each other. At the public school, if you write a check for a couple of hundred dollars, they practically burst into tears with thanks and gratitude. It’s almost embarrassing how different it is. And it all just makes me even more committed to public school. And even more proud to be there.

But here I am, at a school I feel much, much, much more comfortable at, but one that requires more of my time. It’s like I left a private school because I felt guilty for not being able to spend time there and went to a public school where I’m HAVING to spend a lot more time there.

Well, I wanted to be at a school that would require me to make less money so I could spend more time with Mulan. But as far as money goes: how low can I go? That’s what I’ve been asking myself. How much free time am I willing to trade for money? If I let my once-a-week-housekeeper go, that is going to make it even harder to get writing assignments done. I am caught. I want to be the mom who’s always there. But I also love my work, I love to write, and I love performing too. And I feel I am really getting good at it and I also feel that this show I’m doing now is the best thing I’ve ever done. So I really want to do right by this show and by me. PLUS, I need to work. Even when I redo our budget to really be spare, it’s still a whole lot. It shocks me how much we need to live, just to get by, without saving anything. I mean, I’m not complaining, and I’m not totally broke by a long shot, but…y’know… It’s all a very hard balancing act. And yes, I know, I know everyone has a hard balancing act. But I’m just saying…this is a hard one.

Also, this public school – jeez. You should just see the homework. Mulan has about an hour of homework a night. FOR KINDERGARTEN. There is such pressure to keep the grades up and the testing up, I think. Or maybe it’s just way, way, way harder than when I went to school. When I went to kindergarten, you basically learned the alphabet. At this kindergarten, you are expected to proficiently read by the end of the year. And Mulan is beginning to read, but she is very far from reading easily. Or even getting most of the words.

Mulan and I, we spend our whole evenings doing homework. Often, that is the case. I keep thinking that if I had no other job, this job with Mulan now, is a good full-time job. You get a little recovery while she’s at school to make the beds and fill the dishwasher and run an errand, and then back on the job – baby. But adding work and the normal frustrations of writing…

I could get a job. I mean, a job where I went in to work. And like…got a salary. In fact, I may take or get a job in the coming few months. But I have really mixed feelings about it. On Saturday I went to a lunch on the beach with several girlfriends who I know from working on Sex & the City. One of the women is getting married and we were all celebrating. These women are all writers and all very successful. Their lives are dream lives in many ways. And they are all smart, talented, hard-working women. None of them have children. And there was a moment when one of the women said that she was going to Palm Springs for five days for a shoot and to break story ideas for episodes of the show she’s working on. And I was seized with jealousy. I want to do that!!! I remember when I did do things like that!!!! That can be really fun.

But also, I remember it being really hard too and boring a lot and frustrating. So I realized I felt both jealous and lucky not to be going at the same time with the same intensity. I couldn’t get myself to any clear view of it.

Plus: what’s the deal with all this homework for kindergarteners? I heard one parent say that because it’s only a half-day of school, they expect you to work with your kid for the missing part. If there were all day Kindergarten, they would do this work at school. But I don’t think so. I see the homework that the kids in the other grades have – it’s a lot. And I want Mulan to be in an academically challenging school. And she actually enjoys the homework for the most part. She loves that we have so much more interaction. And I like it too, it’s just…like this extra new full-time job.

I realize that having kids is really like going into business. It’s a business. You are now in the business of kids. Or Kid. And you need a big support team. I have heard women complain about other mothers who have nanny’s and lots of help and they are women who have their mother’s around to help or cousins or family. So they don’t really get it.

I want a tribe. I need a tribe.

Well, I sort of have one to a small extent with this family that Mulan and I spend a lot of time with.

Oh jeez. I gotta go to sleep. We have violin in the morning.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Mother's Day

It’s eight a.m. and Mulan is still asleep. Her babysitter, Lisa, let Mulan stay awake until I got home from the theater last night, which was about 11:15 p.m., and then Mulan stayed up with me until after midnight. We watched an episode of “As Time Goes By” which I TIVO and which has become my program of choice after my stage shows as a way of winding down. “As Time Goes By” used to be my dad’s favorite TV show in his last years, and now when I watch it, I remember seeing the episodes for the first time with him. This show has allowed me to feel like I’m continuing to hang out with my dad a little bit, now over a year after he died. I can remember his favorite parts, the shows he thought were good. And every now and again I see a show I haven’t seen before and I can remember him telling me about it.

Lisa became Mulan’s primary babyistter about a month after I came back from China with Mulan. Lisa, who is also Chinese – from the Hunan province -- just spent several months in China. We have missed her terribly. She just got back from China two days ago and Mulan is thrilled. In fact, even I nearly spilled tears when she called to say she had returned.

Even though Lisa has only been available on weekends for the last couple of years, (she started her own at-home day care during the week, then she moved to another house and disbanded her day care kids and took off for China) she is a very, very important part of our lives. In fact, now that Mulan is really out of babyhood, I look back and realize that it was Lisa and me who reared Mulan. We were her parents in her first years. And I have all sorts of appreciative and sad and happy and conflicting feelings about it.

There was a moment I remember really keenly, about a year after Mulan arrived (so that means Mulan was about two and a half) and Lisa and I were sitting exhausted together on the sofa while Mulan was finally, FINALLY asleep in her crib. And Lisa and I were holding hands. And I thought, “I never thought my parenting partner in life was going to be a Chinese woman in her sixties who I can barely converse with. But then, maybe this is better than some people have it.”

Lisa speaks very little English and our conversations are exasperatingly limited. This lack of a common language has caused several mix-ups and misinformation. It has been frustrating. But then, there are upsides. It has taught me to be very direct in my answers – when the other person knows so little English it’s just confusing to beat around the bush or to try to work out your answer while you’re talking. I’ve learned that the answer, for example, to the question: When should Mulan take a nap? cannot be, “Well, she usually falls asleep around two, but if I can get her down at noon it would be better because I need to take her somewhere at three.” It’s got to be, “Mulan will take a nap at twelve.” And then you point to the clock and smile. Also, there’s no unnecessary extraneous conversation when I return home and Lisa knows nothing about my life. Except that, of course, she knows everything about my life. But there’s no explaining, there’s no social-graces-blahdittyblah. We exchange the needed information. And that’s it.

It was weird having to be so direct for me. I instinctively think of being direct as being blunt and unkind. I had a really hard time. But then, this new skill began to be really helpful to me, in all kinds of areas of my life. I began to realize that most people don’t want to hear all the different views you have on some simple question – just answer. Let the answer hang there in the air. Be done with it.

In any case, there was this moment when Lisa and I were sitting exhausted on the couch. And we were both so tired, we couldn’t even speak, even if we COULD understand each other. And then Lisa said, “Why didn’t you have your own baby?” And I said, “Oh, well…” I didn’t know how to make this answer quick. Finally I said, “I can’t have children. I had an operation.” And that was it. No going into bad choices along the way, careers that had to be had, lost opportunities and the lot of it. And Lisa put her hand on my hand and squeezed and said, “So this is why no man would marry you.”

At the time I wanted to laugh out loud. Because in my last relationship, it was precisely because I WANTED children that we couldn’t work it out. I wanted to say, “No, in fact, the opposite.” But I appreciated Lisa’s empathy, however wrong. I could imagine what I must look like to her. She is so kind and loving, and it suddenly seemed like a very intimate mother-daughter moment. Lisa is about 64 or 65 I think, and she has become that older woman who has shown me the ropes and been there by my side and yet we never have any real conversations with each other. And so we just sat there and held hands for a little while.

And I suddenly realized that here I was with my parenting partner. Who knew that my parenting partner was going to be a Chinese woman in her sixties that didn’t speak all that much English. Lisa was the one I was sharing those precious moments with. Lisa was the one I was glancing up at across a room when Mulan did something particularly darling, Lisa was the one I was bursting with pride along side; when Mulan grew an inch or when she learned to pee in the toilet. We were the ones filled with joy when she could put on her own shirt and we were the ones exasperated when she’d have a hissy-fit. I was sharing all this with Lisa.

I imagined myself as a kid, who was singing, "Good night my someone" and imagining who her partner was going to be, raising children. And then I thought about Lisa's face forming in that cloud of unknowing. If I had had any energy, I would have giggled. Or cried. Instead, I just sighed.

And now…Lisa is back in town. In the meantime, Lisa’s daughter, Joyce, has taken care of Mulan on Saturday nights. Which has been great, I really adore Joyce. And she speaks perfect English!

On Sunday’s Mulan just comes with me to the theater and a high school girl who we know and adore comes and colors and plays with Mulan in my dressing room while I’m on stage. I remember once, when I was travelling in China, before I adopted Mulan. And I went to an Opera in a town..oh! I forget the name of the town. Anyway, somehow I conveyed to someone there that I was an actress and this man let me go backstage and meet the cast. They all lived right over the theater, they had their beds and clothes all right there. their make up tables were right next to their bed which was right next to a rice cooker. They were separated by thin sheets of fabric inbetween the "rooms." And many of them had children who were lounging on these little beds just above where their parents were performing. And I thought, "Oh! How awful, how sad! They have to LIVE at the theater, they never get to leave!"

And now, on Sunday's, when I go backstage at the intermission and Mulan is laying around my dressing room coloring or playing with dolls, I think, "This ain't so bad."


Okay, Mulan got up and gave me her Mother’s day presents that she made at school. It’s flowers made out of cupcake wrappers and they are beautiful. There are also another set of flowers made out of pipe cleaners and she said these are for my set at the theater. Also, she gave me a card that says, “I love you because you make really good healthy vegetables.” Ha. We’ve been talking a lot about vegetables lately. Then she said she was taking me out to breakfast. She had emptied her piggy bank and she had five dollars in change in a baggy. And she announced that we were going to go to Pink’s, this hot dog stand, on La Brea.

And so we went. Mulan asked the guy behind the counter if they made a special “Mother’s Day” hot dog. They did not. But I was happy that they opened at 9:30, we were almost the first customers. In spite of the fact that Mulan has declared her love for me primarily for my vegetable pushing, we ate hot dogs for breakfast today. And it was delicious! She said, “Do you want to sit inside, or out?” And I said, “It’s your choice.” And she said, “NO. It’s your choice. It’s Mother’s Day. ”

I think I am going to burst open with love for this kid.

But what I really want right now is a nap before the matinee.

The shows are almost completely sold out for the rest of the run! It’s so exciting. And the audiences have been great, it’s just…I have to remember this feeling forever. I am having such a good time. It’s actually soooo sold out that I am thinking I might add a Saturday matinee on the last weekend. But then…that makes it so exhausting. One show a day is a dream. Two shows makes both shows hard. So…no. I won’t. I don't think, anyway.

What a happy, happy mother’s day.

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.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

More thoughts on Lynndie England

Okay, now I'm all over this Lynndie England case. Now I know the guard's name -- the one who was her boss, and the one who is purported to be the father of her child. Graner (the father, boss, boyfriend, pusher) testified today and said that he told her to do what she did and that Lynndie was just following his orders. This goes contrary to what England testified to, that she knew what she was doing and that she knew it was to the amusement of the other officers and therefore she’s guilty.

I also learned that since she’s pleading guilty she is open to be sentenced to ten or eleven years of incarceration as opposed to sixteen years if she pleaded not-guilty. In my hopeful naiveté, I am sticking with my assumption that she’s pleading guilty not to get a lower sentence, but because she’s doing what’s right.

This is so twisted, disturbing, and...weirdly...romantic. I mean, Graner, it seems, was trying to do the right thing. Weirdly, not knowing anything about the details of the case except what I read yesterday and today, they are both acting with amazing I mean, I think she should have pled guilty. I would have. And I think Graner should have said she wasn't guilty, because I don't think she was. Which is what he did.

And then...the baby! OHMYGAWD. They are both, startlingly, taking responsibility for their own actions. I wonder what Graner could get out of testifying the way he did? It seems like he wouldn’t get anything out of it.

It's such a disturbing case. They seemed to have no responsibility and integrity when it came to doling out the torture, but when it comes to this -- is it that it's personal rather than between prisoners? Or have they gained some personal integrity along the way? Has the experience changed them?

All morning, on my hike, I was writing a letter to their son, who was born in October, and who will be cared for my Lynndie's mother when (and if) she goes to jail. I wanted to tell him that everyone has to come to terms with their birth situation -- who their parents are and what their parents did to them. But he, this baby, has a lot more to come to terms with than most people! I mean…oh boy. Both his parents participated in horrible sadism and torture. Both of this parents seemed to take joy in it at some point. Both of his parents are the symbols of what is wrong with the military and this military endeavor and why the world hates us so. His parents are the symbolic King and Queen of the downfall of American idealism. Talk about being born with an original sin on your soul! This kid has a big one. To me, this baby’s life story, now that’s the drama. That’s the subject that Aristophanes or Euripides would have written about.

But what I hope is that this child learns eventually that we all have that Original Sin. This is what I think the Church was trying to convey when it came up with the concept of “Original Sin.” We are all capable of behaving in ways that are cruel and horrifying. All it takes is the right social structure and coercion to bring it out. Not that I don't think there are some individuals out there who are capable of withstanding all the pressure, the enormity of the institutions, all the overt coercion, and still behave with dignity. But those individuals are few and far between. I imagine we all think we are one of those few -- I actually think that I am. But are we, really? What would it take for us to behave like Graner and England? I think the evidence shows that it wouldn't take much. So we all, humbly, have this Original Sin on our souls. We are all vulnerable to abominable behavior. And that's why we must always strive to work against this possibility, by making our institutions veer from it, by making sure the social structure doesn't encourage it, doesn’t promote it, doesn’t institutionalize it.

It's like the Catholic Church. (I know, for me everything is about the Catholic Church, but it's my source of greatest reference!) Those priests who abused those kids, yes -- they are to blame. But they are not a few bad apples. They are part of a huge structure and institution that creates the problem and then hides that problem.

By asking priests to deny their own sexual needs, to expect them to hate themselves if they feel sexual feelings for those of the same sex, (or anyone for that matter), by compounding the problem by attracting men who are underdeveloped sexually and therefore have something to be gained by becoming a priest (I'm not saying that all men who become priests are this way, I'm saying the institution of the church allows for and even inadvertently encourages this type of priest) it creates an environment that makes this sort of abuse happen. And it will definately continue to happen, so long as priests are expected to be celibate.

And then, further, by asking the Church to prosecute and punish their own, it's like asking Rumsfeld to deal with people like Lynndie England and Graner. The only thing they could do is to harshly punish them, make them an example, and then dissociate themselves with them. Rumsfeld would never have to see his own culpability that way. Or Cheney, or whoever. I won't even dignify Bush as being part of it, to me he is such a puppet, he's not worth even mentioning.

What I'm saying that this is an institutional disease, and the England and Graner are merely the pimples that appear on the surface. Just like the Church's problems with pedophilia. The sexual abuse is part of a much bigger problem in the church, and punishing those few priests isn't going to do much without the whole Church changing. I wish Pope Benedict would just go take a few classes on human sexuality. As James Joyce said, "There is no heresy or no philosophy which is so abhorrent to the church as a human being."

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear: Lynndie's son! What is he now, ten months old or something? I wonder how Lynndie feels about what she did now that she's a mother. I mean, I think I had great compassion for all people before I became a mother. But being a mother, you see how much each person, how each child has to be loved and cared for in such heroic detail just to get them alive into adulthood. Each of those people in that pile of people she was standing in front of had parents who cared about them, they were nursed and taken to the doctor, and they were comforted when they had bad dreams and each of those people laughed and loved others. And there they were, just piled on top of each other. And now she is a mother. I wonder, oh how I wonder how she feels about it now. I wonder how much she can let herself feel. I wonder how much she is capable of feeling.

In any case, she can't feel good about going to prison and not getting to raise her own child. If I were the judge, here's what I would do. I would do what this judge apparently did. I would not accept her guilty plea. I would not sentence her to jail. I would sentence her to take care of her child and get a degree in human psychology with an emphasis in torture, while she’s monitored closely by a psychiatrist.

And then I would hope she would become educated enough and passionate enough to speak out about what can happen to people if the wrong institutions are set up the wrong way and the wrong ideas get into people's head at just the wrong time. She could turn those awful pictures of her that we all have in our minds into an example of a person who could transform herself, by education and compassion and hard work, into a person who understands how she became who she became. She could actually do some good, work towards making and shaping institutions so that this doesn’t happen again. Oh Lynndie!

I wonder if she and Graner even get to speak. I wonder if he acknowledges that the child is his, I wonder IF the child is his. I wonder if HE knows IF the child is his. I wonder about Lynndie's mother, oh, I wish I could go interview her mother. I bet they have a lot to say.

Shame is such a terrible thing to live with. The worst. Karen Armstrong says that shame is the most potent motivating emotion. Poverty doesn't hold a candle to shame. I wonder what Lynndie's feeling, I hope she doesn't turn her self-hate inward. There's so much she could teach people. Except, I guess first she's got to understand it all herself.

Then I was thinking, her mother is probably my own age! She's 22. I'm 45. It could be. Wow, wow.

All right. That’s enough obsessing about Lynndie England.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Abu Ghraib

All day I’ve thought about that woman, that girl, Lynndie England, who pled guilty today for her part of the Abu Ghraib torture scandal. I know almost nothing about her personally. I just know that she’s the gal from all those heinous pictures and that her boyfriend was a person in charge. And now I know that she’s pleading guilty and it's so inexcusable what she did, and yet, I feel so awful for her. I can't help but feel sorry for her. I wonder what the real story is. I have done things – of course, not tortured people – but done things because some guy told me to. Things that I regret. And I’ve had other times when a guy almost drove me insane where I did things that seemed impossible for me to do. Like I wasn’t in my right mind.

One thing I’ve learned about humans is their astonishing ability to coalesce: to be willing to go along with the group; to coerce and be coerced. Whole societies seem capable of going mad. I always think of that social experiment at Stanford – I think I’m getting the college right – but anyway, they took a random collection of students and divided them into two groups, one being the prison guards and one being the prisoners. And they had to call off the study after only a few days because of what was happening in the group. Sadism, torture, all kinds of behaviors that would have seemed impossible to everyone involved before they signed up or were chosen for the experiment.

I’m thinking of two things, two really personal things. But what the hell – one is when I was with my boyfriend of a few years ago, the one who broke my heart – well in some ways that’s so not true, but it seemed like it at the time. We argued all the time about having kids. He had a son who we had come down to California for a couple of summers. I took off work, and made myself available to be with both of them. It was a hard situation, but we made it work.

But in the back of my mind, I was always hoping desperately that I would show my boyfriend what a great mother I would be. I even bought mom-looking clothes that would look right, I searched for kids activities, I signed up for classes. And I’m not saying I was so great at this – but I did have…well I did put in effort. And we all had fun together. And I was proud of myself for really going the distance with this kid and with this situation.

In any case, after the second summer, when his son went back home (it wasn’t really the whole summer but five or six weeks…) I remember me and my boyfriend got into another big argument about kids. Of course. I felt like I should be rewarded for my efforts with his son by his agreeing that we could raise a child together.

Now, looking back. I’m sure he felt that one child was hard enough and that the last thing he wanted to do was have another child to be responsible for. But what I remember is that his arguments were about how I wouldn’t be such a good mother. He even said that he thought I was too smart to be a mother, because mothering would be boring to me. And that he had read somewhere that women who didn’t have college degrees were better mothers than women who DID have college degrees because they weren’t thinking of other things besides being a mother or something (I could write all night about that part of it, but I won’t - it was like I was dating someone from the middle ages.) And I was so upset – I had, in my mind, been so good with his son and taken such a big amount of time to be with him.

In fact, I had even turned down work that would have added up to about five or six times the yearly salary of this boyfriend, so that I could spend this time in the summer with him and his child. I didn’t tell him this, not explicitly – I mean I probably said something like…I got a job offer for this or that, but of course I’m not going to take it because your son is coming and…

But you get the idea. The pressure was mounting. This is so painful to write about, because I almost cannot stand to remember myself in this situation. I had no cards. I had nothing. I had no leverage. I was sooo on the bottom of the bottom. I was in love with a guy who not only didn’t want children, he wasn’t even sure he wanted to be in a relationship – any relationship at all. Also, he didn’t like Los Angeles and it’s so clear now that we should not have been together at all. But at the time I was convinced that my charm and wonderfulness would win his approval. (I could also write on and on about how I could have had such little self esteem that this would be a person I would want to spend time with, but that’s for another time…Plus, of course, there were other wonderful things about our relationship that kept it going, but this part of it was just a big blechy black hole situation)

So there was this moment, this argument rather, that occurred after the second summer with his son. And I don’t remember a lot about it except that I was hysterical. I mean, really hysterical. I’m not sure how honest we were even being with each other, how honest we were even capable of being with each other at that time. But he went to sleep and I went to the guest room (which is now Mulan’s room) and I tore these wooden letters off the door which had spelled out his son’s name. Of course I had gotten them and put them up, trying to make his son feel welcome and that he had a place in the house that was his.

Anyway, I took these letters off and I went outside, out in the front of the house, and I broke them into little pieces and threw them all over the front yard. At like three or four in the morning—me and my puffy eyes and splotchy cheeks, I was really at the end of my rope.

Then I remember the next day, my boyfriend found the letters. And he was so devastated. He really took this as an insult to his son. And the worst part is, when he came in the house with the broken up letters in his hands, I honestly was shocked myself. I couldn’t believe I had even done that. It seemed so hysterical. It reminded me of something my mother would do, and this was gravely embarrassing to me. It really felt like I hadn’t done that. That it wasn’t me, it was some other out-of-control person. And I'll never forget the way he looked at me, like, "You are a crazy woman." And at that moment, I felt such shame, and so much embarrassment and I felt he was absolutely right -- I didn't deserve to have kids anyway, not if I was capable of that kind of hysteria. It became this vicious circle that was heading downwards.

Now of course, this is a far, far cry from the Lynndie England situation. All I’m saying is…some guys can drive you mad. I feel I was practically driven over the edge in that relationship. I didn’t feel in my right mind. I think about this, about me doing that, honestly all the time. It’s this horrible memory of what I’m capable of doing. I remember it to remind myself how I can behave in ways, I can be driven to behave in ways that I would not ever ever EVER THINK that I could – given the right mix of influences.

Who knows what was going on with Lynndie England and the boyfriend who was her boss and who was telling her to do things. Most people are not in that kind of military service because they have all kinds of options back home. And then imagine what it was like there, how frightening, how desperate. And here was this guy she was dating, or maybe just fucking, but still -- he was asking her to do things. And she did them.

And she’s pleading guilty. I hope she’s doing that because it’s the right thing to do and not because it will give her the best chances at a reduced sentence. I would plead guilty too. But honestly, what was going on there?

Here’s another painful memory that Lynndie England brought up for me today.

I remember when I first moved to Los Angeles, I was about 22. And I was set up on a date with this guy who was a big successful movie industry type. I actually have no memory of this guy’s name. Or what he did. All I remember is that he drove a really expensive car and he had a condo in those multi-storied condos in Westwood. And I was pretty overwhelmed that I was on a date with this guy. And he was all about impressing me, and I also got the impression that I wasn’t pretty enough for him, or something enough. It was a horrible mixture of feelings I was getting from this guy. I now can recognize this – this type of guy. They are not particularly attracted to my “type” for whatever reason and yet, they can see that I’m smart or something so they feel a little intimidated or I don’t know, but they spend the night trying to make me understand how smart or tough or successful they are. And it’s for no reason at all – I mean they aren’t even attracted to me. I was so insecure, I don’t think I even asked myself if I were attracted to this guy! I was just getting these vibes: not attracted to me and yet needing to show off to me.

Anyway, he took me back to his condo. I was honestly so naïve, I didn’t realize what he meant when he asked me to come back to his place. I was just out of college where all the guys I dated were people I hung out with, friends who became boyfriends, guys you’d talk to for months while you worked together and suddenly found yourself sleeping with. In any case, I was really wide-eyed – in Los Angeles, this big city and dating a guy who took me, like, on a real date – he paid with his credit card and everything.

So we went back to his condo and there I was, so innocent – so dumb!, saying, “Wow, you’ve got such a great view!” And I remember being shocked that he didn’t have any books and actually thinking, maybe he puts his books away in cupboards! Or maybe he just moved here and the books are still in boxes.

And as I was staring out at the view from his condo, he came out of the bathroom totally naked. As in no clothes. And I was so shocked, and – now this is the really embarrassing part – I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t have the wherewithal to be appalled or the self confidence to say I had to leave.

So, I pretended not to notice that he was…naked. And then he said – oh this is so hysterical and painful – he said, “Let’s make love on the carpet in front of the fire place.” And I froze. Time just stopped. I thought, “If I say no, how will I get home? And I’ll have to ask him for a phone to call a cab. And it will be so awkward to say no. It will take so much awkward energy, it will be horrifying. And he might feel really bad if I say no. Or worse, mad. ”

And so I had sex with him.

I just did it. I didn’t know what to do. It seemed like it wouldn’t be nice not to. I mean, he had bought dinner and he didn’t even seem to like me all that much. It’s weird, I think if he had actually acted like he liked me a little bit, I might have had some strength to stop him. But I felt so,,,low, so without any recourse, I felt so worthless and it seemed so impolite to say no.

And again, not exactly torturing prisoners in Abu Ghraib, but still… I can barely believe that that person was me, that I was so vulnerable, had so little self esteem, had so little knowledge that I had any personal power in that moment. And I just wonder,,,what the story really really is.


I just read the article in the paper about Lynndie. She was pregnant by the guy – her boss! And she had a baby in October. Ohmygod, how did I miss that? I am so totally out of it! This must have been all over the news and I didn’t know it. Oh my goodness, now it’s even more complicated and creepy and horrible. Is he being sentenced too? I assume so. Oh my, oh my, oh my. Wow, what’s going to happen? Oh how horrible. Also, they said she has some learning disabilities. Well…duh. Don’t we all. I DEFINITELY have learning disabilities.

(Ha! I feel so high school with all the caps…)

She is sooo not the person who should be the example. It’s the higher ups, the ones who allowed this type of torture to even be possible. Oh, my god, this is really just so sad. I wonder how much play this is getting on the news. Since I don’t ever watch any TV news, I don’t know. And yet, those pictures are in my mind. They are burned there. I can see her, holding that leash, standing in front of the pile of guys -- her with her cigarette. The die is cast, she is the face of this catastrophe, it cannot be undone.

I just know that any person can do things that they cannot believe they would be capable of doing. It’s probably just me stating the obvious, since this is what so much drama is based on, my pathetic little stories are just blips in the course of human history, how people can be driven to behave in ways they would never think they could. Do things, agree to things, be coerced into things, mistakenly think that certain behaviors will lead to something we want so desperately, this is inside all of us.

But then, I suppose if you deconstruct every situation, you wouldn’t have any basis on which to convict anybody, ever. I think it shouldn’t even be based on punishment, maybe. Maybe our justice system should just be about keeping people away from other people who infringe on their rights, by say…torturing them. And not get caught up in guilt or not guilt.

Hmmm… What’s going to happen to that baby? Will the father get the child? Why don’t I just look this up instead of asking all these questions?