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.

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