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!

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