Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Getting a lot done and taking a break.

This is unusual for me. I am actually getting a lot done on my screenplay version of “Letting Go Of God.” And also, I nearly finished with the work left to be done on the CD. I am working seven to nine hours a day in my office. I feel on a roll, as they say.

But yet, I am feeling low. Usually when I feel this low, I am unproductive. But this time, I am productive. I don’t know why exactly. I think it’s partly because I have made myself this really intense schedule where I finish the book by April 9th and where I finish the work on the cd and the screenplay by the end of the month. It’s intense actually. I will probably have to work until eight or eight thirty tonight to get to the place I need to be in the script for tomorrow’s push. And then on Thursday I go up to Las Vegas. Then I come back and have only two days to wrap everything up before the next set of self-imposed deadlines.

Why am I so low? I’m not sure. I’m just…low. I debate constantly whether I should move to Spokane. I just cannot seem to shut that debating voice in my head, even though, if I did decide anything there is nothing I can do about it. Until next year at the earliest.

I went to hear Jared Diamond on Sunday at Cal-Tech, at the Skeptic Society. He spoke about societies in crisis. Jared’s wife is a psychiatrist that worked at a crisis clinic for some time and wrote things about people in crisis, which is similar to societies in crisis. And while he was speaking I realized that I am in crisis. Well, let’s not overstate it. No one died (recently) and I’m not starving (in fact, the opposite) and I love what I’m doing for work (in general). So, what is it, exactly?

I dunno.

Will I turn out like the Japanese or the Greenland Norse?

I think one thing is that I’m not sure whether it’s going to all come together to do the show in New York. I only want to do six shows a week and this makes it very unattractive for investors. And doing eight shows a week – which I have done before when I was on Broadway with “God Said Ha!” almost made me lose my mind. And now I have a kid! Everyone understands, of course. But it changes EVERYTHING. And I wonder if I’m being wimpy.

And my editors at Holt want the advance back on my book, which is understandable since it’s been three years since we made the deal and at least two years since I got the money. In some ways, it might be better to be out of that contract because then I can shop the book around after it’s finished and find a possibly more appropriate publisher that is more interested in the history and science of it. On the other hand, I feel I just blew it. Totally blew it. I loved my editor – he’s probably the best editor I could possibly have ever gotten for a writer like me, and… Anyway, that's over.

Then I think: keep your nose to the grindstone, Sweeney. If I keep on my schedule that I’ve been on for the last week, I can probably make my personal deadlines.

And then, I miss Mulan. I mean – she’s here. We’re together. She’s at gymnastics right now. But with the babysitter. And, well…I want to be the babysitter. I want that job.

Why do I want to live in Spokane so much? Is it because I’m not in a relationship at the moment? Is it because I’m just so tired? Is it because I’m romanticizing my friendships there? And devaluing my friendships here? Is it because I’m really connected to the land there, or because I’m not connected to the land here in L.A. all that much? Is it because I miss my dad so much and want to just be around the buildings and parks that he spent his life in?

I have to admit, it’s a great comfort to me to be in places that my father, and my grandmother Henrietta, and my brother Mike, spent so much time in. It gives me this deep comfort. And when I look up in the sky in Spokane, it’s like nowhere else. It feels like home. When I pop into the Davenport Hotel, I feel so glad that my grandmother used to work there. That she went through those same doors. When I drive down N. Division, I have these memories, like I remember Mike in my car and us laughing and laughing about all the crappy looking Chinese restaurants along the way. Or running up Division late at night in high school. Or...y'know, like everyone has in their hometown I guess.

When Mulan and I were in Spokane over Christmas we went out to Holy Cross Cemetery and looked at all the graves. Mulan sat down on my dad’s gravestone (which is close to Mike’s gravestone) and said, “So, are you going to be next door to him when you die?” And I said, “Well, that's where Grandma's going to be. But, yeah, I'll be around here somewere, I suppose.” And Mulan looked into the middle distance and sighed, this deep, too-old-for-her-age kind of sigh.

I spent so much of my life wanting to just be in the biggest city, and now it feels like millions of strangers all packed together. Who are these people, I wonder? I used to feel so inspired by New York and L.A. and now it feels like there’s not enough calm and space to do the thinking and creating that I really want to be doing. People seem tense and competitive here and that's what I used to want be around and driven by so badly. And of course I am drastically over-generalizing. Now all I want to do is hike and read.

I have been listening to Mozart's Requiem all day while I work. Maybe this has contributed to my mood.

Last night Mulan made me watch “Cheaper By The Dozen” with her. She had seen it twice before. It was so funny, she would tell me about each moment coming up before it happened. “They don’t like their sister’s boyfriend, so they’re going to trip him. But don’t worry, he’ll be okay.” And then at the end, when the little boy is lost – and then found – she started to cry. Her eyes just filled up with tears. It broke my heart to see her cry at a movie, and I looked at her and she looked away, embarrassed. And then she said, while looking at the wall, her ear to me - “You know, sometimes you cry when you’re happy.” And I said, “Yeah, I know all about that.” And then I had to force my tears not to fall down my face.

This weekend I reread much of the New Testament. Mulan had a friend stay over night and at one point they came in while I was sprawled out on my bed with the Bible, and Mulan's friend said, "Reading the Bible?" And I have been laughing about that. Yes, me -- reading the Bible. AGAIN. I wanted to reread the Gospels since a reporter I did an interview with this week said she felt I had...well -- she didn't say it like this, but what she meant was -- that I had unfairly characterized Jesus in my show. So, I just wanted to read the Gospel narratives: Matthew, Mark & Luke and just remind myself how they read. And you know, I stand by my characterization. Yes, I leave out the Beatitudes and a lot of good stuff, but still, Jesus was a deeply erratic, impulsive, reactionary. So, I felt better about that comment after I reread it.

OHMYGOD this is the saddest blog entry. And now I have to get back to work, or I won’t meet my deadline. And I just have to get this done. It's pretty fun, actually, imagianing my show as a surrealistic tale on locations. This is the way it could possibly be done. It would be wild.

Oh -- I've been thinking about this. While I was listening to the Alito Senate hearings, he said, "No one is above or below the law." And I was musing on that phrase, no one being above or below the law. I hadn't heard that before. Then it dawned on me: fetuses! That's what he probably means. Unborn fetuses are below the law in his opinion. Oh -- that's a good one. The Anti-Choice Senators and politicians probably all wink-winked over that -- no more questions, sir! We know where you stand.

This is going to be it. This is going to the Supreme Court that will dominate law for the rest of my life. It's so depressing.


Anonymous said...

I have not looked at your blogs for over a year- I don't know why-"Too Busy" to "waste" time on the computer, I guess. Don't know why I decided to check it out tonight (instead of going to bed!), but I have just spent about 90 min. reviewing some of what you have written recently, and I am so grateful that I did. Reading what you have to say is so important to me- just to hear an eloquent voice (more eloquent than mine) saying SO much of what I want to say about our government, war, religion, family, cancer, and more. And with such humor!
I hope you do come up to Spokane, then maybe I could see your show! Thanks for all of it!!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, quite scary that Alito could sneak in there. I'm preparing to resign myself to a life unlike I've ever lived before in this country. I see no hope in the future of the country now and that affects me very strongly. I never imagined that it would ever come to pass that America, land of the free and home of the brave would fall to corporate fascism. I'm preparing for the worst. And that may include getting the hell out before they start loading the camps with dissenters.

Boy, that sure can't help anyone out of a low mood. Sorry. . .

Diane said...

Julia, you are far too hard on yourself. You have accomplished more in your life so far than most people could accomplish in 3 or 4 lifetimes.

Anonymous said...

Just being aware of a crisis is the first step to managing it. I'm pretty sure the Norse didn't want to admit that they were having problems. After all, the 'wretches' were living all right there, so surely the God-fearing Norse thought they were fine. So I'd guess you'll be more like the Japanese.

We wanted to go see Jared Diamond, but in the end it didn't work out.

Anonymous said...

So Julia,

The house up the street from me is for lease! You could probably lease it cheap and keep the LA house for those times when you're less inclined to introspection.

We're just a stone's throw away from N. Division. Wouldn't be fancy but you would be left alone.
Today it's all foggy and frosty. So beautiful


eddieO said...

hi julia,
i just wanted to let you know that i read your blog on a regular basis and really enjoy it a lot. also, for whatever its worth, i've gone to see your "letting go of god" show here in l.a. twice now and loved it each time.

if i may, i'd like to recommend a book to you by bart ehrman entitled "misquoting jesus". i heard about it on npr's fresh air with terry gross and think you would enjoy it a lot.

as far as the "low" you've been feeling goes, maybe it's something that just comes with the territory of losing your faith. god only knows i've been losing mine and in spite of all the great things i have going on in my life, i too have been feeling an odd "low" lately... or, maybe it's just the pizza i ate last night :)

take care,

shannon said...

I guess the Pakistanis freezing their asses off in those tents after the earthquake are feeling kind of low too - but at least they don't have to worry if they'd rather live in L.A. or Spokane....

I feel low when I think about the worst plights of others, past and present. To me, harsh reality is the best arguement against the existence of benevolent gods.

Why is the U.S. in particular so stuck on god stuff? I'd say it's sort of the power hungry spoiled brat syndrome.

shannon said...

Girl gay good. Man gay bad.

Anonymous said...


I happened upon your blog through a link of link of a link. Reading Mike's name hit my heart a bit. I was really good friends with him when I ran the box office at the Groundlings a million years ago. He was that rare normal person that made LA bearable for me to live in (when I still lived there). He was one of 3 people that could make me really belly laugh. This is just a quick note to let you know that I still think of him...

Good luck with you new show.

Anonymous said...

Anthenuvuvy. Remember that.

Anonymous said...

Hi Julia. I just read your Jan. 10th blog and totally understand your musings about moving back to Spokane. I have similar musings about moving back to NYC from L.A. Like you, I'm not sure if I'm romaticizing living there and my closeness to my friends there or just feeling disconneted to life in L.A. NYC always feels like home and I do miss it. My mom passed away last summer and her death seems to make me want to live closer to my family....god help me! It's hard to know what the right decision is, but I wish you the best of luck with making yours. If you do move, know that you will be missed here in L.A. I try to see you live whenever I can, especially when you would do Un-Cab with Beth Lapedis. You always bring a smile to my face and some happiness and to my life by telling your stories...they usually have me on the floor laughing hysterically. All the best.


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