Teach your Children Well. Or… At All.

We took a drive on Saturday in my sister’s convertible up to Mullholland. We were hoping to see the view south of here. We heard you can see all the way down to South Coast now that the pollution has cleared out. We didn’t get to a good vantage point to see the view, but I could smell plants I had never smelled before up there. Eucalyptus and other herbaceous plants. There was something really magical about it. Smelling plants.

I set up an egg hunt on Sunday in our building’s courtyard for Monty and his friends downstairs. A few neighbors came out to watch. It felt like a relatively normal moment in the middle of a shit storm.

We finally got a formalized “schedule” from Monty’s teacher. She posts assignments in his school email account. Unfortunately, in the four weeks since we’ve been homeschooling, we came up with our own system that was mostly really working. We did a combination of online and live lessons. Now, with this new schedule, every lesson is online, and Monty can finish everything before noon. That’s not gonna fly. Today we did a math assignment from his teacher and compared to what he’s been doing over the last four months, the work was a joke. He had to count pictures of leaves and whatever and write the answer down. The leaves were in a straight line… It’s not even like he had to hunt for them or track his counting. And he had to circle “is less than” or “is more than” on pictures of Lego blocks. My sister (who does the bulk of the teaching because, weird fact: I’m terrible at teaching.) was having him add and subtract two and three digit numbers. He was learning about Kenya, and who our ancestors are, and where they were from, and the proper use of the “me” and “I.” Today, for his online assignment he watched a video about a fly who flies high in the sky, and a girl who cried…

I have always believed in public education. In theory. And I can’t afford to send Monty to some school where he gets to design his own curriculum. Nor can I afford to live in a neighborhood with schools that are properly funded. But his lessons are way behind what he’s capable of. I’m worried about wasted potential. I’m worried about how much supplemental learning he’s going to need in order to “compete.” I’m worried that at this rate he’s going to be bored. And I don’t want to him to skip 2nd grade public or private. In a lot of ways, he’s still very young and tender. When he sets the table, he won’t put out butter knives because “knives are violent.” The thought of him trying to keep up with a bunch of 8 and 9 year olds is terrifying. The other day he was talking about Pennywise! And that’s just from his 6-year-old friends. God only knows what a bunch of 3rd graders are going to teach him about. He’ll come home with a pack of cigarettes rolled in his sleeve, and say things like, “Hey toots! How’s about some chow?” (Honestly, I don’t know how children talk).

I’ve started making face masks for myself and my family. I am not crafty. At all. So, this is going to be…fun.

Is this real life?

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Whose Country is it Anyway?

I wish that I could offer hope or optimism, but I’m not feeling tremendously hopeful or optimistic. I wish I could say that we’re all going to come out of this relatively soon and stronger as a nation. Unfortunately, I am pretty sure that’s not the case. It’s my belief that “safer at home” measures are going to last for at least a year. Probably more. There is no vaccine in sight, and once there is, there needs to be extensive trials before it is made available.

And I think it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better. I hope I’m wrong.

Our country’s brand seems to be yelling “We’re number 1!” at the tops of our lungs, while sticking our heads in the sand when anything that might contradict that claim rears its head (which, by the way, is all the time. See: the levies breaking during Katrina, see: the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, as well as other cities across the country, see: the banking crisis and resulting Great Recession. And that’s just in the last couple decades.). Those of us whose patriotism isn’t worn on our sleeves, who insist, despite all logic, to remain optimistic, or believe that “the pendulum always swings the other way eventually,” are being just as willfully ignorant as any MAGA idiot waving a Confederate flag and holding a tiki torch from Home Depot.

While we have made massive strides in the country toward equality, we are still failing our working poor and our shrinking middle class. Many of our laws support and uphold the White Supremacy this country was built on. Our healthcare system is a joke. Our education system is embarrassing. We have the highest rate of incarcerations of any country in the world (We really are #1!). If anyone truly believed that every single one of the 2.3 million people currently incarcerated were guilty of their crimes, or actually “deserved” to be there (whether a human being deserves to be held in a cage is a different conversation), wouldn’t that necessarily prove that America is not the greatest country in the world? How could the greatest country in the world produce the highest number of criminals? See? The logic doesn’t hold.

We have some massive structural problems in the country that won’t be fixed without some sort of complete collapse and rebuild. Some people are urging us to envision the kind of society we want to rebuild once this is over. It’s a nice thought. It’s a comforting fantasy to think that some societal positive will come out of all this. But I don’t believe this is our bottom. I think what happens next might be.

After the Great Recession, when big banks were bailed out with tax-payer money, rather than take the opportunity to reflect on why they had failed and what they might be able to do better, they foreclosed on home owners and small businesses, and developers marched in and began a boom of building “luxury” condos all across the country. And yet, AND YET! What I’m noticing just by using my eyes is that despite these hideous grey boxes going up everywhere, more people are living on the streets. When I came back to Los Angeles after only four years away, the number of people living in tents all over the city had grown exponentially. Recently I heard a Virginia lawmaker say that in his state there are 11 vacant apartments per one person experiencing homelessness.

Whether or not you think people experiencing homelessness should be housed in available housing, the issue is that rather than figure out how to close the gap between rich and poor, or how to use the tax-payer bailout to help…the tax-payer, banks and developers used a crisis to line their pockets. I don’t think this time will be any different. I don’t think our lawmakers are going to suddenly be struck by a case of morality and upend the system (Even if Bernie had won…).

Capitalism and Racism are far too entrenched. In order to create real change, there would need to be the kind of collapse that is scary and not easy to live through.

I don’t know that I love this country enough to stick around for that. I used to think that if you disagreed with the way your country was being run you should stick around to help fix it. But I don’t know that it is fixable. And I know that abandoning this country would mean leaving behind those who don’t have the luxury to get up and relocate, and I struggle with a lot of guilt around that concept. But I don’t think I want to try to make it through the revolution. Especially not with a kid.

For now, I breathe, and parent, and partner, and nap, try not to look at the news, and just get through this day.

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There are planes going by overhead from Burbank to who knows where. Who is still riding on airplanes?

I am somewhat at a loss. What is happening in the world is so big and scary, I don’t know where to begin. Everyone is frightened. No one is exempt. Social Media has become a room where in one corner people are screaming about the virus and/or the politics around the virus, in another people are screaming at the people screaming about the virus and/or the politics around the virus, and in another people are making “content.” The fourth corner is the WHO saying, “Wash your hands!” and the CDC saying, “Don’t spit in your partner’s mouth!”

Parks and beaches are now closed. We went to the beach on Sunday with my friend Gonzalo. All five of us packed in our car, which I understand is VERBOTTEN, and very bad, and we should be ashamed of ourselves. But Gonzalo is like family, so we figured we would be okay. And I was feeling so stir-crazy and sun-deprived, that I reasoned the chances of me getting sick or getting Gonzalo sick were worth the risk. We kept our distance from all other humans. We gave seniors the evil eye and said, “Back! Back, ye foul knave!” We yelled at babies who toddled too close. We didn’t lick any handrails. In short, we were as safe as could be while still venturing into the sunshine. And I’m grateful we did it before we lost the opportunity altogether.

I have become a homeschool teacher, which is a job I am wholly unqualified for, and very bad at. My attempt this morning devolved during our morning walk (first thing after breakfast, mind you) when I asked Monty to spell the word “people,” over which he had a full meltdown. Frankly, I don’t blame him. “People.” Really. How do I explain a silent and pointless “o?” There is nothing quite like teaching spelling to a six-year-old that highlights how nonsensical the English language is. Thankfully my sister has years of experience nannying rich people’s kids, so she has taken over the bulk of the teaching. She seems to be an endless font of activities that are both educational and fun.

Kurt also is better able to teach Monty than I am. When we got home from our walk this morning, I asked Monty to hit the reset button on the day. He went to his room for a few minutes and came out just as angry as when he went in. Everything I suggested was a problem. Then Kurt got up, and I retreated to my room for my own reset. When I came out, Monty was happily reading out loud from a book about Dinosaurs.

In discussing this with my therapist today, it became clear that Monty’s frustration mirrors my own. When teaching him is harder than I want it to be, I tend to throw up my hands and say, “forget it!” It’s no wonder he does the same.

My parenting strengths lie elsewhere. Though I will admit that sometimes it’s hard for me to see what strengths I do have as a parent. Sometimes I struggle to see what my contribution is. Especially when I’m hearing Monty and my sister laughing in the living room over a made-up game show called “What’s That Grammar?” and I can’t get him to spell “people.”

I have to regularly remind myself that Monty is a happy, well-adjusted kid, who seems to inspire joy in everyone he meets. And despite how frustrated I get, or how little I feel I’m contributing to his well-being, he is always thrilled to see me, wants me to sit right next to him at dinner and in the car, wants me to do bedtime, and tells me all the time how much he loves me. Maybe my contributions are just harder to quantify.  

I hope we are all taking some of this time to hit our own reset buttons.

I find myself thinking very seriously about what I want my life to look like when the dust settles. Do I want to remain in Los Angeles and continue chasing a dream that is illusive and never quite as satisfying as I want it to be? Do I switch careers (again)? Do I move somewhere quieter and open a country store? Do I run for office and try to help redesign our culture?

We certainly can’t keep going the way we have. If this disaster has proven anything, it is that the people in charge clearly care more about their own reputations than they do the good of their constituents, or their country. Hopefully it has become obvious to everyone that our priorities are completely mixed up. More value needs to be placed on our teachers and our service industry workers.

Money doesn’t disappear. It flows upward and is all still there. The only reason we’re in a depression is because the wealth has been distributed mostly to the people who see no reason to spend it on the greater good. All the companies who have temporarily shut down and stopped paying workers are still paying their CEOs. THEY still have money. And they will still amass more of it, while the rest of us watch our savings (if we’re lucky to have any) dwindle away.

We have an opportunity to make a better system. Will we do it, or will we put our blinders back on and go about business as usual?

Another airplane just flew by.

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Here’s the deal, I’m not an Economist. I’m not a Sociologist. I’m not even THAT smart. But I have a very strong feeling that shit is going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better.

What I’m about to say isn’t based on years of research. It’s just based on my observations of history and our economic situation over the 40 or so years I’ve been around.

First of all, I want to say that I KNEW the CDC was withholding information long before it came out that our Reality-TV-Star-In-Chief was ordering them to withhold information. I knew that whatever numbers they were reporting, the actual numbers were much worse. It was in their best interest to “prevent panic” by downplaying the risks. The great irony, of course, is that by attempting to prevent panic, they made the situation much, much worse.

I have also been saying for YEARS that we are going to face major social upheaval in the country, the likes of which we have not seen before. I believe that the only reason the people haven’t truly risen up before now is because most of us can’t afford to. The best way to keep a population compliant is to keep them barely paid (check), barely fed (check), barely educated (check), and barely healthy (check). We have a massive and growing population living at or near the poverty line BY DESIGN. This isn’t a mistake. This is absolutely how the powers that be want it. And they have won. I realize the statistics don’t point to a majority of our country being under paid, fed, educated, and cared for, but the numbers are still remarkably high for a country that claims to be the one of the richest nations in the world and a global super power. These are shameful numbers, and, I believe numbers high enough to cause unrest. Though, again, I’m no expert.

When people are hungry, tired, sick, and barely getting by, they can’t afford to protest. Sweeping change in this country (and throughout the world) has ALWAYS been made on the backs of the poorest people. Whether it has been by slave labor, or by the cavalier attitude that the poor will continue to keep their heads down and do the work no matter what. A single parent working three jobs and deciding which bills to not pay so they can feed their family doesn’t have the luxury of walking off the job to storm the castle. She has to keep working.

When we see massive social unrest in other parts of the world (like the Arab Spring, for example), it happens when the majority of the population doesn’t have anything left to lose.

The reason Occupy Wall Street didn’t work was because the people occupying Wall Street couldn’t afford to live in tents for weeks on end. The brokers still went to work, and people still poured their money into the markets. More importantly, the legions of working poor who cleaned the toilets of the assholes at top couldn’t afford to just stop going to work.

Even without this pandemic (which, to be clear, in case I haven’t been already, it’s not the virus that’s the problem, it’s the massive economic toll the fallout is going to create) we were already facing a massive housing crisis (which we already have), when this generation of gig economy hustlers “retires” with no pension, social security, healthcare, or proper savings. I don’t know what people are expecting. We’re like a country of ostriches with our heads in the sand. WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN WHEN MILLIONS OF PEOPLE GET OLD AND HAVE NO SAFETY NET? You think the homeless situation is bad now? Just wait. When our streets are lined with senior citizens with nowhere to go, then we’re going to be in some serious shit.

If we even get there.

So, here’s what’s going to happen: The government is going to toss us some pennies to keep us momentarily sated. Then, when the virus passes and the dust settles, they’re going to pump “stimulus money” (our tax dollars) into the airline, health insurance, and oil industries. Once again, just like they did with the banks in 2009, they are going to bail out the least in-need. They are going to line the pockets of the richest men in this country. MEANWHILE, potentially millions of working poor will have lost their jobs and/or significant income. THEN we will see massive and sweeping riots across this country. Once people have nothing left to lose, once their jobs won’t be on the line because they have lost those jobs, then we will see the pitchforks coming out. And it’s not going to be pretty.

I won’t lie, I have been hoping for a moment like this for many, many years. I am a big consumer of post-apocalyptic fiction. I believe that our need for STUFF is unsustainable. We don’t need tomatoes in the winter. We don’t need the newest Iphone delivered same-day. Especially when those things come at the cost of real human lives. It would behoove us, the population of the planet, and the “environment” to return to localized economies.

But now that the moment seems very likely at hand, I am not holding my breath with anticipation. This is not fun or exciting. I believe it is necessary, but it’s going to cost a lot of lives and it’s not going to be pretty.

I suppose I imagined that when this moment came, I would have a house on land with a water source. I imagined that I could hole up with my family, house some friends and family, and keep the rest away with barbed wire and a shotgun. But I don’t have a house, or land, or a water source. Or a shotgun, for that matter. I live at the mercy of a large property management company. I can not grow my own food. If I turn on my faucet and clean water doesn’t come out, I have maybe a week’s worth of water stored in the cupboard. If I’m forced to run, I won’t make it very far. I have always said that in the Zombie apocalypse I’ll be one of the first ones to volunteer to be shot in the head and left behind. I know what it would take to survive on the road without shelter, and I’m not designed for it.

I hope to goodness I’m wrong. I hope I’m being a paranoid alarmist. I don’t think I am. I have tended to be quietly right about this shit. It doesn’t take an economics degree to understand it. All you have to do is look at history. Hell, look at the past two decades of world history. You don’t need to go back to the time of The Spanish Flu or The Plague. Look at the countries that have squandered their economies on the wealthiest people, overlooked the majority of their citizens, rolled back rights, denied access to proper housing, food, education, and healthcare that have collapsed under massive social upheaval in the past few decades.

We will survive this. As a people. But we’re going to have to take a long, hard look at how we live and agree together to make some pretty serious changes.

Until then, let’s all send out thoughts and prayers to The White House. May everyone inside it come down with the Coronavirus. Except for the people who take out the garbage and clean the toilets.

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It’s okay. I’m okay.

I did not book the thing I flew back to NYC for. I know it’s not a matter of my talent or hard work, and everything else is out of my control. Something else will come along. It’s okay. I’m okay.

Something else better come along. I’m quickly running out of money.

I have never been good at money. If I have it, I tend to spend it. The concept of saving is foreign to me. It really only occurred to me the other day that on the past two major gigs I had, I should have been putting a significant portion of each paycheck into savings. But, alas, I did not. Instead I was like, “Money?! I haven’t had this in long time!” and I did things like take Monty to Disneyland, and buy expensive cheese and shoes I didn’t really need. And flights to NYC for callbacks… It’s okay. I’m okay.

To be fair, I only bought a pair of Converse and a pair of Adidas. It’s not like I’m running around buying Manolo Blahnik’s. And 95% of my clothes come from thrift stores. It pays to be chronically behind on fashion!

I emailed my literary manager yesterday basically saying, “How do I write things?” She hasn’t replied. Probably because she’s like, “Bitch, I don’t know!” (Actually, she’s incredibly nice and supportive, and she’s probably just busy with her clients who are emailing with actual finished pieces…). It’s okay. I’m okay.

It’s looking like we’ll be shooting my short film in the next month or so. If we can raise the money. We need about $30,000. Easy! Mike Bloomberg spends that every time he wipes his ass. I assume he wipes his ass with money. It’s about as practical as spending millions to run for president for two months instead of putting your money behind, I don’t know, Elizabeth Warren? Dick. Anyway, we’re going to be making my movie. So that’s pretty exciting.

I was thinking this morning about how awful and nasty it’s going to get when the Democratic nominee is finally chosen. There is no attack too low for Trump and I’m scared of whatever rhetoric he’s going to spew. I want to crawl into a cave until it’s over. Instead I’ll be doing whatever I can to get him out of office. I am TERRIFIED of what another four years would look like.

Okay, I literally just exhausted myself with that thought. I’m going back to bed.

It’s okay. I’m okay.

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You. Can. Not. Stop. Me.

Saturday I woke up at around 2pm from a nap, to a slew of messages from my managers. By 9pm I was on a flight to NYC. The job I had not booked and then insisted on going on tape for again (please see my last blog post), wanted to see me on Monday for the director and HEIR PRODUCER. Today I had a session with casting, a session with the director, and then a final, final session with the whole shebang in the span of four hours.

I just got back to my friends’ place (where last night I sweated so furiously all night into their sheets, that they’ll probably never be friends with me again), and though I am exhausted, I feel like a motherfucking badass. It doesn’t matter if I book it or not (though, to be clear, I WOULD VERY MUCH LIKE TO BOOK IT), what matters is that I knew I could do better, and I did. I flew into NYC on my own dime twice for this job. I didn’t take no for an answer. They were like, “You’re not right the part” and, to quote The Beatles, I was like, “Oh, no, no, no, you’re wrong.”

This morning the casting director thanked me for flying in again and I said, “I’m too old to say ‘no’ anymore.” There are major gigs I turned down in my teens that I spent years regretting. I’m not doing that shit anymore. I didn’t want to pass on this and spend the rest of my life wondering “what if?” And, yes, I totally could not afford a last-minute flight ON A SATURDAY across the country, but it did not matter. I put that shit on a credit card and over-packed my bag.

And here’s the craziest part: If I don’t get it, it’s okay. It means it’s not my job. I did everything in my power to get it, and that’s all I can do. If necessary, I will be able to walk away from this knowing that I am a fucking warrior that cannot be stopped.

And now, I nap.

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I Do My Job Flat On My Back.

I was very excited to hit the ground running in the new decade. I joined The Wing late last year. I joined a gym for the first time in probably six years. I was posting blogs. And in the middle of January I got blown back by a pinched nerve. It’s been almost a month of near constant pain. I have done almost everything imaginable for it.

When I was in college I saw a video about a women with Sickle Cell Anemia. She said that she would just randomly get hit with serve pain everywhere and have to spend days in the hospital doped up on morphine and I thought, “Honestly? That sounds like the fucking life.” OBVIOUSLY I’m not ACTUALLY saying I think Sickle Cell Anemia is a picnic. No need to cancel me. I’m SAYING being doped up on morphine for days a time because you legitimately need it sounds like a fucking dream. Don’t at me.

Tomorrow I’m seeing a pain management doctor who I’m hoping will shoot heroin directly into my spine and send me home with a baggy and a syringe.

Upon reflection, I have managed to make the most of my time as an invalid.

I’ve read five books already this year. Granted two of them were from the Griffin and Sabine series and can be read in about ten minutes. But still…

My short screenplay “Tony and Annette” made it into it’s 10th festival/competition with the Pasadena International Film Festival. So, that’s fun. If you have an extra $30,000 lying around that you don’t know what to do with, consider giving it to me so I can make this movie already. I have production teams and a director lined up.

I also started writing a screenplay that I need to have done by March 25th in order to submit to a fellowship for women screenwriters over 40.

Also, not for nothing, I reached out to casting regarding a role I didn’t get that I knew they still hadn’t cast. I had them give me notes, and I did the audition again. I don’t know if I got it and in some ways it doesn’t even really matter. It was a reminder to me that I am not a wilting violet. I had begun to believe a false narrative about myself that I can’t handle rejection and I won’t allow myself to be vulnerable. Which is complete horse shit. Frankly, any actor who continues to audition despite the inevitable rejections, is both completely raw and made of god damned Teflon. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. And if going back in for something I was already rejected for once doesn’t scream vulnerability, then call me…I don’t know, a Samsonite suitcase? Lay off. I’m in pain.

My therapist reminded me today that I’ve also been parenting through all of this, which, as we all know, is its own full-time job.

So, I suppose I have hit the ground running. I’m just doing a lot of it while laying in bed on an ice pack.

That’s all. I just wanted to drop a line so you didn’t think I was dead.

OH, YES. Also this very exciting news!

ALSO! If you like my blog (generally speaking. This one isn’t, like, my BEST) please subscribe and share! Thanks!

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I was hoping to get some writing done today, but I am laid up on the couch with a severely awful pinched nerve and honestly all I want to do is die. I will settle for watching Pandemic on Netflix while trying to drown out the voice in my head that’s telling me I’ll have to quit acting because I’ll never be able to move my head again.

I was supposed to put an audition on tape today, but I can’t even think straight, or for that matter hold my head up.

So, in place of anything profound (ha ha), I’ll review the books I read last year. I will put a link to the book on HalfPriceBooks.com if they have it in stock. If not, I’ll link to something having to do with the book and you can take it from there. If you’re like me, you can’t read a book on an electronic device (Why, in my day, we had things called “books.”). Also, please try to avoid buying the books on Amazon. Please try to avoid buying anything on Amazon. You can read about why here, here, and here. (While you’re at it, don’t shop at Whole Foods, either…).  You can go to your local library. They have books there. For free. You can’t keep them. You have to return them. But you can essentially rent the book for free. It’s like Blockbuster but for books but you don’t have to pay. Blockbuster was a place we used to go to rent movies. Before you could watch anything anytime anywhere.

Okay, so, in rough order here are the books I read in 2019:

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari

One of my favorite books of the year. I am not a fast reader, but I ripped through this one in two weeks (lightspeed for me). Fascinating primer on how we got to where we are today as a species. Highly recommend.

White Houses, by Amy Bloom

Historical fiction makes me slightly itchy because it seems unfair to rewrite an actual person’s life. That said, this was a really good read. If you want to imagine what it might have been like to be a closeted lesbian First Lady in 1932, this is your book.

The Last Black Unicorn, by Tiffany Haddish

Very funny. I LOVE Haddish. She is one of the funniest people alive today. The book reads like she’s sitting there telling you about her life over drinks at an Applebee’s happy hour. There is a very cringey chapter about the time she fucked a handicap guy from work. Not sure why her editor let her leave that one in there.

A Simple Favor, by Darcy Bell

The ONLY thing I can say for this book is kudos to Bell for having such massive success with her debut novel. But it is trash. Skip it.

A Stranger in the House, by Shari Lapena

This book would make a great liner for your catbox or bird cage. Especially the part where the woman lies about domestic violence.

Blanca and Roja, by Anna-Marie McLemore

I wanted to like this book more than I did. It just turns out that I’m not a huge fan of magical realism. I recommend it for Y.A. readers. It has trans and lesbian characters in it, which is terrific.

Parable of the Talents, by Octavia Butler

I really loved the first book in this series, Parable of the Sower. It was one of my favorite books of 2018. I didn’t like this one as much, but I did still like it a lot. The first book is about a woman who is escaping the collapse of her community inside the collapse of the entire country. This one is a few years later once she and her new community have started to rebuild. It’s pretty bleak. I recommend it. But read Sower first.

Fox 8: A Story, by George Saunders

Very sweet and sad. It’s a short story about the perils of human encroachment told from the point of view of a fox who learned to speak English by listening to bedtime stories through a window of a child’s room. You can read it in under a half hour.

God: A Human History, by Reza Aslan

Really great primer on the history of organized religion and why humans have a tendency to create gods in their own image. Quick read.

Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, by Reza Aslan

Fascinating look at what life was like in and around the time and place where Jesus was born, proselytized, and crucified. If you want to know how Christianity was developed through revisionist history, basically through a game of telephone, read this.

The Fifth Season: The Broken Earth #1, by N.K. Jemisin

I am a big fan of post-apocalyptic dystopian fiction. This one was a little more fantasy-based than I’m into. I didn’t LOVE it, but I found myself wanting to keep reading it, and thinking about it when it was over. Part way through I was wondering if I had missed a previous book in the series because there is a lot about the world that Jemisin doesn’t explain. She just wants you to get on board and hold on. If you can do that, it’s worth a read.

Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood

Dystopian fiction. Another one I kind of reluctantly enjoyed. I didn’t get to finish it because I was borrowing it from a friend. But I read enough of it to have considered it “read,” I guess? Basically there are genetically engineered people and animals running around and this one dude has to try to survive. I think I’ll try to finish it this year.

The trifecta of dystopian fiction by white dudes. All written roughly around the same time. All pretty much in response to the TERROR of communism. I think these are worth reading given what’s going on in the world. By the way, apparently in North Korea there are government issued radio installed in every home and business that can’t be turned off… Guys.

The Courage to be Disliked, by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga

Go read this right now. If you EVER find yourself second guessing yourself because of the trolls in your head, read this book. Just go read this book now.

Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition, Anne Frank

No, I had not read this before. What can I say? It’s fucking horrific. I knew how it was going to end and I was still shocked and infuriated. I was actually surprised by how bitchy she was. I was into it.

Everything is Trash, But it’s Okay, by Phoebe Robinson

Terrific. Hilarious. Smart. I laughed out loud like a maniac.

Little Weirds, By Jenny Slate

Absolutely one of my favorite books of the past few years. I love Jenny Slate. And this book is a collection of essays about depression, and love, and flowers, and misogyny. It is unlike anything I have ever read. I kept thinking about the tripped out white guys of the 50s, 60s, and 70s who were lauded for writing weird, tripped out essays that were filled with angry white guy energy. I think we’d all be better off if we had more Jenny Slates and fewer William S. Burroughs’. Her writing is delicate, gentle, weird, poetic, relatable, and beautiful. I plan on going back and rereading it over and over.

I guess this is me not getting writing done?

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If you haven’t read the post before this one, go read it now. Then come back.

The infamous tweet. James Joyce’s The Dead poster. Original water color costume painting signed by Theoni V. Aldredge. A collage of TSG related design and creative elements from the creative team. A photo of me with Hillary, Chelsea, and Bill from my performance at The White House in 1991 with a letter from Hillary. Les Miz and TSG posters.

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I’m Still Here

Kurt and I have a collection of framed pictures and posters waiting to be hung in our place in L.A. because neither of us have the interior decorating gene, and because many of them are related to my career and I have, over the years, come to see them as reminders of what I haven’t accomplished rather than for what they actually are which are reminders of my actual successes.

In July of 2012, sitting poolside at my apartment building in Koreatown-adjacent, I got a call from a staffing agency with a potential job. After the call, I opened Twitter and without thinking too much about it I tweeted:

The Tweet went viralish. At the time, it seemed like it was everywhere. In reality, it got retweeted fewer than 1000 times, but back in 2012, that felt like a lot. And tbf, people did screenshot and share it on other platforms a lot. There was a reddit thread (for what that’s worth) of hundreds of comments about it, mostly having to do with the state of the economy, probably because most dudes on reddit are the kind of dudes who don’t think women can be funny, so they probably thought I was actually making a comment on state of joblessness in the U.S.

For the most part, the tweet attracted some very positive attention for me. I had taken some time off acting, and I think the tweet served to remind people that I was still alive and kicking. My Twitter following doubled overnight. I was approached by a literary manager who said she wanted to rep me for a memoir. A Broadway director told me he would love to work with me. I got to work writing a new show.

The show I wrote, “Fuck Off, I Love You,” which had its premiere at Joe’s Pub on Monday, September 17th, 2012 (Insider’s tip: Don’t schedule a show in NYC on Rosh Hashanah. It turns out a lot of Jews find this holiday more important than watching me sing “Banana Split for my Baby.” Go figure.), included a poster-sized version blowup of the tweet heard round the world (or, more like, “heard round the ten block radius that makes up the theater district in NYC.”).

A little side note here: I had forgotten how quickly I wrote that show. Honestly, writing, picking songs and having them arranged, and rehearsing a show in six weeks is a feat I forgot I was capable of. Kudos, me!

About a month later I found out I was pregnant. Very pregnant. Almost 11 weeks. My director and I decided to do the show again, this time using it as a platform to announce the pregnancy. We did the show on a Monday night in mid-November, 2012, just after Hurricane Sandy had ripped through New York (Insider tip: If a hurricane happens a few days before you’re scheduled to do a one-night only show, cancel it. Turns out people who have no power due to a weather “event” don’t want to watch me sing “Banana Split for my Baby.” Go figure.).

Notice I am blaming disappointing audience numbers on circumstances beyond my control rather than on the possibility that people just didn’t want to come see my show, or that my marketing budget was zero dollars. I am choosing to blame outside circumstances for a reason.

Not long after I did the breast milk tweet, some douchebag on Facebook reposted it along with a comment that I needed to stop complaining, and “shut up,” and package my breast milk, “bitch.” I know. SUPER charming. He probably gets laid a TON. I reposted his post and invited people to tear him a new one. They did, and he sent me a sniveling apology and said he was directing a community theater production of TSG somewhere. I didn’t reply because duh. But cool anecdote, bro. Who cares? Also, good luck directing a show about a little girl with PTSD who has become hardened and learned to shut down as a response to shitty people and death. Seems like you have a good handle on complicated women and their complicated feelings.

Then, on Oscar night a few months later, another Facebook douchebag tagged me in a post in which he said something about how Quvenzhané Wallis should ask me what it’s like to be a footnote in history. He tagged me. He went out of his way to make sure I saw him insult me and a nine-year-old girl together. Classy.

A couple years after that someone very close to me (family) told me I would never achieve my dreams as an actor. To my face. And apropos of nothing. I won’t say who the person because I don’t want the weight of having publicly shamed them hanging over me at every family gathering. Though it will be in my memoir… Sorry about, NAME REDACTED.

I’m ashamed to say that those comments, along with a handful others, blew me back. I am a deep believer in the idea that one bad review cancels out 99 raves. I know it isn’t logical. I know it’s impossible to please everyone. But over the years, I have somehow managed to let the few naysayers drown out the tangible proof of my talent and success. I’m not proud that I have let these people become the trolls in my head, but they got under my skin.

Over the years I managed to convince myself that the reason I won a Tony was because people were amazed that an 11-year-old could walk and talk at the same time. My show posters became reminders of how long it had been since I was on Broadway, rather than what they actually are: Reminders that I was on Broadway. A couple years after “Fuck Off: I Love You”, Kurt had the poster-sized blow up of the tweet framed. And there it sits, collecting dust with the other posters, because I have let it become a symbol of my failure, rather than a mark of success. Instead of feeling pride in the joke itself, as a stand alone thing, I am reminded of the small audience turn out. Instead of pride, I am reminded that I haven’t gotten a book deal yet. My Tony Award seems to whisper, “Yeah, but what have you done lately?”

Even when people congratulate me on doing a great job raising Monty, I find a way to chalk it up to luck of the draw rather than on my intentional hard work.

Tomorrow I am putting those posters up in my hallway. And every time I walk by them I’m going to be reminded of my talent, my work, and my success. The next time someone asks me what it’s like to be a footnote in the history books, I’ll ask him what it’s like to not even have made it into the history books. I have worked. I have succeeded. I continue to work and succeed. And if that doesn’t mean I’ve already achieved my dreams, I don’t know what does.

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