December Blog 2019

I’m posting this December blog, late.  I wrote it about a month ago.  There are updates to the things I write about, which will appear in the January 2020 blog, which I’m about to write now.

Oh, and the picture above was taken here in L.A. at Griffith Park, where I often go for a morning walk.

So here’s the December blog post:

I am over travelling. I am so over it.

All those years I fantasized about being free, about travelling without the encumbrance of a child or any family at all. All those longing glances at women travelling alone, clearly for work, on their cell phones, getting a coffee if they felt like it and not having to ask others what they wanted or coordinate eating schedules. I was so hungry for this life, then got so quickly. It’s made my head spin. I’m constantly on the road now, and for a few months, it was heady and thrilling and everything I hoped. I appreciated everything, the aloneness of it all. I loved reading on the plane, I loved the exhilarating feeling of community with strangers, while being solitary. I love the hustle bustle of this life, or I did. Since most of it is for acting, there’s a lot of First Class travel, and drivers at the ready. I drunk it up (am still drinking it up!) with delirious appreciation.

But now. Now I’m sick of it. Now I just want to be home.

Each city I was in: Portland, Chicago, Toronto – when I was free, I explored, walked in neighborhoods, visited museums, sat with maps and figured it out.

Now I just wait in my hotel room so I can go home. Now I just wait in my hotel room for when I get picked up to go to the set, or to go to the airport. I don’t care anymore what city I’m in. I don’t call friends in that city anymore, I just sit in my hotel room and wait, and wait, and wait… to go home.

Right now I’m home. I have only two trips this month, once more to Toronto for another episode of American Gods, and once to Spokane over Christmas for a big family gathering.

I’m so happy to sit in my big chair in the living room and write this. I’m so happy to have a fire in the fireplace. I just want to read and see friends and go to The Groundlings or Largo to see a show.

Speaking of Largo, we went last night to see Middleditch & Schartz do improv. They are probably the best two at this in the world. It was mesemerizing. And, this week I’m doing several shows at Largo – I’m doing Aimee Mann’s Christmas Show at Largo, I may be doing 5 of them, there are two a night Monday through Wednesday. I am such a fan of Aimee’s and am so lucky we’re friends. We’re not friends, but we’re friendly aquaintances. Mutual appreciators. Anyway, you get it. And I’m excited to be part of it. Then, on Friday night , I’m doing Jen Kirkman’s (she’s truly truly one of my favorite comedians) Christmas show at The Improv. Then I have two more workshop shows of I, as Well next weekend, one on Saturday at The Groundlings and one on Sunday at the Westside Comedy Theater in Santa Monica.

Also this week I have two whole days of meetings as I’m a new Board Member of the Center for Inquiry. I’m really looking forward to that.

I, as Well is a very hard show to make right. I can’t tell you how many times I have wanted to stop working on it, and frankly, at this very moment, I wish I could dump it. I might dump it! But I do have these last four shows this month, and I will do them, and then reassess.

I’ve been reading the excellent book, The Best American Essays 2019 and Rebecca Solnit (love, love her) is the editor this year. It’s a fantastic selection of essays, I can’t recommend it enough and it’ll probably be my Christmas gift for friends this year.

Anyway, Solnit wrote something about essays that resonated deeply. It gave me a new way to think about I, as Well. Solnit wrote about the nature of essays, in The Introduction:

“A place where the experiential and the categorical, the firsthand and the researched, converse, question, or just dance in each other’s arms for a while.”

I’m not sure my show is all that right now, but that is what I wish it to be. Last weekend, I had two different people – strangers who came to my workshops – come up to me and say “Why do you need to make this funny? Let go of trying to make it funny. It’s interesting and there are lots of complex ideas and maybe you don’t need to be so worried that it’s a comedy.”

I was struck by those comments. Maybe this show is something different. I feel really nervous when people aren’t laughing. But maybe this material isn’t something to worry all that much about being funny.

So, there you go. That’s where that project stands as of now.

Agonizing over work on I, as Well, I’ve faced some deep personal questions. Why did I need to do another show? Why do I need to tell the world what I think? Is it okay for me not to be “relevant?” Is it all ego? When will what I’ve produced be enough?

My husband just retired. He’s five years older than me. I’m loving having him around. I’m wishing to be like him, I’m jealous of his freedom. I want to wake up and not have an agenda. I want to read with abandon. I just want to think about what’s for lunch. I want to go on a walk and not check my watch. I don’t want to have to do much.

I can’t imagine never taking acting parts, I mean, if I like the part. That I’ll never put a stop to. But the one-person shows? Being a person with so many opinions that have to get out there? Can I stop that? Y’know, right now, I think I can stop that. I really do.

All of this is making me think I, as Well is the last one. But I guess we’ll see.

We were going to do a significant remodel to our house. In the last week, we pared it down 75%. It feels right. Less, less, less.

This has been such a wonderful year. Almost everything has gone much better than I thought it would go. There have been new friends and new discoveries. We sold the Illinois house and I got my mother moved into an Assisted Living situation that she loves. Michael retired and moved here. All big accomplishments and each one took an enormous amount of effort.

People think that when you’re going through toddlerhood, or puberty, you’re going through big changes. But I’ve found that I’m always changing, always morphing. Every age is a significant time with perspectives evolving and views getting refocused and refined. Okay, that is so trite. But I’m not changing it, it’s true!

Oh! I want to say a word about a show I’m on. It’s called Work in Progress and it’s the brainchild of Abby McEnany and Tim Mason, two people I met at Second City when I lived in Chicago. I just returned from the premier party in Chicago which was Friday night. I am so thrilled to be part of this show and it’s all such a glorious accident. Who knew that in my last months in Chicago I would meet a couple of people that I would come to love and respect so deeply and get to work with them on this important and lovely and hilarious show. I really hope people connect with it. The party after the premier was so much fun and everyone was so genuinely proud of Abby and Tim. I am over-the-moon that I get to be part of this show. Something like this will undoubtably never happen again in my lifetime. I am pinching myself.

Until January 2020 people!

2 thoughts on “December Blog 2019”

  1. Hi Julia!

    Please don’t dump it. I mean … it’s up to you to dump it, of course. It’s your story. Your thing. But please don’t. I’d love to see it sometime and, I think, it sounds like a story that needs to be heard, even if it’s not exactly told right. None of the good stories are told exactly right. Forcing them out, jagged edges and all, is what makes them good.

    I’m doing a TEDx talk in a week-ish, and people keep telling me to dial back on the jokes, too. My thing’s about A.I., which you wouldn’t think is funny (untll you’ve watched too much bad Sci Fi), and the point I’m making – that AI isn’t some monster, but rather a reflection of us … so we should problably think about whether we are worth reflecting – tends to get covered up by my stupid jokes.

    I’m a programmer, so maybe it’s just that I suck at comedy. Which is possible. But maybe not. I don’t know. I don’t know much of anything.

    Please don’t dump it. If only because there are many of us out here who want to see it, and many more that need to. Even if there are a few oddly cut shapes and mis-spoken jokes. We’re all human.

    Good luck and happy 2020!

  2. Julia,
    My favorite chapters of If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Your Mother are two serious ones: Bill’s death and your mother-in-law’s abortion.
    Serious chapters, and completely engaging.
    So I second the suggestion from the audience members about letting I, As Well be unfunny.
    Mike Withers

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *