Sometimes my child who is in Grade Three gets a thing called a “Homework Pass.” It is a post-it note with his name on it, and if he places it on a page of his homework he magically doesn’t have to do it. Like at all. Ever. That knowledge simply slips through the cracks of his education, never to be recalled, particularly in the middle of the SAT’s he’ll take a decade from now, where it proves the random fact that spares him from homelessness, destitution and no medical insurance. Not that I’m in any way projecting into the future… And not that I would refuse the offer of a “Parenting Pass.”
“What kind of a Spaghetti Western of a school are you running here?” I ask the teacher, only half-joking. “This is not how life works.”
Here’s an example: after roughly twenty years of plying my craft in both the acting and writing “professions” I am being squarely beaten in every relevant statistic by a cat called Maru that can take a running slide into a cardboard box. All those Stanislavski exercises to master cat behavior, only to be defeated by one. Sure Maru, and Grumpy Cat, and various other Viral Felines give people (including myself) endless amounts of joy, but the fact is that they are more likely to get their books published than I am. I feel that this is in some way not right. I’m not sure why exactly, but I think it has something to do with the rise of the Internet, the death of print publishing and something called a “Q Factor.”
And even though my ego has been crushed like colorful shaved ice from decades of “No’s” and “I don’t think so’s” and “We’re going to go in another direction’s,” for G-d’s sake Maru’s thumbs have no way of gripping a pen. I mean sure the little furball is adorable, and its pawpads can operate an iPad, but I’m going to go out on a wild limb here and say that Maru will not be revealing anything earth shattering about the human condition in the next great American (or Japanese) novel. Not to say that I will, but at least maybe a salient point and a couple of jokes worth sharing with the world almost as much as “Harlem Shake” or “Gagnam Style” or whatever other meaningless meme has launched and died away since I started writing this blog.
I am sitting here in Hollywood writing this in my favorite café. Sadly I just got so distracted by a skinny Japanese actress, that I bit into the toothpick holding together my vegan, macrobiotic burger, instead of a French fry (I’m lucky I didn’t break a tooth.) All around me people discuss Sundance, and wide shots, and pull out laptops that can be easily spotted to contain documents formatted in “Final Draft” (the screenwriting program.) And even though it’s all kind of noxious, I know that I belong. I am more likely to find my people here than I am at a Malibu PTA meeting. And yet I can never again fully sink into the self-absorption necessary to let Hollywood consume me the way it once did. I belong between these two worlds, somewhere in West Los Angeles perhaps, where I walk behind a shopping cart, but not with groceries.
I gave myself a “Parenting Pass” today, drove an hour and a half to Hollywood to sit here and feel at home amongst the other narcissistic, bitter, above-average-looking assholes. For today I am forgetting that my life looks nothing like I thought it would. That I still have dreams so big that they take my breath away, mostly by how unattainable they seem with each passing year. I am sitting here pretending I never had children, don’t have to wake up with them tomorrow and start the nagging all over again, don’t have to repeat the same things over and over, or pretend to like it. Or even make believe that the reason I haven’t “made it” is anything I can fully blame on them. I have tried acceptance, and for today have decided to go with denial.
Maybe sometimes giving yourself a Pass is how life should work after all. I’m lucky to be alive, have healthy kids and a place to live. Today I am giving myself time and space to look into my mind and heart, and try to figure out why it never feels like enough.