Give Yourself A Pass

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.


  1. Sometimes I feel like I’m reading from my own journal… Thank you Susanna (so much) for consistently making me feel like I’m not a freak. It’s just a difficult “dance”…acknowledging current surroundings enough to stay grateful for them…while simultaneously feeling like the marrow is being sucked out of whomever you used to be, want, need, strive for, and feverishly MISS the hell out of it… from this grateful and mundane place. There are days that I am not grateful and I think of faking my own death in a helicopter crash…maybe to Catalina? Is that what I would have to resort to…for a few days alone? Doing whatever I’d like…no accounting to anyone who wants to put their claim upon my time…with this giant tentacle known as loved ones? partners? family? But then I would ultimately die without these little creatures who orbit me and demand all of my time, energy, and resources on an hourly basis… But the key word is “ultimately”…it would take a month…and by then I might be accustomed to washing my hair whenever the hell I felt like it…and maybe not having wipes on my list of things to buy…sorry, it’s just one of those days. I smile thinking of you escaping for a few hours. One of us should 🙂

    Guess my question which has no “form” yet…is- If we’re supposed to “grow up” and live for our kids’ futures/successes/needs/desires and hang up all of our own…discard them like tickets that we never used? …where do WE go? Do we just learn to fake it? Is there this moment of epic “maturity” that I’ve just missed the boat on?? Do we give birth to our own executioners? But we adore them too much to notice?? Life is so incredibly short…why are we supposed to feel guilty for wanting to live it?? I will go get an espresso now (the one thing I won’t give up) and stop pestering you. But again- Thanks! You make me feel like I’m not an ungrateful monster…give input to confused friend if you feel like it 🙂

    • You are still in the early stages when they need you so much. Your littlest one is still very small. In a few short years you will have your life back I promise. I am not giving up on my dreams and neither should you. They are morphing and changing into something less ego-driven than before but today for example, they feel more attainable than ever. Maybe it’s because I went to my friend’s funeral yesterday and have a new perspective. We are still here. Though subsumed in parenting sometimes feels like we are barely alive, I assure you that we are. By writing your rant to me you already got closer to recognizing your own heart. Write on, dream on, only one of us creative souls has to be sane on any given day.

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