Put on a Happy Face

I’m sure you’re sick of me talking about the show. But Backstage West reviewed us this week. That’s the review I was worried about, since she was there on that night with few people in the audience, where people afterwards were asking me to discuss where I came up with the idea for the show and how I feel about mocking a woman who says she was sexually abused by her father. It wasn’t the most reassuring evening, so I figured the review was going to be half-hearted. I’m relieved to see her only real criticism is that the show’s running a bit long. I feel like if someone spends fifteen bucks, they’d better get more than an hour’s worth of show. Maybe that’s just me. Maybe everybody else would like to just get in there and get out. Be over with it.

Last night when I went to see Love Liza, I certainly felt that way. I knew that the movie was only an hour and a half, but I felt every aching, bleak, dreary minute of it. Yikes, that was depressing. It made me realize something, though. I just don’t like junkie movies. Any film that’s about the life of an addict, I have a hard time finding empathy. It’s probably what keeps me from truly enjoying Trainspotting. It’s certainly what I found boring about Narc (although seeing how much Jason Patric now looks like Glark was quite entertaining). I just can’t get into it. And also, I love Phillip Seymour Hoffman as much as the next actor, but man, I get it. It’s that same heavy-lidded, slack-jawed, drool-lipped stare, just sometimes because he’s retarded and other times because he’s huffing gas. I get it. You aren’t afraid to look like a creepy asshole. Congrats. But seriously, just go see About Schmidt for the safer, happier version. You’ll still get your Kathy Bates fix, too.

And at the risk of making the understatement of the year, The Hours is a very, very good movie. That’s where Julianne Moore should win her Oscar. I understand Far From Heaven is a bigger role, but what she does in The Hours is just brilliant. And yes, watching the movie is a bit of a challenge, as the same thirty seconds of Phillip Glass music pulses over and over in your ear for two hours, but it does keep the story going.

I got the dreaded phone call last night. One of my friends from high school passed away yesterday. I hadn’t spoken to her since my sophomore year in college, but I had kept up with her through her father. He and I had an email friendship when I was first starting out in Austin. He was so proud of all his theater kids, and was always impressed with our accomplishments. Twenty-five is entirely too young to lose a life, to lose a child, and my thoughts are with them this week.

Then Nell Carter has passed away, which is very sad indeed. I had to call and break the news to some of my friends, who took the news as badly as one would imagine.

It’s been a week full of bad news, actually. Last Friday while some friends were discussing whether or not Richard Crenna was still alive… he was actually dying at that moment. My mom called me at the top of the week to give the run-down of friends and family suddenly stricken with various forms of cancer — she found out in one day four different people.

What is going on? Why is everyone so sick and sad suddenly? Everyone’s got this monster cold that’s going around and everyone else is suddenly going through horrible family strife. Every time the phone rings lately it’s been because of bad news.

So what kind of uplifting and/or superficial thing can I discuss instead? There must be some kind of story that I can tell that will take me away from the noisy construction just next to my head, that will block The Whistler’s evil song from shaking my nerves to the core. What has been happening that doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that I never seem to leave the house anymore except to do a show or see a free movie? I’m swimming in work these days, and I’m afraid it’s making me terribly boring. And then, when I try to do something else? Bad news hits me in the face.

Okay… good thoughts… good news. There’s a nice, big article on Tara in this month’s Bitch Magazine. I do have a subscription to the periodical, even though they once rejected an article I wrote, telling me I wasn’t feminist enough. Me! Not feminist enough! Outrageous! It was about a year and a half ago, according to my Justin Timberlake calendar…

Ooookay. Let’s try this from a different angle.

Top Ten Most Superficial/Fluffy/Funny Things Pamie’s Been Thinking About/Obsessing Over Lately In Order To Not Let All of this Sadness Truly Get To Her

1. My bangs. So, about three months ago or something, I cut bangs. I totally freaked out about it for a full month before, holding part of my hair over my forehead and then asking my boyfriend in a shriek, “Do you like this? Does this look good? What if I part it over here?” He then one morning handed me some scissors. I called up Anna Beth and threatened that I was going to slice off some hair. AB, who had been bullying me to get some bangs for months (even packing scissors with her on her trip to Los Angeles), told me exactly how to do it. Then: perfection. Everyone loves the bangs. After about three weeks I was starting to like them, too. Now I’m used to them, but for some reason I have to trim them every six days or so. I’ve never been the kind of girl to obsess about her hair. The make-up lady who fixed my face before my recent headshots said, “It’s because you’re twenty-seven. From now on you’ll always be trying to look young again.”

Ow, Make-Up Lady. Watch it. Then she crabbed at me for not doing my roots before I had the pictures taken. Okay, well, I just lightened my hair on a whim after cutting the bangs, because apparently you can’t just do one thing to your hair without wanting to do nine things to your hair, so I bought a box of stuff, which made Anna Beth almost cry, and it turned out fine, but now I’m starting to get roots, but everyone I ask (obsessively) tells me they can hardly tell and not to worry about it. Except Make-Up Lady, who pretty much called me a skanky ho. And then she put too much make-up on me and they had to edit some of it out in my headshots, as I had a clump of make-up near my nose.

2. Obviously, LA is starting to make me be a little aware of how I look. It’s only natural, I guess, since I’m surrounded by the world’s most beautiful people. But a real actor-y thing happened to me this week. I saw the guy who got the part for the commercial I auditioned for. And as I’m watching this guy say the lines I once said to a camera in an almost-empty room, I realize there was no way I was going to get the part over this guy. He and I have almost nothing in common, other than the fact that we were both wearing clothes. But this is what actors do — they watch television and see other people saying the words they tried to say, getting paid to do the things they tried to do. I felt like a real actor, squinting at the television and going, “Well, obviously it wasn’t me. They wanted a guy. A guy ten years older than I am who looks good in flannel.” I haven’t looked good in flannel since Jeremy spoke in class today.

3.email. Now that I’ve got DSL again, I can’t stop checking my email. I don’t know why I thought I got more email back when I had DSL, but I’m still just getting mostly spam. Except now it doesn’t take fifteen minutes to download and then erase the spam. I’m still having FTP problems, but the webhosting company is trying to figure out why, since I found out I can FTP to other servers without a problem.

4.My house is a mess. I keep cleaning, but it keeps getting messy, and no matter what I do I feel like a big slob. People come over to visit, and my dirty clothes are in the bathroom. The dishes are on the counter. Books are piled everywhere. Scripts are all over the floor. We look like crazy writer people. And yes, we are, but there’s no need to flaunt it. It’s shameful.

5. Money. If you see me not smiling, looking far over your shoulder, chances are I’m worried about money, trying to figure out how I’m going to pay rent next month. It happens just about every forty-seven minutes, like clockwork.

6. SNL. I can’t believe how un-funny this show has become. It saddens me. It angers me. It makes me want to do something to fix it. I wish I could do something, that they’d allow me to help or make suggestions or something. It doesn’t have to be so lousy. Start with Horatio. Kick that shit to the curb and then we’ll talk. But if I have to watch another joke that ends with a homophobic, racist, pot-head punchline, I’m gonna vomit on my faggy Mexican bong.

7. Mad Mad and Micah and Jackson. You want something for the “Man, that bitch is crazy” file? I think about other people’s kids. I don’t have any kids to fret over, so I think about kids that I almost never see. I worry about them. I wonder what they think about things. I bought Madeleine a subscription to this girl magazine for Christmas, and they just sent me a letter to tell me why I’m a good, responsible parent for giving Mad such enriching, wholesome, girl-power, self-esteem-enriching material. But what if it makes her boy-crazy before she should be? What if it makes her worry about her clothes or her nails? And Jackson and Micah are so young. They’re so little. Everything’s in front of them.

It’s just damn crazy, is what it is, that I sit in the tub and get freaked out that other people have kids. My friends are getting married, buying houses, having kids. And then some of them are having heart attacks or throwing themselves in front of 18-wheelers, or just disappearing. We don’t have everything in front of us, like we used to. Now we’re just living life. I think my ten-year reunion is this summer. What? When? How? Ten years since high school. That’s not right. That’s not possible.

8. Life. Ever since Dad died, I am even more worried about the fragility of life, how tenuous it all is. Yes, this isn’t uplifting or superficial, but I worry about my family and my friends and the most morbid thoughts rush through my head when I say goodbye to people, or when I leave to run an errand. I can’t wait for this phase to end, if it’s just a phase, but I imagine it’s going to happen every time I lose someone close to me.

9. I’m a fraud and everyone’s going to know it soon and I’ll never get paid to write anything ever again. You know, the same old, same old. Everybody worries about it, and I’m sure it’ll never go away, but the closer I get to this book coming out, the more I worry that everyone’s going to think I’m a shitty, shitty writer.

10. Brittany Murphy. I’m seriously worried about her. Kind of in all the things I’m obsessed with above. I worry about her quality of life, and if everyone knows that she’s feeling shitty, and if she thinks she’s not loved enough. I worry that she’ll die soon, and that she’s running out of money and that’s why she’s such a mess. I worry about how she looks, and wonder who’s making her look that horrible, and why she can’t do something about it. I worry about her family, and how they must feel seeing her in magazines, on SNL looking like the Cryptkeeper, and… somehow my DSL and email woes tie in somehow, too. I bet. Probably. Yeah.

So, that’s my superficial/uplifting list. I don’t think it helped, but at least it’s all the thoughts in my head poured out there. Hey, remember when I used to be funny? When I came here and told good stories that you’d forward to your friends? Maybe in a couple of weeks I’ll feel like doing that again. Or, maybe not. Maybe the magic’s over. Maybe this is all I am.

Yikes. I’m as depressing as Love Liza.

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