When I was young, I never understood how Dad couldn’t be grateful for what he did have. Today, I have a lot more empathy for him: I’m nearly his age and I fight the same temptation toward bitterness and regret. So I posted that photo of Dad on my corkboard, smiling at something out of sight. It makes me think fondly of him. Even though I didn’t see that side of Dad so often, it was still true about him. It reminds me to look not backward but forward, to the hope that lies just out of sight.
My friend Alicia and I used to meet for yoga a few times a week. We loved the strenuous workout, the relaxation… okay, mostly the strenuous workout. We were actresses in our forties and needed to stay fit. We were competitive, too, with the mindsets of our younger, more limber selves — a competition you can never win in yoga, by the way. It didn’t matter how often the teacher said, “Every body is different; don’t compare yourselves to others,” I’d still end up envying some chick who was doing a hand stand while the rest of us were in child’s pose.
I failed at Lent. The past few years I’ve observed Lent in various ways: going off social media, not judging my husband’s slovenly man cave, and tackling my biggest most besetting sin, the DWR: Driving While Righteous. It’s easy to get outraged on the LA highways; people drive like there’s no god to judge them. I take up the slack, waving a finger at people who are on their phones, or texting, or trying pass me in the emergency lane. But each Lent I’ve sensed God waving his finger at me: let it go.
Four years ago I got hired to teach a class at a local Christian university. Saying “yes” to part-time adjunct professorship felt like the end. “Goodbye, Hollywood. The dream is over.” Maybe the dream had been over for a while. Hollywood ageism probably eliminated me years ago; I just hadn’t accepted it.
You know the Eric Liddel quote from Chariots of Fire: “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.” That’s how I felt performing or writing. How was I supposed to encourage young, aspiring comedians to pursue their dreams, when I knew how it could turn out for them: like it had for me.
My Jewish friends are in the middle of the High Holy Days. It starts on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and ends ten days later on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. During that week they take stock of the previous year and prepare to make an accounting of it. The High Holy Days are also known as the Days of Repentance, or get this: the Days of Awe.
Sometimes I wish there [...]
Seven years ago I decided I needed to get over my ex. It had been five months since we broke up, and he managed to meet someone the following week. So I did something I swore I would never do. I tried internet dating.
Back then, internet dating felt like a realm reserved for the desperate. Mail-order brides, ex-nuns with facial hair, obese IT nerds who live alternate lives online as robo-cut Japanese animé heroes.
But today we do so much over the internet: banking, shopping, heck these days I prefer email to talking on the phone. So, I caved. Why not just try internet dating? [...]
Growing up, I didn’t think my mother liked me. I knew she had to love me, she was my mother. But I wasn’t sure she liked me, or at least she didn’t know how to handle me. Mom was quiet and melancholy; I was brash and angry. Melancholy and anger were the mechanisms we each used to cope with the family’s dysfunction. But we had little in common. Well, except for the dysfunction.
But I did know my mother loved me. She said she worried about me, she wanted me to be happy; she wanted me to know Jesus. And she prayed for me every day. Every morning as I got ready for school, I passed the den and caught a glimpse of her reading her Bible and praying.
Maybe she wasn’t close to me, but I saw with whom she was [...]
There was a lot of press after the suicide of Rick Warren’s son – some supportive, some reprehensibly critical, some just web filler. I’ve been hesitant to add more noise, except that I’ve had a history with depression. Perhaps my story will encourage you that you are not alone.
I cannot pretend to know the depth of pain that Matthew Warren endured. But I have a bit of an idea. When I was 27 years old, I felt like Elijah in 1 Kings 19, despairing under that broom tree. “Enough of this, God! Take my life.” I’d spent seven years trying to overcome my own personal stew of family dysfunction, addictive behavior and the thousand natural shocks that the artistic temperament is heir to. During that time I worked on healing my eating disorder, I saw a therapist, prayed a lot, memorized Bible verses, and attended every Christian healing seminar that came along. Whenever they had a prayer team after church, I went up, cried, fell over, and got back up. It was the nineties: the golden age of self-help.
But the summer of my 28th year I could not get back up [...]
One afternoon I got a notice from the post office that I had three parcels waiting for me. I had been expecting a script, but not a parcel. I drove to the post office to pick them up. They were boxes from my sister. I recognized them: It was my mother’s crystal.
When my mother had a stroke and developed dementia, she moved in with my sister. My sister got the dining room set, my mother’s Desert Rose china, and a chunk of money to pay for my mother’s everyday care. Mom said I could have her crystal [...]
We are in the midst of Lent, when the faithful honor Jesus’ forty-day temptation in the wilderness by abstaining from booze, sex, and Facebook; whereas on the day before, Mardi Gras, the unfaithful go to New Orleans to film “Girls Gone Wild” videos.
“Mardi Gras” is French for “Fat Tuesday.” The Anglicans call it “Shrove Tuesday” and celebrate by eating pancakes. I wondered if “shrove” was Anglican for “fat.” After all, pancakes can make you fat; just look at the church’s founder, King Henry VIII. Man, that guy was shrove. He looked like he spent Shrove Tuesday at IHOP, slept through Lent, Ramadan style, then woke up and ate a few Easter hams. Surely “shrove” meant fat. But when I looked up “shrove” in the dictionary, it said it meant “the past participle of ‘shrive’.” Oh, right; how could I forget? Okay, so then I looked up “shrive,” which means to confess and be absolved of guilt. So there it is: pancakes eaten on Shrove Tuesday have been absolved of calories. Everybody wins [...]
Several years ago my small group went through the book, Experiencing God: Knowing And Doing The Will Of God. The book had a simple premise: as we get to know God, he reveals His will for us by showing us what He’s already busy doing, and invites us to participate in it. I wasn’t thrilled […]