Tuesday, April 9, 2013

"If It's Not One Thing, It's Your Mother"

Amber Dorrian and Dhr. Seven, Wisdom Quarterly; Julia Sweeney, SCPR.org; NPR.org
Thoughtful author, comedy-writer, actor, atheist, and mother Julia Sweeney (amazon.com)
Comedienne Julia Sweeney is in Los Angeles again. She read at Book Soup in West Los Angeles Monday night after a morning of blueberry pastries. She went from Roman Catholicism to atheism -- famously Letting Go of God -- and now she's a mother of an adopted Chinese (and presumably Buddhist) baby girl. Then came a husband, one recommended by a fan. 

The pre-birth plan will win out; we come to this plane to do things, but whether we do them or not, whether we waste away surviving rather than thriving, that is up to us. "Follow your hearth," "follow your bliss," follow something other than this -- thinking. Why? "It will be a long time before the brain figures out in detail what the body already perfectly understands." What better way to travel into the unknown, unwanted, and ultimately unfulfilling than parenthood? It is the ultimate time dump and comes with attachment biologically built in. Sweeney found that out when she was a girl given an embroidered pillow with the unfunny saying, "If it's not one thing, it's your mother." But momma thought it was funny. And when Sweeney adopted she thought her daughter would love it. No daughter loves it, certainly not the Sweeneys. Her latest book tells the story. Here is an excerpt.

(TED) Julia Sweeney's confessional TED Talk "Letting Go of God" (2006)
Julia Sweeney's If It's Not... (goodreads.com)
PROLOGUE: (MSNBC) "I want to be alone. I really need to be alone. I took so long to assemble my lovely family. I did it all a bit backward: first a delightful daughter, then a beloved husband. I went after creating family, like a golden retriever running after a ball -- how much does the dog think about what he’s doing? He doesn’t think. He does. He is a doer. That’s me, too. I did it, I do it. I am doing it. Every morning I get up and hustle. I’m sure this is true for most mothers. It’s true for me, too. This is what I wanted, after all. This was my dream. I’m always on task. I never go up the stairs of our house without looking around for what needs to be taken up. I never buy just one meal’s worth of food at the grocery store. I drive the carpools, I volunteer at the school cafeteria. I wait patiently outside the dance classes. I iron. I clean up the cat vomit. Make dinner. Walk the dog. I work (write) at home and then really work, at home. I quell the rising ire in my roommates. I try to instill harmony, efficiency, and a calm, enabling environment for my fellow family members. I often set the table two hours before dinner. I live by lists. I pick up things in our house and put them where they go. Chiefly, I’m the protector against the chaos that threatens us. I am a good soldier. I love my job. Secretly I hate my job. I love my family. If only they would disappear." More

Julia and Mulan (Lauren Topel/latimes.com)
("Take Two"/SCPR.org) Actress Julia Sweeney made a name for herself in the 1990s as a cast member of Saturday Night Live... In the years since, she's continued to impress audiences with TED talks, appearances on This American Life, and powerful one-woman shows about her loss of faith in God and her brother's battle with cancer. But she's been pretty busy off-stage, too: She adopted a daughter from China, got married to a guy she was set up with by a fan, and left Los Angeles for suburban Illinois. Sweeney has written about these personal experiences and many more in her new book If It's Not One Thing It's Your Mother. More

AUDIO: (NPR.org) Julia Sweeney is a figure of bicoastal sophistication. She's a comic actor who does one-woman shows about love, illness, faith, and family. She's still remembered for creating the androgynous Pat on Saturday Night Live. She hobnobs with famously glamorous and witty people. So how did it come to pass that she wound up in Wilmette, Illinois, driving a minivan and dreaming of solitude? Sweeney has put some of her musings on becoming a Midwestern mother -- and keeping up her life in comedy into a new book, If It's Not One Thing, It's Your Mother. Sweeney tells NPR's Scott Simon that she had become disillusioned with Hollywood... LISTEN

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