Why is it in the middle of the night that everything always seems worse? Particularly at around 3 a.m. When I wake up at 3 or 4 a.m. and I can’t get back to sleep it’s because I am running a long list of catastrophes like a loop in my mind:

Poverty…terrorist attacks…Republicans back in the White House… cancer…homeless…lonely…nervous breakdown…no friends… jobless…fat… broke…addicted to something…lost my sense of humor…(I think I already have)…horrible blind dates for the rest of my life…

You get the picture. There’s an actual prayer line you can call twenty-four hours a day – it’s Silent Unity – and there’s always someone on the phone to talk to. You have to listen to a message for about five minutes before you reach someone, but that is good because you generally fall back to sleep while listening. If you talk to the minister in training (that’s who is on duty) you tell them what you need help with (I asked for my friend O, my daughter and myself) and for the next thirty days someone out there in Kansas City will be praying for you every day.

A friend of mine told me about this twenty-four hour hotline. If you can’t sleep and even if you don’t believe in God or any kind of whatever, it’s still a good resource, a person to talk to in the middle of the night. Here’s the phone number: 800-669-7729.

Sometimes I feel like a blog is similar to one of those annoying Christmas cards in which people talk about what they’ve been doing all year, but never really tell the truth. I.e. “little Ricky just graduated from junior high school with honors and a new girlfriend…” (and they’re both on crack.)

I gave myself the holidays to take a breather from looking for work and from worrying about life and I haven’t written much because I didn’t feel that I had anything to say. I was basically living in a suspended state of fear, treading water. Then today I read Paul Krugman’s column about the economy and if you ever want to make everything feel even worse, then read Paul.

I meditated this morning and tried to feel positive about life. Then I made it to my gym, which is one place that physically helps me lift my spirits. (Once I get going.) And then I read this from Pema Chodron:

“Rejoice in ordinary life”

“We can learn to rejoice in even the smallest blessings our life holds. It is easy to miss our own good fortune; often happiness comes in ways we don’t even notice. It’s like a cartoon I saw of an astonished-looking man saying, ‘What was that?’ The caption below read, ‘Bob experiences a moment of well-being.’ The ordinariness of our good fortune can make it hard to catch.

The key is to be here, fully connected with the moment, paying attention to the details of ordinary life. By taking care of ordinary things – our pots and pans, our clothing, our teeth – we rejoice in them. When we scrub a vegetable or brush our hair, we are expressing appreciation: friendships toward ourselves and toward the living quality that is found in everything. This combination of mindfulness and appreciation connects us fully with reality and brings us joy.”

So many people I know have serious problems, health problems, family problems, financial crises and yet there is a sense that we are not alone. I guess that my wish for this new year is that we find comfort in that awareness and that keep moving forward with optimistic and appreciation for all that we do have.

As I write this, Steve is playing his guitar and Lucy, our older dog, is demanding my attention. So I guess I truly am not alone.

I think we all need to say a prayer for Obama.

Okay, it’s really just fear, but my friend and fellow blogger Sybil told me today that if you add the word “sexy” to a blog post you have more chance of it being read by a greater number of people. And “hot sexy” should really pump up the readership.

Fear…”an unpleasant emotion caused by the nearness of danger or unexpected pain.” Public speaking is very high on the list of things people fear. I can think of many things that are much worse, but actually performing in public has always been one of my fears. So why am I doing this? I don’t know really. There seems to be something inside me that wants to perform. I love getting laughs. Maybe it comes from a sick place, the part of me that always tried to get my mother to laugh. But I also love it. As Sybil said when she performed recently and got the loudest, most unbelievable laugh, it was truly one of the greatest feelings she’s ever had. And I guess it’s why performers, comedians, anyone who risks public humiliation take that chance. For that feeling.

“Acting is making a fool of yourself.” James Gandolfini

“I would hate not to be scared of doing something…not taking a risk.” Alicia Keyes

I found those two quotes recently and I keep remembering them. So I make a fool of myself. Big deal. At least I’m not running for Vice President.

The fear comes and goes. Sometimes I feel perfectly fine, but then I remember that I have actually invited people to come to the show and some of them might actually appear and that scares me. Last time we did the show we were just reading our scripts, this time we have to memorize them. I have often had a nightmare that I stand up in front of an audience and I can’t remember a single word (and I’m naked.)

So anyway, it helps to write about it. I was taking a bath just now and I thought, I’ll write something about the fear and maybe it will dissipate. It has, a little. But probably at five a.m. it will return. It isn’t bad enough that the world is in economic freefall and we have a very close election coming up and if McCain wins I will probably have to go on some kind of drug?

Why? Why me? Why now? Why laughs? Why can’t I be satisfied with a nice walk in the park and a good book? Any time you try something risky, you’re going to be afraid. And the only way to get over the fear is to go through it.

I hate that.

Kind of excited, a little nervous, mostly happy about tonight. In the scheme of things, this is so insignificant really…but my hope is that I can make people laugh, and also tell them a few things they may not have known. I think that the gift of laughter is truly one of the most valuable gifts you can give a person. I hope people laugh! I invited some great laughers. (And I’m paying them too.)

I’m also excited that Zoe is going to be there. She is the greatest blessing in my life and I am thrilled that she can see her old mom get up and try something new. I guess it shows her that you are truly never too old to take a risk and follow a dream.

I’ll write tomorrow about how it went. Right now I’m going to take a walk, listen to some peaceful music, read some Pema Chodron, get a massage later (a treat), and then get to the (little) theater.

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