Because Of Course It Did

I suspect most parents have moments where they stop spinning in circles for a breath and wonder what the hell happened. I’ve been channeling my inner David Byrne (“My God/how did I get here?“) most of this year. While much of the country is getting back to “normal”, the weird and/or hard shit keeps happening here. Here, the land of decidedly not-normal, where we still don’t have indoor seating at restaurants, where I lost two friends in the same week–one to lung cancer and one to suicide, and where God only knows if we will ever be able to go back to work on Broadway.

Robbie, the original A2 on Jersey Boys in La Jolla, 2004.

Friday our minivan died. Two weeks before we need three cars for three very differently scheduled students commuting to schools nowhere near each other. Because of course it did. Thanks, COVID. Also? 2020 is an asshole. If 2020 were poised on the edge of a cliff and started to lose its balance, I’d push it right over. It’s a total dick.

The Zombie Van was a 2007 Honda Odyssey with 230,000 miles on it. It really didn’t owe us anything else. It had already over-delivered. CC took really good care of it, but after the door fell off we accepted it was time for palliative care. We’d make her as comfortable as possible and she’d let us know when it was her time.

She died in the parking lot of the storage unit where we were hauling the last of #2’s stuff, to be taken to her when she moves into her apartment in the Midwest. The shop called with the news:

“Vehicle not starting. Battery failed load test. Alternator not charging. Valve cover gasket leaking oil onto alternator. Transmission dry, fluid leaking out of transmission cooler lines and radiator. Cannot check for codes for engine or transmission due to battery being dead and won’t know if transmission is operating normally. Power steering pump is leaking as well.”

So $3600 to get to the point where we could find out if it also needed a new transmission. My God I haven’t laughed this hard in a long time. I guess she had one more gift left to give.

The punchline (no, that wasn’t it) was that we couldn’t get #2’s bed frame out because the back door wouldn’t open. BECAUSE IT’S ONE HUNDRED PERCENT ELECTRONIC. BECAUSE THAT’S BETTER. CC and #5 went back the next day with patience and ingenuity and successfully removed it. Sadly, the 6-CD changer (remember those?) held on to Operation Mindcrime, Clockwork Angels, and Hardwired to Self-Destruct and will take them to the grave.

A super bright spot is that I have an article in the September issue of Stepmom Magazine. If you’re a stepmom, this magazine is a lifesaver. There are regular contributions from therapists, stepfamily coaches, and smart, helpful stepmoms. I only got in because I told them if they didn’t take my piece, I’d send my house-bound kids their way, one at a time.

Don’t make me send them over.

My piece is about returning to a full house in quarantine when you were damn near an empty-nester. While you do have to subscribe to read it, you can subscribe a month at time and test it out. There’s even a free 30-day trial.

Meanwhile. . . have any of you ever beat my mileage on a drive-it-til-it-dies car?


The Decline of Western Civilization IV- the Quarantine Years

I vacuumed my attic last week.

In case you missed it, I’d like to redirect your attention for a moment to my About page wherein I do mention that there will be swearing.

Now, let me rephrase that: I fucking vacuumed my attic last week.

This wasn’t an “I’m so bored, I’m gonna. . . ” event. A few years ago, a tree fell on our house during the Halloween Snowpocalypse. It narrowly missed a kid (#1) and smashed our pumpkins, but the damage wasn’t too bad. Just the corner of the roof and gutters.

About six months later, the next tree fell on our house. The trees had the crap beat out of them several years in a row because of hurricanes and such, we had a super rainy spring, and BAM!

Tree on the house, again.

It is loud, in case you’re wondering.

This one was also not terribly damaging because it only went through to the attic floor and landed on some boxes of paperwork. Paperwork that, it turns out, never really needed to be saved anyway, and which I have somewhat recently (having found myself with a bit of spare time) shredded the living shit out of.

Three days – yes, days – after the roof was fixed, the third tree came down on the house in nearly the exact same spot. Coincidentally, just as the tree guy was driving past to check out his work.

You’re not fooling anyone, tree.

I really hate trees.

I should also mention that none of these were our trees. They were not on our property.


Oh, and the roof was only like three years old at the time. The trees didn’t even have the decency to take out parts of the house that could have used some upgrades, like perhaps the vomit-inducing kitchen wallpaper or the crawlspace-level laundry room windows, which are fantastically unclean.

One of the things that doesn’t happen when a tree goes through your attic roof is a thorough interior cleaning on the part of the insurance people and contractors. I mean, they get the tree out, but that’s about it as far as cleaning goes. The bits that explode through the inside of the attic as the tree falls – the tree parts and roof parts and attic parts, all that crap? That’s on you. Unsurprisingly, all three trees’ worth of that was still up there.

Until last week.

I’m not entirely sure what trait it is in me that made me so determined to take care of this task on what was, so far, the hottest day of the year. Possibly it is related to the same karma that had three fucking trees fall on my house in a six-month period. But one doesn’t simply don Daisy Dukes and a tank top to engage in a Battle Royal between an industrial ShopVac, roof beam splinters, ripped shingles, and roofing nails.

Naturally, I wore jeans and a Rush t-shirt.

I’ve seen attics on television and in the movies that you just walk up into, through a normal door and up a normal set of stairs, and you get up there and you can stand fully upright through the whole attic and there’s good lighting and air circulation.

Liars, all of them.

We have that folding ladder you pull down from the ceiling, except it doesn’t line up straight and you have to bungee the sections into place so they don’t collapse under you.

The attic interior is a beam construction, cleverly designed so that no two spots are the same height and it’s entirely possible, and in fact likely, that if you manage to find a place where you can squat or kneel in such a way that your back doesn’t seize up, then the beam you are about to bash your head into is somehow out of your line of sight.



Whatever the weather is outside, the AtticIndex makes it nine times as bad inside. If it’s a little chilly out, inside the attic you’re fending off frostbite. If it’s warm out, inside the attic it’s sweltering. If the weather outside is perfect, inside the attic it smells and there are spiders.

I sweat. I can’t help it. There’s no glistening, no glowing. I sweat extensively in humid weather – it doesn’t even have to be warm. But this day? When it was Everglades out? I was Florida Man inside the attic. I don’t think I’ve ever actually sweat through jeans all the way from hip to ankle before. I looked like I’d done a double Bikram class in street clothes by the time I finished. It took longer than that, though.

While flop-vacuuming and head-bashing, I amused myself by thinking how incredibly freaked out the kids would be if they were up in the attic with me. My kids are irrationally afraid of spiders. It’s pretty unfortunate for them, because we have a shitload of spiders at our house. Many of them were in the attic.

Now they’re in the ShopVac.

Here be spiders

I also had the misfortune of vacuuming the attic on the day that CC and the kids finished building the upper level of the patio. It looks freaking amazing. I’m so very impressed by him. But I vacuumed the fucking attic and nobody cares because, apparently, finishing a bluestone project (yes, from scratch) is way more impressive.


But did I mention I vacuumed my attic?

What fresh hell are you getting into these days?

Felt cute, might relocate later.

Disclaimer: This post is partially about hunting. My family eats meat and I don’t enter into any debates about that. If you need to debate, get yourself over to another blog. Speaking of other blogs, here’s one by a lovely lady who doesn’t eat meat and is not an a-hole about it: Go Jules Go.

A while back, CC went on an elk hunting trip in Colorado with his nephew, Russ. It was kind of a big deal and there was a lot of preparation. He had to train for the elevation and the weight of his gear as well as practice with the rifle he would be using.

I was prepared to not hear from him for nearly a week after they left base camp because there was no phone service of any kind on the mountain.

So when, four days in, my phone rang, displaying the area code of the base camp, I just about had kittens and was already figuring out how to tell the kids their dad was killed in a horrible accident before I answered the call.

CC was not dead; he was unexpectedly, efficiently, successful. He got an elk five minutes into the start of the season. After they did their processing and hauling, they camped and fished for a few days and then figured they’d head towards civilization (my guess is that they’d run out of scotch).

Perhaps equally as daunting as the physical training were the logistics of transporting the gear both ways by air, and now, home, the elk.

Or as we came to call him, Jerry.

Jerry fed my family (and a couple others) very well that winter and we are most grateful for his sacrifice.

CC had Jerry’s skull and antlers processed for a European mount. Jerry came back in much bubble wrap and has been hanging out in the garage for a while – sometimes in my Mustang. He was a project on the “When We Get Time” list.

Enter the quarantine, and New Jersey spring. CC’s patio project is moving along splendidly on good weather days. Rainy days, though, he has to find something to do.

I came in from a rainy walk the other day to this:


I laughed out loud. We had always talked about mounting Jerry over the bed. We were both aware of the size of Jerry. We are both aware of the size of our bedroom. However.

Hello, third wheel

I truly can’t stop giggling every time I notice Jerry- which, let’s be honest, is THE ENTIRE TIME I’M IN MY BEDROOM.

He’s a bit much, don’t you think?

I won’t even go into the Feng Shui aspects of sleeping under a skull, because, apparently, I collect skulls, and Jerry fits right in.

I do not collect skulls.

I always feel like/ somebody’s watching me . . .

I participated in a work-related webinar today. Last night in advance of this, I informed the children they would become homeless if they even thought of using our already overtaxed internet bandwidth during this call, and that I would be using the room next to #4’s.

#4: Why don’t you do the call in your room?

Me: I just don’t think it’s very professional to have an elk skull with my underpants on his antlers in the background.

Because no matter what I do, CC always finds a moment to sling a pair of them up there.


Jerry will be relocated, one of these upcoming rainy days. The kids are one hundred percent freaked out by him, so I’m thinking he may look good in one of their bedrooms. In the meantime, just know that right now, when I wake up in the middle of the night, I see dead things.

View from my pillow.

So what quarantine home projects are you going to have to re-do?