Long Time Gone

It’s been a while.

Long enough for my widgets to stop working and all my social media account links to break. Long enough for pretty much everything about how WordPress works to change. Long enough for even my mother to stop visiting my blog.

Two and a half years, give or take.

Well, shit.

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Mine was sparkling cider.

Before I stopped posting entirely, I slowed down because I was writing other places. Then my day job picked up, which was glorious and time consuming.

 

Somewhere in there (step)parenting got pretty un-fun and I didn’t want to write about it. Not one little bit. I wanted a break.

Gigs took me out of the house and out of town for extended periods of time. When I was home, I didn’t want to write. I wanted to clean.

Wanting to clean is my emotional equivalent of bleeding from the eyes.

I clean and I feel like I’m having an effect on something. For like a minute. Because the thing about having a houseful of kids is that you clean a spot and six people and two dogs come along behind you and lay new shit down in the clean place while you’ve moved on, erroneously believing that you finished back there.

My last gig had a pretty brutal production period, which wasn’t unusual. But for the first time ever, I didn’t bounce back after we opened. I kept waiting, and I never bounced. I looked up one day and realized I was down the rabbit hole again. Way the hell down the rabbit hole.

Well, shit.

For many months, I didn’t think about the blog at all. Then, when I did think about it, I was confused. I felt like I needed to define a new direction and have a plan, and I didn’t know what any of that meant.

 

Ultimately though, I remembered that that’s not why I started in the first place. I just wanted to write. When I started, I felt like I had something to say. I didn’t really care if people read it or not.

I’ve been gone so long, I just wanted to come back.

I’m also going to swear. So there’s that shit to look forward to.

 

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You know you missed me.

 

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In the Neighborhood

I wrote this post back in February when I was in production for Superstar. I didn’t finish writing it back then; finding peace in ambiguity wasn’t high on my skills list in the middle of tech. But it’s been on my mind lately because I keep passing the intersection where this happened.

New York has different vibes in different neighborhoods, and those vibes are time-of-day dependent. I work in midtown, which is packed full of office people during the day and tourists at night. I’m rarely there past 11pm. This week the show is putting me up at a hotel because we have a short turnaround during tech rehearsals. Last night I walked out after midnight into a very different vibe in the neighborhood. One that I can’t quite shake.

I was walking to my hotel and came upon two young guys with skateboards. I watched them move very slowly out into the street; they were looking intently at something in the road. I followed their gaze and saw a man lying in the bike lane, unconscious, next to a taxi, liquid spilling out on the ground away from him.

I asked one of them, “Did he get hit or is he drunk?”

(In case you haven’t been here, you totally talk to strangers in New York. It’s just what you do.)

“I dunno,” the young guy said. He looked really worried. The cabbie was standing over the unconscious man. His cell phone was in his hand, but he didn’t seem to be calling anyone.

“Has he called 911?”

“I doubt it,” the guy said. We were two blocks from a police station and about an avenue over from a hospital.

I moved closer. Other people, take-charge type people, suddenly appeared. A woman picked up the unconscious man’s cell phone from the ground and started looking for a contact that said home. A man asked the cabbie what happened as he pulled his own Blackberry out and dialed 911. The cabbie said the man hailed him and he hit him while he was stopping.

I saw that the liquid spilling out on the ground wasn’t urine as I had assumed, but Snapple. A broken Snapple bottle peeking out of a plastic Duane Reade bag.

An old man came up next to me and said, “Is he a doctor?” referring to the take-charge man on the phone. “I think he’s a doctor,” he said.

It was pretty to think so. Comforting enough for me that I decided to walk away though I didn’t feel good about it. But I wasn’t going to add much to the scene. The take-charge type people were there and I had half a brain cell left and I needed it to find my hotel.

The old man said to me, “New York. Always something happens here. You be careful,” and he smiled at me and we went off different directions.

That Richard Thompson song Did She Jump Or Was She Pushed was running through my head and I was wondering if the unconscious man was going to be okay when another voice interrupted me.

“Hey, you don’t know where the Hudson Hotel is, do you?”

A friendly guy in a suit. The only kind of strangers in New York I don’t usually talk to. Especially when we’re walking the same direction and that’s my fricking hotel that he’s asking directions to.

“Um, yeah, it’s just up here another street and then almost to the next avenue. You go left,” I said, and then I slowed my pace, hoping he’d pass me by.

“The weather said it’s supposed to be sixty-seven degrees tomorrow,” he said, matching my pace.

Crap.

I made some small talk back over my shoulder as I changed tactics and sped ahead. I hoped he’d lose sight of me. I had the extra assurance of knowing that there is no name on the outside of the Hudson Hotel. One of those swanky New York things that had always annoyed me up until this moment. You go in an unmarked entrance and up an escalator to get to the lobby.

CC was working early mornings and should have been sleeping at this time, but I hadn’t talked to him all day and the events of the evening had me raw and edgy. I hit speed dial 2 on my phone and it rang and rang and rang. I got his voice mail. I hung up and resisted the impulse to look over my shoulder to see if the suit was still right behind me. I tried to pick out his footsteps. Tried to judge how close he was. I was all twitchy.

And here’s why I love my husband. He called me back all sleepy even though he had to get up in like three hours and when I said Hey I just saw a guy that had been hit by a cab he stayed on the phone with me til I got to my room. Because he gets it. He knows from experience how messed up your head can get during production. He also knows the neighborhoods, how they change at different hours. How at some point in your city life you will probably walk away from someone on the street who may or may not be dying because help is on the way, and you are not it.

And because I get it- how when you’re the spouse at home while your other is away in production,  you worry- I didn’t mention the suit. I stayed on the phone with CC not talking much, me listening to him try to stay awake, him listening to me trying to get to my room.

Before I hit the elevator I allowed myself a shot across the lobby and saw that the suit wasn’t there. Me, in the clear. There never was anything to see here. All in my overextended imagination.

Imagine that.

In my room, I said goodbye to my husband and took off my work boots. I cracked the window above my bed and let the sounds of the city spill in across the windowsill, down the wall and onto the pillows.

The words of the old man came back to me: New York. Always something happens here. You be careful.

My D-Day.

My actual birthday, the day I turned 40, was a two-show day. My mom had been in town helping take care of the kids so I got to see her on my birthday for the first time since I don’t remember when. Both CC and I were working a lot of overtime so I wasn’t expecting a big to-do from anyone.

I was holding out a hope that at some point in the day, there would be cake. It was really all I wanted.

Right before I left for work I was presented with this cake, made for me by #1:

She also got me a gift certificate to MAC cosmetics which I plan on trading in for something extravagant.

So my day was already pretty great before I even left for work.

At the theater, we were programming the console, making changes, and all of a sudden some friends from my old show (across the street) came in.

Then some more showed up.

With cake.

And then more friends.

With gifts.

And I was in the middle of working but my bosses made me stop and open gifts and have cake while they kept working.

Now, nothing can truly compare to a dark chocolate box cake made by your eldest child topped with your age in bacon. But the cake that my friend Michelle made me is a close second.

She’s made this cake for me before and it’s nothing short of divine. I should also point out that Michelle is the one friend I will never bake for. That would just be embarrassing.

The cake:

Cinnamon cake, with  ancho chile chocolate butter cream frosting. You don’t notice it at first, but gradually you become aware that the piece of cake you’re eating is totally kicking your ass, and you want nothing more than to eat the entire rest of the cake and then roll around naked in the leftover frosting.

Well, maybe that’s just me.

Michelle also strong-armed our friends into chipping in on a gift.

 A really big, outrageously generous gift that I totally don’t deserve but happily accepted anyway.

So big, I was rendered speechless.

I’ll give you a little hint:

No?

How about this:

Still no?

Okay.

The Marlene Deitrich Mont Blanc.

!!!!!

I have really good friends. Who are afraid of Michelle.

So we shared cake and my amazed expression.

I look confused in the picture, but actually I was asking if I could stab somebody with the pen.

As a parting gift, I got a list of instructions from Michelle:

The list of what I was to bring continued:

Advil

Toilet Paper

Metro Card

1 can of tuna

Bus/train pass to get you back to New Jersey

An open mind

I was further informed that my husband was aware and in full support of these plans.

Any time someone is telling me to bring an open mind, that’s an automatic red flag. The whole Advil/can of tuna/toilet paper thing was especially disconcerting. I truly had no idea what I was in for. That’ll be my next post.

Oh, I nearly forgot the other big gift I got. When #1 had dropped me off at the train station that morning she was returning home to pick up my mom to take her to the airport. She got about a mile from home and the transmission on our twelve-year-old minivan went out.

Sweet. Sweat!

Anyway, it all got me thinking about birthday gifts. For #1’s thirteenth birthday, we wrapped up our shovel very elaborately and gave it to her. Then after she unwrapped it we made her put it away, where her real gift was waiting for her: a guitar. This year in December I called the school and told them that #3 had a dentist appointment that I forgot about, and asked them to tell her and get her ready for me to pick up. It was especially mean because she’d just been to the dentist like two weeks prior to this. When I got her out to the car I gave her a hot chocolate and then we went and got mani/pedi’s, followed by the eye doctor to get fitted for contacts, the ONLY thing on her Christmas list.

I have a couple months left to plan for a unique gift with clever presentation for #5’s birthday. Any thoughts?