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?

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:

Hmmmm.

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.

{sigh}

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?

I Don’t Say. . .

Boy, there was a lot of swearing the last time I was here. I thought about editing it out, but then I thought ah, screw it.

Well, that’s not exactly what I thought. . .

Besides, everything I said then was true (except my erroneous belief that my show at that time would run out the year).

So.

How’s your quarantine?

I’m nonessential. My entire household is unemployed. As a matter of fact, everything I’ve ever done to earn money is currently banned (which sounds a lot more badass if you take it out of context, so please do). Stagehands are well acquainted with the lack of job security in our chosen field, but even so, I always said that all the way at the end of the world they would still need a sound guy. Remember Mars Attacks? Silly me. That was an alien invasion, not a pandemic. Pandemics require only broadcast sound guys.

I’m taking unemployment for the first time in my life. Well, I think I am, anyway. Navigating the New York State Unemployment website is one of the circles of hell (it’s in the middle somewhere, like maybe Four and a Half- between Greed and Anger) and I’m never really sure if what I did took and I haven’t seen the money yet, although it’s possible it’s loaded onto that debit card* that they sent me even though I asked them not to and to just put it in my bank account, please. They do send me a lot of things in the mail, but none of them are money.

I’m not going crazy, not really. I was going crazy before. Before, with the commute and the not enough sleep and the countless doctor’s appointments to figure out why my foot is still screwed up after surgery; with the one day off a week and trying to do all of the life things and failing; being totally drained and not having anything left to give to the people I love. Before, with the not having the energy to workout, or the emotional fortitude to carry on a conversation. That was crazy making. That was rage making.

So I welcome the respite. As an introvert, I’m pretty content (although, there are a large number of people in my home and THEY NEVER GO ANYWHERE!) Before all of this, I would drift away in daydreams and fantasize about being bored. Now I’m neither productive, nor bored. I go back and forth between feeling like I’m living in a bubble, and then being pretty sure that we’re all gonna die and we can’t actually protect ourselves.

I’m cool with it right now.

CC and #5 have been building our patio.

They bust their asses all day, spreading gravel, hauling rocks, sweating.

That’s #5 there on the right. I am not making this up.

My project has been the attic. I’m shredding documents that never needed to be kept in the first place that are 20 years old. I’m currently working on a laundry basket full of random shit that was clearly removed from The Pile en masse in 2006; I’m opening still-sealed mail that’s 14 years old.

In our defense, 2006 was a pretty intense year.

The shredder self-destructed a week ago.

And not to be all sappy and shit, but it’s been a real treat to pretend to be like normal people and have family dinners and take walks and see daylight. The Puggles are so happy to have so many laps home, all the time.

So tell me, how’s your quarantine? What sucks about it? What’s good about it? What’s something that surprises you about it?

Don’t freak out; it’s where we walk the Puggles

Making no promises here about the frequency of posts that may or may not be coming up. I haven’t even decided if I’m going to fix things like the fact that my WordAds appears to be advertising to me to sign back up. But I just wanted to put something out there, and see what comes back.

*Update: The state DID, in fact load it onto that debit card that I didn’t ask for. Unclear yet if it’s real money that I can spend.