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.

Beautiful

When I started this blog, I made some rules about certain things I wouldn’t write about. Number one on the list is the ex. Number two is anything with the kids that is truly maddening and/or heartbreaking.

There still is great value to the rules guiding me. Being a stepmom is a fluid role, ever changing, with lots of improv that may or may not be written into the script. I don’t want to wallow in negativity, nor immerse myself in problems that have no answer, but I reserve the right to break my own rules.

CC and I love each other, and we’re on the same page with respect to the kids about 98% of the time. I’ve sought support from enough stepmom forums and blogs to know that makes our situation rarer than a line at the Ladies’ Room at a Rush concert. I’m not even a little bit surprised at the divorce rate for second marriages with children.

So, what the fuck does any of this have to do with china?

old

I’m not an object-oriented person. As I discussed last week, I’m not known for my mad homemaking skillz.

Three months after CC, the kids, and I all moved in together, we moved to a place that was almost big enough for us, with space to unpack most of our stuff. One day I stumbled upon a pile of boxes from CC’s storage unit in New Hampshire. They were full of the most beautiful, different styles of china. It was like finding treasure.

I hand-washed and dried everything, found places for it to live where I hoped it wouldn’t get broken, and started thinking of occasions to use it. For people who work nights and weekends and have five kids who were under 13 at the time, that’s Christmas. . . but still.

When CC got home, I greeted him with, “I unpacked the china!” He gave me an odd smile, and told me that in all the years of their marriage, his ex-wife never let those boxes come up from the basement.

She never allowed them to be unpacked.

I showed him where I stored everything and he started picking up plates and telling me stories. Every piece had a history: his grandparents’ wedding china from Tiffany. Several pieces that dated back to the 1700’s. The Sunday dinner plates from when he was growing up (his was the train).

train

Eating is family time. Even if you have scattered schedules, eat in front of the TV, or use paper plates, those memories are burned into your brainpan. I remember the green plastic bowl with feet and a face that I used to eat my Spaghetti0s from. When I go to my sister’s house, she serves me on the china we grew up with. I hold the plate and remember:

  • My mom’s fried chicken
  • Learning table manners
  • The time I was so hungry I ate three helpings of everything
  • When my sister’s class took a field trip to the City Market in Indianapolis and she spent her pocket money on a single ear of corn
  • Accidentally taking a huge gulp of wine and spitting it back into the glass and then watching my dad finish it
  • The fight my parents had on Mother’s Day that was the beginning of the end of their marriage.

CC’s ex doesn’t have a spot in my blog because it’s mine. Unless you have done this yourself, you have No. Fucking. Idea. How. Much. Work. I have put in over the last ten years to be able to dig in and find compassion for her. Every heartbreaking, gut-wrenching thing she has done to the kids has, in fact, stemmed from mental illness. Mental illness is super shitty and takes countless different forms. We didn’t say those words for a long time because we didn’t want it to sound like we were badmouthing her. But at some point, that gives a kid a really fucked up perspective on love. Knowing it is mental illness doesn’t make it suck any less. The truth will set you free. . .eventually.

Yet, I return to the china, and I don’t understand. I get that sometimes beauty isn’t practical, and that things are simply things. But I can’t wrap my head around burying a beautiful piece of your spouse’s history in a cardboard box in the basement and never letting it see the light of day. Maybe it was a symptom of the undeveloped mental illness, but I fear many of us make equally one-sided choices far too often.

CC and I are both in production on new shows right now. His company put him up in the city this week and his hotel was right next to my theater, which was almost so perfectly awesome –and then our breaks never lined up. I didn’t see him until my birthday on Friday, when he met me for dinner and brought me a gift:

creamer

It’s the creamer pitcher that matches our own wedding china. I saw the pattern on the cover of a magazine the year we got married, fell in love with it, and looked forward to making our own memories. We only have enough of it to serve our family plus one guest, so we mix with the other pieces in a collage of mismatched patterns. It suits us perfectly.

It’s cool if you don’t give a shit about china. I get that. But if there’s something important to your spouse, you should be the first one to know about it, and do what you can to share it. We can all stand to ask ourselves if there’s anything boxed up and shelved that could use some unpacking, a little dusting off, and a bit of illumination.