Notes from the Road
Part Six: Palm Springs
When Monty was a baby I sang to him constantly. I had a set I did every time I put him to sleep. You Are My Sunshine, I Will (The Beatles), Somewhere Over the Rainbow, and a song that Kurt and I (but really mostly just Kurt) made up called Schreetz Times (“Sleep Time”?). Sometimes I would add One for my Baby, or What’ll I Do. There was a period of time where I sang Let it Go from Frozen every night. Kids go nuts for that damn song. Anyway, I don’t know when it happened, but at some point Monty was tired of being Pavolv’s dog and didn’t want to eat every time the bell rang, if you get what I’m saying. He associated my singing with going to sleep and for some psychotic reason, he doesn’t like going to sleep. So, he stopped letting me sing to him.
My last night in Seattle, two nights ago, he had the hiccups. I tried everything to help him get rid of them. I did this weird witchy thing where I rubbed his back and pretended to gather up his hiccups and pull them out of him. It didn’t work. Despite all evidence to the contrary, I am not a witch. I know, I was surprised, too. Finally, around 10:30 I started singing You Are My Sunshine, fully expecting him to stop me immediately. 15 minutes later, after Let It Go, he said, “I can’t sleep because you’re not singing enough.”
You guys. I sang my son to sleep.
Maybe I am a witch.
I’m in Palm Springs for Dinah Shore. It’s my coming out ball. Minus the balls.
I scheduled this vacation in November. I was going to sleep with every hot queerie I could consensually get my hands on. And then I met Ryan.
The summer after I left my husband, in 2005, I reconnected with a guy I had met while I was married. I was living in L.A. and he was in NYC. I planned a trip to NYC to see him for a couple weeks and then started seeing a guy in L.A. who didn’t understand how I could go to NYC and sleep with someone else when I had been sleeping with him. More than that, he was incensed because I had sat on his lap at a party. Apparently in his culture (white bro culture) when a woman sits on your lap she is committing herself to you for eternity. Or until he finds a younger woman to neg into sleeping with him. Not for nothing, but the guy in NYC ended up being an immense bucket of garbage. He told me I had put a hook in him and he was considering relocating to L.A.. Not for me, but that I was there was definitely a draw. He was all about me until another woman who had been flirting with him turned 18. The day after her birthday he told me I was too clingy. No offense white bros, but you guys are kinda the worst.
One of the benefits of being in a relationship with someone who’s married is I can spend time with them on my vacation at Lesbian Prom, and also go play if the mood and opportunity strike. That is to say, this is one of the benefits of Polyamory. People who proclaim to be monogamous and have affairs can be awfully possessive. “Yes, yes, I know I have a wife and you’re my side piece, but you’re my side piece, damnit!” Attractive. Plus, I can be really shy, and if I were here alone I would probably spend most of the time buried in a book trying to not to make eye contact for fear that someone might actually…talk to me. “Did you see the woman with the amazing butt laying by the pool?” “You mean the one who literally read Jeanette Winterson and didn’t talk to anyone during all of Dinah Shore?” So, Ryan will be the chatty one and I’ll be the one sipping a pina colada and trying not to seem like a bulimic at a Vegas buffet. No offense to bulimics. Some of you are truly lovely people. Not my roommate in my first semester at NYU, though. When she wasn’t yacking in our only bathroom for hours, she was stealing my make-up, and talking about how smart she was. Jesus. She was awful. I got back at her by barfing all over the carpet one night when I’d had too much to drink. Oddly enough, she didn’t seem that phased by the barf.
Some day, when I have lots and lots of expendable income, after Monty’s entire school career has been paid for, I’m going to go on a vacation where I stay in a really nice hotel. Like, one with room service. One where the bed isn’t literally a murphy bed. One where there’s not stains… from hopefully pre-eaten food… on the plastic blinds. One where the bathroom sink will probably not rip away from the wall if you put any weight on it. One where there’s not a dirty washcloth left over from the people before you in the shower. One where someone was definitely not tortured and murder and stuffed into a suitcase. You know. A nice place.
And now off to see the lesbians! Maybe I won’t even bring a book…
I was sitting in the waiting room at the gynecologist’s office annoyed at the other two women there who had brought along their (male) partners. Just because they happened to get themselves knocked up, I thought, doesn’t mean I have to be subjected to a random dude while I wait to get my vagina inspected by a complete stranger. You never see women waiting in the prostate doctor’s waiting room, do you? No doubt those dudes were sitting there imagining me getting my vagina probed. If not by themselves, by some hot doctor who takes her glasses off and lets her hair down in slow motion before we have hot lesbian porno sex. . . I mean, sure, the dude’s wife or girlfriend or whatever is carrying a human life, but I’m pretty sure he’s thinking about my vagina.
It was October and technically I was 2 months over due for my yearly exam.
Like any proper date, Dr. Yamaguchi got to know me a little before asking me to strip from the waist down.
“Do you use birth control?” She asked.
“I just went back on The Pill in August,” I said.
“Why did you go off it?”
“I was on it for 14 years. I thought I might want to give my uterus a breather.”
“Do you always use a back up?”
“Well… not always,” I admitted. “But the thing is, Doc, have you ever watched the original Star Trek series?”
“Um, yes?” She looked up from the clipboard.
“You know when they beam down to an alien planet? I’m pretty sure my womb is like one of those sets. Dusty and barren. With poorly painted backdrops and rocks made of Styrofoam. Minus that last part.”
“So, you’ve never been pregnant. To your knowledge.”
“Or to anyone else’s.”
I have been having sex for 17 years with very few dry spells. I don’t say this to toot my own horn. It’s not like I’m some incredible catch. Mostly it’s just that historically my self-esteem has been so incredibly low that I’ve had a tendency to sleep with a guy if he looked in my general direction. (“Look, mama! I’m pretty!”) It wasn’t until my late twenties that I finally realized a man will fuck pretty much anything given the opportunity. My glowing personality and sharp wit had very little to do with the multitude of notches on my bedpost.
Not only have I had a lot of sex, but I’ve had a lot of stupid sex. I had sex with a complete stranger in an alley in France when I was 17, without a condom. I was roofied once when I was 19 and woke up in the morning with a man I had never seen before humping away at me like he’d bought me dinner or something. But more of this anon (I know, you can’t wait.)
The point is I have done some monumentally dangerous things in my sex life. I’m not proud. All of this is to say I had become convinced that I was incapable of getting pregnant. I was absolutely sure the theme from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly played constantly in my empty womb. I was on The Pill to treat my debilitating monthly cramps that made me want to die every 28 days. (I’m fairly sure I’ve already lost my entire male audience at this point. Let’s get naked, ladies!)
Dr. Yamaguchi continued,
“Have you experienced any recent weight gain or loss?”
“As a matter of fact,” I said, “I went on this kick ass diet in April, I can give you the deets, if you’re interested. Not that you need it. Your body is slammin'. I lost 20 pounds. What?! I know. Badass. Then, uh, I gained back five in the last month or so. I’ve been tucking in pretty hard to the pasta and wine lately. But, don’t worry, I’m back on the diet!”
“When was your last period?”
I thought for a few moments.
“Well, technically it was in July… But I had, like, PMS and cramps and stuff in August and September, I just didn’t technically get my period. As in, my Aunt Flow never actually made an appearance. But, you know, I had just gone back on The Pill in August, so I’m pretty sure my body was just readjusting.”
Dr. Yamaguchi blinked at me a few times.
“Any chance you’re pregnant?”
“Any chance Kim Kardashian will win the Nobel Peace Prize? I’m telling you, Doc, my womb is not a friendly place.”
After the exam I was sitting on the floor tying my shoes (because apparently I can’t sit in a chair to tie my shoes like a grown-up…) when there was a soft knock at the door. Dr. Yamaguchi came in, closing the door behind her.
“So,” she said. “You’re pregnant.”
“That’s impossible,” I explained. “I don’t like children.”
“Be that as it may, you’re pregnant.”
The next 20 minutes were the funnest of my life. I had to wait in the exam room for another exam room to open up so I could have an ultrasound so we could DETERMINE HOW FAR ALONG I WAS. I opened the door and found a nurse.
“May I have a glass of water? There’s a strong possibility I might have a panic attack,” I informed her.
“Sure,” she said calmly. She’d seen a lot worse.
I called the baby’s father. We had broken up two months earlier.
Circumstances had us still living together. I had been traveling so much I hadn’t yet had time to move. I was planning on moving after I got back from my next trip to New York.
“Breathe,” he said. “Okay, well, don’t hyperventilate.”
I texted my sister. The week before I texted her asking how often she casually contemplated suicide. She was getting used to me dropping bombshells via text. She called me back.
“Do NOT tweet about this!”
“I’m not stupid,” I snapped back. “Never mind. Scratch that.”
“Are you thinking prenatal vitamins or a trip to Planned Parenthood?” she asked.
My mother had had an illegal abortion when she was a teenager and raised my sister and me to be ardent pro-choicers. This just happened to be a choice I had never thought I’d have to make.
But the only thing I was thinking at this point was that I hoped the test had been wrong. I don’t believe in “The Secret”, but you can bet your ass I was “Secret”ing that shit as hard as I could.
The ultrasound room opened up. I undressed from the waist down again. And out came the TRANSVAGINAL ULTRASOUND WAND. I’m a size queen. I was not impressed.
“Got anything girthier?” I asked.
And then there it was on the screen. A kidney bean with a heartbeat. I was pregnant.
10 and a half weeks pregnant. I survived almost my entire first trimester without any clue that I was pregnant. Which means I had been drinking. Not like a lush, but, like I said, mommy likes her red wine… I flashed back to the answers I had given Dr. Yamaguchi in our pre-exam interview. Any idiot with half a brain would have taken a pregnancy test two months ago. But I’m not just any idiot.
I felt nothing. I looked at the kidney bean and had no reaction to it. I walked out of the office and passed the wall of baby pictures; The Codys, Tanners, Blakes and Haydens and felt nothing except the usual contempt for dumbass baby names. I called my therapist. I felt nothing.
Then I drove passed the Social Security office with the line out the door and around the corner and I felt something: Abject Terror.
Was I going to be standing in that line alone but for a screaming child at my aching teat?
I had decided back when I was married (I’m not even getting into that…) that I didn’t want kids. For the past ten years I told anyone who would listen that I didn’t want kids; that if I got pregnant I would have an abortion. Easy peasy. Thank the good voters of California that I live in a state which affords me that choice (as of this writing, anyway).
But here’s the thing, speaking in hypotheticals is way easier than acting on realities.
I Googled “Single Motherhood” and got completely overwhelmed. I Googled “Surrogate Pregnancy” and found out I wasn’t a candidate. Apparently people who want a surrogate are, like, super picky. A friend suggested adoption. But I knew I wouldn’t be able to live knowing my kid was out there somewhere being raised by strangers. I lost a beloved stuffed animal when I was 17 and I still haven’t gotten over it. Besides, what if they were homophobes? Or Mormons? I went to my local library branch and asked the kindly librarian to help me find books on single mothering. The selection was paltry to be generous. She handed me a book called, How to Raise an Emotionally Healthy Child.
“I need something more along the lines of, ‘How to find cheap day care’,” I said.
“Oh, we don’t have anything like that. We can order something from the main branch. It’ll get here in about two weeks,” she said cheerfully.
“I don’t have that much time.”
“Are you writing a paper?”
I looked down at my baggy jeans and Adidas. I wasn’t wearing any makeup. I probably looked about 16.
“No. I’m…not writing a paper.”
She handed me Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. I didn’t much feel like explaining that I wasn’t worried about how to raise a kid to get straight As and play the cello like Yoyo Ma by the time it’s 4. I walked away with a few completely useless books and a sense of growing panic. I bought a couple books on single motherhood that came highly recommended through Amazon. But these turned out to be books about very successful women who “just haven’t had any luck in love” and have decided to “take matters into their own hands!” and have a kid on their own. These were women with large incomes who purposefully went out and got knocked up. It was much harder to find books about women who were unemployed and just broken up with their partners and unexpectedly 10 and half weeks pregnant. I guess most people who have had to go on public assistance don’t much feel like writing books about it.
The next week was the hardest of my life (and I have watched my mother die, gone through a divorce and spent 10 days in a mental hospital). The kidney bean’s dad, having also not wanted kids, reacted poorly. Correction, the kidney bean’s dad reacted pretty typically for a dude who wasn’t expecting a child. Discussions were had. Fights were fought. Shoes were thrown. Insults were thrown. Families were called. Hotel rooms were stayed at. Scenarios were considered. Planned Parenthood was called.
My parents, in an effort to help asked if I had considered what having a baby would do to my career. As if that wasn’t one of the first three things that had run through my panic-stricken mind. Of course I had considered it. I had just lost nearly 20 pounds so I wouldn’t be “TV chubby”. I was considering growing my hair back out so I wouldn’t be “TV lesbian”. I had just booked my first TV gig since I’d gotten back into acting. Things were starting to roll. If I had this baby my last trimester was going to coincide perfectly with pilot season (That’s in the winter/spring, for my readers who don’t live, breathe and eat TV industry facts. And bless you for that.). All momentum would be lost. I’d be starting back next episodic season (fall) pretty much exactly where I was this year. Except I’d have a 4 month old…
“We think we liked her for the part, but we couldn’t be sure because her baby screamed through the audition.”
Then I started thinking about baby shoes and baby giggles. I pictured a baby grasping onto my fingers and testing out its legs on my lap. I pictured the first day of Kindergarten. I imagined teaching my daughter to add, “And I’m smart!” whenever people told her how pretty she was. I pictured sticky fingers and wet diapers and sleepless nights and immense love and gratitude.
The more I thought about it, somehow missing another pilot season didn’t really seem like much of a loss considering the reason. Besides, if Tina Fey and Amy Poehler could do it… Of course Tina Fey and Amy Poehler were both married and financially secure when they had their kids. So, scratch that. If Bristol Palin can have a kid…
And so, it was decided.
A week and a half later, I sat in the waiting room at the OB/GYN’s office with the kidney bean’s father securely at my side. A young woman glanced over at him with a look of contempt. But it’s okay, I’m pretty sure he wasn’t imagining her having lesbian porno sex with the doctor. Then again, I didn’t think to ask.
Notes from the Road
Part Five: Boston
It’s snowing again.
It’s snowing. Again.
It’s. Snowing. Again.
I think I may be living in an episode of The Twilight Zone. Like, the punishment I get for booking a great job is that I have to do it for the rest of time and the rest of time will be snowing.
When I was pregnant, a woman I didn’t know except on social media (we’ll call her Jess, because that’s her name) approached me with the idea to have a “Mommy Blog.” She thought that my voice and perspective would be good to add to the infinitely increasing din of women yelling into the void about their experiences raising Cody and Conner and Braden and, I don’t know, Ralph. Or whatever. There was potential to get paid in advertising dollars and free crap that the baby industry would throw my way so that I would blog about how great the newest baby monitor is that not only tells you if your kid is still breathing, but also tells you what their aptitude for math will be and what colleges to start applying them to. At the time I was pregnant, procrastinating on writing a show I had been commissioned to write, and worrying that I would never work again, so I thought the blog thing was a great idea.
Jess very generously set up my website (I paid her a little), and I think maybe we had an agreement that she would get some portion of my advertising revenue. We launched the website, I put out a couple press releases, wrote a pretty stellar piece about finding out I was single and 10 ½ weeks pregnant, and then basically blogged once a month if the mood struck. Jess explained that if I wanted to get anywhere with my Mommy Blog, I was going to have to increase my output to at least two entries a week.
I have this thing where I don’t really want to share writing with the world unless it’s thoughtful and has, like, a point? I know that’s not necessarily obvious by looking at some of my output, but I try. I looked at other Mommy Blogs and I wasn’t really sure I had anything to add to that conversation. I’m not interested in being another opinion in the “which smart stroller is best for your Mommy and Me Walk-Off-The-Baby-Weight classes” debate, or in barking about whose fault it is that a baby fell into a Gorilla habitat (It’s the zoo’s fault because animals shouldn’t live in confinement.), or being another voice in the outcry for sensible gun-control, LGBTQI2 rights, or against racism, etc. (there are far better and more informed people already doing that.).
One of the annoying things about success is that you’re supposed to exude an air of success while you’re trying to become successful. We love hearing about people’s struggles only after they have come out the other side of it. It’s rare that we take a journey with someone in real time through the shit and end up on the red carpet with them. And the truth is, despite a hormone high for the first five months of Monty’s life, I was going through the shit. I was a full-time mother which was something I never wanted to be. Monty, it turns out, was really easy, but no baby is easy while you’re going through it. And I was immeasurably lucky that I had a co-parent who understood and respected my biological need for sleep. My brain short-circuits if I don’t get enough sleep (“enough” is a relative term…). And about five months in to being a new parent, I had a massive hormonal crash and needed to get back on the anti-depressant I had gone off of during pregnancy and nursing so Monty wouldn’t grow fins or a second head or something. I remember sitting in the glider (The Super Deluxe Great Gilder tm from Gliders R Us! Only $8000 if you mention this blog!) one evening, waiting for Kurt to get home, trying to get Monty to go to sleep, singing “One for my Baby”, and crying because I was sure that no one was ever going to cast me again because all of Broadway thought that I had a baby just to cover up the fact that I was an untalented has-been (this is your brain on baby). But I couldn’t share that in a blog. Firstly, I couldn’t muster the mental acuity or will to write a blog at that point, and secondly, we are all supposed to have the next five years of our lives completely mapped out with one job after the other, right? And we're DEFINITELY not allowed to admit publicly that we feel like a fraud.
And we all know that none of us has the next five years of our lives mapped out with employment (except maybe for Audra MacDonald because she is a literal queen.), but we can’t admit that. And we all know that we all feel like frauds at least some of the time (even, I bet, Audra MacDonald, who, despite being a literal queen and a goddess, is also a human being), but we can't admit that. Yes, secretly, when we run into each other at Rite Aid on 8th avenue we say things like, “Trying to figure out how to pay the rent!”, but publicly we’re supposed to act like the walking embodiment of talent and unavailability.
And then there’s this thing where I don’t want to be like, “Oh, my god, you guys, my life is AWESOME! I’m working and creating, and having all the sex, and I never go to the gym and my body is slamming, and Monty is the best kid that ever existed, and my skin is clear!” when those things are happening (which, believe it or not, they do happen to me…), because, gross.
And, as we all know, I suffer from depression and anxiety, which is another thing we’re not supposed to share while we’re going through it (nor, really can we, because... depression). I have plenty of times where I’m not going through it and life looks something like that last paragraph (to varying degrees of awesomeness), but I tend to be more of an Eeyore than a Tigger (to use a metaphor from a book I never liked. I know, I know, I’m the only one on the planet that doesn’t like Winnie the Pooh.), and there’s only so much belly-aching one can share before their audience is like, “Uh, you suuuuuuuuuuck.”
So, for those of you keeping score, I’m not sure how to generate two blogs a week between the not wanting to lie about how successful or happy I am, not wanting to brag when I am successful and happy, not giving a shit about which brand of baby bottle warmer you should buy, and not wanting to weigh in on the latest garbage mess our country is in. And it's not that I want to make money from my blog, necessarily, but I would like to publish more often (and I'd like to get a book deal...) Also, to be fair, I spend time writing other things that aren’t for immediate public consumption. Maybe there’s a way to do that? Ideas and suggestions are welcome.
Meanwhile, Jess has gone on to create a successful company and doesn’t need my Mommy Blog revenue. Thank “god”. ‘Cause there ain’t none.
Hey, what do you know? It stopped snowing.
Notes from the Road
Part Five: Boston
There’s approximately 8000 inches of snow on the ground and it’s still snowing. The entire city is closed. Yesterday while grocery shopping I somehow managed to talk myself out of buying pasta? I think I ate one vegetable the entire week I was in Schenectady, so it’s probably just as well I don’t have an entire box of pasta to eat on my own. I did buy Oreos and ice cream, though. So, I’ll be okay. Also, I bought two bottles of wine and drank…more than I should have last night. I could really use some pasta.
I felt better after writing last night. Go figure. It’s one of those things that I know to be true but very easily forget.
During our video hang out last night Monty gave me and Kurt a concert. I have to say, it started off pretty bad, and I almost asked for my money back. He spent the whole first part of the concert standing on his piano announcing a song and then he just walked off. Like, who the hell do you think you are, man? Have a nervous breakdown on your own time. Your fans are expecting a show. But then he came back out on his scooter, introduced his scooter (“Scooty”), and played a cover of “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go,” which, while it sounded absolutely nothing like the original, was really something else. His version is just sound effects from his keyboard. He then played two original tunes. The first was called “Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day,” and the second was called “Seaside, Oregon Vacation,” and went like this: “Best vacation/Seaside, Oregon/With the best Mama and Papa.” Just wait til I take him to Disneyland. He is going to lose his god damn mind.
One of my castmates suggested I rethink my living situation with Monty and Kurt because I’m missing Monty’s childhood and it only happens once. It was a really helpful comment. I didn’t already feel tremendous guilt for “choosing my career” over fulltime parenting. I wasn’t already mentally castigating myself daily for not being there for my child. I don’t already want to jump off a roof every time Monty is too mad to look at me during our video chats.
Oddly, this arrangement of Kurt and Monty living in Seattle for now turned out to be sort of perfect. Kurt’s father is dying, so it’s worked out nicely that Kurt has been able to be there with his dad. I think it’s important for both Kurt and his father that they’re getting this time together. Not to mention the logistical help Kurt is able to offer that would be impossible from across the country.
Most of the rest of the company is staying somewhere else in Boston. I’m all the way the hell out in Braintree because I’m cheap and didn’t want to spring the extra money for the closer hotel. The Thomas Kinkade puzzle is really coming along.
Notes from the Road
Part Five: Boston
This past week was rough, kids.
Last Monday a member of my community, Ruthie Ann Miles and her friend, Lauren Lew suffered an unspeakable tragedy. I can’t go over the details because it’s basically all I’ve been thinking about, and I’m on over load. You can look it up. Trigger warning: babies died.
My friend, Donna sent me a link to a news piece about it the night it happened, and I spent the rest of the night weeping. It’s been a week and it dominates my thoughts. I don’t know how anyone comes back from something like that. Ruthie is seven months pregnant and is now faced with the impossible task of being present and available for her newborn while mourning the loss of her daughter. How do you do that?
The intersection in which the accident happened is in the neighborhood I grew up in. My parents still live there. I have crossed that intersection thousands of times in my life. I have crossed that intersection with Monty. I’ve used the Chase bank on that corner dozens of times. Monty and I have bought toys at the discount place on that corner. I had my 7th birthday party at the McDonalds on that street.
And anyway, that’s beside the point. It can happen anywhere, any time.
That is the existential dilemma of being alive, isn’t it? Living means risking death.
One of the reasons I never wanted to have a kid as because I was afraid of death.
I have been consumed by this and am trying to find a way to continue without being disfigured.
I had a two-week layoff after Minneapolis, which I spent in Seattle. Thank god for the break because I was getting loopy toward the end of Minneapolis.
Side bar: Minneapolins are there for theater. They packed that theater to the brim and laughed like they were watching a Norman Lear show. I was fully on board for it. After Chicago where audiences were…chilly, it was nice to have a solid back and forth.
Our first city back was Schenectady. If you ever have opportunity to visit Schenectady… make other plans. Sorry about it. Maybe Schenectady is a lovely town, but honestly guys? Worst week of the year.
We arrived in Boston this afternoon and were informed shortly thereafter that our show tomorrow has been canceled due to weather. So, I’m getting drunk, doing a Thomas Kinkaid puzzle and some laundry. Really just trying to keep it together.
If you want to help Ruthie Ann and/or Lauren you can do so here: