I spent an hour on an blog entry on Wednesday night and it disappeared to god knows where. It was a good piece and I was so frustrated I punished my blog by not returning to it til now. That'll show it.
I was very out of sorts in Brooklyn. Last year at just about this time I had an epic fight with my parents that was life and relationship-changing. I suppose I didn't want to be in the house on the anniversary of "The Fight." There are enough ghosts in that house. I don't need to hang around with the one where my parents tell me I'm a failure. We headed to the Upstate house a day early, which will be our primary base until one or the other of us obtains gainful employment, and since I'm an actor, that burden basically rests on Kurt's shoulders. Even though the Upstate house was were I got married to a man I didn't love, twelve years ago (Twelve years exactly, actually. We got married on August 30th.) this house holds fewer memories. I can even look directly at the spot on which I said, "I do" and not feel a thing. Plus Kurt and Monty and I are alone up here (most of the time), so it's significantly quieter than Brooklyn.
I feel compelled here to clarify my feelings toward my parents' Brooklyn house and, for that matter, toward my parents. I dislike neither. In fact, I love both my parents and the house. It just sometimes feels like... a lot. It's a small house and they have two dogs including a Greyhound, and when it's me and Kurt and Monty and my parents and my sister and the dogs it's... a lot. One of the results of "The Fight" is that I've become more introspective, more guarded, and slightly less trustful. It's unfortunate, but true. I am aware that this is going to pain my father to read, but there it is. I don't know if I'll ever truly recover from it. And, in a strange way, I'm okay with that. Also, I should say, for the record, that when we are with my family, caring for Monty is significantly easier as there are three extra adults to make sure his head doesn't fall off. It allows for time to write. Or nap.
So, to sum up, I love my parents and am grateful for their warmth, love, generosity, and hospitality. I love my childhood home. But on the heels of the most stressful year of my life and moving across the country in a car with a toddler, I needed some peace.
The Upstate house is pretty far from they city (about 2 1/2 hours), which makes it not practical for commuting. But it is so peaceful and idyllic. Yesterday my step-mother took Kurt on a walk around the property. He came back and said, "When I was standing in that meadow I felt like I was in a painting."
"Excuse me. Meadow?" I said.
"Yeah, the meadow on the other side of the trees," he said.
"There's a meadow?"
There's a meadow. I had never walked the property in the 14 years that my parents have owned this house. I assumed the property ended at the tree line at the back of the backyard. So, Kurt took Monty and I up to the meadow and beyond. There's a fucking meadow, guys. A few of them. And a creek. With water. Do you understand?
I was honestly trying to figure out how we could make farming work. Suddenly I was thinking about bringing professionals in to clear some of the forest to make a path for fucking cows and sheep and goats. And I was telling Kurt that we would have to get one of those movable chicken coops. And I was sure I was going to become a dairy farmer and make artisan butter that I'd sell at the Union Square Farmer's Market. And occasionally someone would say, "You look familiar." And I'd say, "I'm not Lena Dunham!" And we would laugh and then I'd tell them about the lavender butter and how good it is on blueberry scones.
And here's the thing: My parents are selling this place. It's too far from the city, and all the neighbors are virulent Right-Wingers (The kind that hate gays. And women.), and they don't come up here often enough to justify having to pay the property taxes which have increased since all the small dairy farms are dying off because they don't get the subsidies that giant, mega, factory farms get. Some prospective buyers came to look at it today, but when the dude stepped out his Chrysler, wearing purple leather loafers with no socks, my fears of having the house bought out from under us vanished. For today, anyway.
When the apocalypse comes and water becomes a serious issue, they're going to regret having sold this place. Mark my words. Well, they'll probably be long gone by then. But Monty will be like, "What the fuck were they thinking?!" And I'll be like, "What, dear? Hand me that bottle of sleeping pills, a plastic bag, and some duct tape. There's $500 stowed away in the back of the armoire. It's all I have left. I love you."
And now comes the irony. My good friend has opened a daycare in Hamilton Heights and has hired me for a reduced hourly wage in exchange for daycare for Monty. And he wants me there full time. But I can't take the job because I can't commute to the city every day. So, I'm literally being handed a job and I can't take it. Amazing. And no, I can't stay in Brooklyn full time (Please refer to aforementioned Fight.). So, that's a conundrum.
Monty continues to be the best human ever. I know that sounds hyperbolic, but it's just facts. He says "Thank you" when appropriate. He greets everyone with a cheery, "Hiya!" He RARELY tantrums, and by rarely I mean I can't remember the last time he did. He now says, "I love you." and it seems to come from a genuine place of love. I don't know how he knew how to label that feeling. I suppose after the millionth time I grabbed him and hugged him and told him I loved him he realized that one went with other. We took him to a diner tonight and my sister put "Jailhouse Rock" on the jukebox and Monty stood on his seat and air drummed. At the end of the song he yelled, "Rock! And! Roll!!" I mean, come the fuck on.
In other, less personal news, I was trying to come up with something to say in the wake of the several recent shootings. I am profoundly distressed by the state of the gun control debate in this country. I am furious that when I think about sending Monty off to school I now have to worry that some maniac with a gun will take some convoluted frustration out on Monty's class and I'll never see him again. I'm furious that ANYONE has to worry about that. We are completely out of control. Someone tweeted recently that the gun debate in this country ended with Sandy Hook. When it becomes acceptable to kill children, we have lost the fight.
Also, I'm reading an interview with Maya Schenwar who is a prison reform advocate and while I already knew the prison system is a complete failure, some of the shit she talks about makes you want to commit hari kari .
George Carlin said he wasn't interested in making things better or working to change the world because we had already fucked it up so profoundly that there's no going back so we might as well just ride it out while we're here. When you think about the fact that as a species we could have set up life any way we wanted and we designed what we designed it is the most nonsensical thing ever. We somehow decided that life should be a series of responsibilities all meant to pay someone else to make it possible for us to continue meeting our responsibilities.
We can't keep going like this, right?
P.S. I'm aware that I sound more discouraged than normal right now. But I'm actually feeling pretty hopeful and happy. No need to worry. I'm on my meds and looking for a new therapist. Everything is great!
From January, 2013. Syndicated on Blogher.com
My health insurance ran out on December 31st. The nice lady with Cigna quoted me in the ballpark of $750 a month to maintain my insurance through Cobra for 3 months which wouldn't have gotten me to my due date. No insurance company will take me because pregnancy is considered a pre-existing condition. Like cancer. Not that that matters since I can't afford self-pay coverage anyway. Any plan I can afford has a deductible so high that if I did find myself in a situation in which I needed to use the health insurance I'd go bankrupt, so, in the end, I don't see the point.
Kurt has insurance through his job as well as USAA insurance because his father was a pilot in the Air Force. But even if we were married, the cost for dependents on his insurance through work is more than we can fork over and, get this, USAA doesn't offer maternity coverage. I guess Veterans don't have babies.
So, yesterday I had the immense pleasure of spending a couple hours at the social services office in Pasadena. The Pasadena branch was recommended by friends when I told them about my experience at the Wilshire branch at which a lady who looked like this:
told me that I should arrive at 8am and be prepared to spend the entire day there. The Pasadena office, my friends assured me, would be much quicker and less painful. And it was quick, relatively speaking. Two hours beats a whole day, especially when the bulk of that time will likely be spent waiting on a hard plastic chair in a waiting room filled with screaming babies and generally freaked out people with seemingly no concept of public decorum. It's not that I expect people to sit quietly with their hands folded in their laps, but listening to music on your phone without headphones (and by "music" I mean something that had some kind of beat and a lot of sounds of gun shots and wolf whistles) or whistling the same two (flat) notes over and over again just seems to me to be, you know, not behavior to engage in in a crowded room filled with stressed out people ready to snap. Then again, I'm sort of an asshole, so, who knows.
A woman sitting across the aisle from me with an extremely new baby in her arms and a crying infant in a stroller handed the infant AN EMPTY BOTTLE. I don't mean that there was a little milk or formula in the bottle. I mean the thing was bone dry. I don't think the inside of that bottle had EVER seen any kind of liquid. So, the kid sucks down some air for a minute or so until she realizes nothing is going to come out of that thing and she starts wailing again at which point her mother leans in and says, "WHY ARE YOU STILL CRYING??"
I'm called into the office where I follow a woman through a labyrinth of hallways into a back office. She sits down across her desk from me, mumbles her name and asks me for my I.D.
She asks me if I have pay stubs from my unemployment insurance. I explain that there are no pay stubs with unemployment insurance but hand her my latest Notice of Unemployment Insurance Benefits Determination form. One would think this form would kind of supersede a pay stub as it lists the benefit amount and how much total I will be paid over time in bi-monthly payments. But, no, they really need pay stubs.
"But there are no pay stubs," I repeat.
"Then what about a bank statement?" She asks.
"There's no bank statement, either, " I say. "There's no actual bank account. I get an EDD debit card. I withdraw the money from the EDD account and put it in my bank account. . . in cash. It's a government program. Kinda like... you know, what you guys provide."
She gives me an open-mouthed, vacant stare.
"Well, hopefully the determination notice you gave will be enough."
"Yes. Hopefully," I sigh.
She types what must be an opus into her computer.
"You're getting pregnancy only coverage," she tells me, finally.
"I'd like to get full coverage."
"You don't qualify."
"You make too much income."
"I'm on unemployment!"
"The cut off is $1,262 a month," she says.
I don't even know what I can possibly say to this. This woman doesn't make the rules. There's no point screaming at her, though that's what I REALLY want to do. But seriously? $1262? What kind of fucking demented douche bag is setting the poverty level?
"So, if I break my arm," I say, as calmly as I possibly can, "I'm not covered?"
"If you get sick beyond the pregnancy, you're not covered."
Sick beyond the pregnancy.
"Who's your O.B.?" She asks.
"I don't have an O.B. I have a midwife."
"But who's your doctor?"
"I don't have a doctor. I have a midwife."
"Is that where they have the baby at home?"
"....... I am planning on having the baby at home."
"We don't cover that."
"You don't say."
Someone else comes by to tell me that I have to put my boyfriend on the form if I want to apply for food stamps. I wasn't going to apply for food stamps, but I'd heard you get a free breast pump if you're on food stamps when you have a baby. I know immediately Kurt's income will make me ineligible for food stamps.
"But we're not married," I offer.
"It doesn't matter. You share meals together, right?"
"I mean, yeah."
"So we have to check his income."
"Fine. I won't apply for food stamps."
The next four forms I sign are for food stamps.
"Why am I signing this if I'm not applying for food stamps?" I ask.
"Okay, but this form is for food stamps."
"And I'm not applying for food stamps."
"Okay. I've always been told not to sign forms with incorrect information on them."
"This is the form."
I sigh again and sign the form at which point this woman actually says to me, "You seem upset. Are you okay?"
"No. I'm not okay. I'm pissed. I'm angry at this system."
The next form I sign is a sign stating I've changed my mind about food stamps and am not applying after all.
At the end of this I'm handed a form with a list of things I need to mail in including:
I didn't bother to state again that there are no pay stubs. She also hands me a flyer for "Healthy Way L.A."
"You can apply for this to cover other medical issues," she says as she closes the door behind me.
I was so ready to get out of there at that point that I just folded up the flyer and shoved it in my purse.
I call The Actors' Fund to see about getting assistance to pay for Cobra. If I qualify, I can get a one time grant of $700. That's more forms and appointments. I suppose I can reapply for the assistance each month. I didn't ask.
I call my parents to fill them in. My dad says,
"Did you tell the person at The Actors' Fund how much money you've helped raise for them over the years?"
"I don't think that's a factor," I tell him.
I get home and before collapsing for a nap I rummage for the Healthy Way L.A. flyer. I figure I'll give myself the rest of the day off and call them the next day. Then I see the following two criteria for eligibility:
Will someone please explain to me how Canada's health care system is worse than ours.
In other news, here's a recent picture of me watching my dogs eat each other while I wear a t-shirt on my head.
From April, 2014. Winner of a Voices of the Year award in the Impact category from Blogher.com
Check out my latest podcast guest appearance on Motherhood in Hollywood with Heather Brooker! We gab about acting, mothering, feminism, and poop!
Click here to listen!
This is my third attempt at writing this entry. My last two drafts got deleted. If it happens again I'll be throwing my phone out the window followed by myself.
The GPS says we're four hours away from New York. We gave ourselves nine or ten days to make this trip and, assuming nothing happens to stop us today, we'll have done it in a week. Turns out Monty is a great traveller. Also, we are god damned rockstars.
I still don't believe this is actually happening. I'm convinced that a year from now I still won't believe it. People will ask where I live and I'll say, "Los Angeles, but I'm staying in New York for a while."
Yesterday we stopped at a playground in Monterey, Tennessee to stave off an impending Monty yellfest (He's a great traveller, but he's still two.). The playground was an old, decrepit, rusty collection of 1980s-era equipment, the kind that has been banned in most cities (Oh, those uppity parents and their aversion to Tetanus.). We were the only ones there (Both at the playground and, seemingly, in the whole town.) until three tow-headed (toe-headed?) children of the corn scrambled out of an old Buick and bee-lined it for the merry-go-round. I was thick into worrying that Kurt, Monty, and I were soon to be strapped to old tables in the back of a barn somewhere, tortured, turned into wax figurines, and then chainsawed into thousands of bits by a giant dude in overalls and a leather mask (I've never seen Children of the Corn.) when the eldest of the three children asked me to push the merry-go-round and then said, "Thank you, Ma'am." I instantly felt guilty for stereotyping these sweet cherubs. Then I remembered that they will probably grow up and vote to take away my rights. See, there I go again with the awful stereotyping. I should know better. They probably won't vote.
The middle child was a six-year-old girl. She was running up and down a steep, steel slide, leap-frogging over her brothers in the process. I commented on her bravery and she declared she could probably be a football or basketball player. I told her I agreed. Then I asked her about her shirt.
"It says, 'I study boys'," she said.
"What does that mean?" I asked.
"I don't know, but that's what it says."
"It means she wants to be a boy!" Said her older brother.
"No, it don't!" She yelled.
"Yes, it does!"
"It could mean that," I said. "But I don't think it does."
"My swing at home goes much higher than that one," she said thoughtfully, pointing at an ancient swing set across the way. Then she added, "I'm almost as tall as you. But you're pretty short."
"I am," I agreed.
When it was time to go, she ran off with her brothers waving good-bye as she went.
"Bye!" I called after her. "Don't forget to study math and science, too!"
That's me. Fighting sexism one child of the corn at a time.
This is me a year ago with bangs to cover up the worst acne situation of my entire life.
And this is me today with no bangs and no makeup.
It's Saturday, August 22nd. We left Sulphur Springs, Texas this morning. About 90 miles short of our Night 5 goal of Texarkana. We got a late start yesterday out of Austin where we stayed with one of my dearest friends and Monty's God Mother, Liz. Her fella, Bill made us a killer breakfast and Monty watched Frozen and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and tried to get the dog to chase him. So, we're a bit behind, but well fed and happy.
I'm having some technical issues with posting videos. Some people seem to be able to view them and others can't. I wasn't able to upload my Day 3 video at all. Writing is a bit of a challenge as Monty requires a lot of attention and it's hard to make his stuffed animal talk to him and write at the same time. But also, I started playing Fallout Shelter and I'm dangerously addicted to it.
We'd like to make it to Jackson, Tennessee tonight. We were like what town can we stop at that's named after one of the absolute worst perpetrators of genocide of the Native Americans? Jackson!
Texas is a big ass state. It's big and flat and hot.
Yesterday we ate at McDonald's. Mostly we were there for the indoor playground so Monty could blow off some steam. He'd never had McDonald's before. We don't generally like to put garbage in his mouth. But we didn't have much choice where we were. We stopped at a taco joint that had zero vegetarian options. All the burritos included rice and beans IN them, but they couldn't make a bean and cheese burrito. So, it was McDonald's. I hadn't had a McNugget in probably 17 years. My feeling is that if I'm feeding it to Monty I should be able to eat it. Have you had a McNugget lately? I don't understand what I ever found appealing about them. Someone recently told me that fish is one of the main ingredients of a McNugget. I didn't believe them. Now I do. Do you know what fish flavored Styrofoam tastes like? Have a McNugget. Monty took one bite and refused the rest. The only 2-year-old in the universe who won't eat a McNugget. He's a god damned genius.
I introduced Kurt to A People's History of the United States. He's starting to understand why I'm so angry all the time. It's very touching. It's interesting listening to the history of the parts of the country we're driving through. Interesting and thoroughly depressing.
I'm hoping to get the video situation sorted out. We go through long stretches without service, so there's not much time to get work done. But also doing videos requires putting on makeup and who has the patience for that?
Addendum: I looked up the ingredients of McNuggets. No fish.
Here's where I spout my brilliance.