I'm at the 9th Street playground watching Monty weigh the pros and cons of eating sand. I grew up going to this playground. Back then it had one swing set, a sandbox, a small jungle gym, and a large dome shaped monkey bar thing. My best friend Carrie and I used to climb the dome, hook our knees around a bar and hang upside down. We came with a big group, so I guess it must have been pre-school. I'm surprised I remember that far back. Carrie went on to learn special effects makeup and built monsters and stuff for a couple outfits in Los Angeles. She lives in San Antonio now with a husband she adores and her first baby on the way. I went on to do a few things, too. And now I live somewhere in New York (not quite sure where, yet) with a great guy and a two-and-a-half year old. Weird.
Anyway, the playground is all redone and has a music theme. Because playgrounds now have themes, I guess? Monty loves it but there's something about the whole thing that makes me sad. I know I run the risk of sounding like one of those old guys who say, "Why, in the seventies people got raped and murdered about a million times more on the streets of New York City, and we liked it!" I understand that New York is safer now, and that the streets of South Park Slope aren't littered with crack viles, and that you can walk to the 4th Avenue subway stop without stepping over people who have stumbled out of the methadone clinic, and that no kids have been shot on the corner of the street I grew up on since the mid-90s, and that these are all improvements. And I know it's kind of mentally ill of me to still consider stores that opened 20 years ago interlopers. But I'm angry that I've been completely priced out of the neighborhood I grew up in. This playground is a reflection of the extreme affluence the neighborhood houses now and I guess it makes me nostalgic. Homesick for a place that no longer exists. And resentful. And I wish I could wear a sign that says, "I grew up here!"
Monty is clearly the oldest kid here because most kids his age are in school already. I'm getting increasingly worried about where and when we're going to settle because Monty really needs to be in school. He doesn't know how to play with other kids. He's a bright kid and I am not equipped with the tools to keep him challenged. I don't know how kids work.
Also he needs to go to school because I'm about to jump of the roof. I love him to pieces, but I need a break. I have, like, things I need to do. If I catch my mind wandering to things I need to get done while I'm playing with Monty I instantly feel guilty that I'm not "relishing each moment" because "it all goes so fast and next thing you know, you'll turn around and he'll be going off to college." And then I'm angry at the idiots who say shit like that. There's no way you can relish every moment. Especially when the moment is singing the 75th verse of She'll Be Coming 'Round The Mountain When She Comes or trying to get your kid to "wave bye-bye to the poopy and wash hands!", and you have a deadline you have to meet and you really just need to get back to your writing. I KNOW I'll be sad some day when he won't cuddle on my lap anymore, but mommy has to get grown-up things done. Mommy has to figure out what she wants to be when she grows up. Mommy needs to figure out where we're going to live that is out of the city, highly commutable to the city, affordable, and has good schools. And mommy needs a nap. Mommy is exhausted. And no, Monty, don't eat the sand, it has rat pee in it. No, don't do it. I'm not kidding. Monty, this isn't a game. Put the sand down. No, don't throw the sand. Just put it down. Thank you. I relish you. I relish this moment. LOOK AT ME! I'M RELISHING!!!!
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!