Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Welcome to Insomia Hour. How may I help you?

I don't really have insomnia. I'm just off kilter.

I am unemployed, and my schedule is such that I do not have to be anywhere during the day. Being awake means dishes and laundry. Or shopping. Or whatever.

These things do not interest me.

When Geoff finished up his summer camp with Rebel, my needing to drive all the way to camp every day ended and I didn't have to get up at 7am to get him and me ready, and then spend hte rest of the day awake until it was time to go get him.

So I basically just sleep in.

I went down to the island a few times to interact with the teen August program, talk a little bit about the tour, take some pictures for press... but I'm not on staff and felt that they were doing okay without me. This being the fifth tour, with seasoned directors, I felt the need to be there assuring the kids that the tour was going to be just fine was ... non existent. And I felt that I was glomming on them, hanging about... so I just never went down.

My schedule was okay right up to taking Jess to college. And now, I stay up late, sleep late. I just finished processing all the pictures from the Rebel tours. I have been tweaking websites that I've made and I am sending out resumes, and of course watching CSI (the original one, the others pale in comparison).

I just finished uploading all the photos that I took during the Much Ado About Nothing tour. This was a magical tour, with great acting and super kids and fantastic locations. The best location of them all is the quarry up at Halibut Point in Rockport. For Othello and Much Ado we had well over 200 people at each show. And the audiences.... LOVED the shows. Ugh. Magical.

Here is a picture from the quarry -- I had the kids go all the way down low and took a ton of photos of them down there. I love this one because I didn't zoom in, and focused on the quarry itself, and the sky, and everything else -- and the kids and directors are all down in the right corner.

The entire Danger Quarry Theatre set can be found here. If you want to see. The light, the faces, the kids were just amazing. Do go see.

Geoff starts school the day after tomorrow. I took him school shopping today and spent about 100 bucks. The big ticket item was a new backpack. He goes through one a year. By the end of the school year it is on its last legs, and then he uses it all summer with Rebel and then Boy Scouts, so by the beginning of August the zippers are broken, the seams are torn... I thought about getting an LL Bean backpack for him but I don't know if they still do that "if it wears out, send it back and we'll give you a new one" thing that they used to do. I once bought LL Bean shirts at a thrift store, shipped them back after I wore them out and got new ones. It was kind of a nice deal... but that was 1986... I should look into whether or not they still honor that kind of thing.

Geoff is ready to start school. I think he's hit the bored wall. He spent the weekend with Boy Scouts up at the Portsmouth Air Show, directing traffic in the hot sun. They paid 40 bucks for the admission and camping and then worked their asses off for two full days. I kind of thought that was a little expensive, but he wanted to go with his buddies... so I paid for it. He had a great time and thought the Blue Angels were cool, but he has never been INTO planes the way some people get INTO planes. Kind of sad, because I bet my father in law would love to spend some time with him in that respect.

So seeing as school starts the day after tomorrow, I will be alone officially. I spent several weeks just hanging around with Jessica. She's gone. And now Geoff will be gone. The full court press will be applied to find a job... but I honestly am not seeing anything that is good, and the good stuff never returns my resume/call/inquiry.

Speaking of Jess, I've spoken with her a couple times. She is doing pretty well. I think orientation week was too much and too boring for her. She got to move in early and do the Pitt Start thing, so she had the floor kind of to herself with just a couple others people for a few days. Then everyone else started showing up... the Freshmen who did Pitt Start earlier in the summer, the upper classmen... and women. She got a little pissed after they had to sit through this big long convocation on alcohol, and then she went back to her room and a mess of people went out and got shitfaced. She was a bit indignant about their stupidity. I told her to go easy on them. It's their first time away from home. Let them figure it all out. But she found a couple groups to join on campus, and she registered for all the classes she wanted and got a good schedule. So on the surface it seems to be alright up over there... today was her first day of classes and I hope she likes everything and does really well there. That is all a momma can hope for, right?

Alright then. I'm officially fading. Starting to get tired. So I'm going to mosey to bed. Wish me well in the falling asleep, and then in the waking up...

Monday, August 23, 2010

"You will hate Pittsburgh by the time you leave..."

Last night we went out to eat with my inlaws, Doug's sister, and her two kids. On the way out of the restaurant my father in law had his arm wrapped around me, mine was around him. We were saying our goodbyes and he said "Oh, you will hate Pittsburgh by the time you leave here."

He was misty eyed and we looked over at Jess, who was saying goodbye to her little cousins, Elyse and Craig (ages 9 and 5).

"I remember how much I hated Gordon after we left Doug there. I drove away hating the place that was taking my boy."

I told him that I wasn't going to hate Pittsburgh at all, because he and his wife and Diane, Jay and the kids are so close. It isn't like I'm leaving her somewhere desolate and unknown.

This morning I'm feeling a little more like what I think my father in law is talking about. But not quite. I know I won't hate it. I can't hate the place my girl has picked for her new home.

I will hate the highway though.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Transition Time

I have been incredibly stressed out about money. Paralyzingly so. Because we are in a long-standing dispute with Bank of America, we have a shit credit rating right now. We were declined for Jess' student loan for Pitt, and we leave here on Saturday. Doug reached out to his parents and his dad is co-signing on her first year's worth of loans. We're hoping life will be better, and that she can establish herself as an independent student, and obtain her own loans without our history tarnishing her. I am unable to fall asleep at night just thinking about this.

My advice to you if you have small people is no matter how hard it is to put money aside, earmark 100 bucks a month to your 529 plan, now. We didn't start until last year. We only raised 7000 dollars. So if you have wee ones, start early, and be serious about it. You won't regret it.

Last night we hosted a little bonfire for Jess in honor of her leaving for college rather soon. I didn't want it to be a party party with tons of food -- but I ended up bbq'ing burgers for about 20 hungry kids (and my husband and son too), and in between silly stories and a round of "Apples to Apples Junior" we did a little "separation ritual" for Jess. My friend Agnes had sent me an article about having time set aside for family to talk to the "leaver" about how their departure will change your life.

Because I know that her friends love her so, and most of them are not going away away (Courtney is going to southern Maine, Marissa is going to Worcester, and tons of her friends are underclassmen) I figured it would be an interesting exercise.

We built a fire in the fire pit, and I got Jessica's "Pimp Hat" and her purple and white feather boa. She got placed in a chair, with pimp hat perched, and her friends circled round. I had them wear the feather boa and share two things: their favorite memory of her, and then what they will miss most about her. I told all of them to turn off their phones. No texting, no web browsing, nothing. Be in the moment -- don't get distracted, and really spend time listening to each other and sharing with Jess.

It got really silly, and a couple people got slightly teary. A lot of it centered around her strength of will. Nick said that the one thing he will always remember is that even when she was most pissed off about things and situations, she would bitch with humor.

That's mah girl. yo.

She would always throw her hands up in the air and flail them around while strongly voicing her displeasure, and make it funny. People who had gone away with her on trips (the German trip and the NYC trip with the Germans) all had funny memories, like Lee recalling a creeper who jumped out of an alley in Manhattan and said some wacky things to them, scaring the piss out of them.

Nick's parents were present for the "ritual," and participated and I think they were feeling it strongly because of what is happening on their homefront... Nick is going away for a semester in Ireland right off the bat (he'll be going to Plymouth NH for school but for the first semester he'll be overseas) so Mrs. Nick's Mom was a little emotional as she remembered all the fun things that she was able to witness through the years that Nick and Jess have been friends.

Nick's younger brother was there. He's a year older than Jess and I was incredibly moved by what he had to say. He loves Jessica -- and it is obvious. He made her chocolate covered strawberries for her party, and he had a lot of memories to share about her being at their house while Nick and Jess and others were working on projects for school.

Doug and I both participated -- I said there are too many good memories that I have of her. I thought that I might cry but I didn't. I said that I was going to miss nothing, which made everyone laugh, but the truth is that this is the right time and exactly what is supposed to happen and I am 100% convinced that her launch will be successful. And thanks to technology and facebook and what have you, she wouldn't be lost to me. I am going to miss her asking me every day, even if she's been with me all day, "How was your day, lady?" but now she can do it on skype or facebook or whatever. And our lives will be normal and wonderful, just the way they are supposed to be.

Doug got a lot of laughs because I put the feather boa on him and he made a face that made Jessica say "you think this is soooooooo stupid! that's what your face says!" But he said that he is proud of her and that he is happy she has such great friends who have been supportive to her for years. Doug normally retreats when we have these Jess friend gatherings, so it was fun to watch him listen to what her friends had to say about her.

I was pleasantly surprised by Geoff. He was given the option to be skipped over, or say only appropriate things. He said that the thing he'll remember most about her was her role in "Bye Bye Birdie" when she played Mae Petersen, and how incredibly funny she was and she literally stole the show. Fully expected, he ended with "And I will miss nothing about you."

He's ready for her to leave. He's ready to have a life to himself. And I am okay with that. I do feel relief that there is SOMEthing that he remembers fondly of her.

And I hear her when she talks to her friends. She relates stories about things he has done and said that are awesome and funny. To his face I'm sure she wold never tell him that she thinks they are awesome and funny. But last night I heard her relate at least two stories about him that were great stories (the "I can't wait until I grow up" and "I hurt my foot on the same nail!" stories). Her friends were in stitches, and I know that she maybe knows he isn't the complete little shit that he seems to be most of the time.

At the end, Eric broke my heart because I know he is going to miss her so much. There is no doubt that I love this kid and how much a part of her life he's been for the last 5 years or so... he's so wonderful. He is like a son to me... a great role model for Geoff, and a like-soul to Jess.

It was a very good time, and a great party. Normally I would have opened the house to pantloads of kids to crash out and sleep here in the livingroom, like during graduation weekend. But I made it clear (to Eric's disappointment as well as others) that I was probably not in the best frame of mind to have piles of puppies sleeping in the livingroom when I needed to get things done in the morning.

I am going to miss that...

And I predict a giant sleep over during Christmas.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Things are getting done

Today I spent the better part of the full day taking care of business for Jess going to college. I haven't gotten anything from her that I need, like information about when she is supposed to BE there for instance. She's been uncommunicative with me. It is frustrating. Doug is sympathetic to her (which to me is odd because I'm the sympathetic one) and feels that she is just not dealing with the transition well.

So I finally got her to give me the login info to the payment account thing, and I find that we were supposed to set up a payment plan in May. There are things she is supposed to do, but she has not done.

Did I say that a week from this Saturday we get in the car to drive her to school?


Anyway -- I ended up on the phone today to the University, asking questions and making progress. I called MEFA to see if we can get a student loan for her. We were counting on there being some resolution to Doug's grandmother's estate by this point but that hasn't happened. So I need to come up with 13,000 dollars by next week. We have 7,000 in her 529 plan and I think we will leave it there, and just borrow the first year's money while the other stuff (like grandma's estate etc...) gets settled.

Again, did I mention, like 10 days from now we're there.


So I got things ironed out, figured out, applied for, documents signed, and I guess we are like 90% solid. Unless we get declined for the loan.

All I know is the first semester has to be paid in full by September 17th.

I'm only completely overwhelmed. And I sit here overwhelmed and I think about other people who are in worse situations and I feel guilty about my inactions and inabilities to deal with things. I think of Keri and Anya. I think about people who are sick and healing. I think about people who got laid off from their jobs 2 years before me who are still without work and have lost their homes and are at a total loss for what to do.

The fact is, I can fix things and do things and if I need to lean on my daughter to GET what I need to make sure things go smoothly, perhaps I should think to do so sooner. Instead of 10 days before she has to be there.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Met the morning with Doug bellowing "oh DRIVER! Driver I need you... it's 6:30, time to get up and go..." He is off to Scottsdale Arizona for a conference/training thing for the hospital field he works in (rehab outcomes management) and I had to drive him into Logan Airport for his flight.

Fight is at 10am, so of course we are leaving at 7am (with all the commuters heading to Boston). I am not awake so he drives and I sit in my PJs in the passenger seat with a big coffee. I figure I'll be more awake for the trip home, and he's WIDE awake and bright eyed and bushy-tailed. So I let him do the driving.

Traffic is awful, which gives me time as a passenger to look down side streets off of Rte 60 into neighborhoods and industrial zones that I never get to look at. I also get to gaze longingly at airplanes. I'm impressed by their size, by the physics of what they do. The huge, shiny white noses with tiny little itty bitty windows for the pilots to look out of. My guess is they fly mostly with their gauges and science than by visuals based on the window sizes. I'm also impressed by how clean they are, compared to the front ends of cars and trucks. Air is much cleaner than roads, I guess.

At the airport, Terminal B, we are blocked in by vehicles that decide the second lane is the drop off lane, even though it is really the curb. I get out of the car to give him a hug and a kiss (apologizing for my coffee breath) and I'm aware that the woman behind us is looking at us. Him in his dress pants, dress shirt, shoes and his luggage, me in my oversize Pitt T-shirt and pyjama pants, flip-flops glasses and hair scrunchy with my coffee cup in hand.

It's almost like I'm kissing him goodbye at our front door as he goes to the office. Only I'm 40 minutes from the front door. This is a different front door, a different commute. And unlike his usual morning commute where I don't get to see him off (being unemployed means I sleep until 10am usually and he's gone at 6:45) I am glad to have the opportunity to see him off.

We take our time with goodbye and stand at the back of the Subaru for a minute because we (and the woman behind us) are still blocked in. I wonder if she looks at us and says "God, they are so fat..." or what she thinks. He takes his garment bag and backpack, tells me that he forgot our friend Amy R's phone number and asks me to call his voicemail with it. He is off. I walk around to the driver's side, get in, adjust the seat and mirrors to where I like them, and put the car in drive and signal on while I wait for the hotel shuttle vehicle and Limo Service car to move out of the way.

He's off to Scottsdale. I'm still in my pyjamas. And I'm jealous that I won't be waking up tomorrow in a hotel in the Southwest.

I need a vacation.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Ghost in the Canine

I'm watching Brodie stare into space.

It almost seems as if she can see some plane that we cannot, where things dance and intermingle freely. It is all around us, this plane, and right now she has tapped into it.

She is totally out of it, and when she does look to me, she is scared.

Perhaps my house is haunted after all.

Who needs sleep?

5am on Monday morning. I'm wide awake and have been since about 3:30am. It seems to happen every night. No matter how late I go to bed. 3:30 rolls around and nudges me hard enough to make me sit up, scratch my head and then not be able to fall back asleep after I go pee.

Tonight I'm up because I followed my dog around the house for a couple of hours. Yesterday afternoon Brodie had some sort of, shall we say, "episode," where she basically looked like she was hyperventilating herself into a seizure. Tail between her legs, she was apoplectic. Shaking, panting, and just an utter mess. She was like that for an hour or so and I decided she needed to go to the emergency clinic.

These things always happen on Sundays with us. Or so it seems.

Four hours later and no real diagnosis, we brought her home sedated. She stood in the middle of the livingroom and looked at us, swaying back and forth with a confused look on her face. I got her to get up on the couch, and she passed out. Shallow breathing, out cold. I watched her until Midnight when she woke up and decided to go up to my bedroom. She was confused because the door was closed, so I ushered her in and got her to the doggie bed. Three hours later she was pacing, panting, and I thought "great, here we go again..." I took her out to pee, which she did... and then she spent the better part of 90 minutes walking in circles in the livingroom, going out to the kitchen, coming back in, going back out. Wash, rinse, repeat.

She is now asleep behind the couch, by the fish tank, where Gonzo usually spends his days. And I am watching the sky lighten.

In addition to worrying about Brodie, I am also worried about how we're going to pay for college. I cannot apply for a student loan thanks to an ongoing issue with Bank of Asserica (cough). I thought for sure by now Doug's grandmother's estate would be ironed out and we could tap into funds there. So I don't know how I am going to send the University of P'bgh a ton of dough in the next 13 days to ensure Jess goes there without difficulty. And my mortgage situation isn't fixed (referencing the ongoing issue with that evil bank). So I wake up most nights at awful small wee hours and have that on my mind.

The good thing is, I've got a theme song... as does every person who cannot sleep. Thanks to BNL.

On that note, I'm going to crawl back upstairs. Doug will be up in about 15 minutes to get ready for work and if Brodie is still asleep down here he can keep an ear out for her. I'm going to try and rest.

Have a good day.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Othello done Much Ado begins

After teaching my class last week, I was also in the midst of the tour for "Othello" with the Rebels. Things were incredibly busy there for a number of days. The cast of "Othello" was stupendous, the show was outstanding. I'm still stunned from what I saw.

"Othello" is a difficult play. Everyone thinks of it as the play about race. It is more than that -- race plays into it for certain but the story overall is Iago's selfishness and his self-centeredness, the fact that he didn't get a promotion and he hates his boss because of it. He is mastered only by himself and his own wants and desires. He hates that Cassio got the job that he wanted, and decided that he will crush Othello and ruin his life and Cassio's life as punishment for it. He doesn't care who falls in the process.

It is an amazing and sad story.

Everyone thinks of it as the race story; but it is really the tale of one man's selfishness. And four people die in the end because of it. Race brings people in the door, and everyone knows this is the "death by pillow" play. Someone wrote on facebook "why would you do this play? Othello is a wifebeater." It is so much more than that.... he is a good man who is twisted and driven by the lies told by someone he counts as "Honest, honest Iago."

Othello could be any color. He could never end his wife's life by suffocation. The story would still be as twisted. The only one who matters in this tale is Iago. One of the greatest sociopaths in literary history.

I had the pleasure of watching two casts perform the show. Ryan and Jackson both took turns playing Iago and both approached the role differently. The photo here is of Ryan, who seemed to find Iago's behaviors more as a joke and in the end he seemed to show remorse for what he'd done. Jackson played it straight through as a monomaniacal evil genius, with no remorse at all. In the last show, when he stands there charged with what he's done, Jackson actually laughed, and stood there with this soft, crazy grin.

One cannot say who did it better, which Iago was the better Iago. They were both amazing and they were different.

And now they're on to the next play.

Much Ado About Nothing. How totally opposite of Othello. I cannot wait to see what the kids do. We have 2 sets of the lead couple of Beatrice and Benedick. Henry and Zoe are paired together and they will be hysterical. I'm sure that Alison and Seth will be a riot too. The other couple are Rozzie and Joe, they play Hero and Claudio.

The 2 couples of Beatrice and Benedick will switch off and each will have 5 opportunities to perform the shows over the ten show tour.

That is pretty much the focus of my life right now. Getting Jess ready to leave for college, doing the publicity for the Rebel Shows, and putting up with Geoff being bored out of his mind and nagging me every three minutes that he wants the laptop. Oh joy. Oh bliss.