I did not mean to leave you with the depressingness of Duncan’s demise for quite so long. I apologize. We had a rough week there and then gradually settled into being able to reference and talk about him fondly and without tears. It helped that Licorice has taken to having periodic accidents in the house (SHE IS JUST TRYING TO HELP) and Monkey loves to proclaim that it’s “The ghost of Duncan!” peeing on the floor. So. Who knows? Maybe it is Ghost Leaky Duncan. I feel like haunting us with puddles would be on brand for him, honestly.
And then… the second half of the summer seemed to rev up into turbo and WHOOSH it came and went and now it’s over, I guess. Which is also weird.
In addition to my own stuff, it was pointed out to me by one of my children (three guesses and the first two don’t count; one reads the blog obsessively and the other says “what, you still have a blog?”) that I haven’t updated on Offspring Shenanigans in a VERY long time, so I guess I’ll do some of that, too.
[And just to save us all some time, NO, we did not get another dog, we are not getting another dog anytime soon, and if you suggest that what I need is a puppy, I will suggest that what YOU need is to get bent.]
Let’s review our post-Duncan summer, shall we?
The Best-Laid Plans
My beloved local community theater has been dark for this entire season. Once vaccine rollout was well underway and COVID appeared to be receding a bit, the Board met and decided to produce exactly one play this summer, at the end of our season, though not the one originally scheduled for a variety of reasons which are unimportant to what I’m about to tell you. We would reduce the audience size for social distancing and require masks, and finally have live theater again.
This was exciting!
I went to audition for said play a couple of weeks before Duncan died, knowing full well that I probably wouldn’t be cast because I am the wrong age for most of the available parts. But whatever. I auditioned, it was great fun to be on stage again, I made a new friend (Her: Hi, I’m new to the area and don’t know anyone. Me: HELLO! WELL NOW YOU KNOW ME AND WE’RE FRIENDS NOW!), and… I was not cast. Which is absolutely fine.
When I found out I would not be in the play, I talked to Chickadee and Sunny and booked plane tickets to go visit them for a weekend the following month. (We had not seen the girls since Christmas, and saw them very little, even then.) Whatever sting I was feeling about not getting cast was immediately soothed by knowing I would get to go see my best girls soon.
Then Duncan died. And two days later, the director of the play called me to say that one of the leads had dropped out, and would I be willing to step in and take her part?
I was still reeling from losing Duncan, and I now had a trip booked for the weekend before the show’s opening. (No problem, said the director. We’ll work around it.) So naturally I said… yes. It turned out to be the very best distraction possible, though it did make for a crazy schedule.
Back on Stage, Still Terribly Awkward
I joined the cast of said play with about two weeks to learn eighty bazillion lines (rough estimate) after having not been in a show for… I don’t even know how long. A long time. The logistics of joining late were challenging, anyway, but luckily everyone was lovely and encouraging and it didn’t take long for me to get settled in, except for two things.
Thing the first: My character was supposed to be in her 70s. And look, I realize I am PRETTY OLD, but I am not THAT old. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to walk and move in a way that made me seem older. I also had to wear a truly terrible gray wig—which was hilarious to me as my natural hair is mostly gray at this point, anyway, but the wig was a short old-lady hairdo—and do age makeup. You know how my kids have had sensory issues their whole lives and I’ve always been all “So weird because I just don’t have those experiences to identify with?” HAHAHAHAHAAAAAAA well it turns out that wearing a wig is, for me, sensory hell. It was tight and itchy and gave me a headache was truly the bane of my existence. Also, I apparently have a baby face and am bad at age makeup. Of the “old ladies” in the cast, one was (twenty years!) younger than me, but MUCH better at makeup. It somehow became a game to ask friends/family who saw the show to pick out the youngest old lady, and invariably people picked me. Which made me feel bad for this much younger actress. But really it’s just that she’s so good at makeup? I spent a lot of time feeling guilty for looking young, and also a lot of time fantasizing about setting my wig on fire.
Thing the second: My character had a romantic relationship with the sole male character in the show, with the script including all sorts of smooching and ass-grabbing and snuggling between the two of us. The last time I had to do on-stage kissing, I was 16 and in a production of You Can’t Take It With You; I still remember that our local paper described me and the poor teenage boy I had to kiss as “dripping with appropriate adolescent awkwardness,” which was the kindest possible way they could’ve put it. I strive to be professional and I accepted the role knowing this was the case, and resolving to handle it with calm and decorum. Still. It’s just weird, y’know? I haven’t kissed anyone but Otto in a verrrrrrry long time. I have not WANTED to kiss anyone but Otto in a long time. Kissing a stranger is weird. I am awkward under the best of circumstances. We rehearsed working around those bits while my anxiety mounted, and then the Delta Variant blew up and we decided actual kissing was too risky, anyway, and we ended up doing the show with workarounds and it was fine. My on-stage boyfriend was a super nice guy and very professional and I made sure to thank him after the last show for being so much fun to work with, and managed to just stop short of thanking him for not kissing me. #awkward
The Big Texas Adventure!
As scheduled, I flew off to visit the girls in Texas the weekend before the show opened, even though by then COVID was running rampant again and I was terrified of traveling. I spent three days being very allergic to their cats, doing my best to spoil both girls and cats rotten, and soaking up hearing all about everything in their lives. It was amazing. We ate lots of good food and I gave them haircuts and they ran lines with me and we watched movies and it was all a needed balm for my soul.
The good: Sunny finished her undergrad this spring and has since been hired by the same company where Chickadee has been working (different department, so no, before you ask, they aren’t working together). They are both enjoying it while also planning on What Comes Next, which started… this week! Chickie has dropped down to part-time because she just started grad school. Sunny will remain full-time and in a few years when Chickadee is done with her degree, they are planning to move so Sunny can go to grad school while Chickadee starts her practice. (Oh, did I mention that my amazing kid is becoming a therapist? Because here we are. Holy cow, anyone who’s been here for the long haul understands how proud and verklempt I am.)
The bad: After this amazing visit, the very morning I was to fly back and start Tech Week for the show, Chickadee woke up feeling sick. Which. ACK. Sunny and I felt fine, and we’d basically stayed in all weekend and the girls have been masking religiously and and and and… we couldn’t take any chances. So we all masked up and they dropped me at the airport early so they could go get COVID tests, and I used my extra time to try to find a rapid test available somewhere in-between the airport and home. I ended up flying back to Georgia, getting in my car and driving to an Urgent Care in the middle of nowhere, and waiting about 3 hours for a test, which was (predictably) negative. I then had to go straight to rehearsal (I had already informed folks in charge about my possible exposure) and run the show in full costume and a mask. So that was a fun way to wrap up an otherwise lovely long weekend.
Addendum: Yes, we’re all vaccinated. All three of us ended up getting tested twice. None of us had COVID. THANK THE HEAVENS.
Meanwhile, in Georgia…
I don’t know if you know this, but the current CDC guidelines recommend masking indoors for EEEEEVERYONE, vaccinated or not. They also suggest that everyone who can be vaccinated, should be. Makes sense to me, on account of I do not want to be sick, I do not want to make others sick, and I would like this damn pandemic to end before I die. So: I am vaccinated, and I mask indoors. In light of these guidelines, we now have the following.
Many institutions of higher learning: You need to be vaccinated to return to campus. Also masks are mandatory indoors. Keeping our community safe is our priority.
The University System of Georgia: Wow, it sure is dark in here. Almost like our entire collective head is shoved up inside the governor’s asshole. ANYHOODLE, we just wanted to let you know that you cannot mandate vaccines, or even masking, even though we had a mask mandate last year. Also you can’t teach online anymore, even if you have a health issue. Also we decided all of this over Zoom because it’s not safe for us to meet in person but you should totally pack those classrooms with no precautions. Have a good year!
So Otto and Monkey started back to classes last week in the best protective reusable masks I could find (these ones, in case you’re looking for something similar), and both are reporting an alarming number of unmasked students running around campus. This makes me absolutely furious. But also there’s nothing I can do about it so I’m trying to just… hope those masks work. Ugh.
The Hardest Class
Monkey took some time off from college and then went part-time, online, through a small local school, for a bit, and finally returned full-time shortly before the pandemic hit. He’s been exclusively online for quite a while, is my point. This month marks his (relatively triumphant) return to the Big Campus and in-person classes, and because I’m me, I was worried about this transition for all kinds of reasons. Monkey’s perspective was mostly a shrug and a calm “I know where to park, I know where to catch the bus. It’s fine.”
Now, a lot of time and consideration went into his schedule for this first semester back, as you might imagine. One of the things Monkey decided to do was go ahead and get his 1-credit physical fitness requirement out of the way, which we agreed was a good plan. But as a recent “returning student” his registration was pretty late, and all of the “walking” classes were full. (Yes, the university offers classes in walking. They are known for being the class of choice for couch potatoes who need to get that PhysEd credit.) After some back and forth, he decided to take a swimming class, instead. He likes to swim. The course had no description (well, it had a description that basically said “This class is about fitness and being fit and doing fitness things by promoting fitness”) but we figured the walking class is walking, the swimming class is swimming, the end.
Welp. Turns out it’s a pretty rigorous workout, and Mr. Noodle-Arms Monkeypants is having his soggy butt handed to him three days a week. Our text conversations about his swim class have already become my favorite thing, because he is exhausted and indignant but also 100% committed to improving his stamina and strength. (Otto suggested he looks into switching to a different class that’s more geared for beginners, and Monkey wouldn’t hear of it.) It’s both amusing and encouraging to watch.
Meanwhile, the classes I was worried about him maybe struggling with, as he switches from a small, middle-of-the-road college to a large, rigorous university? Piece of cake. “Oh,” he said to me, all offhand, one afternoon, “Turns out that CS1 and CS2 here includes Unix, which I didn’t have in mine, so the Systems professor told us to make sure to look that stuff over if we haven’t had it before because we’ll be building on it. I took a quick look and it looks a lot like [some programming thing he’s done which I also don’t understand] so I think I’ll be fine, but I’m gonna spend some time on it this weekend so I’m ready.” Huh. It’s almost like… he’s got this.
Perhaps most remarkable of all this summer, last week I turned 50, which is just plain weird. I don’t feel 50. (Don’t ask me how old I feel. I have no idea. Just not 50?) Otto, who graciously paves the way for me in all age matters, turned 50 during the pre-vaccination, lock-it-all-down portion of COVID, so we have essentially not celebrated either milestone, yet. But Otto—being Otto—snuck around unbeknownst to me and on my birthday informed me that next month we’re going on a little trip (which he already planned and booked), just the two of us, to celebrate. I sure do like that guy a whole, whole lot. And HE’s 50, so how bad can 50 be, really?
Everyone is healthy and happy. Licorice is getting lots of belly rubs. Otto and I are old. I was in a show. The kids went back to school. COVID is stupid. Life really does just keep on going.