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Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Stress, the stress

It's been such a long time since I've written here.  My little baby Elena turned five last months so now I officially don't have a baby.  So much of her life has gone by in a blur and now here I am going months without writing much about either of them.  Elena is really shining now.  She loves to make up sweet songs and dance around the house.  She can play for hours with dolls, having them act out little dramas.  Despite the age difference, Eliza and Elena play quite a bit together.  They'll fly the dolls around the room, one doll the daughter and one the mother.  They make up complete lives for these dolls.  It's truly wonderful to see.

Eliza is close to finishing 3rd grade so there's some growing pains.  School and dance class have become more serious so as much as Eliza would like to spend her time playing fairies with Elena and the dolls, study time and work time beckons.  Eliza's also been taking piano lessons for a year and I often force her to practice where as I didn't a few months ago.  She's now started to work on opposing hands.  There is a lot of crying, a lot of temper tantrums that happen at the keyboard each night and it gets hard.  She likes taking lessons and truly wants to learn to play but she'd be just as happy quitting.  However the piano is the one thing I'd like them to do and I'd like to keep it up until she gets past the opposing hand hurdle and starts to find herself able to read through the music and move her hands at the same time.  I want her to know that a little bit of work can actually get you somewhere.  Lord knows, I gave up just about everything I couldn't do within five minutes and look at me now.

I'm a total and complete mess.  Years ago, I worked on a show called Fringe and I recall meeting the mother of one of the stars of the show.  She was a single mother, I can't recall if there was a father in the picture at all or not.  This actor always spoke of his mother and gave her a tremendous amount of credit.  In addition to being a pretty good actor, he was also a great guy.  We were said so as we met his mother.

I was pregnant with Elena and the time with Eliza about to turn three.  Most people on set didn't know I was pregnant and no one knew what a terrible home life I had with C.  I had a new baby growing inside me and I wasn't happy about it because all I could see was myself moving forward in a very unhappy life, adding another baby to the mix.  I knew our actor had a sister so I asked her, what was it like being a single mother to two children.  I don't remember most of what she said but what I do hear so clearly are the words to the effect of "I'm still recovering from it, that's how hard it was."  Our actor was well into his 20s and still his mother was recovering from her solo parenting act.

I could have it a lot worse.  C is in the picture and financially helps support his kids.  However, even with his support, I still have to work.  The only way I can continue to make enough money to pay a babysitter and keep up my health insurance is continue working in the television and film industry.  I could have it a lot worse.  I work with great people on often interesting projects.  And I can kind of work for a few months at a stretch and then not work for a while which gives me time at being a full-time mom some months.

The flip side of that is a lot of uncertainty.  The work is all freelance and sometimes it comes in and sometimes, when you really need a job, the work doesn't happen.  I've been booked on a movie that starts shooting in June since the end of March.  This particular movie has a bad track record which I knew going into it.  This film was supposed to start shooting last Fall but then at the last minute fell through leaving everyone hired for it without a job.  When the office opened up again in February and they started to call people they'd initially hired, those people said no thinking it was not a valid project.  However, when they got to me, I figured I'd go in for the interview and see what happened.  It all went well, no other work came through and we even did some pre shooting in April.  Shooting the first few bits in April and seeing the elaborate sets and costumes, it felt like it would happen this time.

Yesterday we found out that it's not.  I feel like some one should be liable when they tell people after they hire them that they don't have enough funding to continue.  Especially when the person at the helm has a lot of money and could practically fund the project himself.  However, it doesn't work that way in my business.  They have the right to stop shooting at any time, as I found out back in October when halfway through a 12 week job they pulled the plug because the network didn't like the show.  We shot seven episodes that will never air  All that money and time wasted on something people won't ever see. Kind of like what's happened with this movie.  And no one ever does anything because, that's show biz.

On top of that yesterday, an apartment sublet that I'd been pursuing in New York fell through.  I finally decided to take the plunge and move from our cozy suburb back to the city.  Moving to New York is such a costly, horrific undertaking when I managed to find an apartment through a friend, it seemed preordained that I needed a break and would get one.  However the tenants of the apartment don't want to put me on the lease and without a lease, I can't register my kids in school.  I told them I'd need a lease when I met with them over a month ago but they waited three weeks to tell me this was how they preferred to do it.  So now after a night of little sleep and a lot of stress, I have to tell them I can't take this wonderful apartment that really was perfect because what's the point of an apartment in a good school zone if I can't register my kids there.  Plus if we do it illegally and the building owner finds out, I'll get evicted.  They lose the apartment too but since they've already gone through the trouble of moving into another home, the loss is much bigger for me and my kids.  They seem like extremely nice people and I think they don't understand the variables here well enough but now I have to let that dream apartment go because it won't work for us.

Basically I have one month to pack us up, pay some one with a truck to take any furniture that we can't take with us, find a new home in a decent school zone and oh, find a job.  I told C last night I wanted him to take the kids because I don't see how I can do this anymore.  He has a steady job, he has family that helps him out with the kids.  At this point I really only have my father and he's not as helpful as he could be.  But the reality is I don't want to not be with the kids and the kids don't want to not be with me.  Eliza said last night, "I don't want you to go and have your life without me."

It was a succinct thing to say, a beautiful thing to say.  It really sums up how I feel too though I know all too well eventually she is going to go off and have a life without me.  But not right now, not when she's eight.

Moving to New York is such a hassle but I have to be there if I want to work.  But there's so many other places I'd rather be.  I'm closer to 50 then 40 now so it's not exactly time for me to start a new career.  It never occurred to me that I wouldn't make a living as a writer but now I realize that might not be in the cards for me.  I don't even know what other kind of job I could do.  New York has it's pluses. But all the stress associated with finding a home, a school, everything there is so huge.  I needed a break here and I got one and now it's gone.

So what to do?  I have 24 hours before I let my landlord know.


Patty said...

Wish I had seen this sooner ... its been over 24 hours but do NOT give your kids to their dad!!! I cannot imagine the stress of being a single parent to two little ones - and trying to find a job in an industry where you need to be in NY but do NOT give up custody!!! I bet something will work out - and it will be better than you ever thought! Hang in there!

Patty said...
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