I was gainfully employed as a Script Supervisor on a 15-week shoot for a FANTASTIC web series, East Los High. We had a great cast and crew; many of us had not worked on a web series before, so we didn't know what to expect (versus our experiences with television and movies). Our production team was so "on top of things" - our days were long, but not excessive; our caterer and Craft Services were THE BOMB (and a well-fed crew is a happy crew, so there's that); the locations were pretty amazing. We were doing something that MATTERED, and it was a good summer.
Stephen had his table-waiting job, so he always had cash. He wrote with his partner on weekends, and they made progress.
At the end of the summer, we got wind of his Dad's diagnosis: SEVERAL "bad" Cancers. We both (each?) made multiple phone calls to loved ones "back home" so that no one was "out of the loop" regarding any of the progress of anything (or would this be a case of "Congress"?). When my shoot was complete, I went back to doing background acting as it was available, and "living" on what my then-current unemployment claim had dwindled down to. We had enough money on credit to either:
- put Stephen on a plane to NC to nurse his Dad back to health, taking a leave of absence from his table-waiting job, and hoping that my income would pick back up, OR
- MOVE. Both of us, with the cats, across the country, in time for his Dad's chemo to have been completed, and missing Christmas at the restaurant (on purpose), as well as me getting hired at the Brand New Trader Joe's that was opening in the area at the end of October (no, I knew I'd be in the "second wave" of hiring).
... guess which option we chose? BIG MISTAKE? Maybe; we'll see.
By the end of October, we'd sold some appliances, packed up a PackRat (moving/storage unit), and arranged for housing near his Dad. We graciously, gratefully accepted all offers of every kind of help that came our way. My Mommy had died on October 28, on the road, a few years back, so we did not get ourselves on the road until the 29th. I'm not superstitious; I just didn't want to have to be behind the wheel and crying, so I purposefully planned our departure for a Monday.
We didn't take the shortest route. Neither did we dilly-dally (or lollygag, as your preference may be). We saw the Grand Canyon (not on the clearest of days, mind you, but we DID see it); we spent a night with his brother (et. al) and then one with mine (et. al). His Dad died in the morning, on the day we arrived at my brother's. I don't remember if Stephen drove at all that day - it was the shortest day of driving, I think, and I didn't want him to have to worry about waves of emotion, so I did the bulk, if not all, of the driving that day. We arrived at my brother's, had a lovely home-cooked dinner, and after whatever commiserating you do, we went to bed. The next day we got up and drove "home" - to our new home, on the opposite coast from our real home.
In case you're wondering, the cats had been leash-trained (to some extent) in the weeks prior to our departure, so they traveled much better than we could have hoped. We gave them the run of the car, and we learned that I had to drive FIRST each day, in case one of the babies wanted to sit in the driver's lap. They ate a little; they drank a little; they peed a little; they did best when we did NOT look for a "pet-friendly" hotel ("pet-friendly" does NOT equal CAT-friendly, FYI), sleeping under the tent we'd set up for them in the back seat. This was, after all, their new home, as far as they knew. Better get used to it (which they did).
So then it's November, and we had mourning and legalities and new utilities, etc. and no real source of income yet (beyond my pitiful unemployment, which I was still collecting). Stephen's plan was to help his Dad do his Handyman gig, and have cash again/still. So much for THAT one. My plan was to get hired at TJ's. So I went in to TJ's, having already sent in my application to BOTH addresses (on the phone, I was given two potential mailing addresses - the store was so "new" that they didn't know which would be correct), and I introduced myself to the Captain and a Mate or two. They gave me the "pre-interview" but asked me to fill out another application, because they KNEW they received both, but couldn't find either one in the files (there were originally somewhere in the neighborhood of 3000 applicants, so I don't fault them the misplacement). Then we all followed all the regular interview processes, and I got HIRED! HOORAY!
In December, Stephen had to do all the Christmas decorating by himself again. I don't really know why, but I hadn't had enough holiday spirit to participate in decorating for years. Last year was our first with a tree, which we rescued from his Dad's attic or barn, but that still wasn't enough for me to want to help. We were in the throes of "firsts" - all those first anniversaries without the loved one, so it wasn't a terribly joyous time. We survived it, though, and I was making friends at work.
January... February... March... the months happened; I continued driving 45 miles a day for fives days a week, and Stephen CRANKED OUT his writing. Instead of meeting with his partner, they had to have weekly phone calls. Which, actually, kinda worked in his favor. Sorta. Stephen had all of this free time to devote to writing, so at the first of the year, he was always WAITING for something... edits, or opinions, or illustrations. We thought they would publish on January 1st. Then we thought they would publish by February 28th. We kept thinking that they were THIS CLOSE to publishing, and they weren't! It got frustrating for me, because there was NOTHING that I could contribute to the process. It got frustrating for Stephen, because he was spending his time WAITING. I'm sure it was frustrating for the partner, because there was plenty else going on in his life that he couldn't devote enough time to meeting "our" deadlines. Then my hours seemed to be getting cut, because summertime is apparently not very busy in the grocery industry. So I started hounding Stephen to find a job. No bueno. Much stress and many arguments later, his leads finally started following through. He got phone interviews (always when we were out together shopping at Walmart - how weird is that?). He got in-person interviews. May arrived, and he got HIRED! HOORAY!
So, we had a Mommy-less Mother's Day for me, and then a Dad-less Father's day for him... and then, Wonder of Wonders, on July 1st, my husband became a Published Author! ... ah-bout the same time that "things" started falling apart for me at work. *I have a very "large" personality, and with it, I grow a "fan base." At Trader Joe's, I had a MULTITUDE of customers who would seek me out when they shopped, because I always made their shopping more fun. This is NOT to say that I was loved and adored throughout the store by one and all. There are always going to be sourpuss customers, and there are always going to be "difficult" co-workers with whom you don't "mesh." Over the course of the late summer, I got written up for "customer relations" difficulties; the non-members of my fan club found a way to get me outta there.
By September, I had had a good ten months in the only other job I ever loved as much as being on a film set. And then it was over. I filed a new unemployment claim, and then I waited for it to be approved, since I'd been (wrongfully) fired. I looked for more work, but where? Doing what? I'd already put enough miles on my car THIS YEAR to have traversed the entire country FOUR TIMES... I didn't really want an unhappy-making source of income that was as far away, but where we lived was not a real potential source of income. I put feelers out; I applied online; I tried to apply in person. Nothing wanted to stick. All this time, I had been trying to continue my Showbiz work here on the wrong coast, but with minimal success. We talked about what to do. Had we played out this hand? Was it time to re-deal? We both thought so.
Halloween passed. We handed out candy to FIFTEEN kids. We hadn't decorated or anything like that, and we live in a somewhat large apartment complex in a very RURAL area. So we were proud of the 15 kids we saw. Then Thanksgiving approached, and since I wasn't working, I went to Florida with my brother and his wife and their "new" baby (a whole year old!) to spend that holiday with Daddy. While I was there, the unemployment claim came through, I fell in love with my newest niece, and I helped my SIL cook her first Thanksgiving turkey. Then everyone who was driving home on Friday finally caught up to the daycare virus that the baby had brought along, and we drove home with low-grade fevers and nausea and fatigue and general puniness. FUN!
Which brings us to the Christmas season. As I aluded to earlier, I haven't had a desire to decorate, probably since Mommy died. I've appreciated the decorations that have been displayed for me, particularly all of those that Stephen has hung since we've been together. This year, I participated. We have a tree. Nothing to put under it, BY CHOICE, but a decorated tree in the window nonetheless. We have a plan. A plan to get home. We've started rebuilding our coffers, and if things go well (once we start selling our possessions), we'll be heading back across the country with the two cats in harnesses by the end of March. If things don't go *quite* so well, we ought to be able to get there right after one last visit with this coast's parental units in JUNE. HOORAY!