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Meet my roommate: my mother
Jan and I talk about quarantine living
My mom is an incredible mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend—and, currently, my roommate. Not only did we not kill each other during this time, but we’re closer than ever. The biggest silver lining of the last two months was receiving the gift of uninterrupted time with my mom.
I’ve written about Jan a lot in CSBC—the healing Sedona trip we shared; moving to Vegas to quarantine with her; her motherly advice. So I decided it was time to interview her. We talked about living together in Las Vegas, the emotional ups and downs of quarantine, and our most annoying habits.
Baby Jillian and Jan, cheesin’
We need to talk
Jillian Anthony: We’ve been together for two months now. The last time we spent two months together might have been a summer I was home from college, when I was maybe 20 years old.
Jan Anthony: And you’re how old again?
32. You would know. How has it been different having me as a roommate now versus when I was 20?
Well, you’re definitely a lot more mature. We’re always going to be mother and daughter but I think we have more of a mature, adult, womanly relationship now. You and I have always gotten along like peanut butter and jelly. Obviously our lives have changed; you’re growing up and this is a very difficult time to be living together.
I think we’ve done a really good job. I don’t think we’ve had any serious issues. That’s pretty rare for any parent-child relationship.
I’m a pretty easygoing person, I think. I read you, so I can tell when you need your space.
I’ve spent a lot of time alone, not only this past year, but a lot of my life.
And I’m not an isolated person at all. I hate being alone. And I’ve never been alone. The last time I was alone was when I had my first apartment in Rowland Heights in 1982 to 1985. Your dad and I never lived together before we got married, but we were together a lot. I came from a very loud, crazy family and left and went into a very quiet apartment by myself and I hated it.
I’ve never lived alone and I really want to.
Well, you can do your thing in your apartment in New York for a couple of months, live out your fantasies, and then unload and move back to Vegas.
There are not going to be any fantasies.
Yeah, but enjoy New York, do whatever you need to do, take care of yourself, and when you get tired of that move back to Vegas.
I appreciate that offer and that I have that privilege to be able to do so. I’m so lucky I have that option, but it’s so crazy that in 2020 at 32 years old I literally might be moving in with my mother in Las Vegas.
I’m pretty sure you’re not going to be alone in that. There’s going to be adult children, probably with their children, moving in with their parents. Or vice versa, parents will be moving in with children.
How has it been living with me?
Overall I think it’s been great. You’re not as clean as I’d like you to be, unfortunately.
Neither of us are surprised by that. I’m not a clean freak and I never will be.
Well, I don’t think I’m a clean freak.
Yes, you are.
No, I’m not.
Yes, you are.
When I go to bed my kitchen’s clean because in the morning when I get up for coffee I don’t want to look at dirty dishes in the sink.
Me and my roommate at home both leave our dishes for, like, 24 hours.
I can be lazy, I’ll admit it. As much as I don’t want to admit this, your way is right. I’ve always felt bad about not having the kind of routines that I want, and over the past few years I have developed some really good ones, like getting up early to go to the gym, and I’m not late for things most of the time. My routine here has been totally fucked.
Whose hasn’t? What routine?
The things that make me not feel good about myself all have to do with disorganization, procrastination, messiness. So the things that we’re talking about are actually deeper, about taking care of yourself and doing the small things that add up.
When we first moved in March 23rd, threw some clothes in a suitcase and left, we didn’t realize we were going to be up here for two months. So for me it was like, okay, this is completely out of control, what can we control? Well, I can get up and make my bed. I can once a week wash my sheets and towels, clean my area, and make sure the kitchen is clean so in the morning we can get up and have coffee. There’s little tiny things you can control that can make a difference. But even not in this situation, those are some of the things you should be doing regularly as a 32-year-old grown woman that wants to make herself feel good. And when you come home from a long day at work, you want to walk into a clean, fresh, calm space. And it’s called pride of ownership.
What have you learned about me that you didn’t know about me?
You don’t like to talk very much sometimes, and it makes me feel like you’re mad at me.
Sometimes you talk a lot.
I do talk a lot. But I’m used to talking with my family when they are around me.
There has not been one day I haven’t spent time with you while I’ve been here.
I can tell when you need your space. I’ll go to my room and shut the door now for six hours.
I need that.
Well, you’ve been through a lot, honey. You lost your job, that was very emotional, and then of course everything else that happened with the scam. And then not being able to see your friends—you do and always have gotten a lot of energy from your friends. I’ve loved being able to join in on some of your Zoom meetings and I miss those guys. You’ve got friends from high school, San Diego, Syracuse; you pick up people and you just bring them with you. It’s great. And I hope that they all keep in touch with you when they’re my age.
I’ve been on the phone a lot these past few days because I’ve been in a really good mood.
I noticed. Why do you think that is? Because you’re going home soon.
You think that’s why?
Yeah, I think you’re getting excited about seeing an end to living with your mother. Waah! Don't go!
I do think it’s time for me to go figure my stuff out. I’m in a suspended state of limbo here, but I do think mental health-wise and mood-wise, I’ve actually done really well here.
You absolutely have. We’ve done a lot of walking. You’re really good about your workouts.
I’ve had some bad days, of course. I appreciate you picking up on when I need time to myself. I don’t think I ever realized how much you talk to yourself. I’ll be in the other room and you’ll be yelling at the TV. I’m like, what is she doing?
Okay, but let’s talk about the highlight of our time here.
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
I’m hooked. I love the way something happens and we both look at each other and gasp and go, “Dun dun dun!”
Just the clips you grow to know and love, like the single tear running down Lisa Rinna’s cheek. It’s such a joy and it makes me die every time.
It’s good to laugh, Jillian. And we’ve had some good laughing. We laughed, we cried, and we couldn’t hug for two weeks. I was like, I can’t even hug my own daughter.
My worst nightmare in the world would be that I got you sick. So, what is it like reading the newsletter?
I love the newsletter. Some are so tough to read. I usually read it at least three times and I pick up key things, sentences or verbiage that you use that I just love. Like your last one, that was a great line: “to let my ambition slumber, to float in the unknown.” That really resonated with me because production and accomplishing makes me feel like I’m worthy. And I think it does to a lot of people. So when you’re in lockdown for two months not doing much of anything your self-worth goes down. A lot of times we feel like we’re alone in whatever we’re doing, and we’re not. You were able to reach all these people with your newsletter and then come back and write about stuff they are experiencing. I think it’s been hard for you to put your raw soul out there.
It’s been an interesting experience. I think the more I can get past my shame and fear, the better it is for me and for other people. But it’s also a balancing act between sharing things and not being like, “Look at me, I’m hurting!” And I don’t know if I’ve always done that right, but I’ve tried my best. What would your newsletter be about?
At this point, coming into the last third of my life, maybe just a review of everything I’ve been through. And it might be what I would like to do in the future. What are people doing out there after 60 years old with their lives? What are people accomplishing?
That sounds like a great idea. Stories after 60. When you were my age, you already had me.
I had you at 31. We weren’t going to have any kids; your dad already had your brother Christopher, and at that time we were having a great time traveling and working, but sometimes things change when you get a reality check. My brother passed away, and I was like, you know, life is just too short. I think I do want to have a baby. And we talked about it and, bam, pregnant with you. And you were just a joy. The belly laugh alone was worth it.
And little did you know I’d be putting on dance shows for you for the rest of my life.
Dancing and singing through the whole house—that was the first thing we missed when you went to college. Even your grandpa was like, she’s always dancing through the room, can’t she just walk through? Even here, how many times have you done your SVU dance? Honey, overall, this has been just such a great experience.
It has. I feel really grateful. I definitely did not expect to be away from home for ten weeks, but I think it was absolutely the right choice. I think it would have been bad for my mental health to be home alone. I haven’t not worked this long in many years, and I couldn’t tell you the last time that I was living day to day. I’m honestly not being very productive and I don’t feel bad about it. Because I know my drive will come back.
You’re so hard on yourself. Every job you had you learned a lot. I just saw a cup from your graduation from Syracuse in 2011. And look at what you accomplished in nine years. That’s not a long time.
I was talking about my years in New York to someone the other day. I lived a fairytale in so many ways. I lived insane dreams. When I think about my future, I can’t say I feel a lot of fear. I think I’ll be okay, and when I’m ready to get moving, I’ll do it.
You can go and tie up your loose ends in New York and come back anytime.
Or maybe I’ll get back there and feel like I want to stay. Who knows? I’m just holding plans very loosely right now. Whatever!
And you’ve got to go. That’s what a mom’s job is: letting you go. I love birds, and when they’re born, the wings are wet and they start to spread out, but they’re not quite dry yet. But I knew your wings were dry when you went off to college. Okay, go! You’ve got to go live your life.
You know I’ve heard you use that analogy about 400 times in my life.
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