Recently someone told me that 42 is the most perfect number in the galaxy, The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything. Here I was feeling all ancient sauce and then that gets dropped on me, kinda gives a number a whole new meaning when you look at it from that perspective. Ok then, apparently I have some serious shit to live up to.
It is no lie that the cobwebs have been growing on this here space. So much so, I have questioned as to why I continue to keep it. You’re probably thinking, “And of course, she resurrects it on her fucking birthday”. I know what this looks like, deal with it. Truth be told is this has fallen wayside to life. Like, actual LIFE. Everyone is talking about 2016 and what a raging shit show it has become. It truly has in many painful ways that I will not list here. No need to keep scratching an already broken record. But even then, I wish I could share in the sentiment entirely, but 2016 and most of 41 has been one of the most emotionally rewarding years of my life.
Moving back to San Diego really has done wonders for me, it was like reuniting with a lost love that you didn’t value enough and got a second chance to grow with again. I came back and fell into her sometimes too warm embrace, to be reminded of her grace and extension of opportunity, a place that I took for granted for so long. Every time I bear witness to her orchid colored sunsets, I just stop myself and let it serve as a reminder to be a little more grateful I get to revel in her once more.
It’s hard to look in the mirror and realize that the person staring back at you is so far removed from who she really should and could be. This was me and at the push, encouragement and support of some of the best people I have ever had the privilege to know, I decided it was time to do the work. We are always in a constant state of learning and growth and I never really realized just how true that was until I started peeling off the band aids to let the wounds dry out.
I’ve created beautiful, painfully cathartic artwork. The kind I look at and want to weep because I know the place it came from. Hell, the kind I wept over while making. This is something I have never experienced before: Not just making for the sake of making but using it as a real and very visceral outlet.
I’ve removed cinder blocks from my ankles in the form of toxic relationships with people. It’s so much easier to swim when you’re not tied to the bottom of the sea.
I confronted my fears, met, wept with and allowed myself to forgive someone who hurt me. I came at it from a place of truth, love, no expectations and exposed every fragment of my vulnerabilities to them. I am so glad I did because this process alone has been key in helping me see and understand more about myself than I thought I was capable of. And shit, I got one of my best friends back in the process.
I’m learning to establish boundaries, to not allow my feelings to be dismissed, to speak up and not hang on to things that made me feel wrong or that I don’t matter. The lid is so far off it makes me wonder why I didn’t do this sooner?
I stopped hiding behind my hair and cut the front of it right the fuck off. Like my friend Ginny said, “Welcome to THIS FACE motherfuckers”. It’s scary to alter one’s self especially when you’ve relied on a safe bet for a really long time. Most people change the outside in hopes of reinvention and oddly enough, I went the opposite direction: worked on the internality and changed the outside to reflect what was in there, somewhere. And no, I still don’t recognize myself in the mirror when I pass it but I’lll get there.
I’m working towards getting my house stronger, firmer and carrying myself with confidence. For reals. No fronts.
I know this sounds like a bunch of happy, hippie malarkey but honestly it hasn’t been that way. I have cried amounts that can fill a mason jar and they’ve all been the best of tears because they came from a place of vulnerability, honesty, support and love. I have been granted some of the most rewarding of human experiences with those who surround me. I just had to be open enough to listen and see. And fuck am I seeing…. with eyes that just got some damn lasik after being pretty damn blind.
It’s been hard and painful, but liberating and fucking incredible. I go into 42 with a lot of hope, strength and a lot of broken down walls. I’m pretty fucking proud of myself.
Chances are, if you’ve come in touch with me and shared a part of my life be it with love, friendship or interactions online, it is more than likely you could be part of my story. I exercise restraint and judgement mind you, but every connection and experience is a word and line.
Over the course of the past 15 years, I have spent a great deal of time sharing my life online. It has brought me many wonderful, cathartic moments and connected me to some amazing people. I wrote here quite a bit and then I just didn’t. It’s not like it wasn’t within good reason – you know, 3 huge relocations in less than 5 years will do that to you, but it went past the change of location.
They say when things get the hardest or when major life events occur is when you realize who your friends really are. I saw it when I ended up in the hospital at a very young age, when I got married, when Reza was born, when we had to move away and the moves that followed. That saying is incredibly and painfully true. With time comes growth, evolution within ones self – Life Happens.
But somewhere along the lines things started to change. You never realize that things are changing until you get to the point where they already have. Sometimes it takes days, months, sometimes it takes years for you to notice. You spend your time so focused on the forward and now, and the blindness of your love for a person tunes you out to the reality that they are pushing you away. So I got pushed away. All of a sudden I became one of those screws you put in your junk drawer, or the nostalgic broken toy on Andy’s shelf sitting around waiting to be played with and loved. Waiting for the day that never came and eventually would never come.
It’s an interesting situation to be put in the place of wanting answers you will never get. I don’t wish that on anyone. Lack of closure is a cancer that chips away at your soul if you let it and it is an incredibly hard pill, a giant horse sized antibiotic with no water. When the veil is lifted, when you see the ugly corpse bride underneath, you can’t un-see it anymore. I saw it and it is a cruel reality.
There comes a time where you realize that sometimes you are not put anywhere near the pedestal you give others. When you merge all of the puzzle pieces, times and scores only to realize you’re not even worth the fucking bronze medal when in your heart you’ve tried to be everything for gold. So this is where I am, trying to make peace within myself to move on. Trying to control the heartbreak of loss, the overwhelming sadness and anger when you’re made feel that what and who you are is so garbage worthy that you aren’t even worth an explanation or truth.
I have never lived my life in a manner of concealment. I have shared some amazing, glorious, painful and horrible truths about myself. My loves, passions, anger and shame. I’ve admitted I was wrong and I have apologized for it. I’ve celebrated my successes. I have welcomed you into my fold. I have poured out my words over coffee and tears on this screen or in conversation. I’ve lifted my shirt so you can see the scars. I have exposed my weaknesses and vulnerabilities. I’ve done it in private circles, with my nearest and dearest, and I’ve done it with complete and total strangers. I believe in being honest and forthright, especially when people are asking the questions. And before I used to do it openly without no abandon, with calculation or risk and without the false sense of safety that comes with blocks and filters.
And then I stopped.
Sure, I may trip or even fall along the way – but don’t we all? The pain sets in, you get up, brush the dirt off your wound and move on.
But something changed….
And it wasn’t me.
It took me a long time to get to this point and honestly, it has taken a lot longer than it should have gone on. I currently am rummaging in the pile of my own ashes only slowly emerging into a better version of myself. I am doing the work and I am not doing it alone because I see and acknowledge the pillars that have stuck around to help hold up my house, not the fair-weathered wood with termites on the insides and only looks pretty from one angle.
I have nothing to hide because who I am and where I have been is a line in the book I am writing, a book I will continue to write till I take my last breath. No one can keep that from me. NO ONE.
“I don’t want to become one of her blog entries”
You just did.
The house has miniature cityscapes of boxes in every corner. The walls are still bare. The bruises from all the bumps are slowly fading back to their pale states. It’s an interesting feeling to go from being in a constant marathon state of “Go! Go! Go!” that you almost don’t know what to do with yourself once you’ve reached the proverbial finish line.
It’s crazy how quick it happened really. Josh left and within two weeks we were able to secure the place we wanted, 1 week later the movers were loading it up and we were all in the car, cats in tow, saying our goodbyes to Sonoma County and headed home. Sounds like a breeze but man was it hard on me. My body has been giving me the finger for weeks.
When all the signs are pointing in the right direction and you’re getting pretty much everything you wanted, you can’t help but feel like fate is reaffirming your decision. San Diego wanted us home.
Having been gone for 4.5 years, she is still the same city but a lot has changed. The familiarity is there, the sense of direction comes back like riding a bike but things are just different. You see it with a whole different set of eyes, a higher sense of appreciation and gratitude. It’s somewhat inexplicable unless you’ve been in that place. You leave only to come back and fall in love all over again.
She was the place I grew up in, the place that has seen our highs and lows, the place where we met and got married, the place where she was born, the place where the roots run deep and it was time for us to really acknowledge that. I am grateful for the opportunity and possibilities. The many possibilities I know I did not appreciate and took for granted.
Never. Fucking. Again.
In any event, we found ourselves a cute little abode in an awesome neighborhood and slowly but surely we have opened the purple hardcover to yet another chapter of our lives. I am excited of the prospect of making new memories here with my family. Not to mention, getting to spend time with those who stood by us through the hardships and distances and welcomed us home with open arms. To creating new work in a space that just feels right.
All of it feels right. I can’t wait to share it with you.
I don’t know how to really begin this post. I guess you could say I am doing things a little differently because not only have my posts become farther and farther spread apart, I just don’t have it in me to go through a years worth of photos and posts to try and regurgitate content for the sake of a recap.
From what I do recall, 2015 was a lot of things…
A year where for the first time in a great while I experienced another round of depression that I was thankful to be able to get a grip on.
A year where I got to watch our daughter turn some corners I wasn’t ready to watch her turn but nonetheless, we plug on with our path as parents to help steer and guide her into a healthy life full of confidence and honesty.
A year where I moved forward with my artistic goals by leaps and bounds. I still have so much to learn but I am learning nonetheless. Slowly and steadily I work to accept my praises with grace and humility and my rejection with a smaller sense of devastation. It’s hard to take something so personal to you and put it out in the world to be met with criticism. Remember who you’re doing it for.
A year where I got to go back to Mexico on vacation. I got to rekindle, experience and reconnect with a vital part of my culture with my family by my side. I am incredibly grateful we were able to go.
A year where I have met some wonderful, incredible, talented, supportive people who I am fortunate enough to piece into my tribe. Some of the exchanges I have had over the past year have really helped broaden my horizons and pushed me into places I didn’t feel I had in me.
A year where I experienced and mourned the crushing loss of what I thought was meaningful friendship. I will never understand what I did or why I was cast aside, but one thing I do know: I cannot spend another year holding out hope for something that is headed toward burning out, a fire that was purposely extinguished. My heart and soul can’t take it anymore.
A year of so much good music, the never ending moments that I pair to a soundtrack that is my life.
A year of singing to 50’s music with Reza and driving Josh nuts with the things we enjoy and he eyerolls at.
A year where I am realizing there need to be changes to my parenting style and relationship with my daughter. Not because it’s bad, but because I know it has potential to go that way if I don’t learn to curb myself a little harder.
A year where I was sought out, believed in, loved and supported albeit through my creative endeavors, my words or my opinions. To those of you who were any of these things to me? Thank you, I noticed.
A year where I was confronted with the aging of my Parents, the inevitable progression of my Mother’s Alzheimers and heartache that comes with the preparation that one day she will no longer look at me with recognition.
A year where I chose to and will continue to embrace my truths. The good, the bad, the ugly…. and always working to recognize the latter and make the necessary changes in places that no longer serve or help me evolve.
A year I am ending on a note that involves so much emotional upheaval and change. Our lives come fill circle so very soon and I am very much looking forward to returning to our former home with a new set of eyes and renewed perspective.
And of course, yet another year filled with love and gratitude that I get to spend it with a person who sees, gets and makes me feel like the most loved person on Earth.
So yes, that is 2015. Not all of it is pretty but it is what it is. I am ready to see what the next year brings… one thing I do know, it’s going to be surrounded by wonderful settings, fantastic art, open arms, beautiful people I am so fortunate to know and it’s going to be on my fucking terms.
My birthday came and went last week and I normally make it a point to write a post to celebrate and muse about being one foot closer to the grave. I kid. I am far from “old” but man do I love to make jokes about it. In any event, I turned 41 last week and I didn’t write about it. Yes! 41! Sure, I may not feel like a spring chicken at times and things are sagging yo. Going the F South! But I don’t feel the need to omit my track record and how far I have managed to come. I own that shit for age is wisdom and I am not in the business of denying truths, especially mine. Life is far too short for bullshittery.
That said, the day was lovely and I did everything that was meant to happen on birthdays from lovely messages, a couple surprises in the form of BPAL and calla lilies, to wonderful food and epic sex. Cause no birthday is complete without a good banging. Amen for babysitting.
I am suffering from the most epic of hangovers though. No, I am not puking up my guts lamenting having a go around with Don Julio… this is a different kind of hangover. October was the craziest whirlwind. I made and sold art like a crazy person, I traveled, I saw, I felt things and it was so damn intense. It was like a comet that burned and burned and then it just fizzled. I thought I would come back from Mexico fully charged for another round at it and the complete opposite has happened. Some people thrive on the constant flow, I am not one of those people. I am still “not back” from the trip and paired with the change in climate and exterior of the world, I am finding myself in a place where I just want to hold on to what’s closest and hibernate. The cool thing about hibernation is that eventually the sleepy spell wears off and you crawl out of the cave with a fresh set of eyes. Big stretch. That time will come so I am not going to stress myself out over it. I have a habit of doing that shit.
I just hate the fact that my creative juice tapped the f out. I really need to fix that because when I am not being creative, I go stagnant. I feel dry and insipid. It reminds me of the time my Tita Carmen (grandmother) took me aside at the ripe age of 15 and told me that “if you don’t use the hole it’s going to rust”. Mi Tita had no idea how true that sentiment is and just how well it applies to other “holes”, not just the ones meant for good times. Now you know where my filthy, inappropriate-at-times mouth came from. That shit is completely genetic. High five Grandma.
Carley house continues to shift and I go with it. From shifts and things I’m not ready to talk about, to Reza growing up far too fast for our own good. I cannot even begin to tell you the stories that come with the latter, cause damn son, this child needs to slow the hell down. STORIES. The beauty is that despite that growth, Josh, Reza and I grow together at a fairly similar pace, a Kentucky Derby photo finish. They are by far the best gift I could have ever asked for… no amount of birthdays and x-mases (x-masses?) combined could ever sum up to a fragment of how happy they make me.
So yes, 41 came and will soon be went… I have lots of plans for 41 but I am going to focus on more “doing” than talking about it. Practice and far less preach. There’s way too much of that these days and the last thing I need to be is one of “those” people. No bueno.
I try and take one photo on the day of and all I could muster was this phone selfie.
After the Day of The Dead festivities ended in San Miguel De Allende, we moved on to the city of Guanajuato to finalize the last leg of our trip. I have been to Guanajuato a couple of times and I have so many fond memories from walking its streets and I always felt it was a place Josh would love.
The best way to hop over to Guanajuato from San Miguel was via cab. Some people like to do the bus but when you have 3 people, the cab ride is far more cost effective and convenient. An hour ride will cost you about $25-40 depending on your driver. The ride was incredibly scenic. Along the way we got to see tons of clouds and a funeral procession in the streets of nearby pueblo.
Guanajuato is a really kooky little town and there is an entire network of underground tunnels. These tunnels make you feel like you’re on the Pirates Of The Caribbean ride. You go in a tunnel and next thing you know there are minutes worth of dark, dank pathways. (click on the link above to witness)
It was entirely way too complicated for our cab driver to get us to our hotel so we got dropped off underground and just walked our way up. Quick!
I chose a centrally located hotel called La Casona de Don Lucas. It had some average reviews but I didn’t really care because convenience/location was key. Here is where it gets interesting. We walked in to our room and had a full on HOLY SHIT. See that top left balcony? That was our room.
This was our view. Total wow for us especially considering the place we stayed at in San Miguel (more on that later). The room was HUGE and was everything we could have hoped for as a place to close our trip out. That particular area is very hustle and bustle, can be very loud at times but the doors are so thick that they cancelled out the noise so well and we slept like babies besides the singing in the streets at 1 a.m. We all spent quite a bit of time on that balcony, reading, drawing, taking in the daily life of Guanajuatenses to the sound of church bells ever hour on the hour.
Guanajuato is a beautiful, colorful labyrinth of stacked architecture. Narrow alleyways take you into another undiscovered jewel only to loop you right back into the heart of downtown. Unlike San Miguel, it is extremely walkable and far more forgiving on the feet. It definitely has some very steep areas so good walking shoes are still a must. But you can hussy up your feet a little more here without a high risk for ankle rolling.
The city itself has a heart that I didn’t feel in San Miguel. Far less touristy and definitely has a beat to a different tune. There are sculptures on corners, wheat pasted art that shows a contemporary embrace and a nod to Don Quijote everywhere. Once a year they host the Festival Internacional Cervantino, usually in the month of October, where the city is overrun by music, theater, art, concerts, art installations, crafts and dance… in venues and on the streets. People from all over the globe flock to the city and immerse themselves in a cultural experience of the arts. It’s a pretty fun experience if you have the opportunity to go, just make sure you book your stay far in advance because you won’t find an empty bed in the city. Also, since it’s not as touristy as San Miguel, I found it to be far more affordable because they’re not gouging the man. You can seriously live like a king here depending on the dollar exchange. Just note, if you plan on changing dollars while there, your bills better be crispy, new, unmarked, and un-torn in any way. They simply just won’t take them.
Nieve de Garrafa which pretty much OWNS traditional ice-cream any day of the week. And it’s cheap! This cup of heaven was less than $1. To say it wasn’t a daily treat would be a LIE. So so tasty.
A visit to the infamous mummy museum, las Momias De Guanajuato. Not for the squeamish or easily affected by the sight of bodies. It can be pretty graphic for those with a weak constitution. Even more because part of the museum is under a portion of the cemetery so it can get pretty dank.
And of course the cemetery which happened to be right next to the mummy museum. Different air at this one since we were catching it post Dia De Los Muertos so there was no one there and we were able to freely roam without making anyone feel uncomfortable. A lot of the Day Of Dead type altar/offerings had already been cleaned up by the time we got there though, boo!
Visiting the birthplace and former home of Diego Rivera, now turned museum. We were not allowed to photograph any of the artwork but rest assured it was a real treat to see many pieces by this beloved Mexican treasure.
Wandering around the Mercado, where amongst all the kitschy, touristy crap, you can find some real gems to bring home with you.
And of course no trip is complete without a lot of tasty eats (ice cream!), hunting for bad ass souvenirs, naps, hotel room lounging. There was a lot of that. Especially since I got slammed with monthly chick shit that no one wants to deal with on vacation. Note to you ladies: pack your things cause using tampons you’re not used to sucks BALLS. Yes, TMI. I don’t care.
So about the hotel vs AirBnb. Ok so after doing both on the same trip, I can say that we preferred the hotel experience FAR more. Not that the room we booked through AirBnb was bad, but honestly it’s hard to completely relax when you’re in someone else’s home. You have this air of accountability and you just can’t chill. Not like in a hotel. In a hotel you can get purple hair dye drip on a towel and not worry they’re gonna have your ass over it. Add free breakfast buffet, room service, sending away your laundry to get washed and folded for next to nothing, getting your bed done for you every day? That’s vacation! And honestly well worth spending the extra peanuts to make it happen. Sorry AirBnb… not sorry. 😉
The trip home was a long one with too much time to kill at the Leon airport, an insane layover in LAX that entailed hustling through immigration and customs and hauling back to another terminal with barely enough time to stop and pee. I will say this, the international terminal at LAX has certainly changed since we were last in it and they were ninja quick in getting us through since we had a connecting flight to make. Add another hour drive upon landing in SFO. Still, for the cost of the airfare, it was so worth it. ($400 rt – it costs more to fly to the East Coast! Just sayin’)
So what did I bring back? To be continued….
The rest of the photos from this leg of the trip can be found over on our flickr page.
It’s so hard to conjure up a post to describe your travels when you know that the photos and what they depict can say it far better than you ever could. Maybe.
After 8 long years of vacation time being spent on familial obligations, we decided it was time to check the F out of the country. Just us. And that we did.
It has been a long dream of mine to share Guanajuato with Josh. For him to experience the real Mexican interior, and with the Day Of The Dead holiday looming, a search for ticket costs turned into a last minute “let’s do this shit!”. We split up our time fairly evenly between San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato (the city, not the state).
First stop, San Miguel.
We took the red eye out of SFO and had a small layover in LAX which almost didn’t happen cause they were over weight capacity and bribing people to get off the plane with vouchers and hotel stays. We came this close to doing it too ($700 in vouchers per person) but someone beat us to the punch. I am seriously surprised we didn’t get sick cause that flight greeted us with 4 fucking kids in the row in front of us and one of them coughed THE. ENTIRE. FLIGHT. So much for sleeping on the red eye. Exhaustion, party of 3.
We hired a car service to shlep us from the airport to San Miguel. It costs more but is infinitely more convenient than a bus, even more when you’re tired as fuck. We arrived at 5 a.m. and the ride out to San Miguel was another 90 minutes. It was still dark but the beauty of it is we got to watch the sun rise on the horizon.
San Miguel doesn’t seem like much till you get deep down in it. I could totally make a sex joke right now but will refrain cause I am trying to adult here. We showed up to the place we booked through AirBnB. We knew they weren’t going to be ready for us so we dropped off our shit and immediately took off to walk around and find something to eat. Note to self: don’t ever book shit like that again… pay so you have the time to roll right the hell in.
We were beat as all get out but managed to make the best of it and going through the photos, it paid off cause we had a very sleepy city and little to no hustle and bustle to work around. The streets are narrow, cobblestoned (more on that later), and color in every shade of the rainbow. Since the city is crawling with ex-pats, we had no problem finding a Starbucks to get some delicious “keep me awake” fuel. Yes, they spelled my name right.
First off, the door porn here is amazing. All unique, rad knockers (*snicker*) and since the holiday was looming, some had beautiful floral arrangements around the entrance. There were lots of door photos.
San Miguel de Allende has a heart, a beautifully landscaped square and gazebo but the meat of the burrito is the Parroquia de San Miguel Archangel (church). Incredibly picturesque and will be the backdrop to one a many photos in the days to come.
The town itself is incredibly walkable and cab rides are really cheap ($2-3) but what the guides don’t tell you is that you will be dealing with cobblestone streets, uneven-steep-narrow sidewalks, lots of dog shit, and lord will your feet HURT. The stones are not even in the least so a good portion of the walking is a delicate balancing act in ankle stability. So if you ever go here is tip #1: Bring good, comfy, flat shoes. Leave your heels at home unless you plan on using them for hotel sexy time only, or you want to roll one of those babies straight on to Fracture Island and end up ruining your entire trip, by all means, bring your Louboutins. TRUST ME. Considering I saw a couple tourists on crutches, I know how they got that way. Don’t let the above picture fool you… what Josh is really thinking is “Fuck this street, my feet and calves are on FIRE!”
We were there for the Festival La Calaca, aka a planned out Day Of The Dead festival. The actual holiday is 11/1-11/2 but the celebrations started a couple days prior. The city was abuzz with it. You could see it, feel it, smell it. It started filling up with people, obnoxious tourists, vendors and marigolds galore. There is so much color it is almost blinding when the sun is at its highest. Some of my photos needed little to no editing because yes, it was that vibrant.
As the days go on, they had an inaugural celebration complete with an Aztec blessings and dancing, chains of flowers, smells of copal incense and marigolds, papel picado banners everywhere. It is a truly magical experience, even more when witnessed with far more authenticity. You sense the community coming together to build their altars and installations in a way that you can just feel inside you. It reaches in and punches you in the gut when you least expect it. You realize that there is far more to the holiday than fancy face make-up and catrina cosplay. It’s a celebration of reverence, where every color, flower, offering has a significance. A cultural tradition that should be treated with respect.
Highlights from the festival include…
The perfection of this couple in the parade along with hundreds of kids and adults in awesome costume. Skull faced mariachi, stilt walkers and giant towering paper mache skeletons, devils and catrinas.
This gigantic pyramid compiled from a bunch of “nichos” (enclosed altar/tributes) that was set up in a local park along with a craft fair.
The market that had nothing but sugar offerings, papel picado, candles and candy for the graveside and altar installations.
Exploring the cemeteries that were fully decked out, covered in petals, candles, candies and bees. So many happy bees. Beautiful, meticulously put together altars and floor murals made of grains and sand.
Make no mistake, amongst all the festivity and cheer there is also a very somber feeling when we visited the cemetery. This is a very real thing for those who are local, part of which I did my best to be respectful of and not take a lot of photos. At one point I recall turning a corner, and there in front of me was a woman who stood in front of what had to have been her Father or Husband, a hand over her heart and tears in her eyes. This is what it’s about: honoring those who have left us by walking the space on the day when the veil is thin.
Overall we had a great time between lounging in our room, shopping, exploring and going out to eat every day. The food of course was glorious even if it wreaks intestinal havoc. Nothing a trip to the pharmacy and a bowl of menudo won’t fix.
We stayed there about a day too long though… after a while you have seen it all and as observant as we are, it was hard not to feel sad how a small little jewel like that is slowly becoming gentrified by the people who retire there and are driving the cost of living up. When real estate offices have prices in dollars, well that says it all.
Despite some curve balls here and there, which traveling with a sassy 9 year old who gave up Halloween will bring, we had the best time wandering around and exploring. So after a few days, we said goodbye to San Miguel and headed to Guanajuato.
To be continued…
All photos/videos from the San Miguel de Allende portion of our trip can be viewed over on flickr.
I understand it has been a great while since I have come to this space to drop some wisdom and fluff at you. What can I say? Life has been BUSY and not in that “I’m busy while sitting on my couch watching Netflix and double tapping my cell phone screen” kind of way.
Artwork making has been in full on overdrive and if you follow me on Facebook or Instagram you may have seen just how much I have been churning out. It has been FANTASTIC.
I recently was asked to create some more label work for my favorite perfume oil magic makers, Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. This collection hasn’t been released yet but I can say the work came out DOPE. I cannot wait to share it with you when the time is close.
The one thing I can spill all kinds of beans on is that I was lucky enough to test drive a few of their highly anticipated and soon to be dropped collection inspired by Guillermo Del Toro’s gothic masterpiece, Crimson Peak. Yes, *that* Crimson Peak. mmmm Tom Hiddleston in Victorian clothing. I KNOW.
My press pack arrived a few days after having seen the film and the timing was perfect because I was able to make all kinds of associations to the characters, plot, etc. The movie itself is visual, gothic perfection and paired with fragrance it’s a perfect marriage of the senses.
The perfume line has 30 individual scents. Yes, thirty. Prepare your wallets for some damage because the lab has really outdone themselves with this line and I only got to smell/test 7 of 30.
I will preface by saying that I am not a professional nose and I hate florals. I am one of those people who would rather smell like food, sugar, booze and a brothel of eras past. That said, I am so very pleased to share some insight to help you in your wallet denting ways.
[ If you haven’t seen the movie heed with caution as to some of these descriptions *may* be spoilers and I don’t need to hear from the “you spoiled it” police. There, you have been disclaimed. ]
On to the crack!
CRIMSON PEAK [EPONYMOUS]
A house that breathes, that bleeds, and remembers.
A house like this, in time can become a living thing with timber for bones and windows for eyes: snow marbled with blood-red clay, frozen over the scent of decayed wood.
This one was a bit of a surprise for me. In the bottle it smells icy, cold, with a woody undertone. Over the course of application it felt red and the wood amped. It’s really a tough one to describe but all I do know that out of the 7 I tried, it made my top 3 and for a picky bitch like me? That says something.
A ghost story – Your father didn’t tell me it was a ghost story…
It’s not, Sir, it’s – more like a story… with a ghost in it.
A leather bound manuscript, ink barely dry. A Gothic ghost tale, personified. The pages are permeated with a preternatural, otherworldly quality – but only slightly, as the ghost is the counterpoint; leather and paper and splotches of ink with a hint of ghostly chill.
This smells exactly like the description. Aged parchment, soft leather… more like suede and tap of ink. I normally don’t care for smelling like old books unless there is an accompanying sugary/boozy note that I like and this one just works. On the skin, the paper note dropped and it just melded nicely with me. I foresee some BPAL fans will like this one quite a bit.
Back home we only have black moths. Formidable creatures. They thrive on the dark and cold.
What do they feed on?
Butterflies, I’m afraid.
A flutter in the darkness: wild plum and blackcurrant with aged patchouli, vetiver, red rose petal, tonka absolute and opoponax.
This one. THIS ONE. I fully predict this will be one of the top sellers in the entire collection. I am lucky to have had a chance to try this one because based the description I would probably have never picked it up. Florals scare me but the rose in this is not very prominent or noticeable. It starts out smoky patchouli with a light, sweet back end, but this one morphs quite a bit with wear and for me she ended in plum. It’s evokes dark velvet, plushness, mystery and shade. One of my top 3.
SIR THOMAS SHARPE
Give in to temptation: black amber darkens a pale fougere.
I really wanted to love this one cause I am total Hiddlestoner and sure enough, I did. Call it the power of suggestion or just good BPAl magic. In the bottle it’s a light musk, it smells almost soapy. Surprising for Thomas but ok. On the skin the fouogere really began to amp and it smelled clean and herbaceous. Imagine laying in bed while watching a freshly showered man, towel wrapped around his waistline, lathering his face and shaving with a straight razor, steam rising from the sink. That is what this scent evokes. It’s masculine with a surprising feminine quality to it. It lasted a long time on me and melded to well into my personal chemistry. A scent I constantly revisited by wrist sniffing only to fall in love with him all over again. The last of my top 3 and my favorite of the 7.
LADY LUCILLE SHARPE
Love makes monsters of us all; faded red roses and a glimmer of garnet with black lily, yang slang, smoky plum musk and black amber.
This is where I go south. Waaaaaay too floral for me. Lily is a death note for me and has potential to be a one way ticket to Headache Town. I didn’t care for this one at all, but to play devils advocate, I did share with a long time BPAL collector who loves florals and she loved it. So take my flower hating opinion with a grain here. Lady Lucille is all you floral lovers, you can have her. She’s a babe.
Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind: pearlescent vanilla musk with white sandalwood, grey amber, whit patchouli, ambrette seed and oudh.
This one is pure and virginal. A white nightgown on your wedding night, innocent and airy. It went powdery on me. Powdery in that delicious, top of a newborn baby’s head smell kind of way. There really is no getting around that because that is what it smelled like to me and a friend. Once we smelled it, we could not unsmell. I don’t mind the powdery but I can see why some may. Still torn on whether to love her or leave her. But she sure is pretty.
DR. ALAN McMICHAEL
My deeper concern has always been for you. If you are happy, I am happy.
Bay rum and sandalwood.
This is super true to the notes. More bay rum than sandalwood. On wear I amped a spicy undertone in the bay rum. I like this one and it smelled even better on my dude. It was long lasting on him, like, all day wear long lasting.
Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab really knocked this one out of the park, truly. You can feel the love behind this line, a masterwork collection of scent. I almost want to go back to see the movie with bottles in tow just to sniff during their respective scenes to make it that much more magical. And hey, Tom Hiddleston’s ass. Look, I am only saying what we are all thinking. *wink*
The collection inspired by Legendary/Guillermo Del Toro’s Crimson Peak goes live on Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab‘s website on October 31st, 2015.
You close a window and then you find you don’t revisit it for months. I mean, I have written but let’s be real, it hasn’t really been any substance. Like eating a veggie burger pretending it was something else. There was no meat in those buns.
Truth be told is I am pretty overwhelmed on so many fronts that I feel like I have to retreat in order to make any headway. It’s what I do. The minute the vulnerability starts to set in, the walls raise themselves automatically. Only a small few get to peek into that window. Or better yet, very few want to.
For starters, I have been knee deep in deadlines and commitments. Being an artist is tough when you’re managing a household. People can assume you just wake up and shit your talent out but in my case it’s a little tougher. Add that to being a graduate from Insecurity University, I always find myself in a state of second guess, a place where the rulers are always out wondering where I measure up. I would like to believe that what I have to offer and do has its place in the world. It does. But don’t think for a second it hasn’t come with nights of anxiousness and tossing, wondering whether my tiny little doodles will be viewed as something wonderful or is it one footstep away from tripping into the land of mediocrity. You put it out there only for people to spew their insecurities at you, make comments about my appearance or to go as far as insult the way I speak. Holy shit.
Blogging has really changed from the time I started writing publicly about my life in 2001. It was fun, exhilarating, I met some amazing people that to this day still “know” me. I wish I could go back to that place where people held each other up online. In that world I found the “me too!”, the “I am not alone”, the “we are so alike”. This amazing sense of community. Now there seems to be so much cutting down, haterade and negativity. So much so that at times it becomes unbearable to want to be a part of it. I hide, remove and unfollow at the drop of a hat. It’s hard to share with as much fearlessness as before. Granted, I’m writing now, but these types of posts where I cut the vein to bleed all over the screen are few and far between. (That was a metaphor btw, I don’t need a wellness check. No, really.)
But alas, I plug away and am trying to work and network harder than I have in a long time. It’s an internal struggle that will sooner or later manifest itself into something. When the juices flow and when I am busy on my terms is when I am at my best.
The past couple of weeks have been tough though. Our space wasn’t ours for a couple weeks. My parents came to visit and I hate to say, it was one of the toughest visits with them to date. My mother has Alzheimers and the change from the last time I saw her was pretty obvious. The forgetfulness is more present than ever and every time I had to remind her where the trash can was (daily), or tell her for the 10th time how old Reza was, my heart broke a little more. Every once in a while I would get a glimpse of the Mom I know and when that happened I smiled on the outside but inside I wanted to go to the bathroom, close the door and cry. Watching someone you love lose their cognizance and awareness is incredibly sad, even more when you know they’re afraid and aren’t in an environment that will stimulate them. I wish I could say there is a happy ending to this story but there isn’t. My sweet, doting Mother will not know who I am one day and that is a really tough pill to swallow.
Pair that with my Father and well, let’s just say things didn’t end on the best note. I am coming to terms with the fact that he and I will never really mesh. Daddy issues. How cliche. He comes from the Old School and I am not part of that alumni. Mexican culture has its “way” about things sometimes one of which entails back handed compliments and criticizing you under the guise of “opinion”. A strong case of a well intended message but an absolutely shitty delivery. Either way, none of those things have ever been my M.O. and honestly, it hurts when you’re getting it from one of your parents. All it does is make me feel like nothing I do is good enough. Truth be told is we have nothing in common other than family ties, that became painfully obvious. One can only get poked at so much before you finally blow your top, which I did. You have to understand that I rarely see discourse or argument in my home. It just doesn’t happen… and when you get a week of it? A week of getting a push back ON EVERYTHING? And it was crimson tide week? It was very overwhelming for me. I. Lost. It.
I can only end up in tears so many times behind closed doors before my husband chimed in to the mix and Dad didn’t like it. So much that he left refusing to look me in the eye and stood there like stick when I tried to hug him goodbye. I hope you never have that much pride in your body that you’d rather call a cab than get a ride to the airport from your daughter who had a moment of vulnerability. And then I wonder where my feelings of insecurity and inadequacy come from. Ha. Being kind, admitting you’re wrong, finding the middle of the road? Those things are not weaknesses. And then you come to the sad conclusion that in your adult life you cannot recollect your Dad ever telling you that he’s proud of you. Think about that for a minute.
The reality is a cruel one. You come to terms and grips with your own mortality when you know your family is on the slow decline toward theirs. All of a sudden I am envisioning what it will be like for Reza, or how hard it would be to be my Father, losing his life partner to an illness. It is all so complicated and age isn’t making it any easier… on anyone. You can only deny it happening for so long.
One thing I will say, I am so grateful for Josh. He has been a wall of support through all of it and not once has he ever discredited or invalidated my feelings with excuses. He above all others knows ME and who knows where I would be if I didn’t have him in my court. He has been in the best of headspace, working hard on himself and it shows so much in all of his actions and words. I really could not be more proud of him and all the work he has been doing and there are not enough words to express the love and gratitude I have for him.
I am ready for Summer to be OVER. I want my boring Sonoma County life back, my routine, ritual, quiet weekends in my home, couch snuggles watching Churrazo Friday.
Reza goes back to school on Wednesday and it is going to allow me far more free time to focus on me and my artwork. At the very least I have something to really look forward to. We booked a last minute impulse trip. We are going to Mexico in October for Dia De Los Muertos and you have NO IDEA how much I am looking forward to a vacation with my Triangle. It needs to happen like you have no idea.
Did you make it this far? Thanks for doing so, truly.
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