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.
Back in the late 90’s I was a freshly pushed out fledgling. I had left home a few years prior and after my sister decided to sell her house it was apparent that it was time for me to move into a place of my own. I was never the type of person that wanted roommates. I had so many friends with horror stories of Roommates Gone Wrong that I decided a solo venture was the way to go, so I searched for the cheapest place I could afford.
I ended up in a place in Golden Hill, San Diego. At the time it was a seedy old hood, blocks away from a freeway underpass. I found a tiny, slated tiled one bedroom with the bathroom the size of a broom closet but the rent was $500. Score! ($500 for a place in San Diego… hahahaha!) It was a total steal and I wanted it badly. The landlord was this kooky Greek lady who had been widowed and had been left with more property than one tiny, old lady should ever own. I fought tooth and nail for that broom closet too, so much so that I paid double the deposit. Lack of rental history will do that to you.
When I moved in, the previous tenant felt it was her duty to leave me things under the sink like cheap 99 cent store cleaning supplies, dirty sponges and some condiments in the fridge. All of her gifts were gross and unimpressive to say the least. As I cleared the space for what will soon be my empty fridge full of condiments and leftover take out containers, my eye was caught by an amber glow. There she was. Mrs. Butterworth, in glass form and pristine condition. She was close to empty and taking up residence on the bottom corner of the refrigerator door.
As you know, you can rarely find a glass version of her in the stores anymore. The sentimentality got me, probably because it was something that reminded me of my childhood. I threw everything out. All but my empty, brown beauty with a booty that don’t quit.
I am all for things like signs and omens. Maybe I like to read into things far more than one every should but I couldn’t help but feel she was put there for a reason. Since that fateful day Mrs. Butterworth has been my kitchen companion, the fairy godmother to my food and would live in my fridge as long as I wanted her to. As long as I have a say, she will be the holder and keeper of my culinary mojo. So there she stayed. And yes, I still have her.
When we moved to New Jersey, you better believe she went with us. In fact, she has resided in FOUR different fridge doors, four addresses and two states. I was cleaning out my fridge just now when there, from the bottom corner of the door, I was greeted by my long time kitchen friend. “Nice to see you too”.
We all have weird stories to share, and man do I have many. Everything has a story but this one is hers.
Do you know how hard it is to find a good “Father’s Day card for my Husband” these days? Holy shit. You roll up to the section and it’s a sea of every shade of blue. Things like: “To My Dear Hubby” (vomit), beer, golf, fishing or even worse, jokes alluding to how well trained I have you, or how I grateful I am you’re around because things would never get done without your helping fix things, mow the lawn or unclog drains. Really. Nothing says “Happy Father’s Day!” like being thanked for taking out the garbage. It’s a sad state of affairs. Any jackass can mow a stupid lawn or crack open a beer. Not sure how that constitutes being a good Father but somewhere the staff at American Greetings and Hallmark are on drugs or are really running out of ideas.
You see, almost 9 years ago your epic sperm destroyed my egg wall. It was a pretty bad round of drunk, Valentine’s Day sex, too! I am so glad we can look back and laugh about that one cause it was sloppy and sad. Yet, despite that hot mess, the egg destruction brought forth an amazing child and because of her you can add “someone’s Father” to your resume of adventures. But it is what came after that really counts… the unconditional love, being there, catch playing, bike riding teaching, the mustache sticker wearing, the sopping of little girl tears on your shoulder, showing up, the discussions about the ways of the world and how to conquer it. Now that is the kind of shit makes you a Dad. It has nothing to do with lawn mowing, grilling meats in the back yard or your personal hobbies. None whatsoever.
Let’s get real here. Not anyone can be a good Dad. The word “Dad” is thrown around about as much as a ball at a baseball game and truth be told, not everyone deserves it. It takes a lot of work, attention, self sacrifice, patience. Lots and lots of patience which you seem to be the king of. (You can add “Josh, King Of Patience Island ” to your resume too). This Dadding business takes a stand up and solid kind of man. And I don’t mean that in a “bearded, ball scratching, farts in his sleep and takes 20 minute shits” kind of man either.
These card making assholes got it all kinds of wrong.
There is no ruler on this Earth that could measure just how immensely you are loved, respected and appreciated. You’re not my Daddy, but you’re Reza’s and you’re really damn good at it. She is one of the lucky ones to have someone like you to look up to.
So Happy Father’s Day to you Josh. Today is your day to chill, pat yourself on the back and do nothing but you…. ok, and me if you’re down. *wink*
Allow me to dust off the cobwebs for some realness.
In order to be able to see the light, one must experience a little bit of darkness. One shouldn’t exist without the other, at least, that’s the way I feel.
For the past couple of months I have been living in the dark. In a more simplified way, you could say I was (am?) in a state of depression. It took me a while to recognize its presence, but once I realized it was there, it loomed like my shadow, even when the sun was its brightest. Getting out of bed required effort, I wanted to sleep a lot and the fog has lingered for weeks.
It took a while for me to recognize but once but I did it was pretty easy to accept, but my awareness of it only reinforced just how much I didn’t like it and I needed to do something about it.
I have always been a pretty emotionally driven person. My exterior wall is built with fun imagery, dirty jokes, my harmonious home life and what you get to see with your eyes. But the truth is that all of that fluff and fun is the bouncy house exterior to the wall I have guarding the inside. I don’t drop the walls very often and if you have had a chance to really peek inside my windows, I am a person full of drawers. You can imagine how I felt when I saw a sculpture of Salvador Dali’s “woman aflame” for the first time. It is to this day one of, if not my favorite pieces of art. She resonates something in me. (Note to self: find a replica)
Each drawer represents a compartment of my life. I fill it with ideas, people, feelings, relationships, the things I hold closest and sometimes the things I need to put away. Some of those drawers are mint and functional, some are missing their handles or are stuck. It is probably with good reason that they are, some drawers are meant to stay shut.
I have been checked out for quite a while now. I tend to be one of those people that don’t like to burden others with my goings on. Save for Josh and a couple friends who actually took the time to ask, I have been relatively mum about the whole thing. Everyone has their “things” and I like to try and figure out what those “things” are instead of going on and on about it while trying to find them. If that makes sense.
So I retreated within myself to do some searching and trying to find what it was that ailed me.
I love Josh with everything in me, he is part of the threads that weave every fiber of my being. He has listened, encouraged, held, spoke and supported. We have done all the things partners should do but I also knew that the constant state of venting needed to be directed elsewhere, in neutral ground where I can see a little clearer.
I went to talk to someone about it. It was a short-lived round of therapy since a lot of that immediately gravitated toward medication. Well that and I seemed to be coming to conclusions on my own. Let me make it abundantly clear that I am not against the idea of medication if it would help. I get that people need it to function and if it works for others then awesome for them. I just know I am hypersensitive and I would probably get all the side effects. My gut told me that path wasn’t the best one for me… the last thing I need is for something to make me heavier and kill my sex drive. That within itself would only bum me the hell out even more.
With that said, I have been looking for pieces in order to make my picture feel whole again. A different path so to speak.
One thing that was pointed out to me, and was totally true, is that I seem to spend a lot of time doing for others and not doing enough for myself. I am the anchor of the home, the show scheduler, the cook, the mother, the wife, the nurturer and giver. You have no idea just how fast it happens and next thing you know, you have let your self go to the wayside We live in a society where it is engrained into our heads that the act of doing for yourself is an act of selfishness. “Selfish” is so far from who I am or ever want to be. Maybe it is the minuscule shred left of my Catholic upbringing, who knows, but guilt and the constant state of apology for doing for myself is something I need to shed.
Then there is the state of my personal relationships with people. I have been spending so much time hanging on to friendships who have given me little to nothing in such a long time. Yet I hang on and for what? The calls that never come, the messages never returned, the unreciprocated question that we all need to hear: “Hey, how are YOU?”. The constant state of disappointment. It’s a gut wrenching to know and feel like you have done nothing wrong yet you’re now an afterthought in the inevitable show of growing apart. The connection being clipped like a thread. A swift kick to the balls is what it is… and while I don’t have balls, I can imagine it hurts like a motherfucker. Just like losing people you thought better of.
In any event, it has been a process and will continue to be. For those of you who know the feeling, depression travels time like dog years. These things are slow and take time.
And if you’ve made it this far, I owe you a cookie…
Which brings me to my “AH HA!” moment.
When it comes to life and the interest of self preservation I have always made it a point to remember one thing: “Learn and master the art of saying NO. The sooner you learn how to say no, the happier you will be”. I have said it a lot and for the most part, that shit holds tried and true. But something hit me in the past couple of weeks that made me look at that from another perspective. I have been so caught up in the constant state of “no” that I am also forgetting that there are so many things I want and need to say “yes” to. Saying “yes” has brought me so many rewarding experiences and I have been denying myself the chance at potentially wonderful opportunities out of fear. Because while I can dish a “hell no” like the best of them, I don’t have the skin to hear it back and that’s just not how it works.
So I have embarked on saying “yes” more.
Yes to forcing myself out of the house.
Yes to invites.
Yes to experiencing new things and people.
Yes to honoring my feelings and needs for a change.
Yes to finally growing a fucking pair and putting myself out there more.
Yes to giving my energy to those who want and appreciate it.
Yes to contacting galleries and trying to get my voice heard (and being incredibly surprised at the responses!!).
Yes to treating myself better.
Yes to wanting what I think I am deserving of.
Yes to knocking on doors, answering doors and walking through them.
And yes to taking dives off the cliff even if you know there may be rocks the bottom.
Yes. A thousand times YES.
I have been doing a lot of soul searching in the past few weeks. Some of these quests are making me look at myself long and hard. I am finding a lot of things that aren’t pretty, trust me they aren’t. I guess you could say I am kind of going through a bit of an emotional low point. This doesn’t happen often, at least not for me but when it does it arrives hard. It’s crazy how all of a sudden it creeps up on you, a bite on the back of your shoulder and next thing you know the itch is there. The incessant, anxious itch you can’t seem to reach in order to satiate.
In any event, I guess you could say I have neglected this space. Along with so many other things. The reflection of the exterior is a portrait of what’s inside… and what is inside feels disjointed, uneasy, an unfinished puzzle with missing pieces that I am still trying to find. They will turn up eventually, I just need to look a little harder.
It’s hard not to beat myself up over previous decisions in my life. I know some of those things have made me who I am now. The wisdom that came from those things have helped form a foundation on which I stand. Even then, I can’t help but think about where I would be if I just had my current self go back in time.
If I could, this is what I would probably tell myself…
There is great power within you, you just need to know how to hone it and where to direct it. You’ll get there.
Convey your feelings often, hold nothing in. The good, the bad, they ugly. All have an appropriate outlet.
Ask for help when you need it. It’s ok. Needing help is not weakness.
Take your own advice.
Don’t ever let anyone tell you how or who you should be.
If a dude treats you like shit, you leave. It really is that simple. Life is too short to spend it with people who don’t think you’re rad. Same goes for friends.
Speaking of friends, sometimes the best ones will be in the most unlikely of places. Always pay attention to who is actually listening, get rid of the ones who don’t.
It’s ok to be a little shameless.
Stop placing so much value on how others perceive you. You will deny yourself so many wonderful, basic life experiences because of it.
Learn and master the art of humility, gratitude, giving a compliment, accepting a compliment and when to just say “no”.
Spend more time with critters. They will teach you far more about love than some of those stupid dudes you are dating.
Do lots of things for yourself, don’t wait for someone to do it for you.
Question everything but know when to surrender to uncertainty.
Get outdoors more. Some of the best places are outside and free. They will fulfill you more than clubs and bars ever will.
Be better at your finances. I know people say that shit doesn’t matter. It doesn’t buy happiness but it certainly helps keep you from being stressed out all the time.
Travel. See new places, road trip, try new things. You will come back a changed person and will teach you more than a book ever will.
Be honest. Speak loudly. Be heard.
No one likes a sourpuss. No One. So if you’re going to be that person, stay home and work on fixing what is making your puss sour.
Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Girl.
I depart from my usual posting content to share a story with you. You see, I try to keep this place fun, lighthearted, interesting. But above all, I like to keep it honest. This is a post where I share some trials in the world of parenting.
It is nothing new when I say that kids can be some of the biggest assholes on the planet. Some kids don’t know better, or they were never shown how to be loving and kind. Some come from horrible home situations and in turn act out or take it out on other children. It’s almost of right of passage to encounter one of these kids in your lifetime.
Ever since Reza decided to shave the side of her head, she has told us about situations where kids (mostly older boys) make comments to her about it. That she “looks like a boy”. We encourage her to defend herself in whatever way she seems fit and have stressed that we will never be mad at her if she gets in situations or altercations out of self defense. I will never punish her for standing up for herself or others.
For a while now, we have been noticing changes in her demeanor. Truth be told it happens quite often. As she grows up she continues to navigate down uncharted waters, with it come storms or smooth sails. These changes are usually par for the course, typical growing pains. We usually just say it’s “just the age” and when that happens we adjust how we handle it accordingly. But this was different.
All of a sudden our spunky girl was bottled up, withdrawn, moody, snappy, sassy. We are very in tune and when she isn’t herself it is pretty obvious something is going on. So I decided to ask her what troubled her. My first instinct was that she was getting bullied in school. Several weeks ago I was cleaning her bedroom, reorganizing her many books. I picked up one of her sketchbooks and this is the page it was opened up to…
Try finding that amongst your child’s things and tell me your heart wouldn’t break a little. Mine did. Here’s this wonderful person who just happens to be a little quirky and other kids are using that unique light against her. Assholes. It’s funny because the defense mechanism kicks in and the first thing that comes to mind is, “who is this little shit so I can go open a can of whoop-ass”. You too? Ha. Luckily we talk to her A LOT about always being a kind person and owning her eccentricity. She brushes stuff off but even the strongest of fortresses can have a weak spot. Trust me, I know… she is just like me.
I never asked her about the drawing because I didn’t want her to feel I was snooping. We are very large proponents about giving her her space. I didn’t have it and I still remember how hurt I was when my privacy was violated by my Mother, even more when I had zero reasons for her to even cross that line. But the change was so drastic that I decided it was time to ask.
She did admit some kids have said things to her. When that happens we tell her how to cope, retort and the best ways to dish it back. But she insisted that wasn’t the “issue”. I was met with a lot of resistance. “I don’t want to talk about it” many times over. I asked all kinds of questions without being pushy but she insisted on staying mum but did say, “I would rather not tell you because I know it is going to make you mad”. You can imagine the kinds of shit that went through my head. Pair that with a very heavy heart because I just knew something was wrong and all of a sudden, I can’t fix it.
This is one of the hardest feelings in my life as a parent thus far. Sleepless nights, potty training, tantrums? All of that shit is trivial and pales in comparison to when you know something is wrong with your child and you feel they are beyond your help. That sense of helplessness is overwhelming, a knot in your gut that nothing will relieve. All of a sudden your Mommy Glue doesn’t work on this, not this time lady.
I didn’t press her. I talked to her teacher and nothing abnormal there. And then it hits me. She has asked questions about having boyfriends and we always respond with stern “not anytime soon girlie”. I bet this has something to do with a particular boy. As the evening rolled on, she broke out in an allergic reaction to something and while grilling her about what she did, ate, etc. I just told her that I can’t help or give her the right kind of advice if she isn’t going to talk to me.
And out it came. Yes, she does get poked at in school but nothing she doesn’t seem to be handling. This mood was heartbreak, a schoolgirl crush that is going unreciprocated. Shit. Look, I am not naive enough to think that my daughter isn’t going to develop feelings for another boy/girl/wherever she wants to go with it. I guess I didn’t expect this kind of thing so soon but nonetheless here we are. There were watery eyes as she sat in my lap and while stroking her hair I tried my best to band-aid it, telling her stories about all the times I got my heart stomped on by some boy who never even knew I existed or decided my friend was more interesting. We talked for a while about it and within minutes it was like the light came back in her eyes because she felt that safeness that comes from knowing you can tell your story without being judged, punished or humiliated.
This was a lesson for us too. We realized that by saying “no boyfriends anytime soon” and not explaining our reasonings, we pushed her into a corner where she felt she couldn’t talk about it with us. The idea of that alone is a bummer because that is not how we roll as a family. But hey, this is our first time go around with this parenting business and we are bound to make mistakes, right?
I share this for two reasons…
One? Think about that drawing and how it probably made her feel. She is one of many that has felt that way at the expense and hand of another. Kindness and acceptance are lacking in this world and it will never change unless we continue to educate ourselves and those coming up under our wings.
Two? I needed to put this somewhere, if anything to continue to remind me that communication is key. Talk to your nuggets about a lot, about everything, even the scary stuff, the things we hold back to spare them from growing up too fast… cause guess what? They’re going to and while you can’t give them all the answers, you can certainly give them the flashlights so the path isn’t so dark.
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