It’s hard to believe that a year ago I was sitting in a house full of boxes, ready to take on another great adventure. It’s a surreal feeling. You find yourself standing on yet another cliff you have no choice but to dive off of, only this time you know there is a net at the bottom to catch you.

They say home is where the heart is. My heart was never on the East Coast, not in the two years I was there, not ever. So that morning, when the truck came to take our lives back home, I finally felt like I could breathe a little, like the anvil had been taken off my shoulders.

Everyone has their place and New Jersey wasn’t mine. It has become the embodiment and reminder of one of the more depressing moments of my life: a period of mourning, a period where I was removed from most of what I cared about. Sure, there were slivers of sunshine through the cracks in the ceiling but eventually the grey overcame and that is all it was: gloomy, dreary and full of mosquitoes sucking at your limbs. Literally.

And then the light at the end of the tunnel showed herself.

Being back in California has brought a sense of renewal, outlook and perspective. It’s not even about “California”, it’s about feeling grounded in a place where you know you belong. Where you don’t feel like a stranger, where the surrounding bodies of water and scenery cradle you with the arms of familiarity. A place you can rest your head and hear the heart beats with your eyes closed. That is home.

Stepping away from her really changed me. It brought out a maturity I never expected to see in myself. As cliche as it sounds, you never truly appreciate the things you have in your life until you come close to, or lose them all together. I lost a lot in those two years: friends, familiarity, safety, Nena, my brother, a piece of my self. It was a lot more than my fragile heart could handle despite the brave face I was putting on.

Even when times get tough, I feel sad, or find a sense of longing, I stop myself and think, “I could still be in New Jersey” and I instantly feel better. That entire experience taught me a lot about gratitude and appreciation, like you have no idea. Or maybe you do.

A year has gone by and what a good year it has been.


antique hunting: west coast style

I won’t lie, there are things about the East Coast I miss: Fall foliage, my turquoise attic room, a couple of food establishments and the antique hunting. I really thought that the caliber of antique hunting out here was going to be a bunch of overpriced malarkey. In some ways it can be! But today I was served some crow.

In the heart of Downtown Santa Rosa is the Railroad Square Historic District. It’s small but there are a lot of cute shops, restaurants and the whatnot. I buy my pet supplies around there cause it’s the only place that carries the food my finicky assholes eat (read: cats). They sell everything, including beekeeping supplies and baby chicks, roosters, chickens, coops and things like greenies. WOO.

As I was driving home I decided to stop by Whistlestop Antiques on a whim. And holy shit am I glad I did! This place is HUGE and there was so much to look at that I lost a couple hours wandering, eye hunting and listening to music. Of course I took a bunch of photos!

I REALLY wanted to get the COCK BLOCK (get it? *snicker* I am so immature) but it was sold as a set and $200 was a no. Boo!

I was pretty drawn to these boxes of broken porcelain babies. I am probably going to back and get a couple.

I was pleasantly surprised to see a shop like this on the West Coast. All things considering, the antique hunting fairies were on my side cause this is what came home with me: a cat skull, some cabinet keys and an orange pool table ball with a #13 on it (not shown)….

I would like to add that the post mortem photo was $6. I saw a photo like that at Loved To Death in SF, 1/2 that size for 13 times the price. NO JOKE. It goes to show you that this kind of stuff is out there at a reasonable price if you have the patience to look and dig for it.

There were TONS of boxes worth of old photos and pricing varied from $2+. Not sure why I like going through old photos so much. It kind of makes me sad that someone’s memories became disposable like that. I feel that bringing one or two home gives these amazing pictures and the people in them a chance to be appreciated a little longer.

So yeah… I was proven a little wrong. Ok, a lot wrong 🙂 Sure, the hunting out here is a lot different and the caliber of items will vary from shop to shop but if this is what it is going to be like? Well, lots of crow for dinner for me!

go west

I figured I would squeeze in one last post before the iMac gets packed up tomorrow cause let’s face it, typing a blog post with your thumbs is some bullshittery and no one ain’t got time for that.

Speaking of not having time…

If I have been quiet is cause I have had full hands. Josh left for the West a week ago and of course I am handling everything here. Staging, cleaning, cats to the vet, giving Reza a semblance of normalcy, last minute errands, seeing a few people, way more laundry than I care to fold, not to mention the week that is about to blow up with mover shenanigans. Speaking of cats, they’re ready to go!

Come Thursday they are going to hate me when they get on that plane.

To say I am a piece of work is an understatement. Bruised, sore, jacked up back, tired, twisted and pinched. I am all of it and the only reason I am not bitching about it much is cause I am getting the hell out of NJ. But damn if I am not ready for it to be over! O-V-A-H. I need a massage, a hot tub, some acupuncture and a good toss up from the husband. Longest two weeks EVER.

Of course saying goodbye to the East Coast has a few pockets of sad cause being out here afforded me a few adventures and best of all, getting to meet a lot of my e-friends in person: Diana, The Greigs, Suji, Leidalis, Angie, Bianca, getting to see Avery again… not to mention the few gems we managed to pick up along the way like Moira, Jason, JoJo, Stephen, The Gorshins and Mr. Stark. All of them rad on their own account. Not sure how it works out but we always end up with money people in the fold and these are no exceptions. The only explanation I have is that awesome attracts awesome. We sniff each other out. Wish I had more photos of everyone to share.

Don’t think I am not going to miss things about the East Coast. I will totally miss the cicadas, Laurel Hill Cemetery, fantastic antique hunting, Fall foliage, City Hall in Philly, the Mütter, cardinals and all the critters I saw out my kitchen window, NYC and Tony Boloney’s who in my opinion was the best slice of pie this side of the country, not to mention this awesome little house we lived in. It all goes with me in one way or another. Even the damn Winter which is nice to look at but that’s about it. East Coast winter sucks ballz.

In the two years here I accumulated a list of “firsts” and got to see a lot of places I would not have seen otherwise. I saw my first snowfall, got mugged, raked a lot of leaves, rode a lot of trains, collected a lot of treasures like dead bugs and feathers, discovered my love of cycling and antique hunting in hopes of finding the infamous witch cup, had rad adventures with my West Coast homies who came to visit and the list goes on and on. Not all is lost here. Well, except for Nena who we said our goodbyes to. I still get sad about it but we came with her and leave with two badass Philly cats. Ebb and flow. Look how little they were!

Trust me, it all wasn’t alluring or pretty. I will not miss the lack of left turns, lack of u-turns, jughandles, shitty drivers, confusing freeways (or lack there of), the sea of potholes, bipolar weather, mosquitoes, bizarro liquor laws and some of the “people” who just weren’t cool at all.

Coming to NJ was a crazy adventure and despite its downfalls, it was something that needed to happen. Sometimes you need to remove yourself from your comfort zone in order to really learn what you want, who you are, where you want to be and who your true friends really are. All of those things really got put into perspective. Some I am still trying to figure out but the rest? It got hit like a nail on the head…. like you have no idea. The beauty is that all of this, despite its heartache, craziness, insane weather, adventures, tears and new experiences… All of it was shared with Josh and really was a true test to our marriage which we pass with flying colors. Hard times either bring cracks or bring things closer. Guess what side we are on? 🙂

The best part in all of this is I have my triangle. Home is where they are and on to the next chapter we go! And where is that? WEST.

On that note I have suitcases to pack since the movers arrive tomorrow and I can’t let them leave me without my essentials. I should be packing but you know, priorities.

I’m so ready to make like the Village People and GO WEST.

Motherfucking West. Amen and amen.

stylin’, profilin’….

Almost two years ago our triangle embarked on a crazy journey that led us from San Diego to New Jersey. It was not the ideal situation but when your boat is sinking you need to do what it takes to keep it above water.

About 6-8 months ago, it became painfully obvious that despite our best efforts, there is nothing in NJ or its surrounding areas that will ever make us East Coast people. It has its charm, allure, crazy weather, architecture, proximity to some fun stuff, but it isn’t home and never will be.

When we lived in San Diego, we lived in one of the best cities in the country, we had (have!) some of the best friends and family we could have asked for, we had it so fucking good and took it for granted. It took our coming to NJ for it to really make us realize that.

So came the task of “Operation GTFO and Go West”. Over the past 4 months Josh has been busting his ass trying to secure work. Ideally we wanted San Diego but that job market is dryer than a menopausal vagina… the Bay Area second, Portland third, Seattle fourth. I feel so relieved that I can FINALLY share the fact that the plan is about to start rolling in a big way. We have been hoarding this offline and only sharing with closest friends/family in case it didn’t materialize.

As of today, Josh has officially accepted a new position in the Bay Area and they need him as soon as possible.

WE ARE GOING BACK TO CALI! Oh happy fucking day.

The job itself is in Sonoma County (North Bay) and we are looking to settle somewhere around there so Josh doesn’t have that ridiculous commute like he has here. We are gauging to live somewhere in the Santa Rosa/Sebastopol area.

Can we move a household, 1 kid and two cats in 3-4 weeks? Dude, we got this shit and now we have a better grasp on how to do it without the painful and expensive mistakes we made the last time.

We will be 40 minutes away from San Francisco – a city I have always loved, near wine country, Russian River Brewery (Josh has his priorities), not to mention close to some of our favorite people and a cheap, short plane ride away from the rest of them. Dude.

If we have been distant, cranky and irritable is cause the stress of this process has been long and well, stressful as fuck. Being on the cusp of getting something you REALLY want and it being dangled like a carrot in front of you is tough, even on solid marriages like ours. But we’re relieved, excited as all get out and ready to make this happen. SO, SO READY. Ready like you have NO IDEA. Or wait, maybe you do 😉

So there you have it! Here we go people, The Carley Triangle is West Coast bound this Summer, leaving Jersey and never looking back!

Someone pinch me.

Philly Flea

This past weekend we braved the heat and hit up the opening date of the Brooklyn Flea Philly. Totally stupid name, just call it the Philly Flea… I get it though, they want to make sure we know this is an extension of the Brooklyn Flea (which I hear is awesome!).

I live for this kinda business and it will be one of the things I will miss when we leave the East Coast cause the swag out here just blows the West out of the water.

Josh experienced his first episode of “getting swooped up on” by watching some guy grab what he wanted to pick up right from under him. Douche! Who incidentally ended up in the first photo – see tool in lower, left corner wearing the goggles Josh wanted.

Lucky for Jinxed who has a store right in the Piazza. Also, if you follow them on instagram you get to see the goods and purchase over the phone. I have rolled up on some sweet goodness from them and their price point is *excellent* – they have great loot! Case in point…

Reza, of course, could not resist touching *everything*. Love the girl to death but these things with a kid in tow can be daunting, especially around breakables.

Overall there was lots gold some of which was obscenely overpriced. The food vendors had some good looking treats and there was a small mix of crafters along with the vintage. The catch is to get there EARLY cause all the good, one of a kind whatnot goes fast and chances are you won’t see it again. Also, parking can get a tap hairy around that area so unless you want to shell out $10 for the designated lot, street is the way to go.

Vintage goods are the new black apparently, you don’t know how many typewriters I saw. I always have specific items in mind when hunting for loot and this time it wasn’t for me and if it was, the wallet made me refrain. Self control can be a wonderful thing when used accordingly.

Either way, it was a nice outing despite the heat. Definitely worth the look over if you are nearby.

snow patrol

After some very well orchestrated chicanery I can now share a couple things that have been going on behind closed doors. On Thursday, Josh flew out to San Diego to go see Spencer for his birthday. A lot of people were involved keeping this on the down low and thankfully not one person spilled the beans. I wish I was there to see the look on Spencer’s face when Josh walked out of the bathroom at his mom’s house. It was a quick trip and it was about Spencer and hanging out with him which is why we kept it on the DL. Last trip we got so spread thin with plans. I hope he was able to recharge, get his man time in and get some good Mexican food in the process.

So that left me with the nugget for 5 days. Five very challenging days cause Josh made the biggest mistake of joking with her that she was boss for the weekend. She took it quite literally that’s for sure and despite his having a talk with her, it didn’t necessarily sink in. Oy. Paired with some serious cabin fever on both our parts, you can only imagine the explosions.

It has been pretty damn cold, enough to not want to go anywhere. As predicted, on Friday we got the first real snowfall of the season. It started like a light dusting and several hours later it ended up piling up to about 3″. This also contributed to our staying in cause A) people cannot drive in the snow and B) I am probably one of them since I have NEVER done it before. Good times.

As the snow started to fall, Reza geared up to go out in it. I would be an asshole for denying her my company cause I am cold. So I piled on the 50 lbs of gear and went out with her to get some photos. Taking photos in snowfall is harder than you think! Keeping the lens clean, holding the camera with big ass mittens and the focus shifting around with the movement of the flakes. Pain in the ass but I still managed to get a couple of good ones.

Look at me, looking all at peace like I love being out in this shit. Look, I will be the first to admit it: snowfall is beautiful and magical. If it’s going to be this damn cold we might as well have the white blanket to go with it to lighten up the grey and glum. But I am counting down the days to Spring. I am ready for green stuff yo.

Reza was dead set on making a snowman but the truth is even though we got enough to make one, it was the fluffy, dusty kind of snow which isn’t conducive for frosty status. What I did have to do is go out and shovel the driveway in case the stuff stuck and turned to ice. 9 p.m., shoveling snow and it’s like 19 outside. Oddly enough that 19 didn’t feel so cold anymore once the snow fell. It was kind of surreal cause the snow was done, the skies were clear, starry and the almost full moon was shining her glory on a blanket of white. Kinda cool. There I said it! Snow shoveling: one more thing to add to my “firsts” list.

Josh comes home tonight and I cannot wait. I don’t like being away from him one bit. My scales tip all over the place without his energy around. Which brings me to development #2… We will also be picking up Tom and Ruppy from the airport as well. Tom is gonna chill with us for a while. Sometimes friends need friends more than you think and when you have the means to be the hand to help someone get up, you just DO IT. No doubt. How long that will be is to be foreseen but for the time being it’s the right place to be on many counts. Shit, I won’t lie, it will be nice to have a slice of home around especially when the disdain for NJ is at an all time high on our end. The cats are going to hate us and the dog visit for sure, but we will find a way to make it work so there isn’t too much critter chaos.

On that note I part, I got a house to pretty up for the arrivals and more laundry than I ever wish to fold. And yes, we got greeted with more snow this morning, it will make the drive to the airport that much more interesting. Wish me luck.

the rest of the photos can be viewed over on flickr

say hello to my little friend!

Last night we had our first real snowfall that actually stuck. It’s minimal mind you, but enough to leave a white blanket on everything.

view from my attic window

Reza, of course, is acting like she can make a snowman in this slush (not going to happen) and with it comes the excitement. Too much excitement. I woke up with a raging tension headache and you can imagine how much the over enthusiasm was grating on us. We dug up the snow boots and she proceeds to stomp all over the house. You would think she was at a rivethead club. computer, machine gun, pants off men.

It all comes down to the moment we get to go outside to walk to school. Did I mention it’s 20˚? Yeah. I am Jack’s Pissed Off Pancreas.

The door opens and she bolts like Tony Montana to a mountain of cocaine. “NO!!! We’re going to school!!”, I say. She shoots me the “you’re a wicked step mother” look. Good times.

Now, what we don’t know is the township neglectfully forgot to salt many of the roads which means yes, I get to walk to school on icy sidewalks. You see where this is going? I am not seasoned with this bullshit! My chancla in November ass was not ready! So I explain to the girl that she cannot march, run, get over excited… see that ice there? YOU WILL FALL. And not even seconds later, I slipped and almost ate shit on the sidewalk. Thankfully I saved myself from complete and total humiliation but still, the first real snowfall and what do I do? Slide on an icy sidewalk, half a block from my house no less, like a frat boy after one too many tequila shots in Tijuana. Good times.

Yeah. Have I said how much I hate Winter? No? Well I just did. Fuck you Winter.

what is wrong with this picture?

Ha! Look at me, all proud of myself and my massive pile of leaves…. and dude, this did not include anything from the back yard, if it did it would be three times the size. And where is Josh? Inside the house playing Skyrim and doing laundry. I kinda had to do them cause I was on poop pick up detail but all the leaves caked over the grass. I had to pick them up in order to find Nena’s turds… that is unless I wanted to play “where’s waldo?” with her logs in the front yard.

Last weekend we had amassed this obscene pile of leaves due to some serious leaf blowing slackage. Josh, Reza, Tania and I were out there cracking jokes, getting our cardio on. It was almost embarrassing how large the pile was… weeks worth in the back. The township where we live has a “leaf collection team” that cruises by with a massive vacuum every other week and they just pick it up if you put it out in the gutter. It was pretty funny, Tania and I were watching them pick all this shit up and Reza runs to the front door and yells to them, “SORRY ABOUT THAT!!!” We laughed so hard.

And yes, I fully understand that I was out doing yard work in my pajama pants and I don’t give a fuck. It is the beauty of living in a place where sweats, pajama pants and UGGs are a daily “leave the house” fashion. I can do yard work looking dumpy and no one would really notice. I certainly don’t.

I am sad that Fall is working its way toward ending but this leaf pick up? While I won’t miss it, I will prefer this over snow shoveling that is for damned sure.

East vs West: The DMV Edition

I knew I had to get a new license here but I was kinda forced into it after the whole wallet stealing debacle. Well I FINALLY got my certified driving record from CA! It only took so long and you would think I won the damn lottery! What a pain in the ass but honestly worth the wait so I wouldn’t have to go through all the testing all over again. Driving around in another state with no license and with CA plates was nerve wrecking… the last thing I want to do is get pulled over and those plates might as well be a damn bulls eye around here. It’s bad enough people swerve around us and give us the “damn transplants” look. Now I know how the Zonies (people from AZ) feel in San Diego.

So this morning I took Reza to school and hit the MVC (Motor Vehicle Commission – unlike the DMV in CA). Apparently there was one really close by, hidden in a strip mall… everything here is in a damn strip mall btw. I roll in there and this is what I see…

WHAT. THE. HELL. No massive line wrapped around the damn building? No number taking clusterfuck of people? No herds of weirdos with their screaming progeny? No stench of B.O., dirty diaper and cigarette? The place was a damn ghost town! I was one of 5 customers in there. So I roll in, get my photo taken, transfer into the system and BAM! They actually print the thing out on the spot and give it to you! No waiting for a month for it to show up.

I did this with reluctance, yes I needed a license but it was just one more step toward acknowledgement that Dorothy is no longer in her Kansas, ya know? I am not from here, I am not and NEVER will be a “Jersey Girl”.

I happened to have an old expired one that looked almost like the one that got stolen, so yeah… Made it official yo, registered to vote, signed up on the organ donor list and all.

These pictures always manage to make me look like a damn Oompa Loompa. It cannot be any worse than the one on my passport though, I have to replace that one eventually cause damn it is embarrassing and no, I am not sharing it. I gotta have a little dignity. The whole thing was more expensive though ($35 + the cost of the record getting) but that is a-ok… and NJ, thank you for not printing the weight on the license… that shit is just shameful.

I still can’t get over how quick and painless it was to do this today. Jesus.

forces of nature

Unless you have been living under a rock, the East Coast got their share of a pissed off Mother Nature this week. I am still chuckling at the fact that this kinda thing doesn’t happen here very often, we move here and WHAM! A hurricane with a side of earthquake. I would like to be as presumptuous as to assume that Mother Nature was throwing us a welcoming party but I don’t like these kinds of parties. I like the kind with a street taco vendor, mariachis and tasty beverages.

Anyway, this week Virginia got an earthquake that was felt as far as NYC… maybe more. I felt that shit and honestly I was grateful to not be driving in it cause as short as it was, people here are not used to this kind of malarkey and they freak out. Then came the mockery from the people on the West Coast, laughing at how the people here are “a bunch of pussies”. Look people, if you have never felt something like that in your lifetime and you are on the 20th floor of a skyscraper, you tell me you wouldn’t freak out? I have lived in Southern California most of my life and I have had my share of tremors and look, no matter how big or small, they still freak me the hell out. Sure, it wasn’t huge but as we all know, they could always be so so so worse. Obviously what happened in Japan isn’t even present in mind to a lot of people anymore. It still is to me.

Then we get wind, pun intended, that hurricane Irene was headed our way this weekend. What the hell Mother Nature?! Really? You must love us. So with the proper notice, we did what we needed to do. Stocked up on food, water, stayed effin put and hoped for the best. We were bored out of our mind and when the rain hit, it hit hard. It rained for hours. HOURS. Wind didn’t kick in til the early a.m. but still, it’s a frightening feeling knowing what is out there, even if it is miles away. I was pretty chill about the whole thing until they started issuing tornado warnings all around our area. FOUR OF THEM. There are a lot of natural disasters one may discount but tornadoes scare the living fuck out of me.

Irene came and went from our area and this morning is all about catching up on the aftermath. So we lost some cable and our hotel room sprung a little water leak from the ceiling. Big deal. NO major damage, we are all in one piece, the casino Josh works at is still standing… we got lucky. Some people? Not so much.

Look, I am not gonna lie when I say I wasn’t discounting it to a certain degree. I grew up in Mazatlan for 8 years and in those 8 years I felt the wrath of a possible hurricane, getting evacuated from school, taping windows and seeing the ocean in conditions that would make you wet your pantaloons. But I was a kid, I didn’t know any better and when you’re a parent, perspectives on things change in your head. But this? It was obvious it was getting blown out of proportion by the media but can you blame them? After Katrina, no one wants to see that happen again and I would rather err on the side of caution than get caught in a clusterfuck of people trying to flee. The precautions were taken and a lot of us can sit there and go, “Cool, it is gone and we lived to tell the story”, but others? Not so much.

I got to say that I am kinda ticked at people who have discounted this like it was nothing. The people who are sitting there saying, “WAS THAT IT?” and “It’s not a big deal”. Well what the fuck did you want? For your roof to get ripped off? For your house to collapse? For you to see footage of bodies piled under rubble? For you to get swept away by a wave to acknowledge nature and the force it has? How about you say “is that it?” to those parents who lost their 11 yr old son when a tree fell on their house. Or to the people who have no power/water and are flooded in to their homes, as we speak, while you are sitting there at your sunny BBQ. Fuck you.

The media is turning us all into a bunch of jaded assholes who have no respect for nature and what She can do to us. They cry wolf so hard that we laugh it off. Case in point the morons who decided they could outrun Irene on their boat. Dumbasses. Or the people who died cause they were SURFING or driving out in the middle of it knowing fully well what was out there? Jesus… talk about stupidity walking. You KNOW it’s a hurricane and you challenge it like you’re Super-fucking-man. Those people I have no sympathy for.

I was grateful for those true, real friends who checked in on us because they were not discounting the possibilities of what could happen. It meant a lot… and to those couple of people who didn’t even bother… I guess I know where I stand with you.

What I am saying is this…. this was not “nothing”. A lot of us just got a little luckier than others and instead of sitting here bragging about what a badass I am cause we walked away unscathed, or say stuff like “I’ve seen better” and sit here with the “Bring IT next time, I will be here” attitude, I am going to be grateful and hope that we get a nice break from crazy ass weather, at least for a little while.