Caliversary

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.

Cheers.

SF in Photos

Lucky is the day where I have a lot of time to myself to wander around San Francisco, with camera in tow and with gorgeous weather? HORRIBLE.

The easiest way for us to get in to the city, is driving across the Golden Gate bridge. It’s a $6 toll mind you but well worth it. On the way in there are a few places where you can park and overlook the bay. It is usually packed with cars and tourists but on a Friday morning, it was solemn, flat and gorgeous.

I was kind of in a shitty mood when I got there but every time I see this bridge, it reminds me that we are back in CA and just how grateful I am to no longer be on the East Coast. My bad mood was instantly lifted.

After hopping in the car I just took turns without plans, ending up at Baker Beach. I collected a couple of nuggets for my letterpress drawer including this chunk of seaweed that ended up drying out really cool.

Having grown up in Southern CA and Mexico, I have always had proximity and a connection to the Pacific. I don’t know what it is but being near a body of water has always been important to me. The Atlantic never filled that hole. It always felt grey and angry. Surprisingly enough, we had not been to the beach since we moved back to CA in July and this was the first time I got to set foot on her shores again. It was very quiet and there were very little people there. I thought about putting music on my headphones but then I stopped myself cause the sound of the ocean was all I needed. I was standing there, not paying attention and in an odd timing, she came up and kissed my toes… like a long time friend, reacquainting herself.

After finding a few shards of sea glass and some dead lady bugs, I hopped back in the car and headed to The Mission district. The cherry blossoms seem to be a little confused by the weather cause they are already starting to show their colors all over the city. Sure, it’s January but I can’t say no to the sakura, they’re my favorite.

I stopped in a couple really cute stationery stores and an art gallery where I got some new names of artists to look up. While wandering around I managed to stumble onto Paxton Gate by complete accident. I have visited the Portland store and both are nothing but short of amazing. Lots of beautiful oddities, bones, bugs, books… but definitely not the kind of place to go when you are on a strict budget. BOO!

While there I came across the most incredible artist named Lisa Wood, who makes these amazing, miniature dioramas with real insects. Absolutely fantastic. Next time I am in the city I want to check out her studio/shop The Woods. Give the links a look, all of her artsy endeavors are pretty cool.

(photo by Lisa Wood Curiosities)

A couple more photos from The Mission…

Yesterday we came back in to show our friend Mike around… like a trip to Twin Peaks and Japantown for a nice bowl of necessary ramen. Holy hell I love this city.

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The rest of my photos can be viewed here

exploratorium

The family and I have been meaning to check out the infamous San Francisco Exploratorium since we moved this way. So in an effort to see new things, and spend time with friends, we made plans to meet up with our homie Pablo and his kidlets. It was a beautiful day for it that’s for sure and a Sunday which means avoiding football. I hate football.

The new location for The Exploratorium is located on one of the piers of the Embarcadero. The building takes up the entire pier and if you are a science nerd, it is an absolute must you go visit. Plan on an entire day though cause there is a lot to take in and despite the many hours we were there, we did not get through everything. I guess we will have to return, twist my arm.

In any event, the museum was more about experience and some things just don’t translate well for photographic purposes. Even then I managed to squeeze out a couple of shots and I will let them speak for themselves.







After several hours we ended up calling it cause all three of us “adults” decided we had enough audio/visual stimuli. It can be really overwhelming, especially after all the sight related experiments, your eyes start giving you the finger.

We walked over to a park so the kids could run around and we were met with the wild parrots of Telegraph Hill. I had no idea SF also has a population of wild conure! There were so many of them! (and LOUD)

And just like that all of the kids were turning into pumpkins so we said our goodbyes and parted our respective directions. And man, talk about a horrible view on the way home… just dreadful.

*****
The rest of the photos from this day can be viewed HERE

Victorian Mourning & Petaluma

Petaluma: home to chickens, birthplace to Winona Ryder, scene of many movie locations and neighboring city to where we live. I had a day to kill and decided to gear up with my camera and head over to explore.

This is the thing about where we live: There is a lot of quaint and it is really hard to pick a favorite area cause everything around here has its cool (and its bust). Downtown Petaluma? By far my favorite of that area. It also worked out that the Petaluma Historical Library and Museum is currently hosting an exhibit of Victorian Mourning Customs. Dude. So off I went, exploring new territory and taking in some creepy.

First off, you can see small traces of Fall making their way in all over the county. This is just one of MANY views you can take in, seas of vineyards changing colors with the season.

Vintage Bank Antiques is fantastic for one. It is inside an old bank building and it is jam packed with goodies, down to what used to be the vault. A tap on the overpriced side but still fun to walk around in. I see you Oddfellows. *wink*

There is small riverfront area that is surrounded by lots of cute shops and restaurants. Typical Sonoma county landscapes can be seen behind

One of the best coffee establishments I have found out this way is ACRE. Petaluma and Santa Rosa both have one. Hand made, they take their time, lots of tasty treats and they make a chai latte with fresh pressed ginger that wakes your mouth right up.

Properly refreshed with some mint tea, I made way over to the mourning exhibit which is hosted in what used to be the Public Library.

The exhibit itself is small but the pieces being exhibited were authentic, mostly consisting of garments worn and lots of information regarding mourning practices.

This gown was absolutely exquisite and clearly the gem of the entire collection.

Traditional jet mourning jewelry…. these, like other pieces, were a tap hard to take photos of cause they were in glass cases.

There was also a small section talking about post mortem photography but all of the photos shared were just print outs of photos found on the web. I would have liked to see a little more when it came to post mortem mementos, lockets, tear catchers and the art made with hair. These things are a lot harder to come by. There was only one of these items and it seriously did not disappoint: a wreath type arrangement that was made from the hair of three daughters from the same family that died of diphtheria.

And a detail, if you will. The craftsmanship of this was insane.

I did a drive by Cypress Hill Cemetery and honestly it was a huge let down. You can’t blame me though because I am absolutely ruined when it comes to cemeteries thanks to Laurel Hill. I doubt those shoes will be filled any time soon unless we go to New Orleans or Paris.

Short but oh so sweet. With Reza getting out of school in a couple of hours I decided to head back to our hood, this time taking back roads through the country side and wouldn’t you know, I had time to impulse stop in Sebastopol. Antique Society who not only was huge, but filled with tons of awesome goodies. I was more on a looking tip but I did manage to score Josh an original, vinyl pressing of The Cure’s “Japanese Whispers”. I love it when whims end up being fruitful.

Overall, a fantastic day… even if it was by myself.

I have a lot more photos of the exhibit and Petaluma so if you are inclined, you can see them over on flickr.

Muir Woods National Monument

Jason + Eryc came up this past weekend to do some Bay Area celebratory shenanigans
and we were lucky enough to get them for 24 hours of it. One of the things they expressed interest in wanting to do was to go for a hike, walk… call it what you will, at Muir Woods.

Let me preface by saying that I am not an outdoorsy kinda girl. I like looking at it but getting deep down in nature isn’t my m.o. Yeah, I know. Hiking? Nope. Not my thing.. with bad ankles and how I always manage to eat shit, you can get why. But more on that later…

Seeing big trees is on my to-do list now that we are living up this way. Honestly it would be straight up blasphemous to be this close and not go. So off we went to Muir with the boys in search of tall trees, camera porn and get a *small* hike in. (*small* yeah right!!)

First off… tons of people! Way more than I expected and now that I came and went, I could see why cause holy shit you guys, this was awesome. How awesome? Religious experience awesome.

Honestly, there are no photos on my camera that really give you a sense of the awesomness that is seeing these giants in person. But here, this will give you an idea. Look hard enough and you will see the teeny, tiny people somewhere in there.

Lets just say there were a lot of vertical format photos…

The smell there is absolutely intoxicating. Perfect, fresh, clean… I wish I could bottle that business up and bring it home. At one point we veered off the “boardwalk” (the tourist trail at the base of the biggest trees) and wandered up one of the trails meant more for hiking.

Two things:

1- holy shit am I out of shape. I was panting, sweating, beet red and cursing like a sailor over the steepness. And my shit is on FIRE. This needs to be corrected STAT.
2- that massive, ass burning climb was totally worth it cause whoa. Not only did we get a crazy ass workout, but the walk back down was awesome.

On the way out we were walking back to the shuttle zone. There, underneath one of the trees was an old woman in a wheelchair getting her photo taken. She had the biggest of smiles on her face, the kind of smile that said, “I finally get to see something I always dreamt of”. I got all weepy over it.

Overall there isn’t much I can say and these turds of photos do it ZERO justice. This is the kind of thing you just have to see with your own eyes to really feel and take in. I’m glad we went. It was a beautiful day, in stellar company and the scenery is gorgeous.

And yes, I guess you would say that I am being converted cause I can’t wait to do it or something like it again.

******
The rest of the photos can be viewed here

Sonoma County Fair

Unpacking. Ugh… everyone says it is the fun part. It is, for a day and then you eventually get tired of the paper, tape and shit everywhere. I am not gonna front. You eventually get to the point where you have to forego the boxes and get out.

Since we arrived back in CA we have been incessantly badgered by an overexcited 6 year old, imploring about wanting to go horse riding. Girl was literally driving us nuts with the pony talk and since the fair was going on, we decided to venture out and get this child on the damn pony before we lost it. Hahaha.

The Sonoma County Fair is held at the Santa Rosa fairgrounds and not too far from where we live. It’s typical fair whatnot, greasy food you still are tempted to buy, overpriced rides, tricksy carnies, animal poop and getting caught gawking (and laughing) at the cow taking a massive dump as you walk by. You look too, admit it. This fair was on a lot smaller scale than the one in San Diego which was nice not having to deal with the traffic, parking madness or intolerable heat.

Hilariously enough all my pony photos came out like crap. Reza insisted on going on this Haunted Mansion ride and since fair rides get expensive we opted out. We explained to her she was on her own and would probably get scared. She insisted that she could cut the mustard, so with fear that she would come out crying we put her on anyway. Parents of the year!

Then we were pleasantly surprised when she rolled out of the ride with a shit eating grin. Honestly, it was the highlight of our day.

And then there were jumpy things…

And this thing that you will never get me on but is hella fun to photograph…

I did get conned onto the ferris wheel despite my fear of carnie rides. Wish I had taken this with the good camera instead of the cell…

Here I am, giving Josh the Carley Triangle Bat Signal. He sat it out, there was no way I was getting him on that shit.

Wheeeeeeee!

I’m not dead

Well, we made it to CA! You can imagine the chaos and madness that has ensued since we first got this moving ball rolling back in June. Whoa. We just got our connection established so I can finally give a proper update.

I don’t even have it in me to get into details on how it all went down cause honestly, it’s a dead horse getting beat. The end in sight arrived and we are in familiar territory, seeing the sun set in the direction that feels normal, in the colors it’s supposed to be and all feels right in many ways.

For the most part the entire process has been going according to plan save for a few snafus like shitty packing by the movers, extended delivery times, punctured air mattresses and having to send Comcast to the hell from whence they came (worst cable provider ever, giving even Cox a run for their money).

Reza, the cats and I arrived first, on a gorgeous San Francisco day. I don’t even know how to explain it cause when something feels like it should be, it doesn’t even feel real. We drove across the Golden Gate bridge that day and it felt like Heaven itself opened up the gates for us. Reza, in her excitement, rolls down the window and exclaimed “I LOVE YOU SAN FRANCISCO!”.

We chose to live in Santa Rosa which is about 60-70 minutes north of the city. It becomes more sparse the more north you go, surrounded by hills, pine trees and rows of vineyards. We’re part of Sonoma county so you can imagine how wine-centric this place is. Shit, we are happy to see booze in liquor stores once more! Double shit? Whole Foods has a TAP ROOM in the store! You dudes can get loaded while your wife wastes time deciding what kind of kale she really needs. True story: We saw Tom Waits shopping there the first night we went… he likes mushrooms and cantaloupe.

Santa Rosa is the home of Charles Schulz so a lot of places are Peanuts themed and every day you find a new statue hidden in the malls, stores, banks, etc. We hope to make it to museum soon.

Because our moving time constraint was so small, we literally had no time to scout for a house or place to live. We knew that moving to the Bay Area would mean downscaling significantly due to the cost of living. We presently find ourselves in a typical CA apartment complex. It’s no NJ house which honestly, I do miss. It felt more us but the location? Meh. So we make due in our little complex for the duration of our 7 month lease while we decided where we really want to live.

We’ve already made a trip to SF, walked around Golden Gate Park, had some ramen, discovered several sushi joints, got our fill of Mexican food – taco shop can be seen from our front door, found an amazing homemade ice cream joint, found multiple Mexi-marts (amen!), hit the Sonoma County Fair and lots of plans in the works with visitors and visiting. Thankfully there is a lot of awesomeness within reasonable proximity and little by little we are finding our groove. Looking forward to getting out on my bike! Nor-Cal is bike crazy and friendly, not as much as places like Portland but it’s very present culture to have along with the love of food and drink.

We also got our licenses STAT and are in process of evicting the Jersey plates off the car. Already I have been asked if I was a “jersey girl” and it felt like a kick in the cack.

When I first arrived to NJ, I kid you not, I cried every day. That hasn’t been the case here in the least. My sense of direction feels natural and already I am whizzing to places without the need of GPS. I won’t lie, I am a little stressed from all the moving clutter and a month and change of eating out has me feeling all out of whack… yes, there is such thing as too much eating out. All due in time, first order of business is make this little place feel ours. Then time to get my *house* in order. It needs to happen.

I apologize for the lack of photos. My camera literally just arrived a week ago and I haven’t got around to taking it out for proper documentation. Also, if I have been absent, flaky or coming off as self absorbed… well, a move will do to that you, especially one like the one we just did. I won’t apologize for that part.

So yes, we are home and alive. Thanks for sticking around!

Oh and one more thing, remind me never to move cross country again.

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.

raíces

It goes without saying but sometimes it is necessary to go back to your roots. Originally I had planned on doing just that but as we all know, life has a way of throwing a wrench into the machinery. Come to think of it, that’s an interesting analogy considering Henry was a mechanic.

The day of travel started out smoothly, like having an empty seat next to me from Philadelphia to San Francisco. Score! But then I was met with road bumps like a beefy delay at my layover and getting stood up at the airport when I arrived to San Diego. When you’re traveling on your own, fighting back the emotions from having to deal with the loss of a family member, the only thing I hoped for was a familiar face to hug me when I came down the escalators and when it didn’t happen, I was that girl, crying into her cell phone wondering what I did to get served such a piece of a shit sandwich. As if I didn’t have enough in my head, the last thing I needed was to be let down AGAIN. I don’t know why I keep giving people chances when they continuously have nothing to give other than disappointment. It’s rare that I drop my wall for people and expose my vulnerability… I did and I was let down once again. Needless to say, I am done with that situation on so many levels it isn’t even funny. Luckily Spencer pulled the knight in shining armor, came to my rescue and promptly took me to Lalo’s for a burrito.

The next few days were a whirlwind of family time. Josh pretty much pegged it. Because I missed the services, I would be trickling in at a time where everyone was so done with crying and my arrival would feel like a cool breeze coming in through the window. It was in fact just that. I surprised the parents earlier than expected and even though they had a sad undertone, I never saw them break down or cry. The days leading up to the services were hard on everyone and my not being with everyone was a heavy brick of guilt for me. But now we were all under the same roof to just be a family even if for a couple of days.

This is the thing… I have my perceptions about what kind of a person Henry was and as things unfolded I came to a lot of realizations that those perceptions were not off base. It was nice to be validated in my feelings by people who knew him better than I did. Do I feel bad for judging him? Absolutely. But then again, he never gave me the opportunity to see who he was in order to change those perceptions. So Henry is gone and now I will never know the answers. I am still struggling as to whether I am mourning the person, what was there, or what never was. I may have stopped crying over it but the internal thought is still very much present.

I spent a couple days in Mexico with the Garcia clan… going back to CA was one thing but being in Mexico is another. There is something so strong about putting your feet on the ground where you have roots, to be surrounded by comfortable familiarity, to ingest the sights, tastes and scents where you can call it even with closed eyes. Soul healing. I was happy and the only thing missing was the rest of my triangle. Going back to the West Coast will be one of the best things we ever do for ourselves when the day comes. The sun sets on the Pacific and that’s just the way I will always see it.

Then the day came where we all had to part and make ways back to our respective corners of the globe. It was good to see them all and even if the time was brief I was reminded just how awesome my family is. It’s crazy, loud, multi-cultural and it’s mine. I need them far more than I thought and if Henry’s departure has left me with something it’s not to take them for granted cause who knows when the next domino falls.

I only had a small window of time for friends and thankfully I was able to have some time with Spencer, Jason & Eryc, who were amazing enough to open their homes to me even if for a night or 2. It’s interesting and somewhat symbolic that as I lost a brother, I got closer to a few of the men in my life. I felt loved and taken care of the entire time. Amazing what bonding over Slurpees, tots and The Oscars will do to you. I love my boys.

As sad as the circumstances were, it was a good trip full of perspective, lesson learning and some MUCH NEEDED sunshine. It was hard to leave but it had it’s course. Thankfully I had two cats, a sleeping nugget and two very happy boys to come home to – boys who were more than stoked for the bean & cheese burritos I transported in my camera bag cross country. The things we do for the ones we love.

I cannot wait for Spring because for a while now I have felt I was standing on the edge of something greater. It’s coming. I am not sure what “it” is exactly, I just feel it will.

******
I didn’t take nearly enough photos because my headspace wasn’t “there” but the ones that made way to my camera can be seen here.