Still Moving Along!

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Remember that desk I bought when I moved out to the sticks? Sigh.

This desk is so sentimental to me.  Besides being really cool and mid-century stylish, I bought it during such a pivotal time in my life and it was such a comfort to me. I had just left my ex and I was on my own in a scary new place.  I went from living at the beach amongst rich people (though we always lived paycheck to paycheck like true freelancers) to living in the sticks on a street lined with poor people who had no jobs and seemed like scary bad guys to me at the time. It’s funny how a little socio-economic change will open your eyes to humanity around you. I ended up making friends with a lot of those “bad guys” and I learned so many stories of heartbreak. It was life-changing and humbling.

But about the desk.

I remember I bought it for $30 from the same thrift store I bought that Diane Von Furstenburg wrap dress for $12 way back in the day, the same dress that I turned around and sold for $82 on eBay (probably should have gotten more.) It was such a great dress but it always rode up on me because of my dumb hips. I found an illustration of it here.  Such a great thrift store right? It’s since closed and become something else, sorry. But I digress.

Anyway, Heather talked me into buying the desk. I forget what my hesitation was. Maybe funds, maybe the fact that it was a little messed up and dirty on the top. It was sitting in the back of a dusty old thrift store next to a sewing machine table, a bad south-western style love seat from the 80’s and a bunch of dirty looking sleeping bags and afghans. It wasn’t where you’d look for treasure, unless you’re me of course.  Probably some old person died and their kids, not knowing anything about Mid-Century modern furniture becoming all the rage again, packed it off to the nearest goodwill without anyone ever knowing what they had.

At the time I didn’t know what it was either! I thought it looked cool and had nice lines but I am no Danish furniture expert. It just goes to show you: buy what you love and sometimes your good taste will pay off! (And if it doesn’t, who cares!)  It turns out that if I refinished this desk now, I could sell it anywhere between $500-2K on eBay and Etsy! Of course I didn’t learn that until after I had listed it on Facebook Marketplace for $150 because I am that kind of business person.  I figured it was awesome that someone paid ME to take something off my hands that I didn’t want anymore.  Otherwise it would have sat in my garage for a year while I finally got around to refinishing it, photographing it and then listing it on eBay. I don’t have time for that!

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But I have to admit as the guy loaded up the desk into the back of his truck and I said goodbye to it for the last time, I got a little sad inside. Bug and I have so many memories with this desk! It will be missed.

Sigh.

If I have learned anything in my many years I have learned this: Sometimes letting go of something has just as much value as keeping it. It’s not easy though! I’ve kept pieces of furniture kicking around my apartment, annoying me with their ill-fittedness for years! Years! That couch my grandma gave me that I never really liked but was forced to take because “FREE” is a pretty persuasive color. My old dollhouse that I LOVED but never really fit in any room… That old tiny rocking chair that was passed down to me from my great grandmother’s mother and refinished just for me on my 16th birthday… It’s hard! I still have that rocking chair even though I constantly thwack my shin into it’s sharp rocker point because it’s stuck in my office and has nowhere else to go.

Things have so much perceived value.

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But so does growth.

The things you’ve suffered for are the hardest to let go. Sometimes you have to admit that holding onto them is blocking you from becoming the creative person you need to be. Whether it’s not your style and you are forever stuck in a room with crap you don’t like or it’s physical space you lack. Getting a bigger house is not the solution (my mom would beg to differ). Sometimes you have to take everything out of a room and only put back what you want in it and DEAL WITH ALL THE STUFF THAT WON’T FIT BACK IN.

Ugh.

This is a deep psychological subject that I’ve thought a lot about (coming from a long line of emotional hoarders and loving to organize so much that I’ve even considered becoming a professional organizer).  I didn’t really intend this post to be about that though.  I love writing about house stuff and I figured I’d document the ongoing office dilemma and how I came to the difficult decision to get rid of my beloved old desk.

I love a good before and after so consider this the BEFORE. Even though the before this before was actually better. What’s that saying about everything getting worse before it gets better? That’s where I’m at right now. In the worse.

The Dilemma: We have this really great office that both Payam and I work in. It’s amazing! Bright light floods in from windows on two sides. It’s kind of like a greenhouse or a sunroom it’s so full of light.  The other two sides of the office butt up to the hallway and an open kitchen. It’s pretty great visually. I love working here. However it’s not so great working here.  All the pretty light makes staring at a monitor all day very challenging—which has been a theme for me for a really long time!  I think it’s my life long mission to create the perfect working environment and COMBAT THE SUN! Evil sun.

We tried shades and I’ve rigged up shanty towns of boxes around me to block the sun but that never really worked that well. Payam got me this really cool big monitor (cause I’m 44 and my eyes are too) that I love so much that I can’t just pick up my laptop and move to a different spot away from the sun.

Then I landed a small crafty movie-making job. It hasn’t completely panned out just yet but I have been buying lighting equipment and I’ve started setting up an area to film in. And because of all this equipment and lack of space to actually film in, I realized my old beloved desk was too small and dysfunctional. I couldn’t’ turn my monitor away from the sun without it falling off the end and I didn’t really have table space to draw on or film on. I could use the nearby table but it’s a tall bistro table which required really tall lighting and really tall tripods and maybe even a ladder to shoot down from. You get the picture. (If you are still reading! I’m sorry this is going on so long.)

So that’s that. I had to let go of the desk and now I have a really long cheap Ikea desk that is about a thousand times more functional. I also have all of my old drawer crap sitting on the tall table waiting to be put away in a new drawer unit that Payam also bought me and promised to put together for me. Theme here: Payam is a very patient, loving, helpful person and great at putting together Ikea furniture. Grade A boyfriend. But you already knew that.

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Which leads me to another home-improvement project! Operation Replace all of Payam’s old art! This should be a separate post but I’ve gone on this long I figure I might as well keep going.

This is another subject that I could talk about at length. I recently uncovered a bunch of old journals in my new office switch-up and I’ve spent a little time here and there perusing them. They are great. I love that I never throw out old journals. Talk about emotional hoarding…

Recently, I have been reading an old journal from 2001 and in that journal I wrote a lot about being rejected by a friend. This friend had no idea she was rejecting me of course. She was one of those super-cool, stylish, artsy friends that I was forever in admiration of.  I kind of existed in the wake of her amazingness.  I was just thankful to be included. But because of this I never felt like she accepted me for me.  I forever felt put down and uncool in comparison to her brilliance. I’m sure none of it was intentional on her part. She was very sweet to me. I was just young and hadn’t found my own style or confidence yet. I wish I could go back and fix that but I can’t. But who knows, maybe we wouldn’t have been friends because we would have been competitive. I don’t know.

I can fix how I treat others around me now that *I* have found my own style and confidence. So this makes me sit and take note when I judge Payam and his art. How crappy is it of me to find Payam’s art not cool enough?! Payam! The man who has taken Bug and I in and supported us in so many ways both emotionally and financially. In his defense, he did buy all the art in his house in a rush from Z Gallery so that he could furnish an empty house that was about to be appraised. However, he did put thought into each piece he chose and I do respect that.

For the first year I lived here I did everything I could to not change anything. It’s his house after all and I love him so much. I’m so thankful for this happy home, how could I even?  But you know me. I love decorating houses! It’s in my blood and I think about it all day long when I should be doing other things. You can imagine how much the Z Gallery art has been bugging me.

Finally, a few weeks ago I read this article and about the same time I fell upon some line in another article (that I can’t find) that said something about good art making bad furniture look great.  Not that Payam has bad furniture. He doesn’t. He has great furniture but it sealed it for me. I finally realized that Payam will forgive me and will most likely still love me if I replace his art. In fact, he might even love me more for it. Because I am going to take each piece that he has and find what he loves about it and recreate it in a way that I like too. Is that too selfish?

Maybe I won’t be able to pull it off. I’m no fine artist. But I do know how to paint and I do have a passion for this so maybe I can try. And maybe after a few failures I’ll invest in some real art because I’m starting to realize that good art is worth sinking big bucks into.

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In the meantime, I sunk some small bucks at a thrift store on this giant canvas of bad 80’s fish art. It was probably from a doctor’s office. It cost us $20. Whoever painted it had talent but it looks like one of those paintings that you buy from an artist that cranks out 50 paintings a day. It had no emotion. Just flat and boring.

Payam and I painted it over with house paint and we had a good time doing it too! My big plan is to repaint the buddha-in-headphones painting that used to hang in the living room on top of this new big canvas. Payam even bought me a projector so I could trace it and not paint some awful out-of-perspective version of Headphone Buddha. I’ve bitten off a lot though and I’m currently taking forever to actually do it because I’m intimidated but I’m also excited. I think someday it will be a GREAT after. I hope Payam thinks so too.

I thought I would be an expert at this by now.

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I had it in my mind that if I did something for 800 hours I’d be an expert at it. Turns out I was wrong. It’s 10,000 hours.

I guess it makes perfect sense that I am a tired, bored, frustrated dog walker because I’ve only been doing it for about 800 hours. EIGHT HUNDRED HOURS!! I’ve probably done more because I’m not doing the math. I roughly figure that I take two 45-minute walks a day and we got the dogs last April. That adds up to something near 800, give or take. See how I did Core Curriculum math there? Estimating!

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I LOVE my dogs. But man are they a pain to walk sometimes. They pull me down the street. They see a squirrel and lose their minds and pull me through mud puddles. Cody is strong so you can imagine how that goes. I’ve actually cried real tears on dog walks before because things just went to hell.

They are not always bad. They are getting better and better at minding me and listening to me when I call them but they still have their moments where they try my patience regularly and I feel like I am the worst dog-owner ever.

Yes, we’ve taken them to training and Payam is pretty good at making them mind him but I’m not an alpha by nature and I think the dogs know it. They think Mom is great for a really good time and they like to show me a really good time no matter what brush, bramble or mud puddle it might take me through. Of course, I have been known to take them to the nature park and let them off leash to chase a bunny or a squirrel so it’s really my own fault that they don’t walk beside me calmly. I know this. And they are puppies. So really everything is progressing the way it’s supposed to.

Dog walking can be a chore. It is a chore!  It’s not just a walk in the park on a sunny day. It’s a walk through and around the park on hot days and cold days and rainy days and days when you have so much work to do you can’t believe you are spending 30 minutes untangling yourself from leashes when you really need to get back to your desk already and make that deadline!

Dogs are like having babies all over again.

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When I started my whole dog-walking experience by walking Payam’s dog, Ty, (who passed last year) I thought, This will be great exercise! I’ll do it everyday. How great! It was great for about a month. Then it got really really boring. You can only watch a dog sniff so many sign posts and pee on so many trees before your mind starts to wander and you pull out your phone.

Then when we got the puppies we practically dragged them down the street because they didn’t know how to take walks yet and it was SO FUN! They were so cute!!! That lasted about three months. The novelty wore off.

Now, nearly a year later, it is the bane of my existence. Now I pull out my phone whenever I can and just when I’m sending an important text or titling a really good instagram shot, Cody pulls me sideways and I drop my phone and then Whiskey runs around me, tying me up with his leash and licks me in the face and everyone else out walking their dogs stare at me like, “What are you doing using your phone and not paying attention to your dogs!!”

So I put my phone away and compose blog post after blog post in my head that never get written. I spend a lot of time thinking and not doing anything because of those blasted dogs.

Obviously, I started to resent the dog walks. Especially because I always end up greeting other dog-walkers and it’s always this crazy confusion of my dogs jumping all over their dogs and me using all my strength to hold them back. I feel bad because everyone just wants to say hi and I’m terrible at controlling my dogs. It just felt like a daily exercise in failure.

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I’m learning. Failure after failure and eventually I learn. I am only 800 hours in after all, just a mere baby dog-walking expert.

So what have I learned?  I’ve learned that I can look for the good in these walks. There is so much good. I’ve learned to watch the skies and take my walks when the sun starts to set because it’s about a thousand times more fun to walk and enjoy nature during the golden hours.

I’ve started taking the nature trail near our house that isn’t as busy with other dog-walkers. Of course this trail holds other challenges like that one time the fire engine sirens set off all the coyotes in the park howling and scared the crap out of me. There were literally ten coyotes surrounding us on all sides and I had no idea they were there before the sirens went off because they were hidden in the brush. It was so terrifying I had to split and hide out in a nearby apartment complex and call and ask Payam to come get us. I took several months off from walking in the nature trail after that happened but I’m back to it because the beauty pulls me. Also, Cody is so big these days. I’m pretty sure a full pack of coyotes wouldn’t mess with us. But believe me, I do not let them off leash if we are deep in the nature trail or it is anywhere near twilight.

I’ve also started using headphones. Not when I’m in the nature park of course, because obviously I need to be fully aware of my surroundings but when we are on our lake walks where all the other dog walkers are. It’s amazing how much more patient I am with the pulling and the sniffing and the taking forever to take a crap when I’m listening to classical or piano music. I am truly amazed at how much music can alter my mood. Headphones also kinda keep the other dog walkers from engaging me, which is great. Headphones rule.

There are also the rituals the dogs and I have created. They always sit with me on the benches near the lake. They jump up on the bench before I even get a chance as if to remind me, “Here is where you have to sit and take a moment, Mom.” They let me pet them while I sit and stare at the lake. I am actually very grateful that I have the luxury to take dog walks. They force me to slow down. They force me to sit and think about what I’m thankful for instead of getting mad that I’m not heading home already.

We live in a moderate climate (outside of this crazy rainy year) and I have two pretty places to walk to, that’s a lot! I do wish I could take them to the countryside and let them run to their heart’s content. I do wish the dog park would dry up and stop being a mud festival. But for what it’s worth, I have a lot. And maybe if I remember my headphones or remember to walk when it’s a pretty time of day, I’ll get through the rest of my nine-thousand hours and finally be a calm, peaceful dog-walking expert!