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.

The Story of Noon Lodge

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Our recent trip to Noon Lodge happened completely by accident. Way back in December I was on Expedia late at night, experiencing some FOMO (fear of missing out – always a bad sign) because it had just snowed up in the mountains and all my friends were posting these amazing pictures of snow on Instagram. Taking the kids to the snow has been on my bucket list for a few years now. Neither of them had really experienced it, being the true Southern Californian natives that they are.

I skipped around Expedia, looking at cabins and landed on this site. I was struck with instant graphic-designer love. Swoon! What a beautifully designed website! I could imagine the photoshoots I would throw down surrounded by such beauty and nature and great design. Do you see the room decor?! I was hooked. Back I went to Expedia to check out the prices. I knew it would be expensive but surprisingly for some reason I read that the rooms were only one-hundred-and-something and NEXT THING I KNEW I was checking out and the grand total was SIX HUNDRED DOLLARS!!!  Wait. WHAT?!! Two nights somehow added up to six hundred dollars?

Back click, back click. Wait! Wait! This can’t be happening! Of course at this point Expedia was giving me the spinny ball of doom. I don’t have six hundred dollars for a freakin’ weekend! What the, what the?! Halp! I raced though the Noon Lodge site again and everywhere I looked they were very clear about their no cancelation policy. My heart sunk to the bottom of the ocean that is my bad financial planning. What had I done?

Deep breaths.

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I waited for Payam to wake up and I told him the news. Naturally, he was surprised but actually not horrified which was a huge relief. He calmed me down and made some calls. Nobody answered their phones of course.  So I sucked it up and calculated how long it would take me to pay off this new chunk of change I had now put on my credit card that already had a good sized balance on it. It would be bad but I wasn’t quite ruined. Six hundred dollars in the big picture wasn’t that much. Maybe this wouldn’t be the snowball of debt that would roll me into bankruptcy. I have a roof over my head and my landlord isn’t going to kick me out and I can take on more jobs and pay this down. I can do this.

And oh, how I wanted to do this! The Lodge! It was so pretty!

Several hours later Noon Lodge did call back and after talking to Payam (who is a great salesperson by the way) they said that even though it was against their policy, they would cancel my reservation because I had made it so far in advance, this being in December and the weekend I booked being in February after all. What nice people!

But wait. Now I was even sadder. I didn’t want to cancel this trip!!

I had fallen so deeply in love with the idea of this weekend in the snow at Noon Lodge, there was just no going back. Money be damned. Noon Lodge was going to happen if I had work my fingers to the bone for the rest of the year. I could do it!

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So we went!

What a crazy weekend. I had just gotten back from Alt Summit and my mind was a full of business tips and mixed emotions about where my online presence is really going and maybe it’s time to suck it up and admit failure. Le sigh. Blogging conventions always put me in a spin for a few days. It’s great to get inspired and learn new things and meet new people but it really makes you re-think your business plan and me, being the negative person that I can be, I often leave these conventions feeling worse about myself than when I started. It’s always good to mix things up though and I took away a lot of good advice. I just don’t know where I’m going with that advice yet. My head was a little spun.

Also, I had missed the girls (and Payam) terribly for the four days that I was at the convention. The girls were fine without me of course but I was just off my game. It’s hard enough only seeing them every other week due to custody arrangements but being gone the week they were with me made me super sad.  So when I got back I was so ready to spend a quality weekend with them.

I packed like a mad woman and we rushed off to the mountains!

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And it was everything I wanted it to be! The snow! The kids were so excited. The entire trip up the mountain they wouldn’t stop talking about the ice cream that was everywhere. Bug worked herself into such a silly state I actually worried for a minute that she was having a manic episode, which wouldn’t be that far from her mother.

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We tucked ourselves into our cozy cabin and the next morning awoke to the sounds of little girls singing at the top of their lungs, “THE SKY IS AWAKE AND SO AM I! DO YOU WANT TO BUILD A SNOWMAN?!!!” The sun had barely risen over the tree tops and the girls already had their snow gear on and they were out the door. Forget about breakfast. They were so happy.

And then DISASTER STRUCK.

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Payam had gone to the truck to get the girls saucers for sledding. I was back in the cabin, getting breakfast ready. The girls were down the ravine beside the cabin making a fort. Suddenly I looked up and I saw Payam out the window bleeding from his head. I ran out the door to see what had happened and it looked like he had something stuck out of the side of his head. Blood was everywhere. I screamed. What happened?! Are you okay?!!

Payam looked at me with this strange look like he had no idea what I was talking about. He was disoriented. He had his keys and his glasses in his hand and they were bloody and broken. I rushed him to the house and he sat down. I frantically looked for my phone to call 911.

Payam at this time is telling me he’s fine. Why am I freaking out and calling 911?! he asks. Over and over he kept saying he’s fine, he’s fine. He obviously was NOT fine and had no idea that he had a golf ball growing out of the side of his head. At this point I didn’t know if his head was broken and it was bone sticking out. I was in a panic. Bug found my phone and I called 911. The operator walked me through what to do with him and help was on the way.

While all this is going on Bug ran upstairs crying and Joon fainted and fell onto a wooden burl table and bumped her head. At the time I didn’t realize she had actually fainted. I thought she had just slipped on the rug (things were wet from us rushing into the cabin with melting snow on our boots) and when she righted herself and started to complain about her head hurting I thought she was having some kind of psychosomatic copycat symptom. Poor Joon. It wasn’t until after the commotion that we figured out she really did faint.

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Here’s what we think happened: Payam went to the truck to get the sleds but for some reason the hatch didn’t open (this happened to me when I went back and retraced his steps). As he was struggling to lift the stuck trunk door, he slipped on the black ice and hit his head, hard on the frozen asphalt. He has no memory of any of this happening. That’s the weirdest part. It’s a complete blank in his memory. Nobody saw him. Nobody knows what really happened. I’m just glad he was only gone five minutes and he didn’t get run over from laying in the street!

The paramedics arrived and checked Payam out. Because Payam was lucid and he could answer all their questions clearly with no trouble, they surmised that he was probably fine. They told me that injuries like this on the ice are VERY common and the swelling is normal even though at this point he started to look like the Elephant Man. The head is very”vascular” they told us which is why his wound was swelling up to the size of a tennis ball. There was just a lot of blood inside his head. No concussion but just watch it carefully and drive to the nearest urgent care if anything gets worse–like he starts throwing up or falls asleep etc.

Hoo Boy.

Payam rested. The girls went back outside to play. I checked on Payam like a chicken with my head cut off. The wound persisted with little change. Four hours later Payam decided he probably needed stitches. At the time the paramedics were there we couldn’t really see that he had a cut by his eye because everything was so swollen. This was actually a secondary wound from his glasses cutting into the side of his head and is additional to the blow that knocked him out.

Now here’s the part that I’m embarrassed about. Payam talked me into letting him drive himself to the Urgent Care. I know. I’m a terrible girlfriend! I should have driven him. But he assured me up and down that he was fine and besides the crazy swelling he did seem fine.  It was true that the last thing we wanted to do was spend our entire trip in an Urgent Care full of snowboarders with broken arms. I really should have driven him and I do feel bad but it was nice to sit in a chair, watch the girls and calm down from the trauma with Payam checking in with me by phone often.

Just like we expected he was stuck in the Urgent Care for a while. Eventually he got stitches and got checked out, which was a relief to all of us. He came back and rested some more.

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And then I went for a walk. Yeah. I did. I know. Girlfriend of the year awardee over here. But maybe you should give that award to Payam because he totally understood how bad I wanted to get out and take pictures. This was my $600 weekend. Worse weekend ever. Or was it?

I had noticed from the cabin windows that the sun was going down and I really, really wanted to see the lake before we had to go home. I asked Payam a million times if it was okay and when he assured me over and over I rushed out into the snow and trekked down the ravine towards the lake. I missed the sunset but the afterglow was amazing. There was beauty everywhere!

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It was a long cold walk and I kept falling through the snow every fourth step but I couldn’t stop because it kept getting prettier and prettier.

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Just look at the pink glow!

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Here it is bigger so you can feel how big this expanse of space was. Imagine this 360. The lake was frozen with a thin layer of ice and the sky was crisp. Everything was quiet. I stood there with my camera and soaked all the beauty and glory in click by click. It was such a contrast to the storm of recent events.

Payam was okay. This beauty made all those worries from Alt Summit seem small and insignificant. I don’t care about my website being a business. I don’t care if my instagram feed isn’t curated to a color palette that embodies my brand. All I care about is my family and nature and being in this moment where the sky is so pink and big! This is really what matters, right?

Everything was okay. Payam was home with the girls by the fire and he was okay with me being outside chasing the last glimpse of the day. He gives me permission to be a freak and book a weekend at Noon Lodge that I can’t really afford. And yes, he is kind of my safety net when I make mistakes like this which I really try not to do regularly. He lets me be the photographer who’s love in life is capturing beauty and sharing it. It’s almost a sickness with me. Everything is about capturing that crazy, beautiful picture. I don’t care about stuff. But I care about pictures. I don’t know if this is a bad thing or a good thing but I’m learning that it’s pretty hard-wired in me.

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And then I walked home and was welcomed by this site. Oh Noon Lodge. You are so charming with your green siding and bright orange doors.

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The next day before we packed up to leave I took a few more pictures of the girls having fun in the snow. I metered the top photos wrong but I kinda like them.

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Happy Kids.

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And that was that! What a crazy trip. We packed up all our stuff and headed down the mountain. For Payam it was the trip from hell and I’m sure he won’t be too keen to come back anytime soon but I will be. I’m not too terribly fond of Big Bear and the crowds but I love Noon Lodge. noon-lodge-7

And I love this guy. Put some sunglasses on that shiner and he’s good as new! Seriously though, the swelling has gone down and now he has a huge, scary, black eye–that he’s totally milking for sympathy points. He deserves them though. He took one for the team this weekend and we owe him big time.