Happy December!


Hooray! It’s December and YES, I am working on the 2019 SAJ calendar. I’m up to April. I should be done this week.

As someone who suffers from entertains anxiety regularly, I really love to plan. It is calming and fun to daydream up good things and then work them out on paper so that they have a better possibility of happening.  Of course things don’t always go to plan and that causes more anxiety but I really enjoy the planning part.  Let’s just focus on that good part.

I love the beginning of December (pretty much August on, if we’re being honest) because it’s prime planning time. Whenever Bug or Payam moan about Christmas music playing in November I tell them it’s a good thing because then it doesn’t feel like Christmas time rushed past us and we barely got to enjoy it. Start early and make the best of it, I say!

I put my pink Christmas tree up in my office on December first. I LOVE it. This tree has so many good memories attached to it.  Remember when I bought it way back when Bug and I were living in my Grandpa’s trailer in the sticks? It was such an extravagant purchase back then. I remember emailing Bethany and asking her if I was being foolish to buy such a silly thing. Money was tight. But it made us happy. It was sort of a strike for independence.

Before I got divorced I would never ever buy something so flashy and synthetic but now that I didn’t have anyone to tell me it was stupid, I could. It took me a long time to detach myself from my marriage and the decisions that we would make together. I remember thinking, it doesn’t matter what I’m going to do and what he’s going to do. It’s not a chess game.  So I bought it and Bug and I loved it. It really wasn’t stupid at all! Kind of like listening to pop music in the car. Freedom is a wonderful part of a fresh divorce but it’s also very scary. Just like navigating your computer problems for the first time when you are used to having an IT guy living in your house…


Anyway, I digress. Christmas! Happiness! So many fun traditions! I didn’t grow up with Christmas so it’s taken me a while to develop my own traditions but I can safely say that in the last three years we have some solid ones.


We always go to Descanso gardens to see the lights and the girls and I dress up and see the Nutcracker. We decorate the tree and play music. I think we’ll do a time lapse video this year. That seems like a fun thing to do. I really love this time of year…


My crazy pants had to make an appearance. We haven’t put the big tree up yet but I think we’ll do that tonight.


But we have done our annual Christmas Time Public Relations effort and they are due to be mailed this week. Woot!

I’m so excited for our New Year’s Eve party. I learned a funny thing about myself while I was designing this year’s invite. It was kind of a breakthrough.  I constantly judge myself from other people’s points of view. Duh. This has been a problem of mine since forever.

It’s probably a side effect of the way I grew up.  Something about having a lot of parental figures telling you what to do all the time and having your own will quashed OR maybe it has something to do with being a type-A first born. Who knows! Anyway, as I was making the New Year’s invite I kept changing it because I imagined what my different friends might say… should I take off the “We’ll bring the drinks” part because they’ll think we are alcoholics? Should not put the “kids are welcome” part because they’ll think it’s a kiddie party and not come?  I walked around feeling super anxious about it until I finally decided IT DOESN’T MATTER! I’m not playing a chess game!  I am fun and people will come or they won’t come and I need to stop applying the Friend A filter!! So that’s my thing now. I’m not applying the Friend A filter. Or B or C or anything but the Brenda filter. Is this what I would like to do on New Year’s? Yes, it is!


So yeah, back to the public relations photos. I love them. Payam and I are getting fatter and the girls are getting more beautiful. Time, man. It happens. I hope we keep this up as we get more and more gray and frail. I’m really into embracing my grandma style. I know! I’m not a grandma! But when I am I want to look like this.


Sometimes when I hold my head a certain way you don’t see my double chin and I look super fierce.


As we were wrapping up our photo session we walked by a laundromat and for fun we took some laundromat shots. If you’ve followed Bug and I since the way-back-days you know how sentimental laundromats are for us. Remember Judy, the older laundromat manager woman who died? She was the first person who died in Bug’s life. It was a huge big deal for us. Sigh…

Bug and I really loved doing a laundromat cart racing shot. I looked through my old photos and I couldn’t find one of me racing with her in the cart but you know we did it. I just didn’t have a professional photographer following us around back then.


And then I found this one:


Oh sweet napping Bug with her pahs… I love the flood of memories!

P and B go to Vegas


I’ve ranted about how much I hate Vegas a billion times here on this blog. Sometimes I notice how big the sky above Vegas is and I think, I could live here. I love the desert. It kind of reminds me of my childhood in The Sticks. But then some thick-headed frat boy yells his drunk head off, or some big-boobed dancer with perfect legs showing all the way up, reminds me of how imperfect my body is or I see someone talking to themselves with missing teeth as they sit in the gutter, drunk at 9 in the morning… and I turn away, repelled. Vegas makes me sad.

I get bored too easily here. I don’t love gambling and I don’t have a ton of money to shop all day. I can only drink so much and I miss being creative.

I don’t know how I matched up so perfectly with someone like Payam who loves Vegas so much. He’s a night owl. I’m a morning person.  I want to go take pictures of some cacti and shrubbery at five morning when the sun turns everything pink.  He wants to sleep.  He wants to stay up all night sipping whiskey and gambling. I want to sleep.

But I get it. Sort of. The excitement of winning money, the bright lights, the pounding music, the clinking of ice cubes in glasses, the good-natured banter between players at the blackjack table… It is a really fun interesting intersection of so many different kinds of people all finding a common ground sharing their vices. There is something to that.


Payam humors me and I humor him. He does everything he can to help me have a good time in Vegas. He lets’s me pick the hotel, he lets me shop, he lets me explore….And sometimes I do have a good time.  I can throw back a tequila shot or four. I just have to be careful I don’t go down any self-loathing paths to the pits of despair when I wake up too early in the morning and I’m stuck all by myself in a strange land. I spend so many hours alone because I am a cursed morning person.

I’ve been doing it for ages. You’d think I’d have a million routines and morning rituals to stave off the loneliness (and I do!) but sometimes I let myself sink into the luxury of sadness anyway.  I miss Bug. Thanksgiving without her is always really hard.

The whole reason I met Payam five years ago is because I was lonely during Thanksgiving break. Bug was with her dad (like she is this week) and I was faced with a week to myself with nothing to do but Netflix and work.

So I hopped on a free dating app. I just wanted to find someone to talk to. I wanted a walking partner or someone to take me to the movies. Payam doesn’t really do either but I’m so glad I found him. My whole world has changed since I met him–in a good way. You all know that. Everyone loves a love story.


So here we are in Vegas on Thanksgiving celebrating five years together.  We aren’t married yet but we have plans!

I brought my new red party boots to Vegas to help me have a good time. (I need every advantage I can get.) I LOVE these boots. I put them on and I immediately feel fifty percent more fun. They give me two inches of height and they scream, “I am not a boring frumpy mom who is missing her kid! I am fun, dammit!” Payam loves them too.

We went out to dinner at a steak house and I had the *Thanksgiving Special* that was probably better tasting than any feast I’ve ever been part of but you know… it was missing all the people. We had few drinks and then crashed. I don’t even remember what we did. Vegas is a ghost town on Thanksgiving. It was fun to wish all the hard-working staff a happy thanksgiving and hope that they were getting paid triple time.


The next day we explored. I love taking pictures of graffiti and really cool old typography in Vegas. I just wish I had some beautiful daughters with me to take pictures of. I get really sick of taking pictures of myself.


As I said, Payam humors me.


Explore, explore, explore… it’s not pretty cacti in morning light but I can’t say it’s boring.


These are all really quick shots snapped as we walked down Fremont street.


We didn’t even really get to be foodies and try all the crazy amazing restaurants because we had our steak house thanksgiving leftovers for breakfast and they filled us up all day! I guess that’s a good thing. I didn’t mention it but our hotel (The Hard Rock) upgraded us to a two room suite with TWO bathrooms so we were perfectly content to stay in our room and have leftovers for breakfast. Nothing like eating cold dinner for breakfast out of takeout boxes in your hotel room that is big enough to host a 45th birthday bash. But again, we were missing all the people.


That night Payam bought us tickets to a Burlesque show. I’ve always wanted to see one.  Unfortunately it started at 10pm, which is like midnight to me. I made it through though. It was very entertaining and I have a deep appreciation for the athletic abilities of those dancers. They are very beautiful and very talented and they shouldn’t be ashamed of any of it. Too bad I seem to be ashamed of my body all the time. But I have to tell myself, I was once that hot. I still have a lot to offer even if I don’t have perfect legs and a flat stomach anymore. I just didn’t really know what to do with myself, sitting there in the audience. Lots of women were hooting and hollering. I just felt awkward.

Don’t worry. I am not fishing for compliments. I’m just sharing parts of myself that you might not know were there. I take pictures of Payam and I smiling and having a good time but it’s not the whole story.

I am very very very thankful for him and I do love these trips with him.


I love the long talks. I love how he helps me push through missing Bug. He catches me spying on her with my phone, watching her stories of bouncing cousins vying for her attention and tells me to put my phone away. Be present. Be here. Have a Bloody Mary for breakfast!


And now it’s time to drive back home. Home sweet home.