Friday was a terrible day but also, in a strange way, a sweet day. I didn’t have work because another one of my clients laid me off. More and more of my clients are cutting their budgets. I was even taking a pay cut because I loved working in his office, but now that has dried up too. I miss going to work every day. I’ve been sad about it.
It was good that I didn’t have to work, though, because Bug needed a new copy of her birth certificate and social security card, which meant I needed to drive around to get these various documents. Toby lost her originals. He says I lost them, I say he lost them. You know how it goes with divided parenting… Maybe Bug has them in her room? Who knows. But we had to get new ones because she’s starting her first real job next week. I’m so proud and excited for her!
Driving in downtown Santa Ana and dealing with parking and waiting rooms is NOT my favorite way to pass a day. I was dreading it. Surprisingly the courthouses are new and shiny. Much to my delight, the new buildings were huge and well organized. We walked in and were breezily registered. I filled out an online questionnaire and was sent to a desk where a woman printed two copies of Bug’s birth certificate for a fee. It was so simple! It was awesome. I had whined and complained about how much of a pain in the neck the process would be on the drive there, and then it was nothing.
But of course, we still had to go to the Social Security Office. Social Security offices are known for being horrible. They even have large signs on the wall forbidding handguns because everyone wants to shoot each other when you are there. It’s a brutal look into the down-and-out and frustrated populace of America. Bug and I texted comments to each other as we listened to tall tales from the desperate people pleading for this and that from their assigned government workers. It was sad.
Finally, our number was called, and we were led to a back room full of empty cubicles. A woman looked at our documents and approved for Bug to get a new social security card. It was a simple task, not counting the hour-and-a-half wait in the third ring of Dante’s inferno waiting room. Phones and TikTok make this waiting infinitely more bearable than I remember it being years ago when I had to change my name after I got married.
It was long past lunchtime by the time we wrapped things up, so Bug and I decided to reward ourselves with a lunch out in the artsy side of Santa Ana. The artsy side of Santa Ana is trying so hard to be artsy, but it’s not entirely pulling it off. You can tell things are happening during the monthly art walk, but the afternoon on a Thursday was pretty grim. Nobody was out, and everything was closed. We found a place, though, and had a nice lunch at The Den, formerly known as The Gypsy Den.
Before lunch, a parking citation officer had been looking at the parking meter next to my car. I had paid with my debit card, so I knew I wasn’t getting a ticket. I asked him if I was okay, and he dismissed me with a wave. I should have known something was up because a ticket was on my windshield when we returned to the car. Right when I went to retrieve it from the window, I simultaneously stepped in some hot gooey chewing gum. There I was with long strands of gum stuck to my shoe and trailing behind me as I looked at the ticket and saw how much I would have to pay for not having a front license plate.
Yep, I got a ticket for not having a front license plate. I have not had a front license plate since Toby took it off in 2006, claiming it was for aesthetic reasons. I never questioned it. I should have put it back on when he gave the plate to me many years later, but I never got around to it. I figured I’d gone years without it; it wasn’t a big deal. Apparently, it is a big deal when you park in downtown Santa Ana where government operates.
I couldn’t believe my bad karma. Bug and I laughed at how ridiculous the whole day had been. I haven’t even told you about all the times I took the wrong exit off the freeway or how many times Bug got mad at me for not listening to her when she talked. It’s like my brain was on another planet yesterday.
I’ve been so stressed about work and not working that I haven’t been operating on all cylinders. Half of my brain is too busy worrying at all times. I’m up at night worrying, I’m worrying all day. I’m not on my game. I’m just a worry monster.
The good part of yesterday was Bug. She was so patient with me. She’s seen me go through many ups and downs. I try not to share how much I’m worrying because she has enough to worry about on her own, and I don’t want her to have to parent her parent, but sometimes the stress seeps out of me no matter how hard I try to cover it up. It seeps out when I’m not paying attention 100%. It seeps out when I get frustrated easily for missing an exit on the freeway. It seeps out when I mention things repeatedly without remembering that I already told her. Bug is not stupid. She knows.
So when our car cd player rotated to the Bob Marley album and “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” started playing out of the speakers, she turned it up and sang a little for me. There is nothing like having a moment with your near-adult teenager. I just looked at her knowing smile in the afternoon sun. She knows me, I thought. She knows me better than anyone. Soon enough, she’ll be grown, and on her own, so I cherish these moments. Yesterday might have been my worst day in a long time, but it was with Bug, and I knew someday it would make a good story.
I am unraveling right before your eyes. Someday this is all going to be a funny story but right now I am hobbling from day to day.
Last week I flew to West Texas for my brother’s wedding. It always feels good to be with family in hard times. This was a happy time: celebrating a wedding but for me it was more. It was me going back to my roots, spending time with the people who really really love me. EVEN WHEN I BLEACH MY HAIR BLONDE AND IT LOOKS TERRIBLE ON ME!
I know it doesn’t look so bad in photos but in real life it is awful. It’s dry, brittle, it doesn’t have any of its old waves and I have no idea how to style it. I feel like a lousy combination of Charlize Theron in Monster and Kurt Cobain. But this post isn’t all about me and my hair! (Or is it?) This was about flying to Texas to be with my family.
Texas and I are not fast friends. We should be. Texas was there for me in some dark, dark times (shout out to my good friend Heather), but in my old age, I’ve gotten more liberal (as most artists with feeeeeeeeeelings do). My brother is a gun-toting redneck conservative. You know how it goes. We politely ignore each other’s opinions of Trump to save the peace and we never talk on Facebook. As my brother always jokes: “We only have one thing in common: my mom and dad.” He’s funny. But surprisingly, when we get into intense discussions, we usually find common ground that we agree on. We are both guilty of being on opposite sides for too long and haven’t listened to the other side much.
The first thing he showed me when we got to his new wife’s house (Did I mention they live in officers’ quarters in a fort!!) was a cannon. Yep. That’s my brother. It’s not *his* canon, but he gets to work on it and maybe handle it during reenactments or something. You can probably tell I didn’t pay attention when he was talking to me. Guns schmuns, they’re all the same to me. They shoot people and kill; therefore, I hate them. But whatever! I do believe in the 2nd amendment, I just don’t like guns personally.
Then we walked the grounds. It’s huge! Like everything in Texas. My brother’s job is the groundskeeper of the Fort and he gets to mow the vast lawns with a driving lawn mower and switch sprinklers off and on. It’s his dream job.
I got to hang with my niece Suki and her little girl.
The skies were so big, and I loved being out in the evening air. The only thing I liked better than walking around outside was walking around his historical home.
It had a huge front porch with rocking chairs, and inside, everything felt like a museum. His wife’s mother owned the house and had a vast collection of art and artifacts.
I slept in the office and kinda got the heebie-jeebies looking at all these artifacts around me. Didn’t we take all this land from the Native Americans and wouldn’t they be haunting a house like this and wanting it back? When I closed my eyes, I saw all kinds of weird visions which makes me think I might be psychic or something but amazingly, I slept well. My brother’s wife says there is no bad juju in the house and I think she might be right. I didn’t feel anything bad when I was there.
The following day my dad and I walked the town. It took about five minutes.
Just kidding. It took longer than that, but it was a quick walk because the town is quite small. We even went to the park and took a few turns on a zipline.
Friday was the day of the rehearsal dinner, and I wasn’t needed for anything. Weird, I know. I thought I’d be helping with dishes or flowers or potato salad or something, but everything was already handled before I got there so I did what I always do when I’m in a new place. I yelped “local flair” and saw that there was a famous art exhibit two hours away.
Two hours is pretty far to see an art exhibit, but when I expressed interest, my dad signed up enthusiastically. That is my dad for you. If I want to do something, he is always on board, no matter how silly it is. It helps that he used to be a truck driver and driving is like walking to him but still, two hours to an art exhibit?!? And it wasn’t like it was the Louvre. What I wanted to see was pretty much a box in the middle of the desert. No shops around it or places to have lunch. It didn’t even have a gift shop. Just a box in the middle of nowhere with miles and miles of desert all around.
Yep, I’m talking about Prada, Marfa. It’s famous! It really is as silly as it looks. It’s a fake storefront with a non-working door and 2005 Prada shoes inside. It’s incredibly ironic, and I love it. At first, I was bummed when I saw the window boarded up on one side. That was going to ruin my photo! But then when I read more about the artist’s intent and how he wanted it to de-gentrify naturally, I started to get it. It will look like part of a ghost town someday, and it’s a big funny joke. Prada way out here in the middle of NOWHERE? Why? That’s exactly the fun of it. Why not! And even though it’s not an *actual* Prada store, and you can wiggle the front door in vain, and it will never open, it’s still *cool* just to be there. That’s how much clout the Prada brand has. Humans are so funny.
Even my dad got it. My dad is pretty open-minded for a boomer.
Speaking of open-mindedness, we stopped at an ice cream shop on the way back. We were hungry for lunch, but apparently, everything rolls up at three pm when you live in the middle of the desert in the middle of nowhere.
It was great. I think I found the artsiest town in all of West Texas. I’m good at finding my people.
Across the street was an LGBTQ store, and I went in, of course. Not that I needed any gay merch, but just because it’s pride month, and I wanted to show my support. You’d think my dad would have a problem with this, being the devout Christian that he is, but he is incredibly understanding, and we had the whole drive to talk about passages in the bible that refer to sodomy. Talking about the bible is one of my dad’s favorite things to do. Yes, I find it annoying from time to time when he tries to “save” people, but my dad is one of the kindest people you will ever meet, and he really does listen. I can put up with his fever over the bible because he listens to me when I tell him I don’t trust Apostle Paul’s teaching. He’s patient with me. It does make me sad that he is disappointed with my life choices, but if anyone understands my choices, it’s my dad. He’s been there through all of it.
So yeah, two hours of talking about the bible! It was great, actually. I can talk to my dad about anything.
The next day before the wedding, we took another walk around town, just my dad and I. We pretty much did the “driving tour” on foot.
This crumbling building reminded me of an Anthropologie backdrop.
Colors from another time… I love that I can always find things to photograph when I travel. It is my favorite thing to do.
I also got to spend a lot of quality time with this goober. She was magical at grabbing my Apple watch and my iPhone. She can reprogram any Apple device in under 30 seconds. It’s amazing. I have a lot of pictures of her grabbing at my phone as I’m taking pictures of her. I also have about a million selfies that she took of her chin.
Then it was time for the wedding. It was small and humble but so sweet. My brother is such a softie; he cried through the entire thing. Like he did at my wedding years ago, he’s just a big sentimental puddle inside a giant hairy man.
He adores his new wife. I’m so happy for them.
It was good to be with family. I’m glad I went. It was a quick little respite from the trainwreck that is my life back home.
But things are getting better. I have interviews lined up next week and I’m starting to get used to my shocking hair. Every day I contemplate shaving it, though… so the crazy is not over yet!