The Snowstorm and the Cabin

 

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Before I can blog about the amazing sweet-sixteen trip to Seattle, I must blog about the incredible but sadly truncated adventure to a cabin in the snow. It was a doozy. Not all bad but definitely one for the books.

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The thing about booking a cabin for a winter holiday is that you need to reserve it well in advance. Summer is best. August at the latest because all the cabins that allow dogs get booked up pretty quick and for me, going with dogs is the WHOLE REASON I go to the snow. Have you seen my dogs in the snow? It’s a sight of pure joy. When I booked this cabin I had no idea it would be in the middle of a storm. How could I? I mean, I know it’s always a possibility, I’ve just been lucky before.

We watched the weather patterns feverishly as our trip drew near. It was the talk of the table during our Christmas dinner. Providently there was a break in the weather in the early hours of the day of our trip.  We weren’t supposed to show up until afternoon but we figured we better get there early to avoid slipping off the side of the mountain in the middle of a storm.

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We made it! Well, technically we made it to the road below our cabin. The driveway to our cabin was not plowed and there was no driving up it because it was super steep, even for a 4×4 with chains.  That meant we had to park on the road below our cabin and hoof it up a steep hill through the snow for about five hot sweaty minutes. It was not for the faint of heart!  I however have been working out regularly for the last three months and it was just a *mere challenge* for me. (humblebragpfbltkjsklt…) My family on the other hand was a bit winded and not too pleased. I shrugged off their complaints and told them they needed to toughen up and enjoy “the snow experience.”  Yeah, everybody loves Vacation Brenda, obviously.

home-sweet-cabin

Finally, we stumbled into our cabin stamping snow off our feet and shedding layers like they were going out of style. Payam built a roaring fire, I mixed up some hot chocolate and we cuddled up in our cozy pajamas and pretended we were bears about to hibernate. It was all very charming.

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That night it snowed and snowed. At first, I loved it.  There is nothing like looking up from your cozy bed and seeing snow flurries flying sideways past your window. I’ve never really done that before and it felt magical. Except in the back of my head, I was starting to have this nagging worry about what we were going to do over the next couple of days as the storm continued and we didn’t really have an exit strategy let alone a three days snowed-in strategy.

In the past, I’ve always over-packed and everyone hated me for having to heft boxes of food up and down hills for meals we never cooked because we ended up going into town for pizza or something so I thought I’d be smart this time and pack super light. We packed snacks for the road and leftovers for dinner but that wasn’t going to last us for days and days.

I had noticed that our Airbnb hosts had some frozen vegetables in the freezer so we wouldn’t starve to death or anything but it wasn’t looking good for my picky eaters. But my big fear was how would we get down the mountain if it was really storming? Would we skid off the road on black ice? What about Payam and the fall he had last time? What if we needed to get to the hospital and we were snowed in? You know how anxiety-brain works. I couldn’t get the worries out of my brain.

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The next morning I called the Airbnb hosts and asked if we could stay longer in order to wait out the storm. They were reluctant because they had more guests coming right on the heels of our departure. It was a tough spot to be in.  Stay and risk being snowed in or go early and sacrifice the fun trip we had planned so many months ago.

I discussed my fears with Payam and sadly he agreed. We better leave early and be safe instead of sorry. Payam and I are true Southern Californians with thin blood and a healthy fear of actual weather. Neither of us had ever put chains on before. We didn’t even have any before this year. I’m so lucky that my dad hunted some down for us just days before we left because sure enough, we needed them.

digging-out

During a break in the storm Bug and I tracked down the hill and shoveled out our truck from the night’s storm and what the snowplow pushed up against it when they plowed.  The truck was buried under a good two or three feet of chunky frozen snow. We hammered and shoveled and dug ourselves out like *super troopers*. It only took a few minutes and then we went back up the hill to start carrying our suitcases and many layers of coats and blankets and dog gear down the hill. We used our host’s sled and it was pretty quick work. Payam rested because he tweaked his knee on a near fall on some black ice. Yes, he did fall again but he’s okay.

Do I feel like an idiot for continuing to try to take my family to the snow? Yes, I do. I do feel defeated. Maybe it’s just not meant to be.

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But it wasn’t all sad. We let the dogs out and they loved it like I knew they would.

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I made a TikTok or two about the beauty of it all.

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The kids took their photos and bragged on their social media. It wasn’t a total loss.

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The snow was so pretty and we did really love it. It just wasn’t the trip I had planned. If 2020 and 2021 have taught me anything it’s how to deal with disappointment. I’m still not an expert at handling disappointment but I know it when I see it and this was a good old-fashioned helping of pandemic style disappointment.

We fit in a few more snowball fight photos and then packed it in.

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snow-dog

Goodbye snowy mountains.

risk-averse

We weren’t winners at who-gets-to-have-the-best-winter-vacation but we got home safe and alive and nobody slipped off the side of the mountain or drove their truck like a boat into the cars in front of them. We got home safe and sound and just a little bit sad.

Turning Around an Existential Crisis

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A few weekends ago Payam and I headed out to Las Vegas (our 2nd trip in November) for our friend Dave’s 50th birthday party. There are going to be a lot of 50th birthday parties in our friend group this year since both Payam and I are turning fifty. It’s our year, 1972 people.

I’ve always been optimistic about turning fifty. I figured I’d rock it like I’ve rocked all the other years but lately, I’ve been starting to doubt myself. I hate it.

While we did have a great time celebrating I felt sort of out of sorts the whole trip. It’s weird when you are having a good time externally but inside your head, you are listening to a running commentary of negativity. This is nothing unusual for me I just feel like documenting it because I’ve been feeling a little freer on this blog lately. (One of the perks of falling off the mainstream radar.)

I want to say it started at the ax-throwing place we went to (Ax-throwing!) but really it was already brewing before we even got there.

axe-throwing-in-vegas

Ax-throwing was a riot. Drunk people throwing axes. That seems like a disaster waiting to happen but it turned out to be really fun and mostly safe if you follow all of the safety precautions, which I did of course. My anxiety loves to follow rules. I was terrible at ax-throwing like I am at every sport. Dave, Erika, and Payam racked up fifty or more hits each and several bullseyes while I managed to make the ax to the target a big whopping three times. I was pathetic. Everyone made fun of me and said I threw an ax like I was giving it to the target. If a herd of zombies was chasing me it was like I was saying, “Here Zombies, have an ax from your good buddy!” But it was all in good fun and when I did actually make contact with the wooden target my friends cheered me on like nobody’s business. We can’t all be athletes. At least some of us can draw. Heh.

Of course, the entire time I was berating myself internally with a barrage of insults about my weight and old-lady skin and how hard it was to bend down every time to pick up the ax I’d thrown. It’s pretty amazing that I could keep a smile on my face and fake it while a full-on war was being fought inside me. We took photos which I hated of course because I could not see past the width of my shoulders and the stockiness of my legs but I smiled and pretended everything was fine.

Please know that this is not me fishing for compliments. I’m just being pathetic. I know better than most how to fix this sort of thing.  Pain is a signal that things are not right. It’s time to fix some things.

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But back to our Vegas story: We stayed in a nice (and super clean) timeshare that belonged to my friend, Erika’s parents that just happened to be right next to, get this: A rodeo!  Of course, Payam and I went exploring. How could we not?  We watched some bulls bucking around and being lassoed by real cowboys and we found a western wear gift expo going on in a large ballroom. We are not country-western-wear types but we got a real kick out of walking around the booths looking at all the crazy things. Belt buckles the size of your head, bedazzled camouflaged dresses, stiff wrangler jeans, hats of all shapes and sizes. It was a hoot but we stood out like liberals at Trump pep rally.

Payam put on a cowboy hat as a joke but it suited him so well I made him buy it. Then I found this sort of edgy, rock and roll black suede fringe jacket and before we knew it we were a hundred dollars lighter. When in Rome, right? When else am I going to come across a suede black fringe rock and roll jacket?! No pictures yet, it got so smokey from the casino I immediately put it in the dry-cleaning bag and haven’t touched it since. But soon I’ll break it out. It’s going to be one of those fun crazy fashion moments I can just tell.

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Meanwhile back at the ranch, I mean timeshare, my existential crisis hung on. I tried taking photos of myself to see if I really looked as bad as I thought I did. This is a fun game I play with myself all the time. I call it: Narcism.  Except instead of thinking I’m so great and I don’t care what everyone else thinks of me, I think I’m not great at all and I care about EVERYTHING anyone thinks about me. It’s a vicious circle of doom and gloom.

I should have been basking in the dry sunshine of Vegas and loving my little mini-vacation from kids and life but no, I was wallowing in self-pity. Hard eye roll.

tough-mother-trucker

Even when we got back from Vegas I was still walking around in a cloud of negativity. Everything is ugly and I hate everything! But you know what happens when I get like this? I realize I need to make some changes.

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When we got back home I decided to stop drinking for the 47th time and cut my calories by a third. I hate to share this because every time I start on a path like this, I always fall back to my old ways and eat my words. But it’s still good to try, right? Is it good to share? I don’t know. Let’s just hope not that many people read this post.  I’m just going to say: No promises. No lofty goals. Just day by day.

On day two of my new regimen, Bug and I had pizza and I bought a cheesecake bun from this new little cafe I found. I love a new mom-and-pop cafe. I wanted Bug to try it for me and I thought I’d live through her vicariously but then I had a bite. Half the cheesecake later…I was still “trying it” you know, just to make sure.

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I’m going to slide another story in here before I finish up my existential crisis thread. Cody still stinks from the skunk. It’s terrible. There’s an odor that wafts up from him when he stands next to you and it breaks my heart because he is so cute and loveable but it’s impossible to pet him with this wretched smell that lingers and lingers and lingers! You have to wash your hands constantly.

I researched local dog baths and found one that lets you bathe your dog for fourteen bucks! What a deal! Paying a groomer to de-skunk your dog costs $200. So off to the bark bath we went.

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I brought tomato soup in hopes that I could wash him there without him shaking tomato soup all over my bathtub but they wouldn’t let me. So I washed him in de-skunk shampoo, regular dog shampoo, conditioner, and water about a thousand times. He was such a good dog, being so patient. Sadly, when we got home I think he seemed even worse. It’s almost like I washed off the deodorizing shampoo the original groomer had put on him to mask the smell and now the skunk smell was even stronger. The really nice guy at the dog bath place told me there’s really not much you can do, it just takes time. Probably about a month.   Tomato soup is starting to look better and better.  rasta-taco-for-lunch

After I took Cody home I took Bug and her boyfriend out to lunch at Rasta Taco (my new favorite client) which is in Laguna Beach right next to the beach.

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I let the kids hit the beach while I journaled. I’ve been journaling obsessively lately and it’s helping with my mid-life crisis. I’ve not mentioned it here but I am working out regularly with a personal trainer two times a week now. It’s a huge luxury and my budget is barely fitting it but I’m starting to think it’s worth it for my mental health alone. Between that, not drinking, and trying to keep a caloric deficit going, I have hope that I will rock fifty by the time it gets here. I will. No matter what I look like I’m going to get the inside of my brain right because that is the best first step.

I know I’ll get there eventually. Thanks for having patience with me while I work this out.