I have lots of news! If you’ve been following along on Instagram, none of this will be new, but it will be more descriptive, and I’ll tell you the full low-down story behind every picture.
Last Wednesday, I decided to hit up Trader Joe’s floral department to get some flowers to make into bouquets so I could build a website and get this flower business idea off the ground. My process with graphic design always starts with photography. I can design many things with illustrations and cartoons, but with a flower business, you need photographs to tell what you do. So off I went to get images! This is really my favorite part of brand building. If I could do life over again, I would want to be an art director and direct photoshoots for fancy fashion magazines. Directing myself in mini-photoshoots is not bad either.
I bought $100 worth of flowers and rushed home to make bouquets in my kitchen. It was the usual manic mess of bouqet-making. If you catch me in the middle of this, you’ll find my sink full of leaves and stems, my floor littered with plant debris, an over-flowing trash can of plastic wrappers and mangled stems in rubberbands, and me up to my ears in empty vases, flowers everywhere and a giant smile plastered on my face. Flowers are my happy place.
I whipped up two big bouquets (one bridal-inspired, one as a centerpiece) and six small mason jars of country flowers.
Then I wrangled my plywood headboard (leftovers from the Memories with Mom project) out from behind my bed and set it up on my dining room table for an impromptu photoshoot. I should have taken some behind-the-scenes photos because it was hilarious.
The color of my headboard/backdrop is my favorite. I think it’s going to be a theme for the flower shop. (Please ignore the Cody hair that I failed to photoshop out of the above photo. I know, gross.)
After rapidly cleaning up after the tornado destroyed my kitchen, I packed up the flowers into my car and headed down to San Clemente for my “Pop Up Flower Shop.”
Sadly, the Pop Up Flower shop made NO money. I did not recoup my $100. But I did get a few interested passerby-ers and several people ooooh-ed and awww-ed. More importantly, I got a bunch of photos to populate an Instagram page and really show what I can do as a florist. This is only one trip to a “flower market,” (if you can call Trader Joe’s a flower market–which you totally can; they are pretty stinking awesome at flowers), so I am feeling pretty confident that I can pull this off.
It’s something I love so much. I can see myself throwing myself into this business easily. When I look at the competition, they often seem boring and stuffy. I think I have a unique aesthetic with the Margarita Truck branding. It’s fun and irreverent, bright and festive. I’m really excited about it. I’m also aiming at brides who don’t want the over-the-top traditional wedding but want something creative and whimsical. Just wait and see what crazy things I can come up with. This is going to be so much fun.
I worked on some branding…
Made some business cards…
I had a pretty great day! No money was made, but it was not a loss at all in my books.
The following weekend, I met my boss, Mario (pictured above), at 4:30 am in a Target parking lot to go on an epic journey to retrieve a “Flower Truck.” I’m going to need to fill you in a lot here. Let’s start with Mario.
Mario is a character and a half. He’s given me permission to write about him here, but I am worried about being completely truthful. While he’s loveable and has a heart of gold under many layers of grumpiness and loud barking, he is capital D, DIFFICULT. Picture a crazy, yelling, cussing-a-mile-a-minute, top-speed-at-all-times, full-octane, six-foot, passionately angry, red-blooded Mexican-Greek force of a man. Got it? Then scream and picture it at the same time. Then toss back three triple espressos and picture him… You might be there.
What I love about Mario is that he gets my artistic vision like no other. He trusts me completely when it comes to design. This has been a light in a very dark tunnel in this last year of rejection that I’ve been going through. I also admire his taste and sense of design. We get each other, and for me, that is rare. Hardly anyone really understands me like Mario does. I can’t stand being around him, but I also love working with him. It’s an interesting relationship. He calls me at five a.m. with crazy ideas, and I call him back at six with just as many. He gets mad at me regularly, and I’ve already quit on him three times. It’s amazing he’s let me come back. Or maybe it’s more amazing that I wanted to come back. It might be toxic. Anyway, we decided to take that toxic combo on the road because what could possibly go wrong in six hours with a crazy yelling fanatic and an adle-brained super-sensitive, ADHD-ridden artist who is afraid of her own shadow and recently getting over an especially strong bout of depression? Oh, I don’t know. Some tears, maybe?
Amazingly, we made it in one piece. Sort of. Yes, I yelled back at full volume and lost my cool completely when he demanded that I copilot and then criticized me because I didn’t copilot well enough. Yes, I cried when he told me I’m broke because I don’t make good decisions and I don’t apply myself enough. Yes, I got super pissed off when he gave me parenting advice and pushed his political agenda on me. But that’s sorta normal for road trips, right? Heh. I knew it would be like that, so I took it as a par for the course.
What I didn’t expect was that the trailer I reserved at the Uhaul center, per Mario’s barking directions, didn’t fit the Flower Truck. I had originally researched an open flatbed utility trailer but was informed by Uhaul that they don’t rent out flatbeds for long trips for legal reasons. In a quick split-second decision, I reserved an enclosed trailer instead. I didn’t even think about it, really. I was on the phone (which I hate, by the way. I am NOT a phone person), and that seemed like the best choice. Well, it wasn’t.
We drove all the way to Salinas (six hundred and some miles of yelling and disagreeable discussions) only to find out that the Flower Truck was too tall to fit in a five-foot enclosed trailer. The Flower Truck is six feet tall. FAIL. FAIL. FAIL. Mario had steam coming out of his ears, and he quickly informed me that this mistake was ALL MY FAULT. Of course, it was! You know, cause I have so much experience renting trailers and I always think of everything. I had played phone tag with Hugo, the man who sold Mario the Flower Truck, and the one measurement I failed to get was height. I got length and width but not height. Dang it!! How could I not think of this? I asked myself over and over. I don’t know. I will refer back to “adle-brained super-sensitive, ADHD-ridden artist…” and shrug sheepishly. I don’t have much experience with trailers, and maybe I thought Mario knew what he was doing because he’s bought and sold several vehicles. Obviously, that was the wrong answer to tell Mario, and I quickly regretted it. I am currently enrolled in the school of hard knocks, so I had to take that one square in the face.
We decided to tread on. I told Mario that my dad could come pick up the Flower Truck in a flatbed trailer because my dad is awesome and happens to know people who have such trailers and no legal reasons not to lend them to my dad for free. Mario was temporarily interested, but the timeline was inconvenient because my dad is out of town in Idaho, driving a potato truck until November. “We drove all this way for nothing!” Mario shouted as he paced around in the dirt. And even though he was madder than a pig in a small pen with a scorpion bite, his mind was working. Mario’s mind is always working. Every day is traumatic in Mario World, so thinking while angry is just normal for his mind. Not me. I’m whimpering inside and looking for a rock to crawl under but disguising it with *that stupid dead-eyes look*.
Then we tried to drive the Flower Truck INTO his van. It almost fit. It was only a smidge and a hair off. But when Mario got into the Flower Truck and attempted to drive it, it sputtered, and he suddenly got struck with a fear that the truck wouldn’t quite make it and would end up damaging both the Flower Truck and his van. He was right. Later, when we got home, we found out the Flower Truck has no breaks. That could have been a catastrophe and a half. But we didn’t know that yet.
Mario got on the phone and pulled some kind of Mario-negotiating magic with some locals, and before I knew it, he found someone who could drive it down to Southern California for us. Problem solved only a thousand bucks more, which is all my fault, of course. No pressure, Brenda. This flower business better pay for itself, and it is wracking up expenses faster than it’s wracking up wedding contracts. Ooooh boy!
But I am optimistic, and I don’t have a ton of other choices, so I made the best of it and took a bunch of selfies with my darling new Flower Truck.
We named her Flor Rita. Isn’t she adorable? You better make me a lot of money, Flor.
The drive home was more of the same. Exhausting but also a little bit fun. Mario is not all tyrant. We stopped at Casa de Fruitas and had a lively discussion with the wait staff. Mario bought me lunch and offered to buy me a slice of pie. I declined.
After a long drive through traffic, we both went home our separate ways. Obviously, since this was all my screw-up, I volunteered to meet the delivery guy later that night to direct him where to park her. It was a long night. Finally, at midnight, the truck arrived, and this was when we discovered the lack of breaks. I’m so thankful that Mario hired someone else to unload that trailer. The delivery guy had a tilted trailer, chains, and ties to handle the situation. It was tricky. He gently unloaded it onto Mario’s very tilted parking lot, and we tied Flor to a post like her life depended on it. Phew! Mario was already asleep by then, so I worried all night about how mad he would be about this added bad luck. I took pictures of every step and warned him not to freak out too hard because I had a plan, and we could pivot.
Turns out Mario wasn’t even mad. Maybe he knew already. I don’t know. He told me not to worry about it. So now we’re fixing her up and painting her pink, and I’m hustling up a flower business!
That is if Mario doesn’t fire me after he reads this post. Let’s hope he doesn’t.
It’s been a long time since I was here typing on this blog. I almost gave it up for good. You’ll notice it’s unlinked for now. (Those of you who have found me are genius treasure hunters, and I love you to pieces!) That’s because I’m actively looking for work, and the thought of all those hiring managers looking at me blubbering away on my blog scares me. I’ve always been a really open person, and I don’t think I can change. What you see is what you get. I tell my stories openly here to friends.
I’ve had a lot of failures and hard times lately, and I worry that talking about them might keep someone from hiring me. So I’ve been hiding them. I’ve been hurting and wanting to come here to share so someone can tell me I’m not alone. I’m not a complete failure, and everyone is having hard times…But I’ve been scared. Twice shy, once burned? Something like that? I’m always shy and always burned.
A few of you on Instagram recently said you missed me. Those words are like a hug and an invitation to coffee in my favorite coffee shop. I’ve been so alone and scared, and you still care about me. It blows my mind.
I had to get off social media for a little while because I consumed it like an addict instead of a creator. It’s tricky for me. I can stick my toe in, but I can’t swim in the river of social media without getting my own voice drowned out. I want to be online to create, but then I get sucked into home-makeover videos and cute cat videos, and next thing I know, I’m crooked over like the hunchback of Notre Dame in my bed rotting, and I’ve lost hours and hours of precious time.
So here I am. I’m back. Nobody blogs anymore, nobody reads anymore… but who cares! I love creating pictures and telling stories, and this is where I do it. I do it for myself. Some day, all this will get turned off like a light switch, and that’s okay because it was here for me when I needed it. I’ve made so many amazing friends here. I’m so thankful.
Let me tell you about this past month, scratch that, make it: this past year. It’s been one of the worst years of my life. I’m calling it The Year of Rejection. But you know what? It’s also been a year of self-discovery, dear friendships deepening, new friendships forged, old friendships discarded…I’ve been tested in ways I never thought of. It’s just like everyone says: failure is a huge step backward and a colossal step forward simultaneously. I am not the same person I was at the beginning of this year. I’m old and wisened. My heart has grown three sizes.
I met up with three high school friends in the desert a few weeks ago. A friend was in from out of town, so we had a little reunion of sorts. It was so good to see them. They are all artists, and we speak the same language at top speeds. We stayed up until 2 a.m., standing around in the parking lot in the middle of the desert in the light of the big blue moon, just talking and talking and talking. Nobody was tired. No one wanted the night to end.
I almost didn’t go because I was in the depths of despair after not getting yet another job I had interviewed for. My dear friend, Tamie, talked me into going. She covered my gas, my food, and my lodging. We had a girl’s night at a hotel. It was awesome. How am I so lucky to have friends care for me when I’m so down and out? I am thankful. It was healing.
I’ve had so much rejection with work. I’ve begun to doubt myself, and it’s been hard. Freelancers are only as good as their last job, and the only way we get new jobs is by selling ourselves. Trying to sell yourself when you’re nursing the fresh wounds of rejection and low self-esteem is like going to the dentist repeatedly for ineffective root canals.
That visit to the desert was an infusion of positivity and creativity. I was reminded of who I am and what makes me happy. My friends are struggling, too. Being an artist isn’t all fat paychecks and cool disco lighting. It’s actually blood, sweat, and tears, and hardly anyone ever really “makes it.” I’ve been lucky a lot. I felt like I was with my people, and it propped me back up to go back to trying. I need these kinds of gatherings often. I need my tribe.
Bug has really been here for me in these dark times. She is growing up into an adult. Every day, I see different versions of myself in her. She is so much wiser than I was at her age. She’s working now and spends much of her paycheck supporting us. She’s working at Trader Joe’s and buys us food with her discount. It’s pretty much impossible to live on a single income where we live, and Bug is stepping up to help out. I’m proud of her. I raised a good one despite all my shortcomings.
Matt’s been down twice since I last checked in. It’s always good to see him. He takes me out to dinner and spoils me rotten, which is such a nice mini-vacation from the grind.
Lots of dinners, flowers, and farmer’s market dates. Sigh…I do love my long-distance relationship.
Bug and I have been going on more little dates together, too. Now that many of her friends and her boyfriend are also working, she’s finding she has more and more home time. That means she’s stuck with me, and I am “Muber, the mom-taxi again.” She’s forced me out a few times, and I begrudgingly went and was thankful afterward. If it weren’t for her, I’d probably stay in my apartment all day long. Rotting.
We love our local museum. It’s only a few minutes away and always great for taking photos and getting a drink. (Virgin, of course, for her!)
I also cut my own hair! I just sawed off the blonde with this razor blade thingy I bought. It’s funny because I did a blind hack job on the back, but because of the two-tone mottled tortoiseshell coloring, it doesn’t look half bad. I never wanted blonde-tipped hair, but it’s better than dull gray hair or bleached-out, stiff-straight cabbage patch doll hair. I’m calling it a win. My hair is an ever-changing art project. I never know what look I will be stuck with, and it’s never boring!
You know what I’m going to say next, I bet. Cody is my constant companion. He has been my faithful friend through many bouts of tears. He follows me around the house from room to room, never leaving my side. Sometimes, I take him with me on little adventures because I love him so much. We go to the beach, we go to the park, we go to Starbucks.
He is probably my biggest anti-depressant. He is a big hairy ball of shedding love, raining blonde hair all over my house, my clothes, and my car…His hair is as abundant as his love. He covers me with it constantly.
I don’t know what I’d do without him. We’ve had a lot of quiet moments of reflection, he and I.
Now I’m to the hard part. My big news is that I must move out of the apartment I love. I’ve officially run out of money. My savings are gone, and my royalties have dropped by three quarters. They were inflated because of the pandemic because so many schools started using my books in their curriculum. It was awesome. But I made the mistake of being optimistic and assuming they would continue on that trajectory. They obviously didn’t, and now I’m stuck living beyond my means.
I’ve fretted about this exact scenario since I moved here. I’m lucky I stayed here as long as I have. I could say I’ve failed, but I’ve also lasted longer than I thought I could. I’ve been living on hope and faith, and I can’t continue. I have to move home with my parents in the Sticks, and Bug has to go live with her dad. It’s ripping me up, but there is no other way she can finish high school in this expensive town. Nobody can live here on a single income—definitely not an aging out-of-work freelancer with fewer and fewer clients and a Trader Joe’s afterschool wage.
However, there is one more thing I will try before I ultimately give up. I’m going to open up a pop-up flower shop at my one remaining client’s place of business. He has an office on Pacific Coast Highway in San Clemente (a cute beach town) that gets plenty of foot traffic. When I’ve worked there, many people have poked their heads in the open Dutch door, asking if we had anything to sell. We didn’t. The office is the headquarters for a margarita truck catering company. In front of it is the cutest brick patio with a hose and plug-ins for electricity. It’s perfect for a little flower cart. It’s very visible and ideally situated. I don’t have any money to invest in this idea, but my client is fronting me. It’s good for him because it will bring interest to his business. It’s good for me because I’ve always wanted to have a flower shop. We’ll try one pop-up and see how it goes.
I’ll tell you more when it gets closer. Say a prayer for me!