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 wanted to say Happy New Year, but I’m in a grumpy mood. Nothing to worry about. Just working my butt off with two jobs, driving around in torrential rain all the time, and feeling the gloom of not seeing the sun for a week, or is it two weeks? I can’t even remember. It feels like forever. We Southern Californians are not made for this sort of weather. I feel like a plant that is wilting from lack of vitamin D.
I survived Christmas. It was expectedly gloomy due to my lack of family but them’s the breaks when you decide to switch up your life as I did. Freedom comes with its costs. Bug and I opened a few gifts at home and then I actually crashed Toby and his girlfriend’s Christmas which was really sweet. It’s kinda sad when your ex and his girlfriend include you in their plans because they feel sorry for you. But I really felt welcome and enjoyed their company.
Then in an unexpected twist, Matt (who was down visiting his family in Palm Springs for Christmas) got stuck in Southern California because of the Southwest Airlines fiasco. His flight home to San Francisco was canceled indefinitely so I went and got him and he stayed with us for a week! It was awesome. We attended a super-spreader New Year’s party, and Bug got a chance to really get to know Matt which made me happy. I was nervous they wouldn’t get on but they did.
Oh yeah, this happened too. I was taking Cody for a walk on Christmas Day (and not paying attention because I was taking pictures of the sunrise) and somehow Cody fell into the lake. Yeah, not really an accident. This dog loves to swim. He doesn’t care that I live in an apartment with a white rug and no real bathtub to bathe him in. I tried my best to wash him off in my shower, but I have a rigid shower head, and no detachable hose so the water spray just sort of hit his back end and didn’t do much. I used a cup to douse him over and over with water, but I couldn’t get the lake smell off of him. And of course, all groomers were closed, and I don’t really have the funds for grooming anyway. So he’s still dirty. Good thing I love him. That pretty much sums up my mood: dirty dog, have no funds for extras.
Happy New Year!
I don’t want to end this post like that though. I want to say that the lows are necessary. I’ve had some of my best epiphanies and ideas on days like these. We can’t exist on distractions and happy times alone. It’s good to have lulls so we can pause and reflect and figure out what’s working and what’s not. It’s time to sow the seeds for good times ahead.