Finally December

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November has been the longest month ever. I probably feel this way because I’ve lived beyond my means (like an idiot) and I’ve been waiting for my quarterly paycheck to come so I can pay those nasty credit card bills back down. A watched pot never boils and all that. It’s been painfully long. Every day checking my bank account, every day sad. I know, at least I have a paycheck to look forward to when so many people don’t. I have a lot to be thankful for. But I was talking to Bug and she said November has been dreadfully long for her too. A few other friends have mentioned that they seem to be going through old crap that they thought they were over so maybe it’s not just me. And that got me thinking…

When you find yourself going through something that you thought you were over (for me it’s money problems. I never seemed to learn those rich dad poor dad lessons…) instead of feeling extra crappy about being such a failure AGAIN, we should feel a little bit relieved because we have a safety net! We’ve been here before and we survived. Last time I was here I didn’t think I was going to survive. I thought my debt was going to snowball until I was homeless.

But I’ve done this before and I did survive. I survived and thrived in fact. Here we are in familiar territory and we have the benefit of knowing we made it through in the past. Maybe this is just a circular argument or I’m not explaining it very well.  But it should give me some comfort knowing that I’ve done this before. It’s just the waiting that’s so hard. Even with all the wisdom in the world it still is so hard to be patient and wait for hard times to pass.

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In the meantime, some beautiful fall weather has been passing and I’m worried I haven’t truly enjoyed it because I’ve been so stressed. We did have a really nice Thanksgiving (I cooked a turkey AGAIN and didn’t fail!) and we got our holiday photos taken by Yvonne. Do you know Yvonne Valtierra aka the OG blogger, Joy Unexpected? She’s a magical photographer.

I met Yvonne ages ago. I think it was 2008 when we were both mommy bloggers doing the cheeseburger party or something (links seem to be lost to time but there are some here if you really want to dig deep.)  She visited us once at the beach and took a photo of Bug’s foot in her polka-dotted slip-on generic Payless Vans and my foot next to it in my flip flop with a paint smudge on the side. It was such a simple photo but in that very small snapshot of life you could see so much about us. I have it framed and it sits on my bedside table to this day bringing me memories of when Bug was two and how she used to hang beside me like my shadow. Now I’m the one hanging beside her like a shadow but that bond is the same. We have always been so close and Yvonne captures that. That’s what I really love about Yvonne is her ability to see all the subtleties.

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I’ve hired lots of my friends as photographers over the years and I love them all. Each of them captures something sweet and different from the other. I think as a photographer I just have such a love of other people who can see the world through a camera lens and tell stories with how they frame a shot. Little looks, glances, the way the light sits… I’m just a sucker for a good photographer.  If you are looking for a photographer in Southern California I can recommend many but I especially want to recommend Yvonne.

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This one looks like a perfume ad. Who knew age spots could be sexy?!!

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I’m only sharing a few shots here and I have dozens more but I don’t want to oversaturate this blog. I’m sure they will show up somewhere someday because they are my favorite. Thank you Yvonne, if you are reading this! You did such an amazing job! I hope you keep on doing exactly what you are doing. You’ve hit the sweet spot.

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.

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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.

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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.