• Apartmentlandia,  BIG news,  Moody Blues,  The Desert,  the dogs,  The Flower Business,  The Zoo,  unpackamania

    Catch-up Post Part 1



    I feel like these last two to three years have been the years that have been forgotten. I feel like an old man who can only remember himself as the football player he once used to be. I’m trying to stay present and live every moment for the value that it holds, but when you are in the grips of depression, it can all feel like a huge waste of time. I’ve reinvented myself so many times in these last two years, I don’t know who I even am anymore. I’ve been depressed. It’s just what it is. Depression kills.

    But guess what? I’m still here. I’m still breathing. I think I’ve reached rock bottom, and I’m bouncing back up, but I could be wrong. I might be on the shallowest of bottoms, and there might still be cliffs to fall off below. I don’t know.  I’m unsure how far each bounce will take me and if I’ll ever return to the surface but I’m still here.


    Still alive and kicking.


    Bug and I went to the desert way back in April, and here I am trying to catch up on the photo album of my life that is this blog. I had a crazy dress that a good friend gave me, so we went down a long, dusty road and took pictures. There were a ton of bad photos, but I’ve kept these ones because I can still see glimmers of the girl I once used to be. The glory days of the football hero I once was…


    Bug is in her prime and looks good in every photo. But just because she looks good doesn’t mean she isn’t struggling. High school is over; she’s moving on to college and independence. Life is full of scary twists and turns for her, and her mom isn’t the supportive rock she used to be. She’s seeing me now with all my flaws and mistakes in full view. Mom can’t fix everything anymore. Mom is broken. It’s humbling for me and terrifying for her.


    I’m looking to those who have gone before me and finding the happy old people. What did they do right? How did they get by? How did they survive their failures and live to get where they are today? How do they stay in the moment? We met this old man at a bar/restaurant in the desert. He was so hip, he wore a big turquoise necklace over a pinstripe suit. I was in awe. I was so happy when he let me take his picture. I’m putting it here to be a reminder to myself to embrace my freak flag. I hope the older I get the free-er I become.wedding1prep

    The next week I went out to the desert again to do flowers for a wedding. I was in my element. I loved every pain-staking moment.


    Colors and textures, wildness and charm… I love the cantina. It was beautiful and I was proud to be part of it all.


    But it was a heck of a lot of work!


    Two weeks later I went back for another wedding and did it all over again.


    This time I took Cody as my trusty companion. It was a little too hot for him so he’ll stay home in the nice air conditioning from now on. Of course he was fine but we were glad this wedding was small and we could be back on the road to go home only after a few hours.


    But guess what happened on our way home…? We saw a free kitten sign. I stopped because my boss, Mario, had been looking for a kitten for over a year. I had good intentions. But then, I fell hard when I saw this tiny sack of black fur, snot, and bones with her goopy eyes and a sad little whine. She was in a kennel with two golden doodle puppies. She was so small and forlorn looking but so scrappy. She climbed up on a shelf to see me and got right in my face. I decided then and there that she was coming home with me whether Mario wanted her or not. It wasn’t the best decision. I was in no position to take on another cat, but I couldn’t fight the pull I felt. I couldn’t have walked away from her if my life depended on it. I was incapable.


    So she went home with us. She sat in my lap and then crawled over the seat to be in the back seat with Cody. I called Mario on my way home, but he didn’t want anything to do with a sick black kitten. Many people don’t like black cats, but I am not one of them. Cody loved her. Bug loved her. We were smitten.


    But then Kady caught whatever the little black kitten had, and she got really sick and stopped eating. I tried to keep them separated, but it was impossible with only one catbox and two active cats (Inky and the kitten, who scratched at the doors and ruined the carpet, causing me $900 worth of damage on my move-out bill). I remember cuddling Kady, and the little kitten crawled up to snuggle in. I thought everything would be okay. The vet says it’s not my fault for bringing in a new kitten, but I’ll never forgive myself. Whatever Kady had was a preexisting condition, and she probably suffered long before the kitten even came along, but it was all bad timing. The kitten was the last straw, and Kady couldn’t take it. She hid in the closet for two weeks; nothing could coax her out.

    We took Kady to the vet multiple times for fluids and anti-nausea medication, but nothing revived her. She got weaker and weaker, and her mouth was full of ulcers. It’s almost like she decided she was done with this life now that a new kitten was here. She just wanted to be left alone. We did our best. I spent all the money I could find on her, but it wasn’t enough. She didn’t get better.

    Finally, when we realized we were only prolonging her pain for our inability to let go, we decided to put her down. It was the hardest thing. The vet we went to was beyond kind. They sat with us for hours.

    I have never loved a cat like I love Kady. I have never grieved a cat like I’m still grieving Kady. I miss her. She was the best cat. She was my therapy cat. When I was depressed, she would crawl in my arms and sleep with me. She always wanted to be held. I’m crying just thinking about her now.

    I didn’t have enough money to get her cremated, but the vet said we could make payments. They said they were giving us the cheapest package, but I think they gave us the most expensive one they had at the cheapest price. A few weeks later, Kady’s ashes came in a polished wooden box with a card, flowers, and a little pin. Then, later, I got another card in the mail signed personally by every person at the vet. I don’t know how they did it. They must see owners going through this every day. Do they give everyone this special treatment? I don’t know… but I am forever grateful. Kady brought out the best in all of us.

    I’d love to end this post here, but I have tons more to share. Life has been inside out, upside down, crazy. Kady’s death was just a very deep valley in a series of peaks and valleys that I think are trying to kill me.


    The biggest news is that in the middle of all this, we moved. Or I should say, Kady died before we moved. She never made it to the new place, and maybe that’s a blessing because we downsized and we are living in a one-bedroom now. We are breathing down each other’s necks and I don’t think Kady could have taken it. A dog, a cat, a crazy spaz kitten who climbs the blinds and screens and scuttles to and fro at all hours of the night…a kid going to college, and me who is holding onto my sanity by a thread. It’s a lot.


    We do love the new place, though. I call it “my tiny home.” I’ll share how we’ve fixed it up in the next post or the one after that. It’s not a tiny home. It’s actually quite spacious, but I’ve crammed my bedroom, my office, and a full living room into one room. The living room is my tiny home. Bug has her own regular-sized room in the one bedroom. She’s got plenty of space and has filled it with full-sized vintage furniture she’s bought with her own money off Offer Up. Go Bug.

    Me, though, I’m a bit cramped. I have my bed, I turn around, there’s my desk. I take one step, and there’s the flip-a-switch gas fireplace and my “library,” aka a bookshelf and my turquoise chair. Take another step, and there is our full-sized green velvet couch! Tah-dah, it’s a living room complete with a coffee table and lots of light and plants!  And it’s all curled up into a Fibonacci sequence in one room. It’s actually quite impressive though impossible to photograph.


    I’ve already shared what the outside is like on Instagram. It’s Duck Pond City. I made the mistake of letting Cody off-leash on a hot day when we first got here. I’m never going to do that again. No, it’s not flooded. This is just the design of the apartment complex, so you can fit several units in a small space without feeling like you are on top of each other. Water is magical that way. We love it. I feel like I live in the forest with a stream nearby. You can hear water falling constantly, lulling me to sleep at night.


    I’ll leave you with this mid-moving shot. Lots has happened since this photo, but I can’t fit it all in this post!

    Until next time!

  • Life Lessons,  party party,  Shop Talk,  spilling my guts,  The Desert,  working woman

    Winter Forever


    I know everyone is feeling it. The lack of sunshine directly contributes to the lack of serotonin in my brain and so many of my fellow warriors in the trenches of mental illness. We are fighting a monotonous, endless war against depression and the human condition. Every day is a battle to see the bright side. But there are bright sides! They still exist! I’m spinning as fast as possible to turn every negative thought into a positive one. Let’s keep up the good fight! Let’s find the sunshiney glimmers between the dark, dreary winter storms!


    I’m lucky enough to have a big birthday to celebrate after Christmas and New Year’s. It was good planning to have a kid in January to give myself something to look forward to in the dark days of winter.

    Bug, however, does NOT like having a winter birthday. All she wants is a pool party with sunshine and friends splashing around in bikinis.  And every year, we have to fret about whether or not her party will get rained out. I mean, yes, we are lucky that these are the problems we have to worry about when other kids are just fortunate enough to wake up alive and not to the sounds of bombs going off. But you know what I mean. Real-life problems in my small world are weather and paying rent.

    This was probably the first year in her eighteen years that it rained, and we had to consider a plan B: cramming all twenty of her high school buddies into our tiny apartment. We opened the weather app daily and discussed the predicted rain percentages.  On Monday, there was a 40% chance; on Tuesday, there was a 60% chance; by Friday, there was an 80% chance. It was not looking good, but the plan must go on!

    Because the plan was a good one! This year, Bug planned her birthday party from the invitation to the location of our local park to the bounce house and the piñatas. It was painful to step aside and let her make all the party-planning decisions, but I had to do it.  I had plenty of opinions, but just like I’ve had to step aside and let her do her school art projects, I’ve learned that there is a time for the teacher to be the student, and now is that time.


    Her theme was impeccable—”Party like when you were little.”  It was such a good idea!  Her friends dressed how they dressed when they were little. She made cupcakes and took them to school (the day before, which was a great way to hype the whole event). She had two Minecraft piñatas filled with all their old favorite candies and party-city-craptastic toys. Cheese pizza, a pink castle bounce house, bouncy balls giant and small… sticky hands, sparkly crowns and glow bracelets. It was brilliant!


    It was an absolute hit.  Bug had hyped it up so much at school the day before, and because teenagers will congregate anywhere under any circumstances, EVERYONE SHOWED UP! And THEN! At the last minute right before her party, the rain stopped for the exact hours of her birthday party!!!!! Everything was sludgy, muddy, and cold, but the rain stopped! Can you believe it?

    The bounce house was so fun. The kids didn’t really bounce in it much until the rental company showed up and told them it was time to deflate it. Then they all crammed in, and it deflated on them because bounce houses are not made to hold twenty full-grown bodies. It was hilarious. All the weight shifted to one side, and no one could hoist themselves up and out of the descending castle. Photos were taken, and everyone bonded in a huge laughing heap. It was amazing. We all relived our little kid dreams, and this mama was happy.


    Let’s talk about another glimmer during winter: Winter light! Winter light is the best on the coast because the usual foggy, humid marine layer goes out to sea somewhere, and the skies are clearer and brighter than ever. Sunsets are beautiful with colors you never see any other time of the year. Golds and scarlets, pinks and purples. It is a beautiful thing to be by the sea during winter. Cold as heck but beautiful. I mean, comparatively speaking. We don’t know about snow or freezing temperatures, but our blood is thin, so we shiver when it’s 60 degrees and below.


    Shiver, shiver, shiver. But look! So pretty!


    I also traveled to the desert to check on the Rasta Rita Cantina. Since my little flower business has a few weddings coming up in April, I thought I should get reacquainted with the venue.


    The wall is slightly faded but not bad, considering it’s been through a severe summer (118F) and winter (30F). I might have to do a few touch-ups.


    Mario and I also visited the billboard we worked on. I was so NOT a part of this creatively (Mario and his buddy art-directed it; I was just the hands working the software), but it is my first billboard, so I’m slightly proud. I thought we’d get sued by U2 for blatantly ripping off their album cover, but since I didn’t have the correct photo or the right font, it wasn’t close enough to flatter myself. So hey! Billboard! Woot. It’s too bad I’m not proud enough to put it in my portfolio.

    A few of you have commented on my winding ways lately. Yes, I’m throwing everything at the wall, hoping it will stick. Flower business, behavioral therapy for autistic children, job hunting and travel… I suppose it’s not often a mommy blogger continues to tell tales and document her humdrum life after her children are grown. But the thing is, this never was a mommy blog. I just happened to be a mom for a big chunk of it. Mommy blogging made me famous briefly, but I’ve been journaling, sharing, and creating my, for lack of a better word, *digital magazine* of my “little life” since I was ten. Except when I was ten, my dad and I were in our converted back patio office punching out columns of copy on his Texas Instrument computer and pasting them into a newspaper format that we copied on the Xerox copier and I then handed out at Thanksgiving. Crazy. I guess I’ve always wanted to be a journalist writing “puff pieces” about my own life.

    I say all that to tell you about my latest whim. I’m trying out something new. Something new to throw at that wall, let’s say. I call it my 100-day project. I will spend 100 days putting all my energy into my own business. This might sound strange since I’ve been working for myself for the last twenty years, but I’ve spent a lot of time and energy making other people wealthy while living paycheck to paycheck myself, and lately, those paychecks have NOT been enough. I’ve created so many campaigns, logos, and business plans for others, scrubbed toilets, fetched dry cleaning, organized closets, and bought coffees… I’ve decided for the next 100 days, I will put as much energy as I’ve put into others into my own business instead. I’m not paying myself, but I’m paying it forward.  I will clock in at 9 am and work straight until 2 pm on my books, my art, and whatever crawls into my idea-popping head. If I can make other people successful, why can’t I make myself successful?

    I realize I’m all talk, but it’s only 100 days. Today is day four. Let’s see how it goes. It’s got to be better than everything I’ve been doing that has been failing so miserably, right?