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!
I am unraveling right before your eyes. Someday this is all going to be a funny story but right now I am hobbling from day to day.
Last week I flew to West Texas for my brother’s wedding. It always feels good to be with family in hard times. This was a happy time: celebrating a wedding but for me it was more. It was me going back to my roots, spending time with the people who really really love me. EVEN WHEN I BLEACH MY HAIR BLONDE AND IT LOOKS TERRIBLE ON ME!
I know it doesn’t look so bad in photos but in real life it is awful. It’s dry, brittle, it doesn’t have any of its old waves and I have no idea how to style it. I feel like a lousy combination of Charlize Theron in Monster and Kurt Cobain. But this post isn’t all about me and my hair! (Or is it?) This was about flying to Texas to be with my family.
Texas and I are not fast friends. We should be. Texas was there for me in some dark, dark times (shout out to my good friend Heather), but in my old age, I’ve gotten more liberal (as most artists with feeeeeeeeeelings do). My brother is a gun-toting redneck conservative. You know how it goes. We politely ignore each other’s opinions of Trump to save the peace and we never talk on Facebook. As my brother always jokes: “We only have one thing in common: my mom and dad.” He’s funny. But surprisingly, when we get into intense discussions, we usually find common ground that we agree on. We are both guilty of being on opposite sides for too long and haven’t listened to the other side much.
The first thing he showed me when we got to his new wife’s house (Did I mention they live in officers’ quarters in a fort!!) was a cannon. Yep. That’s my brother. It’s not *his* canon, but he gets to work on it and maybe handle it during reenactments or something. You can probably tell I didn’t pay attention when he was talking to me. Guns schmuns, they’re all the same to me. They shoot people and kill; therefore, I hate them. But whatever! I do believe in the 2nd amendment, I just don’t like guns personally.
Then we walked the grounds. It’s huge! Like everything in Texas. My brother’s job is the groundskeeper of the Fort and he gets to mow the vast lawns with a driving lawn mower and switch sprinklers off and on. It’s his dream job.
I got to hang with my niece Suki and her little girl.
The skies were so big, and I loved being out in the evening air. The only thing I liked better than walking around outside was walking around his historical home.
It had a huge front porch with rocking chairs, and inside, everything felt like a museum. His wife’s mother owned the house and had a vast collection of art and artifacts.
I slept in the office and kinda got the heebie-jeebies looking at all these artifacts around me. Didn’t we take all this land from the Native Americans and wouldn’t they be haunting a house like this and wanting it back? When I closed my eyes, I saw all kinds of weird visions which makes me think I might be psychic or something but amazingly, I slept well. My brother’s wife says there is no bad juju in the house and I think she might be right. I didn’t feel anything bad when I was there.
The following day my dad and I walked the town. It took about five minutes.
Just kidding. It took longer than that, but it was a quick walk because the town is quite small. We even went to the park and took a few turns on a zipline.
Friday was the day of the rehearsal dinner, and I wasn’t needed for anything. Weird, I know. I thought I’d be helping with dishes or flowers or potato salad or something, but everything was already handled before I got there so I did what I always do when I’m in a new place. I yelped “local flair” and saw that there was a famous art exhibit two hours away.
Two hours is pretty far to see an art exhibit, but when I expressed interest, my dad signed up enthusiastically. That is my dad for you. If I want to do something, he is always on board, no matter how silly it is. It helps that he used to be a truck driver and driving is like walking to him but still, two hours to an art exhibit?!? And it wasn’t like it was the Louvre. What I wanted to see was pretty much a box in the middle of the desert. No shops around it or places to have lunch. It didn’t even have a gift shop. Just a box in the middle of nowhere with miles and miles of desert all around.
Yep, I’m talking about Prada, Marfa. It’s famous! It really is as silly as it looks. It’s a fake storefront with a non-working door and 2005 Prada shoes inside. It’s incredibly ironic, and I love it. At first, I was bummed when I saw the window boarded up on one side. That was going to ruin my photo! But then when I read more about the artist’s intent and how he wanted it to de-gentrify naturally, I started to get it. It will look like part of a ghost town someday, and it’s a big funny joke. Prada way out here in the middle of NOWHERE? Why? That’s exactly the fun of it. Why not! And even though it’s not an *actual* Prada store, and you can wiggle the front door in vain, and it will never open, it’s still *cool* just to be there. That’s how much clout the Prada brand has. Humans are so funny.
Even my dad got it. My dad is pretty open-minded for a boomer.
Speaking of open-mindedness, we stopped at an ice cream shop on the way back. We were hungry for lunch, but apparently, everything rolls up at three pm when you live in the middle of the desert in the middle of nowhere.
It was great. I think I found the artsiest town in all of West Texas. I’m good at finding my people.
Across the street was an LGBTQ store, and I went in, of course. Not that I needed any gay merch, but just because it’s pride month, and I wanted to show my support. You’d think my dad would have a problem with this, being the devout Christian that he is, but he is incredibly understanding, and we had the whole drive to talk about passages in the bible that refer to sodomy. Talking about the bible is one of my dad’s favorite things to do. Yes, I find it annoying from time to time when he tries to “save” people, but my dad is one of the kindest people you will ever meet, and he really does listen. I can put up with his fever over the bible because he listens to me when I tell him I don’t trust Apostle Paul’s teaching. He’s patient with me. It does make me sad that he is disappointed with my life choices, but if anyone understands my choices, it’s my dad. He’s been there through all of it.
So yeah, two hours of talking about the bible! It was great, actually. I can talk to my dad about anything.
The next day before the wedding, we took another walk around town, just my dad and I. We pretty much did the “driving tour” on foot.
This crumbling building reminded me of an Anthropologie backdrop.
Colors from another time… I love that I can always find things to photograph when I travel. It is my favorite thing to do.
I also got to spend a lot of quality time with this goober. She was magical at grabbing my Apple watch and my iPhone. She can reprogram any Apple device in under 30 seconds. It’s amazing. I have a lot of pictures of her grabbing at my phone as I’m taking pictures of her. I also have about a million selfies that she took of her chin.
Then it was time for the wedding. It was small and humble but so sweet. My brother is such a softie; he cried through the entire thing. Like he did at my wedding years ago, he’s just a big sentimental puddle inside a giant hairy man.
He adores his new wife. I’m so happy for them.
It was good to be with family. I’m glad I went. It was a quick little respite from the trainwreck that is my life back home.
But things are getting better. I have interviews lined up next week and I’m starting to get used to my shocking hair. Every day I contemplate shaving it, though… so the crazy is not over yet!