• 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!

  • Apartmentlandia,  BIG news,  house stuff!,  unpackamania

    The Big Move


    I moved! I’m completely moved. It’s amazing. I can’t believe I did it.

    I cleaned out my old apartment the other day and stood in the now bare living room and said goodbye to my beloved turquoise wall. So much happened in that room. So much good. I wish the apartment complex would leave it turquoise and it could bring all kinds of good luck and love to whoever new moves in but I know they won’t do that. They have a formula and it’s called white, probably white number 327 with beige number 402 or something like that. They do everything rigidly by the books there and I can’t really fault them since it was the clean white walls that made me fall in love with my apartment in the first place.

    Remember how I used to struggle with taking pictures in my old mobile home that belonged to my Grandpa? I was always cloning out the smudges and glue remnants leftover from some wallpaper job that had half-hazardly removed. I longed for clean white walls and then I got them. It was a beautiful chapter of my life. I’m so glad I was able to be on my own for three whole years.

    It’s funny how life twists and turns. I would never have expected to be moving in with someone the way I am. But here I am. I’m excited for this new big change. So far it’s been amazing.


    I’m not completely unpacked but all of my belongings are out of my old apartment and stuffed into Payam’s house, literally. It’s a real challenge to combine all the trappings of two 43-year-old’s who were both pretty used to being by themselves and attached to their things. I used to go visit Payam and look around his beautiful house and wonder how in tarnation I could ever fit there. There really wasn’t room for me and my style. I’ve come to really love decorating my own place. It’s part of who I am these days. I love creating little vignettes all over my home.  How could I fit my *beautiful* clutter into his house?

    It seemed impossible. He has a very different style than mine. Not bad at all. It’s beautiful but it’s masculine and Persian and he has a lot of stuff! You know, car models and car magazines, buddha posters and expedit bookcases filled with philosophy books…I didn’t want to change him at all but how could I fit into his life without taking over? I’m a very visual person and I just couldn’t see myself putting all my things in storage and living as a guest.

    I’m in this for the long haul so we combined.  I’m so glad to say we came out on the other side and we still love each other. If you’ve done a combination of households like this yourself, you know how hard it really is. Thankfully, we’re both pleasers and we try really hard to make sacrifices to make the other person happy but it was a comedy at some points. (And between you and me, I worry that he’s sacrificed too much.)

    I have to be careful what I ask for with Payam because he will give away the shirt off his back for me. Well, actually that’s a bad example because I borrow his undershirts all the time for pajamas but you know what I mean. I can’t just mention that I’m craving a latte from the next town over because he will get in his car and go get it for me no matter how inconvenient it might be. He’s like that.

    The cats on the other hand have had no trouble at all not getting along with each other. It’s been growl city in the hallway for days but that’s to be expected. We followed all the rules, letting them play with each under the door, introducing them gradually, I even bought that cat-calming hormone stuff you plug into the wall like a fragrance dispenser.  Aqui and Lucy (Payam’s cat) are making eye contact and ignoring each other but Fiesta has taken up residence in my closet and growls at anything resembling Lucy in the slightest, including her mother, Aqui. But Fiesta has always been the grumpy cat.

    joon-the-photographerI can’t really report on how the kids are doing in this big combination because Bug has been in Hungary with her dad on vacation the whole time. I know, right?!! Lucky kid! They are visiting Toby’s girlfriend’s family and having a great time. We’ve skyped a few times but she’s more interested in talking about Minecraft and showing me the Rubiks Cube she bought in Budapest than worrying about how I unpack her room (a blessing!).

    Joon however has been my constant companion. It’s been hard for her to be stuck in the house with grown-ups who are more interested in unpacking boxes and purging unneeded clutter than going outside and having bike rides. She misses Bug terribly.

    Bug and Joon are a funny pair. Bug is an introvert, like her dad, and Joon is an extrovert who thrives on activity. Joon will go and go and go until she drops dead from exhaustion whereas Bug is the complete opposite and is content to sit alone in her room for hours on end. I have to force her off her computer to play. It’s really no surprise that the kids are like this since they are a lot like their parents but I know we will have many many challenges in the future. And they do love each other, you know, like siblings.


    We haven’t been all work and no play though. Joon has convinced me to go out at least once a day for some fun and I have yet to regret it. She’s going to keep me active and I need that.


    We’ve taken a few epic bike rides and come home bruised and sore. We live in such a great town that has twisting bike trails for miles and miles. You really have to be careful how far you go exploring because coming back can take forever. Especially when your biking companion has no interest in coming back.

    helpersWe’ve also had a few visits from Lubna. She’s been an amazing, incredible help to me in this move and I am forever thankful to her. She never tires and she is incredibly focused. We’ve tackled packing up my house, lifting boxes up and down stairs for days in heat and humidity that reminds you of a monsoon, (Of all times to move, did I have to pick August?? It’s been so awful and humid lately. If you exert one calorie of energy you are drenched in sweat. Dusty, dirty, sweaty box-moving…you get the picture.) reorganizing and cleaning Payam’s kitchen (and that required taking EVERYTHING out and putting it ALL BACK IN –gasp–) AND cleaning and reorganizing Payam’s entire garage. She is a force.

    Lubna and her family threw me a going away party (so sweet, right?!!)  but she still only lives a quick 10 minute walk away. We just don’t live in the same apartment complex anymore and it’s hard because now she has to ask permission to visit me. Her Dad doesn’t always grant his permission because well, you know how protective dads can be of their beautiful sixteen year-old daughters and that’s not even counting that she’s Muslim and needs a chaperone at all times. Before she could stop by whenever she wanted and she practically lived at our house. But thankfully her family values her being helpful so they’ve sent her over a few times and I am so thankful. I know our families will always be close.


    And that’s pretty much it! I probably could blog a thousand more things but life calls. Busy is good. I miss you guys. I’m glad so many of you keep track of me in instagram. :) I try to put up mini blogs there.