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!
The last two months have been very turbulent for me. As you know from my last post, I lost some friends that I cared deeply about, and THEN! a few weeks later, I was let go from a job that I was invested in and very excited about. The company took a different direction, and I was left by the wayside, wondering where I had gone wrong.
The thing is, I didn’t go wrong. I didn’t do anything wrong. The company changed directions, and I was not part of that change. It’s such a weird thing to have happened, but I’m sure this happens a lot. People change their minds. Big companies change their minds. Not everyone will like me, no matter how loveable I might think I am. This was a bitter pill for a died-in-the-wool people-pleaser like myself, but it’s been a huge lesson for me, and I’m thankful. It’s forced me to get stronger.
I admit it took the wind out of me for a bit. I felt lost and confused. But now that I’ve had a month to sit with it (and maybe it’s still too early to say that I’m already over it and moving on but), I think it was probably one of the best things that has happened to me in a long time. Hard things tend to work like that. I was forced to regroup and look deep inside myself to find purpose and a plan. It was tempting to give up. I wanted to move home with my parents, stay in bed for a year, and cry…But you can’t give up when you are a single mom living in an expensive apartment with a teenager, and your parents live in an HOA that doesn’t allow for grown children under the age of 55. Giving up is not an option!
So you know what I did? I rebranded.
SAJ is back and stronger than ever. Check out my portfolio! I packed it with my latest work and I hope to add more. Matt has been a long-suffering excellent (web designer!) partner who has spent countless hours poring over code to override my quirky WordPress problems. But I love it now. Secret Agent Josephine is a one-woman creative agency, and I’m adding clients already.
I can survive on my own! Isn’t it amazing? I’m so happy, lucky, and grateful to have options like this. I might not be “the corporate jet setter working woman,” but I’m me, doing what I love, and most importantly: I’m okay in a super stressful, financially unstable time. That’s what matters; I’m okay. Everyone said I would be, but it was hard to see that when I was in the murky depths. Now I see.
Guess what else is back?
Slideshows! Sorta… Click on those squares, and you’ll see a slew of photos. I stumbled across this little plugin in the long, arduous process of learning how to create a better portfolio. Now I can have slideshows within my blog posts, and they aren’t grainy automated gifs!
I’m still learning and tweaking but pretty cool, right?
Bug and I went to Crystal Cove this last weekend and spent some time poking around the tidepools and enjoying the coastal super bloom. We love where we live, and I’m so thankful for time with my teenager before she’s all grown up and moving on.
Another comfort during these last few months has been my tiny little patio garden. I’ve spent many hours here watching the plants grow and contemplating my next move. I’m thankful for this little spot of peace. Bug and my mom decided to plant tomato seedlings a while back, and now I have twenty-some full-sized cherry tomato plants growing knee-high on my tiny patio. It’s going to be a jungle soon. I can’t even imaging what it will be like late summer.
Then there’s my cozy room. I did a massive furniture rearrange because that always does a spirit good. I’ve also spent many hours cuddling with my crazy hugging cat. Who has a hugging cat? I do! She’s so funny. I can’t sit down on my bed without her climbing up on me, tucking her fuzzy purring head under my chin, and reaching both paws around my neck. It’s quirky, weird, and sometimes even annoying, but I think she’s a special gift sent from the universe to help me get through the tough spots in life.