Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Kobayashi Maru

It definitely presents a challenge when you check your horoscope and find these two words and that's it.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Why, YES I do have Marcona almonds...

I have discovered that selling a home is not for the faint of heart.  Clearly I had a unique experience when I sold my last home, which had been my first.  It happened so quickly and smoothly that I was barely inconvenienced and I even left a cheery letter on the kitchen counter for the new owners, telling them the varieties of the roses and their provenance and that I was sorry I hadn't had a chance to give the garage one last vacuuming, but the movers had taken the vacuum away.  I'm sure they got a good laugh at my sincerity before they tossed the letter and started digging the roses out.

The overall circumstances of my life after the purchase of the home I now own have been challenging to say the least.  When the home finally went on the market, I was relieved and expected a quick and satisfying sale, with several offers from lovely people who were more than happy to outbid each other in order to be the successful buyer.  After all, that's what happens on HGTV!  (But then I read this.)

It didn't happen that way.  It has taken months (thankfully not years) of keeping the house "showing" ready and enduring strangers in my space relatively unsupervised, worrying about the doors being kept closed so my cats don't escape, keeping my bathrooms looking serene and spa-like and not wanting to use the stove because I can't bear to scrub grease off of it one more time.

My beautiful hardwood floors took a beating.  In the summer lookers left dirt and dust, in the winter they left wet footprints and grit.  I came home to closets and cupboards ajar and clothing moved.  I was aghast when I came home one day after a showing and found a closet door open...the closet where I had my 2012 vision board hanging proudly on a hanger facing out.  Its most prominent feature was a good sized photo of George Clooney with "A new man!" written across it in sparkly marker.  Wah waaaah.

I had to take action.

I censored the contents of my pantry and refrigerator.  I decided quinoa, wheat germ and Marcona almonds from Whole Foods in the pantry would please the kind of buyer I thought would love the house, and I hid the boxes of Pasta Roni and bags of Halloween candy I had hoarded.  I reorganized my refrigerator and keep lovely bottles of flavored water and elegant cheeses front and center.  The messy leftovers are hidden below fresh heads of romaine and beautiful crisp spears of asparagus.  Don't even get me started on the bathroom...there is no evidence that my toilets are ever used, and certainly no one has ever shaved their legs in this place.

So after what seemed like an eternity, an offer was made and an agreement reached and I am now facing the dreaded HOME INSPECTION.  This will take place tomorrow.  For FOUR hours.  While I am confident all will be fine, I know from experience to be prepared that it might not.  The buyers will be here, again relatively unsupervised, to observe, while I'll be whiling away the time on the couch at my friends house, pulling out my eyebrows.

I'll be leaving out a plate of cheese and crackers for the buyers in case they get peckish while they're here.  The hibiscus water is chilled.  If they want some Marcona almonds, I'm pretty sure they know where to find them.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Home is Where the Heart Is, Even if it's on The 405...

The other day I came across a brilliant slideshow by Michael Peckerar  called Twenty Things Nobody Tells You About Moving Out Of Southern California.  I moved from Corona, California which is close to Michael's hometown of Claremont.  I nodded, smiled, laughed, and got misty as I read through these, and felt the camaraderie of the shared experience of growing up and living in Southern California.

I could identify with most of his points...yes, my first stop off the plane is In-N-Out.  I will never get used to living in a state that doesn't require you to always say your area code first, because there's only ONE (the same goes for freeways but it's the interstate and everyone seems to drive like they've never been on it before)  Why IS there no good Mexican food outside of California?    And it's 2014 and the world is our neighborhood...why is it not possible to get decent produce everywhere?  I used to take it for granted that I could get to no less than five Nordstrom stores within an hour of my house, find any ingredient for any recipe that I wanted to make almost instantly, and that I could get a killer fish taco or Sprinkles cupcake any time I felt like it.

As I mentioned before, it's looking good that I'll be heading home soon to stay, and I'll be proud to fly my "760" (or 858 or 619) flag because I disagree with Michael on this one, San Diego rocks!  I may miss New Mexico but it will always be close to my heart because, well, it's tattooed on my left arm.  But I'll be glad to be able to walk on the beach any time I please, remembering the time that as a little girl I stood on the beach with my Daddy holding my hand and hearing him say in a wondering voice "isn't the ocean intriguing?"  It sure is.  His ashes were scattered off Point Loma and I know he'd be proud of me for following my dreams to New Mexico, but I also know he'd be secretly pleased that I ended up finding my way home.

What things will always be a part of you, no matter how long you live away from "home"?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

In Those Quiet Moments While You Wait

Earlier this season on Grey's Anatomy, Meredith Grey's closing comments on one episode spoke so directly to me and my situation that I had to replay it until I could transcribe them:

We do get to decide how we're going to live.
So do it...decide.
Is this the life you want to live?
Is this the person you want to love?
Is this the best you can be?
Can you be stronger?  Kinder?  More compassionate?
Breathe in.
Breathe out.
And decide.
The waiting can kill you.
You make a decision and then the world has to turn.
The consequences unfold out of your hands.
There's only one thing that seems clear in those quiet moments while you wait.
Whatever you chose was wrong.

I wrote them down and put them away and forgot about them until I happened across them this week, as I wait to see if we can come to agreement and the house will be sold.  Yesterday, as I put my initials on the final counteroffer, I made my decision and now, the world has to turn.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Lena Dunham's Vogue Spread...C'mon!

I have to say, I really like Lena Dunham.  She's real, she's spunky, she's intelligent, and she deserves her success. I'm not a fan of Girls, but I'm way (cough) out of the target age demographic for the show. I tried it, but her boyfriend's character just gives me the willies.

The uproar over Lena's Vogue spread is everywhere this morning...and thanks to Jezebel, we can see a dissection of the original and photoshopped photos here.

I'm not a consistent reader of Vogue, but always grab it at the hair salon and like most of us, enjoy looking at pretty pictures.  I honestly find it surprising that ANYONE would think that there is even ONE photo in Vogue that HASN'T been photoshopped.  Why is this news, and why are we picking on Lena?  Supposedly because she says she's fine with herself the way she is?  That has nothing to do with's a Vogue spread!  It's fantasy, it's editorial, it's not real.  Everyone knows that.

Jezebel is just being shitty.  They could run the same article on anyone that appears in a Vogue spread, and we could pick them apart just the same.  C'mon!

What little I've heard of Lena's comments on this issue sound like she has her head on straight.  I hope she had a blast doing the shoot and I hope she got paid a shitload of money to do it.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Fight On...

On Tuesday, an offer was submitted on the house...a ridiculously, insultingly, problematically low offer, but an offer nonetheless.  This is real progress and I've barely been able to breathe since.

Counteroffers have been going back and forth for four days now and it's stressful.  I've been told the buyers are from Chicago and expect a drawn out negotiation process and to relax, that they love the house and we should be able to come to an agreement.

Relax?!  Are you kidding me?

The house has been on the market for quite a while, it's a special house in a tough market area and needs just the right buyer to love it.  The routine of keeping the house in show worthy condition with everything just so has worn thin, not to mention I'm beyond ready to move on and start my new life.

Or am I?  I was talking to my friend about the situation and without thinking something profound came out of my mouth.  I said something like "I've been in bare bones survival mode so long that the prospect of freedom is going to take some time to get used to".  Whoa!

If there was ever a time in my life where I needed to be gentle with myself, it is now.

After what I now see was a pretty charmed life, the past couple of years haven't given me many breaks and I'm afraid to get excited, but the reality is, from the practical side of things, I have to mentally prepare myself for getting ready to move since we'll know in a few days if the sale will be moving forward.  And thinking about that, in spite of myself I can feel a tiny bubble of excitement beginning to build.

I grew up just east of Los Angeles and am a USC graduate.  I love Los Angeles.  I am a beach girl through and through.  After college, I spent most of my time in Orange and Riverside counties and did a lot of commuting and it took its toll on me (I'm downplaying it...the 91 almost killed me).  For years I dreamed of a slower way of life that didn't involve four hours on the freeway every day just to make a living.  A few years ago I had an opportunity to live out of state for about a year and a half before a family illness called me back home, and I loved it.  This time it would be permanent.

But almost nothing worked out the way it was planned.  Not only did my love abandon me, but others let me down too.  I'm sure this has a lot to do with it, but I'm resilient and I knew I could make it work.  I mean, I'm the one that created that charmed life that I used to have, right?  I noticed that on visits back to California, I came alive.  I was around my people!  There was diversity!  It was absolutely tropical!  The Mexican food was killer!  The traffic was my old friend!  As time passed, one thing became more and more clear to me:  I wanted to go home.

So I spent a lot of time thinking of where that might be and how that might look.  I went through a phase where I actually thought I might move back to my old neighborhood and mentioned it to my mom who said why the FUCK would you want to do that?  She reminded me that since I had been a teenager I had off and on mentioned that I would like to live in San Diego and she suggested I look into was familiar territory but also new, close to the ocean and without the LA traffic and offered a lot of what I said I was looking for.  Over the course of about a year, a new dream started to take shape.

From the time I was a little girl, I dreamed of becoming an architect.  I followed that dream to the USC School of Architecture, where I realized pretty quickly I was completely miserable.  I wanted out, but how could I give up my dream?  A very wise person told me this - there is no shame in giving up a dream that is no longer working for you.  And I made what was one of the best decisions of my life and bravely changed my major and ended up right where I was destined to be.  Where I was happy.

My dream of living in this state hasn't been working for me for a very long time.  I am a California girl, I am a Trojan and I know how to fight on.  I'm going home.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Setting Sun

In the late afternoons recently I've gotten into the ritual of pausing at my kitchen window and gazing at the setting sun turning the foothills of the Sangre de Cristos pink.  If there are clouds, they will be lit pink too, for a few fleeting moments.  It's majestic, and it tugs at my heart.

Behind me is my dream kitchen, and beyond that, my dream house.  It seems like only yesterday I was signing the escrow papers, the realtor texting a picture of me, pen in hand, beaming, to my love who was behind in another state waiting for his house to sell so he could join me.  Signing those papers was the culmination of years of dreaming, scheming, and searching for the house that was to be our first home together and the start of a new, shared life.  I had no idea that less than 90 days later he would abandon me and our dreams without warning or explanation and leave me with my entire life in shambles.

The house is for sale.  I have a morning ritual too, lighting a candle and sending my intention to the Universe of letting the light guide the new owners here, to what I wish will be a place of happiness and love for them.  It's taken a long time, but I am at peace with this.  While I am grateful that this house has held me to it's sturdy breast during what has been the absolute worst and hardest time of my life, I am ready to move on and start a new dream.

I have been a good steward of this lovely old house, and it has absorbed my tears as well as accepted my fussings and polishings and admiration of it, just as it has heard me cuss it out when the roof leaks again.  I've left my mark on her in hundreds of small ways, as she has on me.

I've put the old dream to bed and have a new dream in mind.  While I know it will be hard to leave those pink foothills and this old house behind, I've said my goodbyes over the course of over two years now.  When I drive away for the last time, I know I won't glance back.

I'm ready.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Once Upon a Time, There was a Bright Spot...

...and that would be me.

I owned that bright spotness, until someone decided they felt like unilaterally pulling the rug out from under me and in the words of Katy Perry, I hit the concrete...hard...and the brightness flickered.  In my efforts to get up, smile and bravely ignore the blood running down my legs from my badly skinned knees, I tripped, and the brightness dimmed.

It's been awhile now, and I miss my brightness.  It's taken all my energy to do what needed to be done, and although there's still more to do, I finally feel like it's time for my brightness to shine again.

I've been kinda feeling like a persona non grata for awhile now...before I hit the concrete, that was never an issue for me.  I'm tired of feeling this way...on the fringe, half a step off, forgotten even.  It's time to own my brightness again.

So to that end, my word for 2014 is REBIRTH.

I dislike the word "journey" as in, my journey of self discovery, my weight loss journey, my journey of healing.  Personally, I feel like I've been on the Jornada del Muerto.  But really (and I've had a lot of time to ponder this point), in the end, aren't all our journeys just living life?

Maybe it's wrong to admit this, but I don't have any real direction in mind as I start this blog...maybe it will be my own Jornada del Luz...a journey of I just live my life, finding my brightness again.

So get out your shades.