Over-Thinking and Denial (Or the Dogs’ Toy Basket)

I should write something poignant and/or profound right now given my life circumstances… but I’m not in the mood.

Smarter individuals have said denial is an essential element of sanity after all. (No one actually said this as far as I know. It is more likely the bald-faced lie I tell myself so I can cope with reality.)

If you’re new to the blog, these “circumstances” include some hardcore adult things like caring for my divorced, aging, and somewhat ailing parents, but tonight I don’t want to dwell on unpleasant things.

Sure, catastrophe is lingering somewhere in the periphery of my life like a pesky motorcyclist who insists on occupying the blindspot of my SUV on the freeway, but tonight I choose to ignore all of that.

Tonight I choose denial.

As part of my manifest rejection of reality I give you this:

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The dogs’ new toy basket.

Yes, really… a toy basket for my dogs. I paid somewhere around $52 for it.

I actually agonized at length over its purchase — not the price, mind you, but the aesthetics of it in context with the room it occupies.

I considered many other storage options. I even wandered the aisles of endless Home Goods and Marshall’s locations across the greater Los Angeles area.

After all of that fruitless searching, I narrowed it down to a couple of options from Fawn and Forest.

This was a front-runner until the last minute:

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The basket itself and not its contents… OBVIOUSLY.

I purchased that particular basket for my friend Nicole’s sweet baby Treva, but I decided the pom-poms were too similar to the tassels on my curtains to really work with the room.

See?

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Ugh, the things that I agonize over…

I realize the leaves in my rug mirror the leaf on the Fawn and Forest basket I ultimately bought, but somehow it feels slightly subtler.

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Or maybe that’s another lie I’m telling myself.

Who knows?

Either way, I’m happy with the purchase for my pups’ toy bounty.

Perhaps I’ll buy the pom-pom basket for my bedroom….

I have my own toys books to store after all.

(Books, like my dogs, are everything.)

 

 

 

Things to Think About (Or Real Estate and Stuff)

I’m back from Michigan… again.

I’ve made the trek to the Mitten State twice in the last eight weeks.

This last trip included a meeting with an estate planning attorney, four separate roof replacement estimates, a wedding, a baseball game, and meals with my parents (separately, of course).

See?

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Front row at Comerica Park with my papa.

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Papa showing the contractors his fancy gutter guards.

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My brilliant stepsister getting married in Ted Baker…. (I’m thrilled I was there.)

For some reason, I don’t have any pictures of my dinner (and staycation) at Ann Arbor’s Weber Boutique Inn with my mummy, but you get the idea….

I’m grateful I can get away to take care of my parents’ affairs, but I have mixed feelings every time I board the plane to return to LA.

I’ve been in California for nearly 18 years, and while it feels like home, I often question my decision to remain here.

I’m not ostensibly using my film degree(s) at present, which was the entire reason for moving to Southern California in the first place. I do have a strong support system in LA that I lack in my home state, but is that really a reason to stay?

That’s not to say that I don’t have a few truly wonderful friends in Michigan, but I have a much larger network here. I know it’s not about the number of friends you have; the depth of the relationship counts, and my Michigan friends are, without a doubt, made of amazing, but…

I’ve spent the better part of two decades building a life in LA, and it’s hard to think about saying goodbye to it.

Among other concerns, I often wonder what I’d do for money if left Southern California.

I’ve always wanted to renovate and flip houses — a much more attainable goal in a state where you can buy a house for less than the downpayment on a modest (read: small) house in LA, so there is that possibility.

For example…

This house in East Lansing is listed for $187,000.

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I die for these trees. (Photo credit: Zillow)

It has great bones, and a lot of renovation potential.

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Just look at the hardwood floors! (Photo credit: Zillow)

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While the cabinets and floor have to go, that light fixture is midcentury, retro fabulous. (Photo credit: Zillow)

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That bathtub is absolutely midcentury amazing, but the rest could use some help. (Photo credit: Zillow)

So now that you’ve seen an example of a house in my dad’s neighborhood, how about one in mine?

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This is listed at $1,175,00. (Photo Credit: Zillow)

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Yes, really… $1,175,000. (Photo credit: Zillow)

I’m not saying either house is move-in ready, but you get the idea….

So, anyway, I’m not sure what to do with my life. I just know I’m thinking about things I hadn’t considered five — or even ONE year ago.

Everything has changed since my dad was diagnosed with dementia and my mom with Parkinson’s….

Whatever happens, and wherever I go, I know I’m lucky to have these little nuggies by my side.

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They are stinky, and they are EVERYTHING.

Okay, that’s all for now.

I’m going to snuggle with the big dog babies before placing some sort of self-indulgent LA food delivery order.

I may as well do all of the So-Cal things while I still live here… however long that is.

I Think I’m Adulting (Or Midweek Day Off)

Today a did a thing — a thing I don’t usually do.

I took the day off.

I got up at 5:45 this morning, and I made a list of everything I have to achieve before I board a plane to Michigan on Saturday.

Looking at the tasks I need to accomplish before I take off for Detroit felt like A LOT.

Picking up dry-cleaning, buying dog food, and getting a haircut could take up a whole day in LA by themselves, but when you add finding a reputable lawyer to establish a revocable trust and other such responsible nonsense… it’s all too much.

And just to be clear, I mean too much logistically, practically, and maybe more importantly: emotionally.

Sure, I’m capable of juggling all of those details with work, and I totally could have suppressed the emotions involved with the tasks facing me like I have so many times before, but this morning as I was roasting Brussels sprouts in bacon fat, I asked myself, “Why? What’s the point of that?”

I realized there isn’t a single task I could accomplish at work that was more important than addressing my own pressing personal needs today.

This is probably some kind of turning point in my evolution as a human or whatever, but I don’t know if I’m ready to give my decision that kind of weight.

That said, I’m grateful to be home to vacuum, research estate planing attorneys three time zones away, and watch my dogs sleep.

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Well maybe only one of them is sleeping.

Anyway, I’m home adulting on a Wednesday afternoon, but as responsible as I feel?

I also think it’s maybe time for a midday nap.

 

Of Insomnia (Or Family Stuff)

It’s after 11 pm, and I’m still awake — a state yet unaltered even after listening to a sermon podcast, a few carefully selected songs on iTunes, and an hour of Harry Potter on Audible. After all of my *valiant* efforts at relaxing, I gave up and got out of bed.

I really thought I was tired… but I guess not.

So, here I am now… pouring out my heart to the internet at nearly midnight on a Monday. (Note to self: I really should pick up that prescription for insomnia meds from CVS….)

I’m in a weird place, which is probably why I can’t sleep.

I have a lot that’s going well in my life: I have two dogs I love more than my own life, many close friends, and a wonderful family. On the flip side, one of my dogs is living on borrowed time after a cancer diagnosis two years ago, I don’t see most of my friends as often as I used to (distance, kids. etc.), and my parents are facing health challenges that come with age.

I’m not really complaining: I’m glad I have people and pets I love enough to keep me up at night. That said, some nights the weight of life and loss weigh heavier than others.

I’m presently preparing for a trip to Michigan to see my family at the end of the month, and as much as I’d like to think I’ve prepared for it mentally, I know you just can’t prepare for what I’m facing emotionally… or otherwise.

Without betraying confidences, I will just say I’m preparing to parent a person who once parented me, and that’s scary.

It’s a kind of real no one can prepare you to face.

I’m going into the situation with the faith that God will lead me (as he always has), he will comfort me (as he always has), and I won’t be alone because I have him and all of the people he has placed on my path.

I’m not saying any of this is going to be easy, but it won’t be impossible.

But also?

If I’m being honest, human, and absolutely real… I have to admit this sucks a little.

I didn’t ask for this, but most of us didn’t ask for our lot in life. We all just play the hand we were dealt. We’re absolutely allowed to complain a little for a minute, but then we need to play the cards we’re holding the best we can. (It’s probably important to mention that I’m a lousy poker player so perhaps this entire analogy is crap.)

Analogy aside, I think we just have to do our best with our circumstances… whatever they are.

And in my case, I can say without a doubt as hard as this next chapter will be in my life, I know I’m the only person who can do what I have to do.

My entire life has prepared me to fulfill the role I must play — both because of my biology and also because the man who made me strong enough to face this needs me now.

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I’m strong because I’m yours.

And?

He made me stronger because he couldn’t let his only child off of the hook; she had to be as strong as he.

I love you, Papa, and whatever we’re facing, we’re facing it together.

You and my mummy made what I am, and I’m strong enough to slug it out until I’m tired enough to sleep.

Tonight maybe that means writing until I’m tired….

 

Book Club and Babies (Or I Get Over Myself)

Yesterday I hosted book club… at my place.

That may not sound earth-shattering, but you must understand that I used to revel in hosting friends for a variety of reasons. From my first Friendsgiving of 15+ people to Easter for 24, I’ve always loved cooking for the people in my life.

In my twenties, those gatherings generally involved people sitting on folding chairs with paper plates on their laps while my deaf Cocker Spaniel wandered around the room foraging for fallen food.

Brady was my first rescue, and one of the great loves of my life. He helped me grow up, and he made me a better, more loving human.

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He also tolerated my hugs.

As time has gone by, most of my friends have moved out of small apartments into homes with yards, and eating dinner off of paper plates on their laps has become less appealing. I’ve been hesitant to host since I feel like I don’t have as much room as many of my friends.

Sure, I have proper plates and an adult dining room table now, but the real estate problem was a lingering issue for me. I got over myself, however, and invited my book club besties to my place.

We had such a lovely afternoon of snacks, heartfelt sharing, and engaging conversation!

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Plus my friends brought me flowers! #likeduh

George also helped me make my bed before my friends and their babies arrived.

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Okay, maybe “helped” is a generous description.

I had to kick him off the bed to finish the job, but he’s so cute I forgave him for being useless at domestic chores.

Of Restaurants and Writing (Or Time For a Change)

Remember when I used to post regularly?

Yeah, I miss those days.

I miss writing in general.

I’ve let life get in the way of my creativity lately.

See, I took a job waiting tables because I thought it would help me focus on my own personal projects… and because I can’t half-ass anything, I’ve ended up managing the restaurant. Over time I’ve taken on more responsibility there, and the demands have dramatically increased.

In the beginning of my restaurant tenure, I loved seeing the smiles on customers’ faces, and I enjoyed hearing their stories. I loved remembering what they liked, and I got a great deal of satisfaction from being a bright spot in their days.

I still have those moments, but the burden of hiring and firing staff, and constant texts requiring my attention at all hours of the day and night have sucked so much time from my life that my writing has suffered somewhat. I’ve managed to keep my skills honed, but a recent taste of real writing satisfaction has left me wanting more.

I had a fabulous experience writing an ad-sponsored episode of TXT Stories for Facebook at the end of 2018. I worked on the project with a former colleague from my producing days, and he gave great feedback on my script. It made me miss the days when I spent all of my time around fellow creatives — especially smart ones.

I don’t regret the time I’ve spent at the restaurant. I’ve met so many wonderful people whose paths would never have crossed mine if I had stayed in the cocoon of entertainment. The experience has made me more alive and open as a human, but the time has come for me to return to writing as a career — not just as a side hustle.

So, this is me declaring that I’m back in the creative business.

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My dog is so excited for me that he can’t contain himself.

No, really… he is excited.

That’s just his face.

 

Dog Yoga and Grocery Delivery (Or Things I Do on Sunday)

It’s a rainy Sunday in LA. It’s the perfect day for staying home and making a big mess of bacon-wrapped food.

The sky is a deep gray, both of my Boxers are asleep, and I’m listening to country music while waiting for my grocery delivery.

I realize the confluence of country music and an urban indulgence like grocery delivery is a bit of a contradiction, but I see it as a perfect microcosm for my identity. While I have somewhat of a redneck sensibility, I am also a spoiled urbanite, and I can’t bear entering a grocery store on a Sunday. The parking lot situation alone is reason enough to stay home — never mind the LA drivers who are blinded by a bit of rain on their windshields.

That leaves me over-spending on Sauvignon Blanc and prosciutto so I don’t have brave the “elements” (read: a light mist) to make dinner.

I recently declared 2019 as the year of productive creativity, so I’m going to get back to my novel outline while I wait for my groceries to arrive.

But first?

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Dog yoga

It’s not nearly as cool as goat yoga, and it involves a pose George invented called, “Barking Dog.”

It’s so relaxing living with Boxers… but I wouldn’t change it for anything.

My boys are everything.