On the Road, Day Five, SD & NE, part five

Okay, I’ve slacked on telling you the rest of this day. Here are parts
One
Two
Three
Four

 

Once we left Wall Drug and the Badlands, we had to kind of figure out where we were going to go next.  This many stops in one day was kind of unheard of for us because we liked to keep cruising.  BUT we were kind of ahead of schedule and there was a lot to see over here.  We didn’t have to be anywhere particular until September 8th (tell you why later) and from checking the map, we had more than enough time to get there AND take a look around.

We happened to be in the area of another major destination and we didn’t expect the town surrounding to be so populated and touristy.  It was so cute though.

Here is where we went!  This is our first sight of Mount Rushmore from the highway.  It’s mesmerizing.

I don’t know if it’s our city showing but we were kind of dumbfounded to find this place teeming with people.  I guess it’s because you always see a picture of this quiet mountain with it’s carved Presidents so stern and majestic.  I certainly wasn’t expecting this:

But that’s silly because this is obviously a tourist destination and not a desolate forest area haha.

Anyway, it also turns out you have to pay to get in but you can only pay cash.  (WTF.)  We didn’t have any so the nice man just let us in for some reason.  It’s good to be an American?

Here is sort of a close up shot of Mount Rushmore.  Can you even imagine that someone painstakingly DID that?

I mean look at that detail?!  How can you even tell if you’re doing a good job?

Here is Kristyn doing an obligatory pose in front of Mount Rushmore, natch. Isn’t she the cutest?

And here’s my fathead posing with our Nation’s forefathers.

I’ve included a picture of the soda machine at Mount Rushmore for two reasons:

1) It made me giggle at the time.

2) I figured it’s kind of a curiosity.  I feel like it’s akin to wearing a tshirt with your own picture on it (which I have done before and totally do not judge as a life choice).

After that, we drove into Nebraska.  We wanted to cover as much ground as possible to keep on track, especially since we took so much time sightseeing.  In reality, we probably only took about an hour or so sightseeing total but we DID take a detour to get to Mount Rushmore.

Oh AND, remember how I told you that I would tell you something about Buffalo?  We saw one REALLY up close.  We got kind of lost in the woods around Mount Rushmore and ended up on sort of a rural road.  We didn’t see the Buffalo until we were right up upon it.  It was standing on the left side of the road.  A motorcyclist passed within three feet of it and swerved screaming.  We did the same.  The reasons for swerving and screaming around the Buffalo are:

1) They are like six feet tall (at least in my mind they are) and like HUNDREDS OF POUNDS.

2) Therefore they can probably kill you with their MIND if they want to.

3) There are hysterical signs everywhere warning you about your life expectancy should you encounter and piss off a Buffalo.

4) These hysterical signs tell you that in no uncertain terms, you are on Buffalo Property and if you do something to make them kill you, you are on your goddamn own because you have been warned.

That being said, ENTERING NEBRASKA!

See that sign above and the one below?  That’s Nebraska.  Open fields and flat land everywhere.  Nothing around.  Well at least where we were.  We kind of goofed and took what we thought was a highway (and was according to our maps).  It was actually like a SERIOUSLY RURAL AND DESOLATE country road.  Never. Doing. That. Again.  So terrifying.  When I say there was nothing, there was NOTHING.  No houses, no gas stations, no phones…just empty fields.  Now here’s the predicament:

1) The sun is going down.

2) We don’t know where we are.

3) Will we have enough gas to get to wherever it is we’re going? (a side note: we tried to set up hotels in advance but it logistically didn’t work because we could plan to get somewhere in time but what if we didn’t make it and ended up paying for the night in that hotel because we couldn’t cancel until the last minute?)

4) We’re in a rural area so our phones have dropped cellular and internet service.

We were really scared and pretty screwed.  We, for some reason, thought we were getting on a highway that was a more direct route to “somewhere”.  Because in NJ, when you turn off a major artery like the Parkway, there are always a lot of populated alternative routes to drive on.  BIG MISTAKE.  HUGE.

On this road you see below?  We saw a town that you could actually SEE COMING.  A cluster of houses with a sign that told you the population.  The population?  18.  Yes 18.  18 people.  And honestly I doubt that shit.  It was so abandoned looking.  And like Christine pointed out, you KNOW every single one of those bastards probably owns a gun.

But that isn’t even the crazy thing.  The crazy thing is that we came upon another town.  It had a sign that read “Population 1”.  I didn’t take a picture because I didn’t want to stick around.  I’m not trying to be city-dweller biased against country dwellers because I grew up spending my summers in Upstate NY where it is pretty damn rural.  I have nothing but love for the rural life.  But Population 1 just chills a bitch to the bone.  You KNOW that if a town has one person in it and they advertise it as such, it is because that person WANTS it that way.  Motion is not denied.

We eventually came upon a really cute little town that was not freaky at all. I guess they considered themselves a city because the rates for the hotels were outrageous for such a backwater. I could spend the same and get a cheap room in LA or NYC. But we found a clean place that I cannot for the life of me find pictures of. Shame too because it was one of our better rooms. It had a motel door opening but the room itself was gorg. The animals loved it and it was so comfortable. We were so tired and so hungry and full of adrenaline for being scared for so long that we were just excited to get the funk out of the car. We went across the street and got subs from Subway and housed them. We called our parents and siblings and friends to tell them we were definitely not dead. We gave the cats baths and clipped their nails after days of sweating in the car. We figured they would probably appreciate it once it was overwith and we were right. Everyone was snug as a bug in a rug and we were just happy not to be stuck on the side of the road in the dark.

A Letter to Me from Me

My friend Jenn just posted on FB that she wrote a letter to herself and sealed it to read next New Year’s Day. I thought that was a great idea so I did the same. I just wrote down how this year went, how I want next year to go and some things I hope happen for myself and everyone around me. It was two pages long and on some creepy-ass stained glass stationary I bought a few years ago. Speaking of creepy, this is the folder I found it in:

I am nothing if not a thrify nerd/maniac. I found that gem (and all of the weird stationary and stickers within) at various NJ dollar stores. Good. Times. And yes that is a unicorn and a castle on my envelope to Future Coleen. I have it on high authority that Future Coleen will appreciate the sentiment and (questionable) wit of affixing these to such a personal document of posterity.

I really wish I could say that I won’t be searing your eyeholes with another post today but I have had three giant cups of tea and MAN am I having a good time. Deal with me, Happy New Year!

P.S. Yes Kristyn, I am going to force you to do this too! We will store them in the Card Moose until next year!

P.S. #2 How about that? I am the first person to add a Richard Marx tag to WordPress!

We had a great Christmas!

I’m a week late in posting this but who cares? I have been partying and having a good time all week. I gave myself sort of a self-imposed vacation. I ate Christmas cookies, drank Two Buck Chuck, watched Buffy and crafted. It’s been wonderful. I also managed to crank out some work and hustle and bustle a bit but I definitely took a week to turn the hustling down to a dull roar. This week, it’s time to turn it back up again haha.

Anyway, we ALSO had a great New Year’s Eve but I’ll tell you about that later. Last year we had sort of a “meh” Christmas because Kristyn had to work both Christmas Eve AND Christmas. We Skyped with everyone and got lots of good prezzies but we were homesick and apart and it was kind of blah.

This year Kristyn had off for Christmas Eve (but worked on Christmas). This is good because Kristyn’s favorite part of the entire Christmas season is going over to her Aunt Alison and Uncle Rich’s for dinner. (ie. She loves celebrating on Christmas Eve.) My family always celebrated on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day because we’d rotate going to see either side of the family on each day.

ANYWAY. On Christmas Eve Eve, I baked like six or seven dozen Ricotta Cookies, two dozen Gingerbread cookies and made two dozen Potato Scones to have for breakfast (not two dozen for breakfast that’s just how much the recipe made haha). I cleaned the house from top to bottom and even wrapped all of the presents our family sent us! Kristyn came home after work at like 1:30am and was mad at me because she had stopped by Walgreen’s to pick out some stuff to put in my stocking as a surprise but I had her debit card on me haha. So we went to Walgreen’s in Hollywood and shopped for a while. We didn’t get home until probably around 3 or so. We chilled, I showed Kristyn all the stuff I’d made and we went to bed watching Buffy.

In the morning, I cued the Yule Log up on the laptop. Here it is:

And we started opening our presents. We got SO MUCH from everyone and we are SO grateful and were SO surprised! I don’t want to list everything because I don’t want to brag or make anyone feel funny but a sampling of what we got is:

* A box of cookies, candy and fun stuff from Matt and Rachel
* Two vegetarian cookbooks from our Moms
* A gift certificate to Trader Joe’s from Aunt Alison and Uncle Rich and the boys
* A box of goodies from my Mom and Nana. Inside were some holiday decorations, Christmas socks, a springform pan to make Apple Cake and a hand-written cookbook. The cookbook made me bawl my eyes out because it’s all hand-written family recipes from my Mom and Nana and even one photo-copied and stapled in that my Great Grandma wrote herself. I grew up with her and think of her as almost like a second Mom. She passed away when I was about thirteen so to see her handwriting again just…it made me really happy and cry a LOT. Haha.
* A gift certificate that let’s you choose any kind of outing you want in California from Kristyn’s brother Charlie, Linda and the kids.
* A gift certificate to our favorite store Target from Kristyn’s sister Lynn, Tommy and the boys.
* And my sister sent us something but it didn’t come until just this past Tuesday so I’ll put it in the New Year’s Eve post. Trust. It’s awesome.
* Grandma Barr sent us money to buy something for ourselves with. So sweet.
* Kristyn’s parents went crazy and sent us EVERYTHING haha. Comforter, dishes, pots, pans, utensils, slippers.

And that isn’t even everything. We are really SO LUCKY and made out like bandits. It wasn’t even the gifts themselves just the thought. Also we got a ton of Christmas cards which we LOVE. Thank you EVERYONE!!!

Oh and with Christmas money we put some stuff in our stockings and decided to buy The Michael Jackson Experience and Harry Potter LEGO. OMG SUCH GOOD GAMES!!! More on that later.

So on Christmas Eve morning, we opened prezzies and gave the animals treats. We then called our Parents and Grandmas to wish them a Merry Christmas. We didn’t eat breakfast until like 3pm haha. We had fake Taylor Ham and cheese on toast, scrambled tofu and potato scones with coffee. So good.

We then cleaned up the horrific Christmas mess we’d made. We let the cats play in the melee of the boxes and paper mess until they got tired out haha. Then we played the Michael Jackson Experience for a while.

After that we decided to make the Pee Wee Herman Shrinky Dinks that I’d bought for two beans at a thrift store a few weeks ago. We’re going to make them into ornaments for the tree. I’ve only done Shrinky Dinks like once and Kristyn has never done them so this was a lot of fun. It was really satisfying to see them curl up in the oven haha.

After that we were kind of hungry so we started on dinner. I made my Mom’s famous ziti (the recipe for which came in the hand-written cookbook). In the pictures below you’ll see that she wrote “Eat like a pig, sleep like a baby” in the book. This is in regards to this recipe hahaha. We found fake shrimp at Whole Foods recently so Kristyn decided to make her Aunt Alison’s Shrimp Scampi with it. (FYI, we do eat shrimp sometimes, we just wanted to try this fake stuff out. It wasn’t bad.) So for dinner we had Baked Ziti, “Shrimp” Scampi, Fake Italian Sausage, Biscuits and Wine. For dessert we had Christmas Cookies.

After we ate, we were kind of stuffed to the gills so we played Harry Potter LEGO until we couldn’t take it anymore. GODDAMN is that a good game. Highly recommended!

On Christmas morning, we got up and had a good breakfast (Facon, Biscuits and Potato Scones with coffee). Then it was time for Kristyn to leave for work. She had kind of a rough day but we drank wine and played Harry when she got home so that kind of evened things out haha.

I had a great day. I watched National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (my favorite), drank coffee, made a LOT of progress on a dress I’m sewing, fooled around with Kristyn’s Mom’s sewing machine, watched a TON of Buffy and drank some wine.

Overall it was a great Christmas and here is the proof. The pictures start on the one where Kristyn and Monster are kissing in front of the tree. This is at like 3am on Christmas Eve haha:

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I’m okay…

Just so you guys know. I apologize for getting so heated earlier, I just can’t stand this constant up and down. I wish we had some security. It’s like as soon as things start to seem up, we’re slapped by something else that comes in the form of a big fat “NO”. This week I’d gotten the foodstamps and GR and then that Desperate Housewives thing came my way (more on that later I swear). Kristyn made decent money in her paycheck and then got paid for writing and then got a little extra for Christmas from work. I got a bunch of job interviews. We got to pay off some bills that we’d been worrying about. We were finally feeling like we were getting back on our feet so we did some laundry (a big deal for us), we grocery shopped, we even went out for potato tacos at this cheap place around the corner (something we never do). And Kristyn FINALLY was able to get a haircut. It’s been almost a year. It seemed like we had some breathing room to enjoy ourselves and maybe a little bit of financial security. And then a big chunk of it is just ripped right out from underneath us. We are going to lose $178 from each month AND the government wants to take the GR money they paid me away too. It’s just too much and maybe not worth the hassle. I feel like saying, “You know what? Just take the money. You win.” Just walk away free and clear. Go home. Shiver in the cold weather. Hug my Grandmas. Start over. IDK. We’ll be okay no matter what happens because we have plans here and we have plans there but we didn’t want to have to go out like this. All is not lost here yet but I might be at the end of my rope with my tolerance of how much more disappointment I can stand out here. But then I think of everything it would take to undo this life and I get angry and forward-moving again. BUT how can we stay here if our families feel responsible for us? We can’t. There’s no way to do this where we feel good about what we are doing. There just are no easy answers. Whatever. I have more writing to do for some other projects. I just wanted to take a second to whine. Maybe I should have a meal. It is 11:34pm and my last meal was at noon. Oh we HAVE meals I am just actually too lazy/busy to make one happen. G’nite fools.

Wait before I go, here are some pictures of yesterday.  My interview yesterday was with a company on the Sony Lot (old MGM).  I took this picture from the parking garage.  It was supposed to be of that building in the distance because it has a huge red and green light up Christmas tree on it but you can’t see it.  Those are production trailers in the foreground and Culver City in the background. 

This picture is of the Hipster Snowman that was waiting for us outside of the Trader Joe’s in our neighborhood.  They are serious with this haha.

Here is some weird gel called “Snott Gorila Gel”.  When you open it, it looks like an electric-colored jar of Gorilla Snot.  Amaze. And for the low low price of $2.49. (Yes we bought a jar for Kristyn’s hairs.)

On my way home from the interview I was FASCINATED by how much the back of this car looks like a smiley face.  When things are going good I see smiley faces in everything.  Kristyn used to laugh at me when we lived in NJ because there was a section of street lights that formed a smiley face on the horizon from a certain spot in our town.  I always pointed it out because it was so cute to me. 

And this flier was in Rudy’s, the haircutting place Kristyn went to.  This “Bearracuda” NYE party is basically in our neighborhood.  It’s being held at the same place that I went to see He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister.  JD Samson of Le Tigre and Men DJ’d there last night too.  See THIS is why we love LA!  There’s no Bearracuda NYE party in Kearny!!!

Stuffed…

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Usually I would post a whole blahblahblah story about our night but I went ahead and uploaded 45 pictures and that is WAY TOO LONG of a story. So here’s a shortened version:

* Kristyn cleaned things as if people were coming over, which was nice.

* Then she peeled stuff.

* Then I chopped things.

* Then Kristyn went to Target to buy a sensor for the Wii. One of our furry fools chewed the wire so we haven’t been able to pay with the Wii or watch Netflix Instant. We haven’t spent any money on entertainment in a LONG TIME so we decided that this would be the thing so we could play a game together after dinner and watch some TV.

* This was Kristyn’s first Black Friday experience EVER so she was quite proud of herself, haha.

* While she was gone I put the Tofurkey in the oven and prepped some more food.

* She came back and set the sensor up.

* Then we boiled things.

* Then we made things.

* Then we set the table and put the food out.

* Then we gorged ourselves like crazy. We are NOT used to eating like that.

* Kristyn gasped for air but managed to take in seconds.

* I knew there was no way I was fitting seconds in there and anyway I wanted dessert.

* We drank some wine and watching some South Park Christmas episodes. Hiiiiiiidey Ho!

* Then we had some pumpkin pie and Empire Biscuits.

* Then we played Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

* Then we took a series of weird pictures.

* Then we watched episodes of “Parks and Recreation” until we fell asleep.

* It was the bomb day.

Here’s what we had for Thanksgiving:

Tofurkey
Potatoes, carrots and onions
Mashed Potatoes
Sweet Potatoes
Turnips and Carrots
Corn
Greebies
Stuffing
Cranberry Sauce
Biscuits
Sparkling Apple Cider
Two Buck Chuck Chardonnay
Pumpkin Pie with Cool Whip
Empire Biscuits

P.S. Sorry for adding so many pictures of me, my double chin and root vegetables!

What I am Thankful For

In my last post, and in last year’s Thanksgiving posts too, I forgot to write what I was thankful for. Oversight and it will never happen again! Haha.

I will number them because that’s how I do:

1) Kristyn – Kristyn is THE best friend I could ever want and I am forever grateful and thankful for her. I thank my lucky stars for her every day and always will.

2) My family – I am blessed to have such a large, accepting, funny and LOUD family haha. My family, on both sides, takes people as they find them and welcomes everyone with open arms. I am lucky to have such people in my life.

3) Kristyn’s family – Kristyn’s family are such good people and I love them as if they were my own. They always make me feel welcome and are a ton of fun to hang out with. I am so lucky to have them as well.

4) “The cats” aka the cats and Chucky – They knock everything over and chew anything that remotely resembles a string (or a WIRE Jesus Christ) but they bring so much goddamn love into our lives it is ridiculous. AND they’re so cute that I am grinding my teeth down to nubbins from the involuntary clenching my jaw does when my eyeballs witness potent cuteness. I will need dentures some day. It’s worth it.

5) Los Angeles, California – I know it’s been rough for us but I feel like a much differerent, much less naive person since coming out here. I think this has been a gigantic growing experience for me and it was one that I desperately needed. We now know the value of a dollar. We know not to take good fortune for granted as a given. We now know what we want out of life. We know the value of our family and friends. It has been a really awesome experience as well as the culmination of a lifelong dream that we both happened to share.

6) Opportunity – Since we’ve been here, we have had the opportunity to see and do things we never imagined we’d ever be able to do. Kristyn started writing for LA Music Blog and gets to review her favorite artists on a regular basis. I now get to do it too. We’ve both done internships that have taught us so much and introduced us to some really wonderful people. We’ve gotten to peep a LOT of celebrities (which might not be important to you but is something I LOVE to do) and be a part of some really great events. The highlight of the famous people I’ve met this year is DEFINITELY Eric Stonestreet (Cam from Modern Family). Jesus Christ was I excited about him. It was at the SU2C Telethon. I am REALLY professional when I meet anyone famous at work but with him I just couldn’t. I was pressed up against the stage door by a crush of people and he ended up crammed into the melee like a foot away from me. I just blurted out, “You’re my favorite!” And he was like, “No you’re MY favorite! Well at least out of the three of you standing along this wall. You are definitely my favorite.” And I said, “I am SERIOUS. Out of all of the people here, you are the ONE person I have been dying to see in person because I’m such a huge fan.” He said thank you and told me I was sweet and moved towards the stage door. After he walked past me he said to the other two people (one of which is an awesome Oncologist doing work for SU2C’s Dream Team and his publicist), “I was just kidding. You two are my favorite. I just said that because you know how she is.” HAHA AAAAAAH! So good.

7) Time – I know that I have been climbing the walls being stuck at home like this but I am self aware enough to realize that this time will likely be THE only time in my life where I have nothing to do and nowhere to be. SO I try to cherish it, get enough sleep, work on creative projects and try to enjoy the day. The alternative is to worry and freak out and then get a job and worry and freak out once I’m there. SO I’m glad for this time and I’m glad for the perspective it’s giving me on how lucky I would be to have a job.

8) Health – About a year and a half ago, I though I was going to have to get spinal surgery because my back was in THAT bad of shape. Now I have no pain and am SO grateful for that.

9) Creativity – I have had to rely on my creativity a LOT this year. Creatively stretching our money to make sure we’re fed, the lights are on, a roof is over our head and our animals are happy. Creatively finding ways to make us feel like things are okay (such as decorating for holidays and forcing us to have fun when we need it). Using my creativity to learn to crochet and then making seven thousand blankets. It’s been a good way to feel productive and it’s a hobby that keeps us warm when we sleep at night haha.

10) Friends – Last but not least (at all) is our friends. We have some really, REALLY good friends around us who make us laugh every day and pick us up when we are down. We are forever indebted to you and we love you!

Harry Thanksgibbing everybody!!!

Dream House

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Here is the rest of what I was saying:

I know that we will eventually move back to the East Coast. There is a lot about the East Coast that doesn’t suit us but there is a lot about the East Coast that does (namely family and friends and some of the weather and the food and…)

BUT rather than living in NJ again, maybe we can move to NY. We’ve never lived there before so maybe we’d like that better. OR at least we can move to a different area in NJ that is still close to NYC ALTHOUGH NJ is not that big so if you are near NYC, you are basically near where we are from and therefore in a similar neck of the woods. What I DO know that I like is Upstate NY. If there is anyplace on Planet Earth that I would definitely WANT to own property, it is there. It’s beautiful, it smells good, the sky is full of stars, there is a huge amount of open space and trees and grass and hills and water…There are a lot of interesting boarded up houses and farms that are interesting to look at and photograph (and it is rumored that a lot of these properties are going to be restored to their former glory). There are county fairs, drive-in movie theaters and tons of antiquing and thrifting. It’s beautiful. BUT I have also spent two weeks straight up there and after a little while it’s like, “Okay, I feel a little too removed from the world.” So I know I can’t live there full-time but I want it as an option in my life. Also, there aren’t enough job opportunities up there for my taste.

SO the way I think our lives will go is that we will probably eventually buy a small house up there (or just land and build a small house on it) and then rent an apartment in Montclair or NYC. We want to be close enough to NYC so that it’s not a shitty commute but there are things to do and conveniences around. There are NO conveniences in Upstate. Not like in Northern NJ or NYC anyway. Shit shuts DOWN. And the area I like (The Hudson Valley/Catskills) is about an hour and a half to two hours from Northern NJ/NYC. In not much of a time investment, you really feel like you’ve gone somewhere else. It’s simple to drive in a weekend. When you’re there you actually FEEL the shackles of your life coming off of you, the little stressors you didn’t even realize were there until you don’t have them anymore. I just feel like up there, I actually sit down and read newspapers and books and kind of get up out of my chair and DO physical things. Take walks, go swimming, go biking, collect rocks, look for firewood, just kind of rudimentary things that seem like a hassle (or aren’t even an option) to fit into your daily existence but up there are ALL you have to do. No schedule or appointments, just EXISTING for a while. And you don’t have to go to bed at any particular time but you fall into bed EXHAUSTED at the end of the day anyway and wake up at the crack of dawn naturally.

We’ve always gone up there camping in the summer but can’t go up there in the winter because there the heat and electricity gets shut off in the part of the campground where we stay. I feel like if I had my own little house or cabin, it would be nice to go up there year-round. Spend Thanksgiving and Christmas up there. Have Easter egg hunts in the woods. Have a fireplace inside and outside. Maybe have a pool for the summer. It’s just a different world up there. There’s no one around to bother or to bother you either. Also the general lack of visible police is actually more comforting than you’d imagine. First of all, a visible police presence isn’t NEEDED because you’re not in any danger. Second of all, you don’t realize how monitored you feel until you are somewhere that isn’t passed by a police cruiser every ten minutes. I’ve brought people up there who get uneasy because of this. They don’t feel safe that there aren’t police around. But if you really stop and think about it, they’re not there constantly because they don’t need to be. That is nice. (And in the 30 years I’ve been going up there, I’ve never needed a police officer or SEEN anyone need one either. There is a general “live and let live” policy up there where everyone minds their own bidness and respects each other’s stuff/privacy.) Third of all, it is kind of freeing to know that, for one, there aren’t eyeballs on you other than those that belong to the people you have invited. You don’t realize what a stressor that is until you don’t have to worry about it. (Not that I do ANYTHING that is illegal. I am a girl scout but what I am saying is that it’s nice to just be away from prying eyes and left to your own devices sometimes.)

Also, when we used to go camping, we had clothes, towels, toothbrushes and just “stuff” we used there that stayed there all summer. And that “stuff” wasn’t ever pretty or stylish or anything but functional. That “stuff” was always handmade or thrifted and was always fell into one of these two categories “useful” or “fun”. Nothing was “have to”, everything was “want to”. It as a relief to have a space full of things that didn’t hold any ties to “have to”. When you only have your house or your apartment, you don’t know how relaxing it is to have a separate place where ONLY your “want to” things live. And responsibilities DO come with owning such a place because you have to clean it and weatherproof it, etc but even THAT is a “want to”. It’s like a giant craft project and if you involve your family and your friends, it can become a “want to” space for everyone and therefore a craft project everyone can get involved in. Everyone can contribute things that can be used later by everyone like games and toys and puzzles and warm blankets and books etc.

So anyway, that is what I want for myself. And if anything ever happened to my apartment in/near the city, at least I’d have a home to go to. *shrug* As much as I like people, I need a space to get away from people too. And living in such close quarters to other people on other people’s land is just too shaky for me. You never have a sense of ownership or power in your station. But buying a house in even a semi-urban area like where we’re from in NJ stresses me out because that feels like it would be sort of a kick in the ass. You OWN this property and yet you STILL can’t turn your radio up or have a party or not have to hear the person in the next house throw up. Haha. I feel like I would feel too indignant all the time if I owned a house that I didn’t have total control over.

We have to stay here for a few years and work and go to school. Ultimately what I want is to have a job where I make enough money to have an apartment on BOTH coasts. It would be nice to be able to fly back and forth for work and get the best of both worlds but I am dreaming in that respect. But I feel like if I had a house Upstate, I could move West for work if I had to and then our families could get use out of it. We all win, whereas if I owned a house in Montclair, NJ why in the hell would anyone want to take over that house when I’m not there? I mean it’s a cute town but not different enough from anywhere else so that you feel like you’ve gone on vacation. If we had a house in the woods, even when we were out of state, someone else could enjoy it and relax for a weekend or for a week.

So that’s the plan for someday. And I WILL make this happen, mark my words haha.

Fun and Toiling

Yesterday was a BUSY day. We didn’t get home until almost 2am because I had to pick Kristyn up at work. And then we had to be up by 7am to get her to her internship for 9am. The plan for me was to run a few errands and then job hunt.

My first errand was to FINALLY get this blanket I’ve been working on into the mail. My Nana was in the hospital recently and really thought she was a goner. She has cancer and the treatment itself had almost taken her from us twice so I had to believe her. She decorates her house meticulously for holidays, ESPECIALLY for Halloween. Even if she stayed with us, we didn’t know how long she’d be in the hospital. SO since I’m 3,000 miles away and can’t give her a hug I decided to crochet her a Halloween blanket to:

A) Spruce up and Halloweenify her hospital room.

B) Bc what is a crocheted blanket if not a big hug?

I started it on Labor Day weekend and only just finished now though! I wanted it to be full-sized (rather than lap blanket sized) so she’d be warm as the weather started cooling off in the fall.

But THANK GOD, Nana got out of the hospital and is back home now. She has a good setup where she can get around the house easily and we are so thankful.

The other day I finished the blanket. Lord knows she doesn’t need another blanket at home. And I know she gets tired of holiday decorations the nearer it gets to the date of the holiday BUT I still want her to have it. I took it to the laundromat and cleaned it so it would be fresh. Afterwards I packed it and a bunch of little goodies for Nana, Mom and my brother Charles in there.

I was kinda sad to see the blanket go. I’m not religious like Nana is so this blanket was kind of my rosary to her while she was sick. Like I felt like I was DOING something when I was making it. And I was thinking hard about her while I did it. So now it feels funny sending it away because it almost feels like it’s something FROM her. Weird right? But even if she only uses it for a week, she’ll be cloaked in my prayers and hugs and that makes me feel good. I hope she likes it. The colors aren’t right in those pictures. The blanket is actually pumpkin orange, ectoplasm green, deep purple and black.

And I threw in stuff for Mom and Charles because I know they could use a lil cheering up.

During all of this I got an email for a job interview in the afternoon. I had to scrap all the rest of my errands to go and get ready to be there for 4pm. After that was over I went to pick up Kristyn at her Internship.

We ate dinner and then to the laundromat. (I went twice in one day!) We hadn’t been to the laundromat in a month so we had a LOT to do. We have been doing one large load a month and then hand washing and drying in between to save money. It’s a royal pain in the ass. So going to the laundromat felt like a “splurge” to us. Sick, sick life this is.

After that we went grocery shopping. I was dead on my feet at that point. At the laundromat we needed to break a $20 to get quarters for the machines so I bought a coffee at the 7-11 next door.
I NEEDED it desperately. I gave Kristyn some sips because I had made it particularly well. WELL, the coffee didn’t help me at all. But Kristyn became a belligerent cleaning machine. When we got home (at 11pm) she just started feverishly cleaning everything. I hugged her to stop her and she SCREAMED like a warning siren, disengaged and said, “Well you KNOW you’re not supposed to give me coffee this late!” After that I just kind of let her go. The place looks great.

Our neighbors were having a particularly raucous party because they’re moving next week. Our neighbor Sarah walked over to invite us. We figured after we put the laundry and groceries away we might walk over for a little while. But after Kristyn was done cleaning, she collapsed. I was already collapsed. SO we stayed home. I’m going to bake them something this week. They’re a nice couple and they probably hate us because we never hang out. We’re poor, tired jerks guys and we love you. Even though we never chilled, we’ll be sad to see’m go.

So that was our day. It was tiring but we are feeling much more lighthearted than we did last week. We even chuckled often which felt nice. I WISH I could tell you about the interview I went on. I will someday. *sigh*

Hope

Regardless of what happens, I have Kristyn, my animals, my family, my friends, a good sense of humor and the ability to bounce back from bad situations. I’ve experienced a lot of professional, domestic and personal setbacks lately exacerbated by the thoughtlessness of others. But, all of this is my fault. My total fault. No one told me to move out here and follow this dream. I didn’t even know how hard it was going to be. I am really sad right now because I can’t even discuss what’s really going on in my life on here, my own blog, because certain people see it as an affront to find out that I am not willing to let shit go that hurts me. People they know could be reading this and that is what’s important. Not that I have an outlet for all of this stuff, just that they don’t have to feel bad. I don’t know whether it’s worse that they’re mad at me for expressing my disappointment or that I’m allowing myself to be muzzled like this. I just don’t know what to do anymore. We are alone out here and trying our best. LA can be a really cold place sometimes. All we want is what everybody else has (and we used to have). We want a place to live with no drama. We want food, electricity, heat, hot water, to be able to watch tv or go online. We want to be able to buy new clothes when we need them. We want to be able to order a pizza when we’re tired and hungry. We want to go to the movies or just go OUT sometimes. We want to have dignified jobs where we are paid a decent salary. We don’t want anyone to worry about us or see us as failures/losers. We just want to have even a scaled back version of what we had before. No frills. No European vacations. Just basics. And we’re trying SO HARD. I’m at a loss.

And it’s like despite all of this hard work and effort, we are coming up short every month. No matter how far we scale back, it’s never enough. We’re not living high on the hog out here. We are living paycheck to paycheck and not even that. We are struggling to pay all of our bills and they’re just racking up and racking up and racking up. I don’t know what to do. I am ineligible for public aid because I resigned from my position and haven’t accrued enough paid hours out here to receive any kind of benefits.

There are other things we can do that we aren’t thrilled to have to do like selling our stuff. I mean you can say, “It’s just stuff” until you’re blue in the face but it’s different when it’s your stuff. We got rid of probably 3/4 of our stuff when we came out here and we’re basically at brass tacks. The only possessions we own are largely momentos, things we’re currently actively using and some worthless odds and ends.

I don’t know. I mean it’s not all bad. We’ve still got our lights on. There’s still gas on the stove. This is the first time we can’t pay our rent though and it’s causing a great big drama because our landlady is mad at us for other things. We can’t seem to make her understand that we would never do anything to hurt her, her apartment or even ourselves. And naturally she’s scared because how is she going to pay her bills if she can’t get her tenants to pay ours? It feels like we’ve just run out of road. I mean we knew we were getting stretched pretty thin but the promise of not one but actually THREE jobs made us start daydreaming that everything was going to be alright. Everything was looking so good and bright for once that we were imagining what would happen if I was offered two of the positions. It was a beacon when we needed it most and it all slipped away just as suddenly as it came. None of it was real. It was like bellyflopping onto concrete.

And there are a lot of other things going on that aren’t ideal and just adding to our alread enormous stress load. And we aren’t people who talk about such things.

A) We don’t want anyone to worry.
B) We like to fix stuff on our own.
C) We didn’t want to put any pressure on our loved ones to have to step in. It’s not their job to save us.

So again, I don’t know. I am sorry for being such a bummer lately but you know what? I am usually the “can do” person. Strong people don’t ever get much sympathy or help and I am learning that lesson again from some people in my life. Others are surprising me by helping whereever they can by providing us with our legal options or job search advice or just virtual hugs or by responding to my cries for help and support. At this moment in time, I need someone to lean on. Of course I always have Kristyn to lean on but I don’t want to put my suffering on her when she’s already going through so much. There’s only so much we can help each other right now because we’re both in the same state of total panic. How can we make each other feel better if we’re both in a state of confusion?

Whatever. At the end of the day, this is my personal blog. Anyone who visits here is getting a look at the inside of my brain. If you don’t like what you see, click off. If you are offended by what you see, that honestly says more about you than it does me because how can you kick someone when they’re down and hold their own feelings against them? Also if you read what I’m writing and all you get out of it is a reason to be personally affronted but don’t see that I am suffering, I don’t honestly get you and I guess you weren’t ever my friend to start. Not such a big loss in my book. This is not a corporate blog. This is not a subsidized blog. This is not a blog that is widely read (although since my downfall started happening I’ve gotten a lot more hits whether because people are curious, feel bad, are looking to feel offended, are gawking or want to see some kind of joy in my unhappiness).

I’m kind of resigned to an ugly couple of weeks upcoming. We have to move and I have to kind of kick my job search into over-over-over drive. We are going to have to start coming up with little ways to brighten our spirits if we’re going to get it all done. I am definitely taking a break from social networking there have been things going on there that have hurt our feelings and its best to just nullify the whole thing. I privatized this blog for last night and today but I do need to keep writing. It’s something I can do with my hands, it’s a simple pleasure that doesn’t cost me a thing and it’s a way of getting rid of some of this burden for myself. I’ve unhooked my blog from all social networking sites. If anyone wants to really read this, they’re going to have to go an extra step to get it. And if you take that step and still are offended, you need a hobby. Just forget me and that I ever existed.

Things will get better. They just have to.

Curb Your Enthusiasm

Not to get all Larry David on anyone but a story keeps running through my head. To tell it is going to make me sound like a rabid, touchy, hormonal teenager but really I feel like a rabid, touchy, hormonal mom who is oh-so-fng-exhausted and a little confused.

When I was 19ish, I worked at a Sheraton (what-what Sheraton crew). The location was prime for business travelers and NYC vacationers alike. We were on the Hudson River so we hosted a lot of wedding and romantic getaways etc. This meant that we had a lot of hi-falutin’ clients who were spending a lot of dough and therefore expecting perfection at every turn. Understandably.

These clients were easily prone to agitation, large demands and wanting to “see a manager” over the tiniest transgression. “I specifically TOLD you that I require down pillows and NOT cotton! How many TIMES do I have to say it?! *Jags of frustrated crying*” And, it is frustrating when you are paying for a service that you don’t get.

What my manager taught me to do was to hear the person out and then calmly say, “Please tell me what I can do to help” rather than starting to make suggestions to the person. If you start to suggest ways that you can help, the person will inevitably knock them down and ask for more. By putting the onus on the person, you are guaranteeing two things:

1) Most people are so taken aback to be offered “the sky is the limit help” that they usually just ask for something silly or nothing at all.
2) The person feels heard and walks away feeling like they got something out of the exchange.

This is a clever trick because 9 times out of 10, you get away without having to actually give something whereas when you offer something specific, you are bound to carry it out.

There is also a “Curb Your Enthusiasm” episode where one of his acquaintances father dies. Larry tells his friend, “Let me know if there is anything I can do”. The friend tells Larry he actually needs help with a few minor funeral arrangements and hilarity ensues because Larry becomes infuriated that the platitude was called in as a favor. I actually found the conversation on Urban Dictionary:

Empty Gesture:
Making a nice (fake) gesture for someone when you don’t really mean it, hoping that the person who you are making that gesture to won’t actually ask you for a favor, or follow up on that offer you made. You just say it to seem like a nice person. This phrase is used in Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Larry David: Well, If there is anything I can do, let me know.

Marty Funkhouser: You know what, there is something you can do.

Larry David: What, are you kidding?

Marty Funkhouser: What, you didn’t mean it?

Larry David: Of course not!

Marty Funkhouser: Well why did you say it then?

Larry David: You know, it’s an empty gesture; something to say!

Larry David (saying to Jeff Greene): Don’t make an empty gesture to a Funkhouser, they’ll take you up on it!

I’m really not trying to be a dick here. We appreciate every kind word. But we are exceedingly needy and sensitive right now so please just be careful what you say. In our experience, such as when we moved out here, “let me know if there is anything I can do’s” were thrown out like nothing and snatched back as soon as we said, “yeah actually…” We let it go because we were filled with a hope and excitement that we are currently not feeling.

So yes we need kind words. Yes we need good friends and family. No we don’t want to totally alienate ourselves. But seriously, rather than offering that phrase up, find a way to pull it through somehow. You don’t have to spend money but find a way. We need picking up, not empty words. And if you’ve said that to us and have seriously meant it, know that we will never call in that favor, it’s not how we’re wired. If you want to help, just help. If not, no problem.

And huge thank you’s to everyone reading this and who have helped us out so much. I am not a bad person, I am just feeling really discouraged and could really use a little bit of help from my friends and family. Sometimes you have to put what you want out into the ether and have faith that you’ll get it. That’s all I’m trying to do for both of us. Kristyn’s just not as vocal as I am haha.

So thank you and I’m sorry if this seems bratty, I just can’t stand any more disappointment.

Also, I eventually WILL go back to my previously scheduled “It’s a Sunshine Day!” attitude but I have experienced a lot of really difficult setbacks lately and reserve the right to be miserable. If I can help you guys help us by making my feelings plain, maybe it will cause us less hurt later. Or something. I don’t know. Whatever you know what I mean.