I have a bit of a head cold, so I’m not feeling all that fantastic. I ended up cooking a bunch today and spent part of the afternoon editing photos. It was a rare sprint back to the beloved life I had in the past. Cooking regularly is helping me feel more like myself, but I’m realizing more that it’s improvising and cooking on the fly that I miss most. And just being creative and in my body.
I’m feeling a lot better physically these days–despite the head cold. I have flares of the hives here and there–but I’m learning to deal with them. I have a doctor’s appointment next month, so I’m hoping she’ll be able to shed some light on what exactly has caused them to stick around and then reemerge. I think I know, but it’d be nice to have a medical opinion too. I also want to talk to her about my thyroid stuff. She’s highly rated and the practice is linked to Stanford, so I’m hoping she lives up to the hype. I saw another doctor in Los Gatos a few weeks ago, and I wasn’t impressed. I would have stayed with that practice, but not returning calls was my limit. It’s a common thing here.
I’m also doing some major dental stuff (possibly a wisdom tooth extraction or two) in the next few weeks and am also getting rid of some moles on my face. It’s long overdue, and I hope it’ll be an easy healing process. As much as I want to be social and active right now, I think I need to hole up for a while and focus on managing stress since work is a bit crazy right now–that a whole other story–and we’re still unpacking and navigating this new home.
I do have some fun plans for Christmas that are all about self-care, and I’m really excited about it. Truly. I don’t know if we’ll be unpacked enough to decorate this year, but fingers crossed that happens.
Anywho…a few photos. Some from the last year and others from this month.
Last Wednesday marked the official one month-iversary for my arrival in San Jose. I’ve been meaning to write about it, but never found the motivation to start stringing together words. I’m not sure I’ve found it now, necessarily, but I am going to attempt. So we’ll see what comes out.
I think moving away from your hometown for the first time is some kind of rite of passage of adulthood. For most, it’s the first rite of passage–right alongside going to college or getting married. For me, I’ve done a lot of things backwards. And maybe I just won’t do some of those things at all.
I left Denver for a lot of reasons–most of which started bubbling up inside me when I lived with my ex in this tiny studio next to Cheesman Park. Denver, when I came back from LA and doing TFA in Houston, felt different somehow. In hindsight, I realize my Denver started dying that year. Or maybe what I needed from old Denver changed…and fell short…on my return home. In any case, the people felt different. The city had a different energy. And a whole lot of crap started happening. It also reignited a long held longing I had to go elsewhere and be more. It’s something I, undoubtedly, inherited from my father–the ultimate vagabond…except he had no ambition. I’m not sure where my ambition came from, but I suspect it comes from my Papa–my Mama’s father.
In any case…I needed more than what my life in Denver was–what it had been. And not that it was a bad life–it was just smaller than who I was–and filled with ghosts that inspired crippling grief at every corner of my beloved city. I found myself limited by a lot of things–a lot of myself doing the limiting.
But life had other plans for a good long while, and Denver kept me close. Semi-against my will. Part of me never ever wanted to leave, though, and that was very evident in the debacle that was our move.
I’m not going to even go there now–I may never. But it was painful and exhausting and breakdown inspiring. And I questioned every choice I made and wanted to bolt or die or burn it all to the ground at varying points those last two weeks. But at some point–it’s too late to say no–so you keep going and…eventually…you’re gone.
Had my mother been alive–had there been anyone to stay for–I would have planted myself somewhere in that city just because leaving was so fucking traumatic. Truly one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
I don’t know how I feel about this place. I had been here before. A few times. I had this idea of what it was. And who I was in it. Who I could be in it. And so far, it’s a bit like the false gold prospectors found during the Rush. There’s a lot to be unsure about. A lot to process. A lot of deciding and being. And letting wash over me.
The first week, I told my friend–someone who loves me and knows me as well as you can know me–that I would be moving back home next year. But that I would try to make this year worth it. That I would give it a chance. He told me that’s how he felt about Denver when he first got there and now he never would leave.
That feeling dissipated quickly, though, and I felt the more rational side of myself take over.
You haven’t even been to the ocean, yet, Alma. Give it a chance.
I’m trying, and parts of me are warming. But parts of me are prickly. About small things, that then accumulate to big things. Mostly, though–this isn’t mine. These aren’t my people. I don’t belong here. I don’t deserve this–both good and bad. Everything here is so much more…difficult. And people here just aren’t nice. They’re entitled poseurs, and ironically, I’d rather be in LA.
Growing up dirt poor in a sleepy place everyone refers to as a cow town–where skiing and rooting for the Broncos is the ultimate everything–where school options are limited and, even if you find something decent, the job market is even more limited for someone creative and ambitious–I think all natives grew up with chips on their shoulders. I certainly did. I couldn’t be fully myself in Denver with the resources in front of me–unless I did it all myself. And growing up with nothing? I didn’t have the financial ability to do it all by myself. So, I needed to leave–flat out–to do what I wanted.
A lot of people asked me why I was moving to the Bay Area. Why not NYC or Boston or any number of cool places that would nurture people like me. Why move to the heart of privilege and entitlement?
Part of it was the fact that there was an opportunity there. I didn’t want to do this alone. I was unsure I’d follow through by myself. It was far easier to afford and much more realistic. But thinking about it–part of me needed to be in a legit big city. One with lots of problems and lots of diversity. I ached for my childhood home, but knew I could never go back to it. Living here was a way to embrace that, but also grow. But it also meant confronting an ugly side of myself–one that I kept stumbling into–one that limited my success and kept my dreams smaller than they could be. Bluntly, I have a big issue with rich, white, privileged people. And where better to face that part of myself than white boy geek paradise? I needed to get over that–to face the poverty I grew up with and the self-limiting bullshit. But also my own prejudice and rage about wealth and class. I really needed to confront it if I was ever going to be comfortable with the people I now call peers.
And that–my friends–is the hardest shit about here. While I hate that the tap water tastes like bleach, that there are spiders in the trees and my bathroom, that I have been sick non-stop since I got here–that 70 degrees feels like 100 to be for the first 10 minutes I’m outside–it’s the issue of class and race and gender than guts me about this place.
I have witnessed massive amounts of racism just on casual outings…which haven’t been many since I have no car and driving here is a nightmare. (Sharing didn’t happen). And it’s not subtle. It’s in your face–no shame whatsoever–awful, ugly racism from people who look perfectly normal. And because I’m white–they don’t edit. It’s every time I do anything here. Every time I go to a doctor or catch a ride to pay a bill. Every time. And homelessness is an ugly, sad thing here–not that it isn’t in Denver, too–but Denver sanitized it so much more. Property crime is a constant thing, too, and I am routinely reminded of the place I come from–both from the poverty I see the minute I leave my $3500/month apartment to the awesome Asian culture just steps away that I don’t experience enough because it’s too unsafe to walk by myself.
Just living in my apartment is a mass exercise in confronting my bullshit. Especially since I realized a lot of my first week’s instinct to bolt came from a feeling of–this is too nice. I don’t need all of this. But mostly–I don’t deserve this. This isn’t a place where someone like me lives. Because mostly, I felt more at home with the homeless people and their carts than the tech guys and their dogs in our community.
It doesn’t feel like mine. Most of this place doesn’t feel like mine.
I thought I’d miss autumn–and I do. (I fucking hate the sun). But truthfully, despite all the gentrification in my beautiful home city, there is a heart there that doesn’t exist here. I miss the pride people have to be from a place. I miss how most people say hello and try to help in Denver. I miss that most Denver peeps–even if they are assholes–at least know that it’s wrong to say certain things–even with strangers.
I’ve learned that so much of home to me has nothing to do with place. Though it is so important to me. I’m finding that who I’m with is what’s most important, and that this place is ugly to me because of it. Despite the beautiful flowers and the cute homes and the beaches–after you fight the traffic to get there.
It’s about common language and shared experience. The shorthand. The niceties. The room people give you to be you. I don’t feel those things here. I felt them in LA–in San Diego–the northwest. But as I was telling someone earlier–this is a place to visit–not a place to live.
But I do live here. I’m not sure for how long. I may change my mind. I may stay forever…who knows? But my feeling is that this will just be a stepping stone. A valuable one in the story of me–a place where I got over my issues of worth…but still not home. And home right now isn’t right either.
So, as I told my friend the first week I got here–I’m going to do my work here. I’m going to use this place to make bigger things happen. I’m going to set out on my adventures now that I have car access. And I’m going to seek out the gems I still can’t see through the nonsense. And maybe anywhere can be home, eventually.
What if all that time we waste on Facebook could actually do some good, or–at the very least–help us understand ourselves better?
A friend of mine posted this link recently, and intrigued, I moseyed over and let them analyze me. I’ve always been a sucker for personality tests.
Here are my results. Enjoy!
Today’s World Heart Day. For me, this day is one I try to use to honor my mama’s memory and educate people about the disease that took her away from us.
Over the years, I’ve had many people ask me about the intricacies of what happened to her. This video does a great job of going over mitral valve stenosis–which is the thing that caused my mama to present with congestive heart failure a few days before Halloween in 2004.
In my Mama’s case, her condition was fairly rare and treatment was not simple. You can read more about it here.
Heart failure, on the other hand, is NOT rare. 1 in 5 Americans will be diagnosed with it in their lifetimes. 1 in 9 deaths in America cite heart failure as a contributing factor. A person is diagnosed with heart failure every minute. It can be subtle, but its effects are devastating and leave permanent marks on the lives of the people we love and our families.
If you have a cold you just can’t seem to shake, chronic wheezing or coughing (like a smoker’s cough) that won’t go away, a racing heart, or exhaustion, PLEASE go see your doctor and get checked out. In my Mama’s case, for weeks, she thought she had a nasty flu. Contrary to popular belief, heart disease is not always caused by smoking, poor diet, and excess weight. Things like sleep apnea and undiagnosed conditions often are factors. The AHA has LOTS of resources to get help.
These things are super scary, and I’m the first person to admit I hate going to the doctor. But I’ve learned the hard way that it’s always better to know than not know, and the scariest thing I can imagine is never as bad as I think it will be.
More than likely, someone you love (or you) will eventually encounter this disease. I urge you to take good care of yourself and bug those you love to do the same.
I’ve been meaning to write. Really, I have. Often, I’ve even started writing in my head–only to change my mind when in front of the keyboard. Why have I been quiet when there is SO MUCH to share? Well, I suppose I’m digesting all of it still. Settling in. Getting my sea legs. Being gentle with myself.
I will share all my odd observations and theories. I will share my foodie discoveries and the photos. I will bitch about traffic and how ridiculously hot it’s been in the south bay. And how, despite pneumonia and asthma, I can actually BREATHE here. I will share every misadventure including the one that just happened. I might talk about work, too, and how all the crazy landed in my lap. I’ll maybe talk about the illnesses…though that is still ongoing. Hi, Prednisone, you’re nice.
When things are less crazy, I’ll also start a new blog. One that will cover my new adventures with meal prep services; how I’ve been Konmari-ing the crap out of my living situation; DIY decorating hacks; adventures in cooking regularly again; and of course, travel–once I’m not sans car.
Oh, and there will likely be a whole tear-filled confessional about how unsure I was and how now I’m less unsure. How now, I might just stay. And how the feeling driving that initial feeling was a big whopper of a head blow from my childhood and how–oh, man–moving was totally worth it just for that.
(Hint: it has a whole lot to do with guilt and self-worth and the shit we settle for. And facing the idea that you’ve been punishing yourself for a very long time for things you never deserved…and well, it’s time to stop). All to be unpacked in therapy–eventually–after I find a doctor that isn’t a $50 lyft ride away. Or buy a goddamn car. Because seriously, sharing one is not really happening, given the commute times here.
I will likely start with the funny things and the observations. Because those are easy. And plentiful. Because every 1/2 hour walk somewhere gives me more fuel. Then I’ll probably tell you all about the move–and how not to live a total nightmare like we did while moving. Because HOLY CRAP that sucked. And kinda still does. But one day, the living room won’t be full of boxes. One day, this will actually feel like home.
But–yep–I’m just not ready to write any of it now. Mostly because I’m letting it steep. What else does a girl do when she can’t find her TV?
Oh, yea–read. But, um…can’t find books.
Which is why my Instagram is basically my cats being adorable 24/7. That’s probably the best place to get in on this life of mine right now–other than Twitter, of course, which is basically Alma after dark. ;)
Thanks for reading this far. I promise I will write again soon. Or at least post a photo of my box progress.