(Not quite) A Picture Perfect Holiday Recap


It’s doesn’t always resemble a movie even if you live in a movie town

“It’s [not always] A Wonderful Life”

Well it’s over. You survived. Santa came and went. The savior you were waiting for arrived. But was it everything you expected it to be?It was another picture perfect holiday scenescape here in beautiful Los Angeles, California. The weather showed a delightful eighty one degree high in the forecast.

photo courtesy of Steven Swimmer

photo courtesy of Steven Swimmer

I awoke to the sunshine. It’s not something out of the ordinary here. It’s appreciated but…

It wasn’t as picturesque inside as it was outside. For living in a fairy tale, it wasn’t exactly a fairy tale.

And I wasn’t the only one experiencing that unfortunately.

I saw update after update on social networks with happiness and cheer. It’s the holiday season and I live in a picturesque movie town amongst the most brilliantly spectacular people in the country.

Or at least I’d like to believe that.

How could anyone feel anything but festive on this most joyous day? Well unfortunately there were the other messages. The messages that reading a piece of your heart broke with them a little bit.

Of friends and family apart.

Of lovers lost.

Of abandonment.

Of “Ebenezer Scrooges.”

Hardened hearts in the most spectacularly vibrant people on the planet. Obliterated but doing their best to just get through the day.

This year I took the path of a single mother. And, while I wasn’t alone entirely and I had plenty of offers to do things with friends just as I did that day I had him, I was… very alone.

Remember when I told you in my last post about the separation that happened back in February of 2008? According to the “*current order” it’s not my year to have my children for this holiday. (Yes, holiday. I’m not particularly religious despite/because of years of Catholic schooling and teachings.) Nonetheless I was supposed to have a Skype call with my children to celebrate the day together. I planned the entire day around it -turning down several offers to go out that would potentially interfere.

So I waited with great anticipation… it was my version of waiting for Santa to come on Christmas morning.

It didn’t happen…

broken-heart

You would think I might be used to this stuff by now..

Reel back to a few days prior when I posted to my private social network about my eldest son not behaving the greatest enough to make me question giving him coal.  

(I didn't by the way.)

(I didn’t by the way.)

And I thought about my ex husband and my children.  

And why the call likely didn’t happen.

And why I wasn’t there with my eldest as he opened gifts earlier that morning.

About the fighting with my father on Christmas Eve because of differences in parenting styles.

About how my eldest believes the world revolves around gifts.

About how my other children believe the same.

About the comments calling me “negative” and picking at my lack of religion or beliefs in Santa and the otherwise commercial version of this so called picturesque holiday of “goodwill towards your fellow man” and “cheer.”

dontbelieveinsantagrinchmas

I had a couple of friends offer to have a few drinks with me in celebration and “bah humbug’ing” this abysmal reality of a day.

That didn’t happen either.

Thousands of miles away two of my children were living a lie.  Sure there were likely tons of gifts and warm home made cooking to go with the “Leave it to Beaver” Christian lifestyle my ex believes he is currently giving my children.  A similar smaller version could be said with my oldest son at my father’s.

 

The posts kept coming.

Presents and joy.

Happy families gathered around piles and piles of presents and food.

The friends who were also “orphans” drinking their cares away.

The friends without children going to dedicated “orphan” outtings.

The friend who ended up at the beach.

The friend who joined another family of friends for their meal.

The friends who went to the movies together.

And then there was me.

I could have gone and done a bunch of things.

So why didn’t I?

This isn’t a completely sad movie.  Earlier that day I had some very positive conversations.  My oldest son called me and told me he’d missed me that morning.  We talked about the differences in how his grandfather and I parent and about his newest little brother.  And while it wasn’t perfect, it made me smile.  My children are my heart.  This year has been all about reuniting with them.  Little by little there have been some major steps of progression towards this this year.

And then there was something else entirely.

My grandparents aren’t doing very well.  There are several health issues going on that… will likely lead me back to Illinois very soon to see them.  My family fears these may be their last days.

On the last phone calls I have not been able to speak with my grandmother.  Her health and the timing of the calls has prevented it.

I got to talk to her yesterday however.

not taken yesterday

It snowed.  The house was full of visiting family- my sister and her daughter and my uncle and his daughters.  I laughed as she scolded my grandfather and told him he couldn’t drink wine (an Italian must at the table) because it would not be good with his current pills.

I listened as I could tell her face was glowing as she regaled about how my cousins closer in proximity were picking up art.  And she asked me about my newborn.

“Does he look like you?”

“I’ll send you a picture.  He’s little like me.  We’d like to visit soon.  I’m worried about you.  Will you even have the strength to hold him when we get there?”

We spoke about the argument with my oldest son.  About her son and me differing on our versions of respecting ones elders.  About how because of the argument we were not able to see each other that morning.

“It sounds like you can have some quiet time with the new baby then.  That doesn’t sound like a bad day at all.”

Suddenly the rest of the day didn’t matter.  The other things making me blue didn’t matter.

At least for that moment.

She was right.  In the simplest of all things she was ever so right.

Our phone call got cut short due to some technical difficulty.  I thought I would end up calling her back and telling her that the line had dropped.  I never ended up doing so.  I had the Skype call coming up and needed to tend to that.

But even after that phone call no show, and the blue that I felt with that, I know that maybe that little bit was all she was supposed to have done.  It was just enough to push me through the rest of the day.

I spoke to friends here and there but essentially kept to myself on Christmas.  To me and my newborn, it was just another Wednesday.  It wasn’t the most perfect day in our most perfect movie town but, it was real, and that’s ok.

In the real world life, and holidays doesn’t always resemble a movie.  That’s just how it is.  And you know something?  That’s alright.  Even if you live in a movie town.  It’s alright.

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Destination Self: The stuff of fantasies

It’s nearly 4am on Monday morning and my brain is going a 1000 miles an hour.  This month… this year… everything has become such a wonderful blur of busy that…

Six months ago, I didn’t know what was going to happen to me.  Now, I’m happening to me.

I have been fighting a long time to garner success.  Los Angeles is a city where dreams are made and often broken.

Not many people know this, but I have been battling with a lot.  For an “oversharer” I don’t share quite a bit more.  It’s difficult being in a spot where people are watching you.

I was on a bus in Chicago last weekend and I saw a bum babbling about.  It made think even more about the paths that I’ve gone. About how far I’d come from being a little girl in pigtails living in suburbia Illinois.

“This guy is sitting here instead of a mental health facility because no one cares.  Is it better for someone to care or is it better that people don’t?”

Something I’ve struggled with for a long time is this.

The change my grandfather gave me has taken another form.

I’d said at the beginning of the year that this is the time where I finally get everything I’ve dreamed of.  And here it is February and it’s happening.

  • I have a great job with a technology company that was rated one of the 10 best places to work in. There’s enormous growth opportunity.
  • I have been doing a lot more writing- including a piece where I was fortunate enough to interview pinup artist legend Olivia De Beradinis and 1960s Batman series star Julie Newmar. Afterwards, I watched a surise in Malibu.
  • My bike is fully operational and running again.  However I’m buying another one in the near future… with self propelled wheels.
  • I have multiple photoshoots in the works.  That’s right, I’m finally working on that modeling portfolio I’ve been wanting to do for some time now.  If you’re reading this and want to schedule a shoot, email me.
  • I flew cross country to meet a fantasy man who has adored me from afar for 4 years.  When I saw him, it felt like the opening scene in this video… and that’s not even the half it.

Life is pretty surreal right now.  However with that also comes the multiple stresses that have come about due to these successes which,  for once, seem to only keep coming.

For the longest time I have been fighting to get to this point in my life.  Now that it’s happening, part of me is scared shitless.

In the midst of all these mind blowing events, the following has also happened- and all within the last week and a half:

  • My bank card was compromised despite not leaving my purse.  At this time someone made multiple charges to gas stations out of the area.  While the funds have gone back into my account, I still have not gotten a replacement card over 2 weeks later.  I flew cross country to Chicago with hundreds of dollars in cash in my purse on public transportation just in case of an emergency while out there.
  • Going on the trip back to Chicago was mind blowing.  I’m not even talking about the person I met (although he is magical as well… that’s another story in itself).  I saw things about Los Angeles that made me remember why I was so hesitant to stay here.  I saw things about Chicago that I didn’t get the chance to experience much whilst living a mere 45 minutes away.  I felt the warm embrace of a city life I’d always dreamed of.  It made me do a lot of thinking about these other worlds out there.  About a city that is so warm even if it’s blustering cold outside.  Of the opposite scenario.  About how both of these worlds have opened my eyes to more about myself.
  • An enormous potential opportunity for my writing may be in the works.  While I can’t reveal exactly what, whom it would potentially be with or anything else, let’s just say it’s one of those things that is the stuff of dreams.
  • I pitched something elsewhere and that was also taken with positive reception.  I am so busy as it is, but yet I keep adding more to my plate.
  • My sleep schedule has officially broken.  When I was in Illinois, I could barely sleep.  Now I’m back and I either can’t sleep much at all or I’m sleeping too much.
  • Did I mention I met someone who had previously been a fantasy?  Do you have any idea how life altering that is?  I flew 2000 miles away to meet this man and he not only met but exceeded my expectations.  Should be easy right?  No.  With the whole 2000 miles it commands a lot of patience.  My brain is jelly and is now coping with the clash of reality and fantasy becoming one and the same.  Things will happen organically if they are meant to happen.  I’m stepping back and breathing.  I don’t have anything to worry about so I should stop worrying.  This one, is essentially the least of the things I am/should be worrying about, but alas, its on my mind because its one of the realest romances I have experienced… and it came out of a fantasy.
  • My mother called to remind me about how it’s wrong to be the way that I am essentially.  My whole existence to her is taken with such disdain.  From the fact that I didn’t see her whilst in Chicago to her failure to see how I’m busting my ass off for things she couldn’t even begin to comprehend.

And that’s just part of it.

I’ve learned so much about me with all of these experiences.

I’m not always the greatest with things.

I may apologize for the times I falter, but this is pillar of life is strong and vibrant.

I know that it’s alright to be vulnerable.

It’s alright to break down.

Without these moments, one wouldn’t be able to sustain things atop the world.

I have aspirations to conquer the world.  I have the ability within me to do it.  I’ve asked for all these dreams to become realities, and now…

This is happening.

This is really happening.

I’m taking a risk by putting this out in the open.  I currently have career opportunities and stability that… well I’ve never really had since my marriage dissipated years ago.  I’ve wanted this.  I’ve dreamed of this.

I told my biggest fan recently:

“I dreamed of you.”

and he told me “I dreamed of you too.”

Another friend of mine and I had a conversation about him before I got on that plane:

(4:16:58 AM) friend: real life dream girls like you don’t happen every day
(4:17:34 AM) me: aww
(4:17:50 AM) friend: it’s true miss
(4:18:08 AM) me: real life dream boys like him don’t happen every day either

So what the hell is my problem?  I’m so much stronger and braver than I’ve been behaving over the past couple of weeks.  To those that have been there with me through it all, I thank you so very much for your patience, compassion, and your unwavering confidence in me.  It means the absolute world to me.

It’s 5am now.  It’s time to get ready for work.  Here comes a 10 hour day in a dream world.  Here’s another day working towards making even more fantasies become realities.  Here’s to another day of me learning more.

Fail often, succeed once.

Today I’m throwing away failure.  Not only am I going to succeed this once but I’m making a commitment to myself to succeed in much more than that.

We have the ability to get everything we want if we only reach out and grab it.

It just takes time.

I aspire to be a cat burgler minus the cat and the burgler-ing

In the silence, come the answers.

If you really want to get an idea of how someone’s life is, you can just go inside their home and let the stuff do the talking. They say that you can tell alot about a person by their home.  What they don’t tell you is that this is a pretty good gage at how their life really is.

You see, things contaminate our every existance.  The collection of ones “junk” and organizational systems show you more than you would ever imagine if you only pay attention.

For me, today marks a new direction of sorts.  You see, I didn’t end up in Los Angeles originally because I wanted to.  At least, it wasn’t my first choice.

After leaving San Diego and on to Bakersfield (the armpit divider between southern and northern california) I vowed that I would move back to the one place, despite having grown up in an entirely different state, that I was able to call “home.”  I even kept the same area code on my cell phone.  If you see the 858, that would be me.  I will always be an 858 girl.  Except now, I will also be a 310.

After my divorce, I struggled quite a bit.  I had been that “stay at home mother” working jobs that I could do from home and then when I hit the ground running, he just stayed in place.  It wasn’t a surprise to anyone that had met us or even see us together.  I was that wild horse and he was just… not the running type.

I remember the day it happened… or well, the “it’s time to realize that no one is going to give a crap about you but you” moment.  After I got let go from my game mod job due to being late because of spousal abuse, he hit me again.  This time, it was with an eviction notice.

You see, my ex husband fled to be with his new girlfriend that he’d met in a video game while I was away at a conference trying to find my next job.  I wish I was kidding.  Unfortunately, I am not.

A little bit different than your average Love tap

A little bit different than your "average" Love tap

He’d promised me a lot of things when first got together.  And I believed every single one of them.  Why?  Because I was an idiot.  Even after all was said and done he’d made me yet another promise-to pay the rent for the remainder of the lease.

Liar liar pants on fire.

I guess I should have saw that one coming.

I had so little money then.  I was but a broke artist, though when I was with him, I rarely was able to create.  But that’s another story.

I was a victim then because I allowed myself to be one.  While it is a part of my past, and thus, a part of my identity, I’ve come to peace with it.  There are so many stories that proceed this.  So many tales that I am forever thankful for being able to experience.  Even if it took a man hitting me for me to wake up, get started on the road to independence, and really live life again.

Dead eyes. Lost inside.

Dead eyes. Lost inside. Circa marriage 1.

When I moved to Bakersfield, it was rushed.  I never wanted to move back there.  I fought it as much as I could.  But it wasn’t time for me to be home yet.  And at the time, San Diego didn’t feel like home anyway.

I remember how much disarray my apartment was.  I moved from a 2 bedroom condo in a upper middle class area of San Diego (Tierrasanta to the locals) to a studio hole in the wall in Bakersfield. Why there? Nepotism.  My cousin was the landlord originally.

While I wasn’t completely unhappy in my time there, you could tell that inside I was miserable and my apartment showed it.

I looked for things to make myself happier.  The things that had the greatest effect were those of which were most childlike in nature. One of which, won me the nickname of “the mermaid” as this curtain hung over my bed (which ironically, is still over my bed to this day) because, well that was the only thing I could find to cover up the institution-like window.

These are a few of my favorite things

These are a few of my favorite things

I found it in a box one day somewhat randomly.  It had been something that my dad had given me for my first apartment years before I got married.  My husband and I thought it was too ridiculous to ever use.  I’ve come to realize that he was just a stick in the mud.

That curtain got me into trouble too.  I hung it in the window of my street facing apartment.  When the blinds were open or up, it was no mistaking which unit was mine.  In the mornings the sun would shine through it and the colors would pop.  Trudging along in Bakersfield, it would make me smile to come home to my one piece of sunshine.  My landlord didn’t agree.  She thought it was tacky.  She also dresses like shes ready for the nursing home and she’s not even 30.

While living in the apartment, I serendipitously met a wonderful pair of friends- Drew & Leah.  (Ironically, they lived across from my soon to be future bat from hell landlord.)  They helped to make that place somewhat bearable.  But unfortunately, they couldn’t make that place home for me.

beach balls are serious business

beach balls are serious business

Because only the raddest dare rock bling on their coffee mug

Because only the raddest dare rock bling on their coffee mug

My grandmother is a packrat.  She has amassed a great amount of wonderful junk.  So much so, that she has 2 houses full of it.  They say this behavior is generally inherited.  Hands raised for being a statistic.  I wonder if there are meetings like AA.

I later made  a brief stop in Claremont- suburbia upper middle class Los Angeles near the dreaded 909.  It was my dad’s compromise to not sending me back to San Diego, despite challenging me to find an apartment there in a few hours and well, I won that bet.

Claremont was… alright.  The village was a bit like a mini San Francisco.  Except San Francisco has a ton more and is a place I would actually consider living.

City of numerology

It hosts… the number 5.  Looking around you will see that it repeats numerous instances throughout the town.  There are 5 colleges.  There are 5 movie rooms at the theatre.

This is where I started to get a bit of OCD cleaning traits.  Part of me believes it may have been a positive after effect from my volatile relationship that I had with Big (the obsessive compulsive cleaning emotionally unavailable guy from San Diego).

I dumped quite a bit with the last move, and this one as well.  My roommate was also an artist (read: slob).  But here I found myself cleaning up after her.  Frankly the mess bothered me.  That, and she had animals.

And while I was happier there than I had been in Bakersfield, you could tell in my eyes if you were paying attention, that it still wasn’t quite right.

Porch sweeper, dream sleeper

As my lease came to a close I knew that I no longer wanted to be there.  I was working my ass off and reaping nothing in return.  I barely had time for me.  It was work work work.

“When you pay your own bills you can live wherever you want to.” dad told me.

“I already do pay my own bills dad.  I’m going home.  I’m not happy here.”

He shoved a pennysaver in my hand.

“There’s apartments in your price range right here.  Do it.”

But I’d already met Steve (my roommate) then.  Another after effect from dating that same OCD douchebag many of you all know and sometimes love.  I’m only half joking of course.  He’s got a good heart when he choose to share it.

But enough about failed romances, back to my roommate!  Little did I know from that fateful night- the tweetup in LA hosted by Greg Barnett, that I was on the way home.

Why hi, nice to meet you soon to be roommate!

Why hi, nice to meet you soon to be roommate!

Yes, I said it.. home.

I’ve lived here a year and yet, you wouldn’t know it from my room.  There are still quite a few bins out.  Clothes strung everywhere.  My closet is full of hangers.  My dresser is near empty.

Today is the day that that changes.  Consider me booked with being boring for the interim.  I was due for a responsible day or 3.  Have to balance with the karma and all.  I secretly aspire to be more boring (but never really boring) anyway.

I didn’t want to move here when I first got here.  I wanted to be in San Diego.  It is the one place that I’ve been able to call home.  But I know now, that it will not likely be where I hang my… wigs.

Dear San Diego,

I must profess my undying love for you.  You are the lover I will always come back to.  But you are also the one where I won’t end up with until possibly the end of the movie when my ashes are sent among the city after I expire.

I have fallen capture to Los Angeles.  It’s “cesspool” of fun carried me away.  My childhood dreams and fantasies… never forgotten but evolved into things you just can’t give me.

I’m “unpacking” today finally.  It took me a long time to get here.  This is my home now.  You will always have… pieces of my heart, but I’m afraid you will have to share me.

Ours is a tale that will live on forever.  Written in granite amongst the waves and never to be washed away.

Yours Always,

Jennifer

***

Dear Los Angeles,

I just broke up with San Diego.  I let her down easily.  I think she bought it.  She doesn’t know I’ve just been toying with her.  She’s wonderful but it just wasn’t working out.  I’m a terrible person.  Comfort me?

By the way, I have something else to tell you:

You have yourself another lifer now.

Cheers,

Scandalous

It’s time to take more ownership of my stuff and not the other way around.  But hey, at least I’ll have plenty of junk to send my mother right?