Thursday, June 29, 2017

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Our Trip to Santa Cruz, Or, How I Nearly Died


Recently it’s felt like everything in life is happening at once. I mean, things that have been held up for months are moving forward, things like, my cat needs to have a tooth pulled and my car’s check engine light keeps fluttering on and off (so the mechanic can’t see what’s wrong, until say… the water pump explodes while you’re driving. Like it did yesterday.)
 
See.
 
But it’s okay because the cat is older so you expect these things, and the car is older than the cat,  so luckily it won’t cause complete bank account depletion. So really, now’s the time, if any, for all these things to happen. It seems everyone is going through some kind of hell and while constant and annoying, it seems to play out rather smoothly. Like, the vet saying that the tooth is going to come out anyway so we don’t have to spend $800 putting her under anesthesia, to the water pump bursting by my brother's house, who just so happens to work on cars, when he was home, two blocks from the auto store. So while hellish, it seems they have all concluded rather simply and surprisingly inexpensively, considering. It's been bad luck, and then straight good luck while resolving it.
 
Last weekend was different, and now that it's over I feel I can share this story.
 
Last Thursday Irish and I decided to go to Santa Cruz. It's a lovely little town - Wait, no. It's a horrible little town, don't ever, EVER go there. You'll hate it - that I adore, and it's one of our favorite spots to take little weekend trips away. So we decided we had enough credit card points to just book a hotel for the night and have a little escape: walk along the boardwalk, go out to dinner, and just enjoy the chill atmosphere of the seaside town.
 
So I book this lovely hotel, walking distance to the Boardwalk amusement park (It's terrible. It's expensive and not fun. There's no rollercoasters or Ferris wheels, or view of the ocean, or corn dogs, or churro's and ice cream - Don't google it. Just trust me), and is also walking distance to nice restaurants downtown. There's a pool and waffles in the morning! I asked Irish which place he wanted out of two, and he said, "I'm eating waffles!" and it was done! I booked the room and pressed "confirm" 14 times. We were set! We left Saturday at noon and zoomed out of the city!
 
We arrived at our hotel at 2pm and it looked lovely! A nice cream building, the glittering outdoor pool, the classy tiled check in, and so we stroll up, and I'm happy as can be.

It was nothing like this.
 
 
"Good afternoon." The girl behind the counter smiles.
 
"I booked a room on points yesterday!" I gush, filled to the brim with vacation excitement.
 
"We have no record of your booking."
 
"What?" The bottom fell out from under me. I pressed confirm 14 times! I zip through my email on my phone, no record, no email, nothing. I check my credit cards points, they haven't been taken out. I go to see if I can re-book, and the credit card won't let you book same day hotels.
 
"We have one room available for $$$$ tonight if you like."
 
0_0
 
This was our cheap weekend getaway. We hadn't planned to spend ANY money on a hotel. We could spend $$$$ on a hotel, OR go online and find something for $$ and move along, or we could abandon the trip and head home as sad puddles of depression. So I hunt along a cheaper hotel website, and find there's a hotel nearby, STILL walking distance to the boardwalk, STILL has a pool, and the kicker -  WAFFLES!


The one photo of the pool looks nice enough, so out of stress I book the thing and we drive 0.5 miles to our new hotel!
 
We arrive at the ugliest, light blue dirt motel I've ever seen in my life, in a scary-ish neighborhood, (nothing is really that scary in SC), and the cops are outside. I repeat, the cops are already here, standing in the parking lot talking to another patron, if you can call them that.
 
"You really picked a winner there, L.B.," Irish said, as we pulled in (around the cops), and parked.
 
"We're going to die here," I said, humorlessly. 
 
"Well, we already paid. Let's go check in." 
 
I was horrified. I locked all the doors, and we walked into the little shack of a check in, we tell the guy we booked a room. He doesn't even smile, or look up, or greet us. "Check in is at 3pm."
 
I think I got stuck in this moment in a thousand yard stare, watching people walk into the indoor pool and deciding immediately I would not be using the pool or hot tub that had looked so nice in the professional photo.
 
"Well, let's go get lunch," Irish says with a shrug.
 
So we float in a daze back to the car. I remembered we passed a restaurant I liked when I came to this town a few years prior, and decide we'll head there.
 
So we park, sweating, realizing our nice, relaxing weekend where we planned to spoil ourselves is overshadowed by the possibility of dying in a dirt motel. We sit down in the little diner-like spot, and Irish goes to the restroom while I look at the menu and realize, dumbfounded, that this restaurant is vegetarian. Irish is a meat and potatoes man's man. I could not have screwed up more and I debate whether to even tell him when he comes back, but of course he'll find out.
 
"I'm getting the California Burger," Irish said with a happy smile, making the most of my idiocy. 
 
"It's vegetarian," I said sheepishly into the menu.
 
"What?" Irish scans the menu. "Then what am I doing here?"
 
"I forgot. Do you want to leave?"
 
"We're already here."
 
So I ate my vegetarian corn dogs that tasted rather similar to the ones you buy in the grocery store for $5 and microwave, and Irish had his vegetarian burger that he glared at and ate in silence. As I sat eating my soggy unsalted onion rings, I realized this diner is not as good at two in the afternoon as it is at midnight after a house party at the age of 22, but there's beer. So we shake our heads and sit quietly until we can check in at 3pm.
 
Well, we checked in and it's not the worst motel in history, even with it's baby blue paint and fluorescent lighting, the doors did lock, and the carpet looked clean. However, while glancing at the unidentifiable bargain bin soap and shampoos offered in the bathroom, we decided then and there we would not be using the shower.
 
We immediately left, (why spend an extra second in that hell hole?) and actually had the time of our lives at the Boardwalk. We went out to a fancy dinner because, well, when life gives you lemons, you might as well make up for it with an expensive steak. And we didn't die. Clearly. As I'm writing this now. Even though the cops showed up again as we were walking back from the steakhouse at 11pm, we found out it was because homeless people were sleeping around the corner, and not that someone was murdered in another room.
 
Now that it's behind me, I've learned a few things: How NOT to choose a hotel, to press confirm 15 times when you book a room on credit card points, and, that as long as you're with someone you love, even the worst circumstances can become hilarious given enough time. Namely, five hours after you check out of the Bates Motel.

 
 
All my love,
L.B.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

What Is It All For?

This is a somber essay as opposed to fun sarcastic one. If I was a comedian this essay would be me showing off my acting chops. But I'm not, so I hope it just feels real.

This is also your chance to abandon ship if you aren't in a somber mood. There are plenty of happier blog post to the left of the screen.

<--------------- Right there.

The last thing anyone wants to feel is irrelevant and boring. You know what's worse than feeling that way? Telling anyone. It's the last thing people want to hear. People don't like to be sad. They don't like to feel as though people aren't trying or that trying your hardest doesn't matter. People want to hear the Cinderella story and to root for the underdog. They want to believe there is good in the world and that when you work hard, you will be rewarded. Religion employs the same concept, if you do good in this life, you will reap rewards in heaven.

So what? Do we shut up when things aren't right? Are we doomed to close in on ourselves and clam up because the slightest hint of sadness makes people run away screaming? Socializing helps, friends help, family helps, a supportive community helps. But these things don't fix the problem. The fix has to come from within. You can't rely on other people to make you happy, just as you can't rely on someone else to pay your bills or feed your cat. (Okay, maybe you can rely on someone to feed your cat, no one is that heartless.)

Relying on yourself becomes more and more lonesome, as you seek any way of brightening your days on your own. Writing is one of the loneliest jobs of all, and when you look down at what you've written, your progress and your effort, but see nothing but a steaming pile of garbage, it's disheartening.

You look over the burning pile of ash and wonder, what exactly am I putting in all this effort for?

One can mull that question over for years and never find the answer.

But I actually have it. For writing at least. I know the answer because of years and years I wasted in college, when I was so busy writing essays, I never wrote anything for myself and I never read a book I wasn't forced to. Not out of spite, but I couldn't bring myself to read any more -- period. Writing twelve page papers on topics you don't care about really murders any enthusiasm one might have for the craft. It was like I was in a dream, watching myself from afar. I was social, I was going to college, I had friends, and I hated every minute of it. I had stifled my passion to work towards a degree I didn't care about, in a college I didn't care about, toward an uncertain future, and I was wildly unhappy. The only thing that made me feel any better about my life direction was a supportive boyfriend who later became my husband. He was the only thing that made me feel like I was heading in the direction I was supposed to. The world around me was a right mess, but I had a life vest. One person telling me that the choices I'd made weren't wrong. That even though I felt like I was drowning, it was because I hadn't taken the easy way out and was swimming upstream against the current.

Then one day, I sat down in an interview and the manager asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I was silent for maybe a half second before I answered as honestly as I could, something I had never done before, "An author."

It wasn't an apple falling on my head, or lightning hitting a kite, it was a simple answer to a question. I hadn't given myself time to think of what the interviewer might want to hear, my heart spoke before my brain had a chance to consider what I was doing.

The first day on that job, I started writing a book on my breaks, and my entire view of the world changed.

So the question, what exactly am I putting in all this effort for? The answer is, for me. I do it all for me. Because I mentally breakdown if I'm not creating something. I am not a linear person and I must always be creating. I wasn't given the gift of music, or a passion for illustration. I wasn't a sculptor or a painter, I'm not a mathematician, and I can't read tax forms without daydreaming.

I am a writer, and I do it because I can't not do it.

So, go forth, dear readers, and claim your passion. Do it because it's something that fulfills you and gives you purpose. Because it's all for you and it always was.

All my love,
L.B.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Old Toys: A Fever-Induced Ramble

Hi!

Today is the first day in a week that I haven't had a fever, and I just drank some coffee and have more energy than I know what to do with, so I'm going to share something that I was considering when I was ill, and we'll find out together if there is a poignant moral to it at the end.

In my haze of cough medicine, pain meds, stuffed up nose, and fever dreams; while flurries of tissues spun around me like a gorgeous, contagious blizzard, I began thinking of old toys: Isn't it sad that there is a final time you play with a toy as a kid? I don't remember the last time I played with my furby, or, I don't know, my trolls, (the cute, colorful one's with the glittery belly buttons). I don't remember the last time I picked up my Tamagotchi, or when I put away my Bitty Baby for the final time.

How sad would it have been if I'd known it was the final time? I know what you're thinking, this conversation has been done, obviously there's an entire movie series surrounding what it's like when toys experience this sadness. But what of us?

Well in one such case, I remember.

As a young lass, I had a box of barbies in the corner of my bedroom. A plastic box with flaps I'd open and there were what felt like thousands of barbies in there. (There were probably ten.) My favorites were Pocahontas and Woody (Toy Story). And yes, he did say "There's a snake in my boot," and yes, Pocahontas and Woody were dating. I was around 11, which I'm told is rather old to be playing with barbies, but those people can go suck an egg. I remember they went out on a date, and changed clothes a few times, and I realized I was deeply bored. I lasted about an hour, before I looked at each of them. I set them back in the box and I never opened it again. It's strange to me how that sticks with me, it was like my first breakup. These toys had been my only escape for years and years, but now, they were boring. 

And then one day, a few months later, the box of barbies was placed in the shed. I grew up. I must've begun practicing with makeup then. I was in ballet and received my first set of makeup to wear myself, and was old enough that parents didn't have to do my make up for me for performances. I was only supposed to use this make up for ballet performances, but I don't listen.

That was one of a very few moments in my life that I remember clearly. And maybe I was too old to play with barbies because it was the final time. Or maybe Pocahontas and Woody's relationship had left the honeymoon stage and now that they were married I didn't have anywhere for their story to go. It's not like I had any baby barbies, or a barbie mansion for them to move in to.

My point is this, as kids we never remember the last time we did something, but as adults we constantly remember these times. After a while our world stops being the "First Time" we've done anything and we start to recognize more, "Last times." They stick with us, and they hurt. The last time we looked at our childhood bedroom. The last day of college. The last time we looked into a lover's face during a breakup. The last time we see a friend at graduation. The last time we *saw* a loved one's face.

Geez, that got dark, didn't it? I guess there was a point after all. But I can't leave you with that. I'm not trying to ruin days here.

Oh no, I don't have any ideas... Let's see... Um...

OH!

But that's why children are the future! When we start to see more "lasts" in our lives, we look at the children around us experiencing their "firsts" in life. The first words, their first steps. We watch them, and it places rose colored glasses on our past of "firsts" and we think fondly upon them. We watch these tiny people experience the horror of the first time they put their shoes on the wrong feet, the pure joy of their first rainbow, and we smile. For we wouldn't want to go back, but we're thankful for the memories.

All my love,
L.B.


Friday, March 3, 2017

The Tempest, Episode Seven: The Spell Book

This post has been removed by the author to begin querying.
 
 
 
 


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Drought


One thing about a drought is that one tends to underestimate just how heavy the downpour will be when it finally comes.

In the Bay Area, we've been experiencing the worst drought in hundreds of years. For four years straight it barely sprinkled and at the time it began, I was quite grateful as I had a roof that leaked. As a poor college student, I couldn’t very well just move to an apartment that didn’t leak, and rent had just skyrocketed. I wouldn’t have been able to afford my own apartment at the time. So instead of rushing around with pots and pans for weeks at a time, I watched the entire state of California dry up like the desert. The water reservoirs were nearly empty, and there were no back up plans for water that I’d heard of, it was plainly that once they reservoirs were empty, entire cities wouldn’t have water. Then what? They’d start looking at draining the lakes to keep up with the agriculture? It was a nightmare, but I was quite happy to stay in my cocoon of “if it doesn’t rain, it won’t leak.”

That is, until the rain started. Last year “El Nina” began, and it was pretty laughable. The media made it out as being this “crazy storm” unlike “anything we’d ever seen,” so I called my landlord and again insisted that she send someone out to look at this leak, it’d been four years after all. Fix it. So when, as expected, nothing came of my anger and insistence, I was quite panicked as the rain began in November. It was coming down like cats and dogs through early December and I stayed up late, getting up every two hours, every night, to empty one of the six buckets around the house. I sent video after video to my landlady, she did nothing. It didn't even seem like reality.

Long story short, that was the first few months of 2016 for me. The rain only lasted until January, but it was hellish. Finally I was able to arrange a time with the housing inspector (he had to witness the leak, which meant, it had to rain when he was there) and after meeting him four times, he FINALLY witnessed it. My apartment has been leak free since February 2016 and yes, my landlady reimbursed me in a few month’s rent.

Well, I told you that story to tell you this story. El Nina started last year, she came full throttle this year. It is February 2017, and it has rained nearly every day since the start of the year. Ever since those four years with a leaking roof, I am finally over the PTSD and the rain is finally soothing again. I love to watch it from indoors because it isn’t raining indoors (anymore). But here’s the problem, in San Francisco, it isn’t really rain. There are no rain drops. It doesn’t pour, there isn’t sleet, or snow. It is a 360* horizontal mist hurricane, that drenches you from head to toe, but cannot be captured on camera. (I’ve tried, and was subsequently laughed at -- imagine standing under the “Mist” setting on your garden hose). This morning, my muni was late and I was standing on the platform for twenty minutes. My jacket was drenched through to my shirt. My jeans sopping wet. I looked like I’d taken a shower and the umbrella made no difference. When 22 mph winds are whipping your face and hair with stinging mist from literally all sides, an umbrella does nothing. I couldn’t see through my glasses and the spray stings your eyes. So when I finally got on the muni surrounded by wet dogs – ehm, people, I was shivering and my feet were the only dry part of me (Yay, rainboots!). Naturally, the muni delayed. Much like traffic on the freeway, the rain does wonders for timing and accidents. So I arrived at work, 30 minutes late, soaked to the bone and dripping.

But the reservoirs are nearly full in California.

Now, I’m inside and I have piping hot coffee. I’m sitting at my desk with a cozy blanket wrapped around my shoulders and my shoes are off and beside the heater. My jeans and hair won’t be dry until lunch, but at least I’m indoors. I guess, I’m saying, be thankful for the (leak-free) roof over your head. The shirt on your back, your access to internet, the blankets on your bed (and desk!), and the warm food in your belly. Because it gets really hairy out there, and you still have to trudge through it. Life goes on even though the weather is foul, and even when some rainy, arctic wind-filled days should be considered public “Snow Days”. But going out and soaking yourself to the bone is necessary sometimes to appreciate it. Because when you finally make it back to the warmth of the indoors, the rain sure looks pretty from the inside.  

All my love,
L.B.