Sand in my eyebrows

I’m finally feeling like a Californian.

Yesterday it was a million degrees* in Silicon Valley, so some friends from work invited us to go swimming in the ocean and escape the heat. She promised it would be cooler there, but all I could think about was burning hot sand and a scorching sun.

She was right. I was wrong.

First of all, I felt like a super badass going to the beach on a whim. “It’s 5:30 and we have no plans. Sure, let’s throw on a bathing suit and head over.” Wow. I live in California!

Second, we knew there would be traffic. Oh the constant traffic. People who live near the beach watch the changing tides; people everywhere in California watch the ebb and flow of traffic. Ceaseless. So we got on MBF’s motorcycle and wove our way** through a near-standstill on the Pacific Highway. About halfway there (we travelled a few miles down the road to a less-travelled beach than the Santa Cruz boardwalk we’re familiar with), we entered a fog bank curling around a stand of huge eucalyptus trees. The fog made their sweet scents even more pungent. Immediately, we lost the sun and about 15 ambient degrees. Our t-shirts were no longer appropriate wear, and we realized why everyone has sweaters handy year round.

Finally, after ducking under some pretty rough and tall waves that even the locals were avoiding (they called them “bully” waves), we receded to the parking lot, sticky with salt and sand. It was too cold for me to consider the return trip in a t-shirt, so like a fully-local Californian, I rode on the back of the motorcycle in my wetsuit.

After shucking off my suit and hosing the sand and salt from it, I realized just how much of the beach I’d inherited as part of my Californian indoctrination: roughly a metric shit-ton. My scalp, eyebrows, and ears were clogged with sand from the heavy surf. Somehow the sand had even been driven up into the ankles of my wetsuit.

I figure I’ll stop finding sand on the floor and upholstery in roughly October. My ears might never be free of the stuff.

*A million degrees in local currency is around 95 Farenheit. Aka “nice weather” in Texas.

**I can’t believe it’s legal for motorcycles to do that here. Encouraged, even. At one point, another motorcyclist rolled by us, sharing the lane with us CHiPs style. He pulled in close to us and gave us each a fist bump. Whoa. New experiences abound!

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And fuck you in particular, sir

Today I learned that someone at work asked my boss “why he even hired me”.

After a few choice splutterings, I feel compelled to highlight a bright spot in this.

First of all, I invented this job. I wrote the job description for it, and only after that did my boss become my boss. Of me, of my role, as it existed with me in it. So he didn’t hire me. He became the head of a department of new roles that I invented because I saw the need to have me’s. That was almost 2 years ago, and admittedly the role has changed since then. But let’s be clear: I didn’t get hired to this shit—I created it from nothingness, son.

Second, my awesome BFF had this to say to me, and she is spot-on:

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To my Austin friends

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This is to anyone and everyone “back home” who considers me a friend, or who ever has considered us friends. I’m thinking of you even more than usual, and hoping quick-dries and safety for you.

I want to thank you. I am reluctant to list every name: an order would be implied that simply doesn’t exist. Omissions would be made that were unintended and just a factor of “morning mind” before the ritual of coffee (defanged of its actual juju) wakes me up enough for completeness.

So this is for you all. I think of so many so often. From the Maras and Jens I talk to daily, to the Aarons and Amys I haven’t spoken to in months or years.

Thank you, all of you, for your friendship along the way. We might be BFFs right now or we might not speak more often than at weddings. But you have given me, at the points our lives intersected, something special: your time and friendship. I haven’t always been able to express an appreciation for that, but today, I do. Today I want you to know.

Today I think of all the local beers, hungover days, costume parties, dirty jokes, couches to sleep on, and homes opened to me. The miles on bicycles, drunken Comals, late and later night raids and Kerbey Lanes, tabletop games, and renfests. Camping and beer festivals, roadtrips for snowboarding and wind surfing, plant hikes, yoga, and many, many unicorns. And weddings! So many happy and fun weddings. Now we’re on to babies, most of whom I haven’t met. To my tiny Austin baby-friends, I look forward to these things minus the drinking until you’re older. And wow, that’s a lot of drinking. They don’t hand out flip cup trophies to scrubs, you know.

It’s all these things and so many more that I feel grateful for. Grateful to you, every one of you who has shaped these fantastic memories we have.

We’re all different, and presumably far more sober, now than when we made those memories. I’m so glad we did. So glad we got a chance to have fun times and terrible times. Thank you for supporting me during my own terrible times, and for forgiving me when I was (am) terrible myself.

This isn’t the end of the road, but it’s a turn. I’m a zillion miles away–further again from my Austin-to-east-coast friends. Yeah, I see you guys. :) but as the hobbits say, the road goes ever on and on.

This isn’t goodbye, but just a pause for appreciation. A-pplause, if you will. Because puns.

Thank you.

You know I’m always up for a good laugh over a beer. Message me and let’s relive some old times virtually. And when I’m back in town, let’s get together. I tried to get a few moments with you at the end, but for some of us it just didn’t work out. It’s cool. We have schedules and life. But let’s not let that be the last note, k? Cool.

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About my tree friends

My neighbor says they’ve estimated our trees to be 200 feet tall. We watch hummingbirds perching even tinier on the branches, and squirrels become big wall climbers up the bark. I wonder what squirrels at Yosemite do.

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My tree friends back in Texas are estimated to be a couple hundred years old. They’re much shorter than our tree friends here, but they still dwarf the hummingbirds. Squirrels use them like highways instead of walls. We hung chair hammocks from their branches and moved with the breezes.

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I’ve taken other pics of trees and branches on some of our hikes. Bark, roots, limbs, and leaves are pretty beautiful here. But I’m happy to report the trees around my homes are the best. It’s like they wait all day to hug you hello. This guy was outside our temporary apartment the very first days we arrived in California.

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More weeks, more boxes

We’re at something like 5 weeks in California, and a single week in our new place. I should say new, “little” place. It’s spacious by California standards, but it ain’t gonna fit my shit. I’ve been crushed under the psychological weight of all of it, and potentially would be physically crushed by it in an earthquake: rule number one is don’t put shit on high shelves or stacked up, and mine’s up to the ceiling.

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We keep having to rearrange the little room to muscle a box out to unpack it, then reengineer all the stuff remaining in the room to fit the newly-unpacked stuff. Ugh. Really shows you just how much junk you have.

I had been working under a great method of unpacking something and giving it a home, and not moving to the next box until everything had a home or was tossed. Then we unpacked the first of my actual stuff.

It’s embarrassing.

The good news is that now I have tons of projects to not-do once again.

So. Yeah, “yay”.

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One month a Californian

Things are shaping up. We found a little home to rent, nestled under some of the biggest redwoods we’ve seen outside a state park. We’re especially excited to see them daily and listen to the wind in their branches above a little gurgling creek a few steps beyond. Really excited to sleep with the windows open!

I got a celebratory ukulele the night we signed the lease, even though we’re not living on the beach. I’ll still learn beachy songs, you betcha. I’m stoked (I’m in California now, so required by law to use that word) to find out just how many songs use the simplest chords (and few at that). SRV might take a bit more practice to learn though. Well, like all things Austin, it’ll be a little harder to tackle, but so worth it. (Think about it. It’s worth it to live in Austin, but hard to get over the heat. It’s worth it to go to Barton springs, but you have to get over the [parking, drum circles, yucky toe, crowds]. It’s worth it to go get awesome food but you have to get over the wait. In the sun, usually. And so on.)

So that’s that! We spent the weekend doing not-house-hunting, which was awesome. We went to the gym, saw a movie, and had a great hike in a huge state park. I think we even passed by tom hanks on a trail; the rangers said he lives in east bay, so they weren’t surprised. _I_ was surprised that a movie star 1) doesn’t live in Hollywood and 2) goes hiking. With bearded young dudes, I must add. These guys had bigger beards than the pack-goats we passed. Evidently they eat the poison oak. The goats, not the dudes. Eat the poison oak. Sigh, anyway, here are some pics:

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Week 3: surfers and supplicants

Let me start with the good: I’m so grateful my Friday work location can be flexible. We parked at a cafe in Santa Cruz so we could keep a couple appointments to look at places that day, presumably before anyone else had a chance to scoop up the spots. So that was good. At one point we found ourselves at arches state beach, streaming wifi from my phone and getting our work done under the eucalyptus.

I can’t tell you what all happened Monday through Thursday, because work has just been work. We walk to work most days, work like crazy people, can’t remember what we got done, and then sleep and do it all again the next day. The walk is definitely the best part, although catching up with our Californian colleagues and transplant friends has been super nice. I hope that continues once we find our spot.

So then the weekend. We scheduled some rental interviews on Sunday and actually had a really nice day watching surfers in between our supplications to prospective landlords.

I’ll try to explain briefly: one of our California dreams was to live on the beach (duh) if we could find and affordable place. Well, after stumbling onto a $1m open house for a 482sf gem *ack!*, we pretty quickly released that dream. But then through the miracle of craigslist, we found one. It was perfect in every way: beachfront but not on a busy road, updated to the point of actual luxury, and only 3 miles to our shuttle pickup for work. Psh, we’ll bike that no probs, we thought.

Short story, the landlord is beyond anal. He wanted a single person, not a couple. This is surprisingly common out here. Shockingly, even. We tried everything: offered to be backup contacts for his vacation rental upstairs, offered more of a security deposit, even more rent per month for having a second person. He was interested, and we were excited, but then finally after explaining the situation to my mom and 2 friends, I realized renting from him seems like far more trouble than I want. And also 650 extra bucks out of my pocket for all my trouble. When finally this morning he told me my persistence was stupid, my head caught up to what my heart already knew: fuck this guy.

So, the next option is what one dear friend would call a hippie trap: beautiful quiet setting…in sort of a commune-like complex. It’s not updated. Not luxurious. 10 miles from the beach. But so quiet. The first thing I heard was the wind chimes (hanging on the communal laundry outbuilding). And I could garden there. And touch the huge (huge!!) redwoods right by our deck. It’s a bit shabby, but I think with some elbow grease and a lot of visits to apartment therapy, it could be sort of nice. And no anal landlords breathing down my neck.

So yeah, hippie trap it may be. And that might be perfect.

Bottom line: living on the beach, over two grand plus the cost of my car getting broken into at the downtown bus stop, plus the stress of an anal landlord. Living in the redwoods hippie trap? Cheap. Er, I mean priceless. Yeah.

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