May 16 2018

My Third Cali-versary

My Third Cali-versary

How have I already been here for three years? HOW? Someone tell me. I demand to know. Time, you are a slippery little fish.

I’ll be honest: this third year wasn’t my favorite. I’m not sure why, but it’s getting harder and harder to be away from my family instead of easier, and my anxiety has sort of skyrocketed since last May. I think it’s mainly a combination of two things:

Loneliness
Stay-at-home momming is much lonelier than I expected three years ago. And if it takes a village to raise a child, my kids are at a major disadvantage — it’s just me, all the time. I miss going to my parents’ house every Sunday for tacos. I miss them bonding with my children. I MISS THEIR HELP. Dear God, I miss their help. Sometimes I just want them to come over for forty-five minutes so I can go grocery shopping alone or pee without someone staring at me. I want to feel like my husband can travel for work without me panicking about the possibility of something terrible happening while he’s gone because now I don’t have any backup.

Also, one of my best friends in Michigan had her first baby this year and I still haven’t met him. I would have loved to visit her at the hospital and help her through the newborn phase, but I was thousands of miles away. I’m missing too many wonderful, important things, and I worry that my children are, too.

Rejection
If last year felt like The Year of Stagnancy, this has for sure been The Year of Rejection. I stepped up my writing game considerably in terms of the stuff I’ve been trying to accomplish, and despite some extremely close calls, all I’ve heard for months is no.

Hopefully I’ll be able to give you more information about this soon, but there are still some things in the works that I don’t want to jinx — if/when I finally get a novel into print, I will tell you the tale of how it happened. For now, though, I’m over here thickening my skin and pretending not to die inside every time I get another discouraging email.

The Good
I didn’t come here just to complain, I promise. The mountainous view in our backyard is still a daily source of awe, and something we would obviously not be able to replicate in Michigan. I’m grateful for the moments with my kids that I never would have had if I were still a full-time teacher. I got to attend a writers’ retreat that buoyed my creative soul.

And this year, I’ve kind of fallen in love with our neighborhood — there are a couple moms my age-ish, just a few houses down, that I literally don’t know what I would do without. I’ve never had such good friends within walking distance before, and it’s a total game-changer. Want to ride bikes to wear the kids out before nap? Meet you on the sidewalk. Need to run home for a diaper? Be back in four minutes. We can sip our wine until the very last second because nobody’s driving home. They are some of the warmest, most wonderful people I’ve ever met.

Of course, the weather in California is beautiful, too. It’s the nights that win me over — the complete lack of humidity, the way you can leave the windows open no matter how hot it gets outside — even though I still REALLY, REALLY want thunderstorms and about two weeks of snow around Christmastime.

A couple months ago, as the “rainy season” (a relative term if I’ve ever heard one) was winding down, I began to take stock of our yard: I needed to decide what veggies to grow in our garden this year, which fertilizer to buy.

After going untended since the fall, my planter box had exactly one weed. I meant to pull it, but then we were out of town for a few days; when we returned, it had grown a full two feet. I left it alone. It intrigued me.

In the meantime, I doted on my citrus tree. Fed it, watered it, released ladybugs into its branches to combat pests. With the exception of singing it lullabies and massaging its leaves, I did everything I possibly could.

I guess I should have done those things, too, because it died. Not just sort of hibernated for the winter. DIED. The leaves turned dry and yellow and cracked off until the entire thing was bare. I tried to resuscitate it with just about every method short of CPR. Nope. Dead.

But that crazy weed? By the end of the month, it was taller than me.tall weedI don’t want to be the citrus tree this year, guys. It was more impressive at first, but ultimately much too fragile — just wilted and withered away although conditions were seemingly perfect.

This year it’s time to be the weed. Time to be so tough and fearless and resilient that I find a way to thrive even when I’m worried I don’t belong. Nobody planted it. Nobody babied it. Nobody wanted it initially, but it didn’t care. It grew anyway.

When we went to pull it out, the roots were so deep, its stem so sturdy, it was more like a tree trunk. We basically had to chop it down.

No more tolerating stagnancy. No more convincing myself I should quit in the face of rejection. I’m still working hard to embrace change of any kind, but hopefully my fourth year here will be full of things both beautiful and — dare I say it? — new.

Aug 10 2017

15 Things That Aren’t Weird in Silicon Valley

15 Things That Aren’t Weird in Silicon Valley

Before we moved here, I always pictured California as a just-like-the-movies SoCal paradise: perfectly manicured palm trees, glittering sidewalks dotted with stars, 85 breezy degrees forever and ever and ever.

But Silicon Valley is a whole different beast. If you were expecting excessively Botoxed platinum blondes or shirtless yogi dudes who travel via surfboard and only know the word “brah,” then you’ve come to the wrong place.

At first, I thought Silicon Valley looked almost like the Midwest — well, plus some mountains — in that everything seems fairly “normal” upon first glance. On the surface, there doesn’t appear to be a lot of flashy extravagance. Run-down strip malls line the roads. People ride bikes. There are no throngs of paparazzi following Kim Kardashian to dinner.

But once you’ve been here for a while, you begin to notice that it does NOT in fact resemble where you came from, and that the differences go far deeper than a mountainous landscape. To a Midwestern mind, there are some things that seem pretty unusual — but in Silicon Valley, they’re not weird at all. Continue reading

May 16 2017

My Second Cali-versary

My Second Cali-versary

I have a confession: when I was a teenager, I told my parents I was going to move to California.

Back then, I wanted to act. Still kinda do (minus the whole stage fright thing). I’d performed in school plays (Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz), community theater (Anne Frank in The Diary of…), and landed roles in TV and radio commercials through a local Michigan agency. My SAG-AFTRA card has been firmly in hand since I was twelve, and for many years, I openly dreamed of leaving Michigan.

“Mo-om, the weather is, like, SO MUCH BETTER there,” I said on more than one occasion. “Why would anyone choose to live in a place with so much snow?” I went on and on about it, actually, much to my parents’ chagrin. I swore I would get out of Michigan and give acting the ol’ college try right after…you know, college. Continue reading

May 16 2016

My First Cali-versary

My First Cali-versary

I’ve been here a year.

One whole year. After a year of being in a place, it’s maybe supposed to start feeling like home, I suspect — but sometimes I still look around and think, Wait a second. I LIVE here? This usually happens while I’m driving, for some reason. I’m on the highway and at some point I inevitably notice I’m heading toward a mountain and there is this almost out-of-body experience. I have to actively remind myself, This is my HOME. There are mountains. There is not a whole lot of space or fresh water or lush green grass, but there are mountains, yes, and this is where I live now.

Am I weird? (I mean, yes, but am I weird because of this?) What’s the timeline for this kind of thing?

Maybe it’s because this alleged “year” actually feels like twenty minutes. Okay, three months. Four, tops. The other day I called someone to make an appointment for something and I said, “I’m not sure exactly where you’re located — we just moved here from Michigan a couple months ago.” Wait…what? That’s not right. “I mean, it’s been almost a year or something. Anyway. I have no idea where you are.” Continue reading

Jan 11 2016

Places I Do Not Belong

Places I Do Not Belong

We’ve been back in California for a week now, and while I enjoyed our Michigan visit immensely, I returned with the vague feeling that I don’t quite belong anywhere anymore.

Don’t get me wrong: in a lot of ways, it was the most relaxed I’ve been in months. It was incredibly fulfilling to be with our family and friends again, and SUCH A RELIEF to know that help was nearby if we needed to call upon our village. I was able to just zip away to brunch with the girls. I was able to see P and B fall in love with their grandparents again. I was able to have an actual dinner with my husband. There were way more sets of hands to change diapers, give hugs, and mold Play-Doh. My daughter’s tantrums (a very recent and totally unwelcome occurrence in our household) vanished after just a few Michigan days. She was a better person when there were more people around to love her. We were all better people, I think. Continue reading