Moving Forward, Part Three

So many witty sayings about how hindsight is 20-20, and how only fools rush in. When the hell hounds are at your heels, mistakes can prove fatal. Have I made a fatal mistake? Fatal being a strong, permanent word, the answer is no. But, ‘detrimental’ is absolutely a fine substitute. I know where my mindset was the day I chose Eastgate (my nickname for it) as my new abode in San Diego, and maybe I get points for having my heart in the right place. When it comes to my kids, I will always put their needs ahead of mine – even if it proves painful, and maybe even fatal if the situation were to arise. In many respects, this location seems ideal, particularly if you view it from the perspective of what my kids need in this phase of their lives. It’s unpretentious in a very pretentious neighborhood, and thus the size to price ratio is acceptable, but still pricey for a working slob like me. The grounds are dog friendly and probably as safe as any place I’ve lived in the last 10 years. The neighbors seem to be quiet. Wholefoods and Trader’s are nearby. Familiarity. Transit and bike friendly. An enormous shopping mall (and jobs) within walking distance, and new parts under construction. A lovely beach is but a short car ride away. For me, there is the absolute lack of a commute, something necessary for lowering my blood pressure which had recently begun to spike after 8 years of exhausting 5/405 traffic; and the walk to work contributes much-needed exercise for my stressed, aging body. Sounds like nirvana if nirvana could exist, right?

What could possibly be wrong?  

The problem is me. We lived in south OC for 8 years, and I remember the very first Santa Ana winds event. I called it devil wind, because it felt like it blew straight from the depths of hell. Preceding our move to OC, we had lived in the Del Mar Heights area of San Diego and there was a (too) brief stint in Brisbane, Australia during their fall/winter. Nothing I had experienced up to that point prepared me for the ungodly Santa Ana wind and the accompanying dry heat. I never imagined that I would be bothered by heat. 

Case in point: As a kid in the 70s, I grew up near Lake Texoma in north Texas. I worshipped the sun and hated the cold. We had only a brief 3 month summer, so I grabbed onto the lovely summer days as tight as I could. There was that one summer though, somewhere around 1977, we had a heat wave of 105 for many long days, and our A/C died. That was maybe the omen to which I should have paid heed. Apparently I can’t take the heat. Years later, in OC, I swore, as each summer became increasingly hot (sorry, folks, global warming is real), that when I moved I would go back to cooler San Diego. (Reminder that I can’t immigrate to any other country.) And it’s true that this part of San Diego is on average 10 degrees cooler than OC. But, here I am, face to face with the reality of my own particular level of privilege – and have only myself to blame. 

We are sweltering in a not-upscale condo in an upscale neighborhood full of posh people and posh cars, and sweltering because there isn’t an A/C and the condo has inadequate insulation (or none) and crap 1970s asphalt shingles, and other construction nightmares that were born in the 70s and should have died in the 90s, and that cause the upstairs bedrooms to be 20 degrees hotter than outside. The same way your car gets boiling hot inside while you’re parked on the huge black parking lot of Wal-Mart. 

And I picked this place.

I’m hot. Apparently that is a big problem for my stupid body which seems to freak out, swell up, and magnify the menopausal symptoms that I didn’t quite realize I had until now.

So, we bought a couple fans [insert Valley Girl Voice]. Then a very expensive third fan. Then black/grey room darkening curtains to cover the 12 feet of East-facing windows in the upstairs master bedroom (architectural stupidity). Now the room looks goth. Not a fan of goth. But you can’t have your melted-in-the-sun cake and eat it too. 

I apologize because I’m not normally a whinger/whiner/baby. I’m a pretty tough broad – and I’m uncomfortable with my pettiness. There are plenty of people who would kill for my first world problems. So, what I won’t do is go down without a fight. I’m working on remedies that don’t involve a bulldozer or flagrantly breaking my Two Year Lease. 

Two years. 

Two.

And summer has only just started. Welcome to Hell.

Moving Forward, Part Two

18 June 2017

The big day is here at long last. I’m not going to lie, this is going to hurt. Last time we moved (September 2013) I had someone helping. I was in better shape. I was younger. Fortunately, I have my two daughters and one of their friends, so among us we will slay this beast.

Onward and upward!

Moving Forward 

In a couple weeks, we will be moving from Orange County to San Diego.

So many people have asked me, ‘why San Diego?’

‘Have you been there? Because, how can you not fall in love with it?’

The unspoken truth, one that only those closest to me would understand, is I choose San Diego because I’m not able to immigrate to the UK. A lot more people can’t fathom why I would even want to live in the UK, paticularly my own half-brother who has never lived anywhere but Kent (racist fool that he is.)

It’s my own personal fantasy to live in England. The reasons are multi-layered and complex, and not something I want to spend the time explaining. However, because England remains in the realm of fantasy, I must instead contend with reality. Reality is California and my job here.

I have become massively lucky to secure a transfer to our San Diego office. Hence the move from Orange County.

RSM, or Santa’s Margarita Ranch as my sister calls it, has been fairly good to us these past 8+ years. Even though I have recently become fond of terming it Hellsgate due to the increasingly hot dry weather and persistent drought, the area is visually appealing, quiet and safe. It’s conveniently close to the town center, healthy food choices, and to a good community college. It wasn’t close to my work and the daily 40+ mile commute (I endured for 8 years) wears a car and a soul down at near equal pace.

But let’s face it, life is rarely static. Children grow up, they change schools, get jobs … goals change, jobs change, political climates change. Continued success relies on flexibility. I’ve always felt that to survive here one must be able to ride the waves of change like a pro surfer.

San Diego has a lot to offer us, at least for the next two years, that Orange County cannot. This next phase of our lives will see a solidification of life paths for both of my daughters, while I work to help make those dreams come true. That in and of itself brings true happiness.

I found a place within walking distance of my new office. Until the weekend of the big move though, I’m commuting more than 120 miles a day. Just entered my 6th week of that, and I admit I’m weary. I’m really looking forward to no longer sitting in endless, smog-filled, bumper to bumper traffic. The new people I’m working with are happy, nice people. Good schools abound. The weather won’t be as hot. The city center is lively and diverse (although far more crowded), and there is a large variety of shops. The icing on top is nearby beaches.

Who knows, maybe with less stress I’ll get back into my fitness and lose the 30+ pounds I gained. I will finish my novel. And there is still plenty of time, presumably, to dream of that seaside cottage with a garden, that retired science guy and his Labrador, and me writing to my heart’s content.

May our luck hold.

-updated 6 June 2017

The sum of all fears

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In light of recent news reports, it is no surprise that I’ve started dreaming about Russian people. I had the opportunity to sleep in this morning and in doing so hit some significant REM states. What follows is what I remember. Predominant color in this dream sequence was black. I’m calling this dream sequence “The sum of all fears.”

Some details are already slipping away, but I remember a dark skinned man in a black suit. He was a government person, maybe a cop or agent of some sort. I was shadowing him. If you can imagine what it’s like for an angel or ghost to tag along with you, I was like that ghost, tagging along and observing, at least initially. He was hunting someone and when he found this person, he shot him dead. As the body lay on the ground, the agent bent over him and scooped out one of the dead man’s eyes. I recoiled in horror, but I could not leave. Suddenly I had a bag in my hands, like a specimen bag, and the agent put the eye inside it. From inside the eye socket he spooned out three more eyeballs that were larger than the first one, and dropped them one by one into the bag. When I looked, the bag had liquid too. Had it always had liquid inside? The four very round, ping pong sized eye balls were floating in this liquid. I’m guessing they weren’t all eyes, but some kind of data storage. Then we were on the move, walking quickly through the darkness until we came to a building. I have only a vague image of a door in my memory, but we went inside this building. At some point we walked rapidly down a hall, again mostly in darkness, and a moment later reached a T-intersection. On my right was a shallow alcove. Its back wall was mostly computer screens. I stopped, but the man did not. On the screen scrolled numbers. (A bit like that scene in Fallout IV where you have to decipher the codes on the old computer.) Not appearing number by number, but in full sets and filling the screen up like this:

381398417348 134978 19387434 234837487 108343418 10834134719349817324 8979837483747 193473814387

There were symbols mixed in. I would type them but they aren’t on my Querty keyboard. I was mesmerized by the code. I couldn’t take my eyes away from it, nor even blink. It scrolled screen after screen after screen, the code growing in volume, as if it were talking to me. Suddenly my mind was zooming through space – deep black space with the streaks of silver stars elongating on my left and right, much like the imagery of the Starship Enterprise hitting warp drive. After maybe fifteen seconds of that, I arrived suddenly at an asteroid field. I screamed out in fear. Then beyond it, a field of floating space ships in varying shapes and sizes, and all a weird matt black metal. One directly in front of me was an enormous structure made of two disks with bulging centers (not domed) that were joined together like an X. It was rotating slowly in front of me. I screamed again and tried to wake up. The dream shifted to me lying in my bed in sleep paralysis. While I screamed, both of my daughters tried to wake me. In my head I was saying over and over, “I can’t breathe!” and I could feel that my lungs refused to draw a breath. But they couldn’t wake me. Fortunately, I woke myself but found that I was alone.

Maybe the observant reader will wonder at this point what does this have to do with Russia? The man I started out with returned in the second dream, picking up nearly where we left off after having obtained the disgusting eye balls. We walked through the darkness, weaving around buildings, along sidewalks and hedgerows until we arrived at a black iron gate. He opened it and we passed through. The path was canopied by tall thick trees but there were no street lamps to light the way. A very deep voice came from our left, saying, “stop,” and I looked to see a man dressed in dark slacks and heavy black wool overcoat. He had been lying on a bench and sat up. He came over to us with his gun drawn and grabbed me by the arm. He propelled us forward and took us into a room in a building to our left. When he spoke, I recognized his accent as Russian. He delivered us into the hands of some other men. Some were Russian and some were Middle Eastern. They took my companion into a back room. My dream memory has faded somewhat, but I do remember that I had a long woolen scarf around my neck and I used it to hide the bag of eyeballs. I used to my advantage the fact that I was an innocent female, caught in something I had no real part of even though I was hiding something these men probably wanted. I wanted something from the men also, but I can’t remember now what I said. I asked for something, like, to use the bathroom, or for a blanket or something like that, but speaking aloud was the wrong thing to do. The Russian man stared at me like I was an alien. He grabbed my arm again and pushed me over to a service window that had two or three men on the other side of the partitioned glass. There was a silver tray at the bottom, reminding me of the way old banks used to be set up. I repeated the question in this small hesitant voice, and these men stared at me like “what the hell is she?” I didn’t understand what was so wrong with me. They were speaking English. I spoke English. My accent wasn’t strange. I didn’t get why they looked at me like they couldn’t believe their ears.

I’m not sure about the sequence here, as my dream memory is rapidly evaporating, but at some point I was taken to a place that was several stories tall and each floor was joined by a wide staircase with black wrought iron railings on both sides. Both of my daughters were there, and across the room my youngest daughter was lounging, like a cat, on a large square ottoman. I could see she was wearing only scanty clothing and she had a visible tattoo on her lower abdomen. I thought to myself, “When did she get that?!” A weird dream memory flashed in my head of her at a tattoo parlor getting a small tattoo on her shoulder. Suddenly, a couple of Middle Eastern men grabbed her and ran down the stairs with her. Cradling the bag of eyes (I don’t know why they were so important) I ran after them, screaming at them to stop. I was at least two floors behind them when I reached the stairs and I realized I was never going to catch up, so I literally jumped over a railing and down to the next level. I ran down a few steps, then jumped over the railing again and down to the next level. In real life, I would have never been able to do that, and regardless of this amazing skill I couldn’t seem to catch up. Increasingly panicked, I ran in the direction I thought they were going. There was a maze of train tracks ahead with numerous trains going this way and that. I read the signs and saw that I was in England. I was struck by indecision about which train to take. I didn’t want to take the wrong one and risk losing her forever. I thought if I took a picture of one of the signs and sent it to my oldest daughter, she could help me decide. As I focused my phone’s camera on one of the signs I was ripped out of the dream and back into the world of reality.  I was, of course, very relieved to find my daughter was sound asleep in her bed – and safe (with no tattoos)!

And, that was the end of that. You might be wondering if these detail heavy dreams are a common thing with me, and the answer is yes. They aren’t terribly numerous, thankfully, but they do usually come with lots of details.