Thursday, December 23, 2021

Moving onward and upward

It's been a whirlwind couple of weeks as we've moved the family (three humans, a dog, a cat, three lizards, a frog, and 18 houseplants) from Los Angeles to San Francisco.  Or, more accurately, Oakland, birthplace of vice president Kamala Harris and the Black Panthers.



When things kicked into gear everything started happening rapidly.  This was, in part, a conscious choice; after Seamus passed we needed to distract ourselves.

We started by driving up to look at apartments.  We viewed three, after which time we determined that the other three on the list weren't worth checking out and we knew which one we wanted.  It's a little on the pricier side but it's in a good neighbor that's within walking distance from a lot of areas of interest, including the Grand Lake movie theater, Lake Merritt, and Morcom Rose Garden.

Morcom Rose Garden.

Grand Lake Theater, now showing Spider-Man: Nightmare Alley.


Merritt Lake.


A tiny maple grove in the Merritt Garden bonsai garden.

Along the way we stopped by Pea Soup Anderson's, a roadside attraction featuring a huge windmill and even huger portions of pea soup, as well as BravoLand, a surprisingly sprawling and well-kept "old west" town.  Not authentic or anything, but exactly the kind of thing you want out of a roadside attraction, especially when your roadtrip includes a 6-pound dog and a 2-year-old child.

Pea Soup Anderson's


After signing off on the lease, we had to get to the business of packing.  I found this immensely stressful.  Probably not as stressful as the cat, Mabel, who was placed into a carrier called "Whiskey City," where she proceeded to cry in distress for the entire six-hour U-Haul drive north.  We packed in the span of maybe three days, placed everything in the truck in one, and made the whole pilgrimage in a day.  It was like ripping off a Band-Aid.  Our landlady cried when we left.

Packing up.

Actual image of me handling the move like a well-adjusted adult.
The van. 

Don't worry, Domingo the lizard rode in the cab with me. 
Unlike Mabel she wasn't a huge pussy about it.
Yes, that was a cat pun.

Bye, house.
End of a chapter.
Once we got to the new place we had to go about the arduous process of unpacking everything and finding a place for it.  
Start of a chapter.
We had opted to get rid of a lot of our old furniture, which was worn from years of dogs and baby.  If there's one advantage to moving, it's that you get to do a bit of redecorating.  We found an amazing used furniture place called Uhuru Furniture near us (which is also a non-profit!) and scored the best couch ever.

And it came with a matching ottoman!  And it was like $130!

Lots of IKEA trips.

"This IKEA trip is gonna cost us, you guys."

Andrew's mother came to "help" us.  Because that's what you want when you move into a new place: houseguests.  Andrew's mother's version of help was mostly to vaguely hover around in the afternoons.  In terms of actual unpacking she did nothing.  The dog took her on a lot of walks to get her out of her hair while we built bookshelves.
Day one.

Not bad, if I do say so myself.
Moving in was less stressful but has been far more of an extended process than moving out.  Within the first week we'd gotten the lion's share of the boxes unpacked, string lights up on the balcony, and wall art arranged, but the sense of "home" is still elusive.  Especially at night there's a weird liminal quality to living here.  It's more than a hotel but it's not quite "home" yet, either. 

Did you know the word "uncanny" in German is unheimlich, which literally means "un-home-like?"

It's fair to say that I can't expect a place I've been in for three weeks to feel as comforting as a place I'd occupied for 9 or 10 years.  That takes time.  But there's a lot of things to like about the new place.  It's a fresh start and we needed it.  Calvin now has his own room.  Our floorspace has doubled and instead of a rusted-out gas oven we have a fancy-pants convection, which is really good at burning all the food I try to make with it.

So much room!

Building new foundations.
I've already found a few new haunts, like the kava bar and East Bay Vivarium.  I've been getting my 10,000 steps a day in during my explorations, which is good for my physical and probably mental health, I guess.  Since we moved in we've been experiencing torrential rain, which is not good for my left knee nor for any of my carefully selected drought-resistance houseplants, half of which have had to be dragged inside.  But there's pockets of sunshine here and there, and I'm trying to keep a positive attitude about all this.

I miss my friends and I feel a little directionless, a feeling that does not, apparently, apply to toddlers whatsoever.  Calvin is having the time of his life with all these big changes and I'm trying to catch his sense of adventure and child-like wonder for myself.  Mostly I feel disconnected, and tired.  But hey, who's to say I wouldn't feel that in Los Angeles?  It's not like 2020 or 2021 pulled any punches.  Maybe 2022 will be better.

Moving forward!

New directions!

Maybe this won't suck?

Sunday, December 5, 2021

What Is Grief, If Not Love Persevering?

I've always said that the reason Iron Man 1 is the best movie of all time is because of its core message: that broken hearts can heal.

It's been a very rough month for me as the move from Los Angeles to San Francisco looms ever-closer.  We have less than 48 hours remaining in this home, which we've been in almost ten years.  

That being said, part of me looks forward to it, because this house feels all wrong without Seamus in it.  We had to say good-bye to him on November 29th, and since then, everything has been wrong.  Normally I can explain my feelings but for this experience, words fail me.  Seamus was my best friend, my ride-or-die guy.  He was there for my graduation and my cross-country move and my wedding and the birth of my son.  He's just always been there.  A small piece of my soul in a scruffy, smelly, ill-mannered terror of a terrier.

Earliest photo of Seamus, circa 2008.

He passed away in my arms; it was very quiet and peaceful.  He was about sixteen years old.

Unable to process it fully, I cried a whole bunch and have spent my time distracting myself by packing for the move and going to Comic Cons.  I was already committed to the conventions, as tickets had been purchased.  I thought it would be good for me to get out of the house.  Marvel has always been a comforting franchise to me, as well as an escapist fantasy, so I figured it would probably be best to get out there and deal with something a little less traumatic than the death of my dog.  You know, like Thanos trying to genocide half the universe with his magic rocks.  Small-scale stuff that my brain could comprehend.  Y'know?

I attended San Diego Comic Con Special Edition on a press pass and had a great time.

✨  p r o f e s s i o n a l  ✨

You can read my coverage here.  With photos!

On the other hand, L.A. Comic Con was kind of a bust.  The convention center was literally so cold that it was almost intolerable.  Jack and I stubbornly hung out for about two hours before deciding it was a bust and leaving.  

The signage was complicated and we couldn't find anything (including the vendor hall), there was no printed out program, and the whole thing seemed slapped together in a very lackluster way.  We attended one panel in full that had a heckler and a terrible sound system, and peeked in on two more poorly-attended panels, leaving due to the subzero temperature.

The only redeeming feature was stumbling upon the cosplay photoshoot by complete accident and meeting a really cool Hawkeye.

I'm the one on the right.

Now that the Con is over I'm left in my partially packed home and feeling the absence of Seamus harder than ever.

WandaVision summed it up best: