Memories from a little white car

As I was driving home from work just after 5pm last night, I noticed a small white sedan swerve a little into my lane.  I pulled up next to the car at the next red light we both stopped at, where I noticed the driver was a young, teenage girl and the passenger was a young, teenage boy.  Both of them were probably 16 or seventeen years old and without a care in the world.  For that fleeting moment at the light, I soaked up a glimpse of their lives and immediately likened them to Hugo and I.  In those short seconds, I saw her laughing and joking with him, as they were on their way to someone’s house to hang out with friends.  The sun was still alive in the sky for another three hours, which meant plenty of both day light and night life to enjoy during their carefree summer night.  Maybe she had a crush on him and most likely he liked her.  Maybe they were just friends but we all know how that story goes; Hugo and I were best friends turned lifelong loves so it can be a slippery slope.  During my brief observation of their simple, innocent interaction, I remembered what it all felt like.  No stress from work and adult life.  The simple beauty of having fun with friends and, quite possibly, your future husband.  And happily looking forward to having their entire lives ahead of them, yet only focusing on the present.

The main thing I thought of as I peered into the little white car was how high school evenings, such as theirs is and ours was, are focused on spending time with people you care about.  You spend all day plotting out how you can hang out with friends and where the gathering will occur.  You spend the rest of your time planning out how you can interact with the guy or gal you have a crush on.  Finally, you spend any remaining time panicking about it all coming together without a hitch.

The light turned green and the sedan sped off, full of possibility.  It looked like those two would spend the night together and they looked happy as hell.  I drove behind them for a little bit, as it appeared we were both headed back into the canyon for the rest of the evening, and then it occurred to me of exactly what I’d achieved since those days in high school.  While Hugo and I used to be those two kids in the little white car, just hoping to spend the night together and yearning for more time to live and laugh and love, I realized we are so very fortunate to get to spend that time together now, every night when we finish a day’s work, and every weekend when we are fortunate enough to sleep in together, well past the time of our alarms.  Rather than make plans to meet up somewhere and hope to catch a glimpse of a momentary flirtation, I now get to call that man my husband, all while living with him and sharing this beautiful life together.  After both of us dreaming and wanting one another as a high school crush, turned romance, turned love story, we hit the jackpot as we get to come home to one another every day for the rest of our lives.  From the little white car to the big white house we live in today, we are two lucky kids.

A quick note

I originally made some quick notes about my three loves, in hopes of later using these notes as I wrote more about it all.  Hugo’s grandparents, Polly and Bob, were the first bullet point on the list and about them I included phrases about being married for 70+ years, Bob always loving and admiring Polly, and ‘you don’t see marriages like theirs’.  I also jotted about Hugo’s mom’s recent frustrations with caring for an aging mother and the short story of putting Polly to bed (the evening I wrote about just last week).

The second of my 3 couples was Mark and Pat – ‘crying about Mark, crying together’, in reference to the two of them telling me during his cancer battle, they would spend long stretches of time sitting together and just crying.  My only other note about Mark was that he doesn’t deserve it because he is one of the good ones.

My third and final couple is titled ‘Me and Him’.  That’s how we have gone through the past 16 years, together and as a team, both of us equals.  My whole reason behind posting these notes was because I stumbled upon them today as I riffled through my binder, in search of real estate study material.  My short note sums up what Hugo and I are so I thought I would share it:

My story is littered with other stories.  Stories that co-mingle with our own and teach us about ourselves.  Everyone always loves our story…it’s one of growing up and intending to grow old together.  A story of the ability to forge lifelong friendships, and, most importantly, a story of fierce and beautiful love.

I will end it on that.  As I reread those words, I still feel the beauty in writing them.  It is the same beauty I have in living it.  And I don’t kid about how everyone thoroughly enjoys our real-life love story when we tell them about it – from meeting by chance in high school, to our cross-country adventure, to all the choices that ultimately led to me sitting on the couch typing tonight, missing Hugo while he works during this light rain on the weekend’s eve in Los Angeles.

One day I will get around to writing my short stories or maybe my book.  I am sixty hours out from taking and passing my state real estate exam so once that is checked off my list, I will have more time after work and in the evenings to pursue yet another passion project.  I know, I know, sounds like a bunch of excuses, but I only have so many hours in the day and so much fight in my heavy eyelids as they close on me nearly every night after a mentally and psychically exhausting work day.  Anyways, I love you Hugo ♥

Oldie but goodie

As I sit here watching Dumb & Dumber, one of my absolute favorite movies ever, I realize two things are true.  This cult classic is an oldie but goodie and so is Hugo.  After nearly sixteen years together, this man is my cult classic.  I provide his cult following and he is the classic example of a loving human being with a kind, beautiful heart.  He is enjoying a new video game for a few minutes before we watch tonight’s new episode of Saturday Night Live (another one of my all-time loves).

I find it funny when people say they don’t enjoy SNL.  Right now I happen to work with several people who claim the humor on the show doesn’t appeal to them, which I really can’t understand.  When they say such riot-inciting nonsense, I find it difficult to believe they aren’t a little stupid because they just don’t understand the jokes, skit dialogue and overall concepts.  Maybe that is just because I have grown up with the show, watching the early 90s seasons with my father.  We basked in the glory of Chris Farley, Adam Sandler, Mike Myers, and Will Ferrell, as they all started their careers there.  As the years went on, I watched the likes of Tina Fey and Kristen Wiig develop strong and hysterical female characters.  Now, Hugo and I religiously watch every season, enjoying some more than others, but always appreciating the history and nostalgia associated with Lorne Michaels’ baby.

So tonight, I will enjoy a night of smiling and laughing, alongside my best friend.  Can’t ask for a better Saturday night ♥

Keepin’ it 100

While some of my posts are short and sweet (maybe just a quick thought or short poem), I reached 100 posts and I am proud♥  I am proud of myself for engaging in something I passionately love, writing.  And I am thankful for anyone out there reading this, anyone in this universe (or maybe another universe) that connects with my voice and the words I write.  Those same words that mold my thoughts and feelings into sentences, later paragraphs and stories of my life.  Sometimes I feel like my life is simple and uneventful but as I review my first 100 posts, I realize something – my life is wild and amazing, filled with love and adventure, and my brain is alive and well, pumping with thoughts that are chomping at the bit to be put to paper.  It feels really good to sit and write either about whatever comes to mind or about a topic I have been dwelling on for days.  It feels even better to realize you have found something in life that makes you happy and feel like yourself when you do it.  The definition of contentment, to me, is when I am both happy and relaxed as I dive deeper into a passion project such as this.

So please join me as I continue into the next one hundred posts during this 35th year of my life.  My mind is still brewing up more writing ideas, including one of my larger goals of writing either a series of short stories or a book of the three loves I know of and admire.  The first love story is that of my neighbor Pat and her husband Mark.  Mark, as you may know from my recent updates, passed away from this earth, relieved from his painful bone cancer battle.  The best of friends in every way, Mark and Pat were a beautiful couple who we enjoyed having in our lives for the past eight years as neighbors.

The second love story is that of Hugo’s grandparents, Polly and Bob.  Married for over seventy-five years, they weathered every type of storm imaginable, with both of them living into their mid-nineties (Polly is still chugging along at 95!).  As husband and wife, they traveled, raised their four children into confident, successful adults, and worked in various industries, including Bob’s time in the Navy during World War II.

The third and final love story is my fairy tale with Hugo.  In my opinion, this is the most beautiful love story of all.  We are the best of friends and he is the true puzzle piece to my life.  As I reflect on the three stories, side by side, I can see the common threads of friendship, trust, loyalty, and deep love running through them all.  Stand by for my series of love stories, coming soon to a blog near you ♥

Love & nourishment

I am sure you have gathered that Hugo is nothing short of a fantastic, near -perfect husband by now and you wouldn’t not be wrong in that assessment.  I only say ‘near-perfect’ because we are all human and none of us are perfect; should one come close though, it would be my Hugo.  Throughout the past fifteen years together, he has only grown more loving, thoughtful and caring, about both my wants and needs.  One of my recent ‘wants’ has been an easy transition into vegetarianism and thankfully Hugo has also embraced this lifestyle change with open and willing arms.

Because he loves to cook (and I love to eat), Hugo has been making some delicious, meat-free meals for his love bug (yes, that’s me).  I decided it would be nice to share some of those recipes here, in hopes of bringing a little more vegetarian love into your home this weekend.

A few weeks ago, Hugo made Chef John’s Mushroom Burgers and they were to die for.  Pan fry and pair them with some sliced avocado, sauteed onions, melted cheese and a toasted brioche bun and you have yourself one of the best and healthiest burger options possible.

After basking in mushroom burger-goodness for three solid days, Hugo decided to make Bon Appetit’s version of Ratatouille Pasta.  This perfect blend of late Summer veggies transform into a decadent and satisfying dish, unlike any other veggie pasta meal we have had.

My hope in sharing these recipes is that someone, or a few someones, out there, in the great big world, will find some joy and healthy nourishment out of food that is both good for the body and our struggling planet.  Just this week, one of the largest headlines concerns the fact that the Amazon rain forest is burning down, due to farmers clearing land to raise cattle.  While we all know growing food and raising animals require cleared pastures and fields, it is disturbing and sad to see our of our most bio-diverse areas, that is responsible for producing 20% of the world’s oxygen, disappearing at an alarming rate.

If not for your health, or the animal welfare aspect, of choosing to be vegetarian, maybe, just maybe, do it for our planet.  We are all in this together and if we don’t start making decisions as individuals for the greater good, we are all going to be royally fucked.

 

Don’t live as if you have the time

I can’t believe I am about to say this…but…I might have actually taken a very deep learning point away from a cheesy reality show yesterday afternoon.  While watching one of the many Real Housewives sagas, I observed an older couple visiting a cemetery monument store, where they picked out the headstone for the woman’s recently deceased parents.  Both parents died within the prior seven months and during the headstone selection process, the woman talked about hoping she would have another twenty years with her own husband.

I sat and processed the moment.  I reflected on my own life.  Most people are living as if they have unlimited time left on this earth.  Time to be with the ones they love, which usually results in taking people for granted.  A lot of people (myself most definitely included) put off major changes they want to make because we feel as if we can tackle certain issues tomorrow, or the next day, or the next year.  I don’t think I am alone in that but the mere fact that I acknowledge it allows for improvement.  Also, days drift along and we are all sometimes guilty of wanting time to rush by, in order to get closer to a vacation or a promotion.  Sitting here writing, I realize how precious time is.  My most recent reminder came from my neighbor Mark’s cancer battle.  Although he was initially told he wouldn’t live past Christmas of 2018, he is still above ground and fighting.  He is self-admittedly living day by day and I truly believe there is a lot to be learned from that style of appreciation for our loved ones, our experiences and our beautiful planet.

As the woman on the RHOP (Potomac series, the true Real Housewives fans get it) said about her own relationship, I too have the same recurring thought from time to time about having my spouse around for the remainder of my life.  Hugo is the most wonderful person I know and love and I sincerely hope that we have at least fifty years or more left together on this crazy planet.  I can’t imagine what life would be like without him so he better be there to keep me centered ♥

So many questions

I might be having an existential crisis.  Or maybe I am just sick of working in a downtown Los Angeles office building, devoid of sunlight and fun.  It seems like every day I become increasingly more uneasy with accepting my current job as my workplace reality for fifteen to 20 years longer (who am I kidding, there is no way I am working twenty more years!).  Regardless, I keep returning back to my ever-present thoughts about wanting to build a business, develop a product, pursue my writing, start a partnership with my love Hugo, or basically do anything in my power to walk away from being a government employee that is bound by the strict confines of a 9-to-5 job (in my case, 5am ’til 3pm, when I finally break through the hellish LA traffic that owns the nearby freeways for twenty-three hours of the day).

Hugo is jamming to our favorite Americana music in the kitchen as he makes pork and tofu dumplings for dinner.  As he prepped ingredients over the past hour, I sat at the table whilst he chopped and we collectively brainstormed all of the ideas we have about our business pursuits.  After making a list, getting excited about things together and dreaming of all the directions we could go, I realized once again just how blessed I am.  I am thankful for having Hugo as my support system – it doesn’t get better than having your best friend there by your side, always willing to hash out the day’s events and dream my wildest fairy tales with me.  He just shouted from the other room, “I’m so lucky”, a reminder that he feels the same way.  It warms my innards to know we are in this thing called life together.

So back to the issue at hand – what direction do I go and how the hell do I get there?  The certainty of having a steady career, with excellent pay and benefits, as well as a guaranteed retirement, brings some serious security with it.  On the flip side, exploring the unknown and pursuing your passion has a crazy appeal to it.  Maybe its because the latter brings an uncharted, entrepreneurial path that is riddled with adventure and no promises, both of which are missing from my current work.  Or sometimes we just might be drawn to that which we don’t have or circumstances that differ from our current atmosphere.  Either way, I am craving a change and its just a matter of time before I make some moves (exciting, huh??!?).

For now, I will get my clothes ready for a 3am alarm, pack my lunch pail full of the healthiest options I can muster up, try my best to get some solid rest, and, once again, wake up to start another Tuesday in the City of Angels.

Nala’s 9th Birthday

Although she passed one short week before her ninth birthday, today we celebrate all the good, loving and wonderful that was Nala.  We miss her dearly and feel the void she left in our home.  It is quiet and I am lonely.  Adjusting to life without a guard dog isn’t any fun as every small noise I hear through the open slider doors makes me feel helpless at the thought of a prowling burglar.  With Nala and Kaiser close by, I always felt that I not only had an early warning system for impending threats but I knew deep down that those dogs would be there for me if I ever needed them.  Little love bugs at the core, those two beasts would’ve battled if the circumstances dictated such.  And I truly loved them for it, even if it was just at the thought of them protecting me.

In other news – I almost fell for a phone scam this afternoon!  Around 4pm, I received a call on our land line from a heavily accented male who claimed to work for AT&T.  The caller congratulated me on being a valued customer and offered me a ‘too good to be true’ promotional rate, plus free movie channels (I mean, come on…who can resist free HBO?).  When I asked what the catch was, if anything, he replied that since the promo was sponsored by Amazon, it was necessary to pay three months up front with a $450 Amazon e-gift card, which would have to be purchased through the Amazon website.  Despite $450 sounding like a steep rate, the offer was actually a huge savings.  In addition, we would receive a Visa check card as a thank-you gift.  As I clung to every word, he had me…hook, line and sinker.

Suspicious as I was, I asked a variety of questions, all of which were met with reassuring responses.  The scammer ended our conversation by providing me with my unique promotional code and a DirecTV promo phone number to call once I had my gift card number.  I called the number and I was met with the same automated menu that I have heard during prior DirecTV calls so it immediately appeared legitimate.  Then, the male voice who answered validated all of my account info so I once again felt reassured.

At this point, I had also purchased the Amazon gift card but for some reason it hadn’t been delivered to my email inbox yet.  The order info from Amazon said that it would arrive within 24 hours and thankfully it was delayed.  Had I received it instantaneously, I probably would have handed it over via phone to my second scam artist right away.  Thankfully, the email was delayed for about forty-five minutes at this point so I called my level-headed Hugo (code name – smartest man alive) to tell him about his great offer.  He yelled, “Babe, it’s a scam, don’t do it!”  Within seconds, Hugo had conducted an online search that revealed his wife had almost fallen victim to a popular scam.  Thankfully I have Hugo to conduct checks and balances on me.  We all need a second set of eyes from time to time – I am just happy that it happened before I gave that swindler our money!

I think I was even more susceptible to being hoodwinked because I have been beyond annoyed with both DirecTV and AT&T recently, due to constantly increasing rates and the lies both companies have told us through the years.  Having just switched from Sprint to AT&T for our cell phones, Hugo and I were initially offered an outstanding rate for service and two new Samsung S9 phones.  I got the purple, he got the black and we were thrilled (Side note: The phones are just swell).  However, once we received the bill, the rate was quite a bit higher than we had agreed upon.  This pissed me off as it felt unfair, considering our whole purpose in switching was due to the reduced rate.  So, needless to say, when I got that 4pm phone call, my internal voice said, “Well, it’s about time that they did something good to us!”  Boy was I wrong!  That should have been my first clue that it was a scam – big corporations never do anything good for the consumer.

The biggest learning lesson that I took away from this was to double-check with the actual company when something appears too good to be.  When I first told Hugo on the phone about it, he told me to call DirecTV on the regular customer service number to ask them if they were offering the promotion.  Rather than call the number the scammer provided, which in hindsight was obviously a bullshit number as well, call the legitimate number to verify.  When I did, I was told outright that they have never offered a promotion like that and confirmed it was fraudulent.  I feel embarrassed even writing that I fell for this nonsense but hopefully I can prevent someone else from giving their hard-earned cash away.