Monday, May 2, 2011

This Current Life PI

Oh Hi People,

I wanted to take this moment to sum up the past few months. A few people (mom's and mom's in laws mostly) have asked me recently "Are you not updating the blog anymore? What's up?"

The truth is, I've never abandoned you Dear Blog. Yes, there have been spells that resemble a black hole of writing inspiration - but you're always on my mind, Precious. Like a new love vacuum, all of my fun and funny ideas manifest into this nebulous fog of this might be neat for the blog.

We moved (Back) to Chico, Ca at the very end of December, 2010. I say "back" because this sleepy little orchard town is where Jon and I met nearly 9 years ago. I loved this town when I first moved here. Having grown up in various suburbs of San Diego in my youth, Chico resembled a town with limits. It was only so large - you could do only so much...and Yet, there was a lot to do. First off, It's a huge cycling community. It happens to be Cycling Month here in town! I mention this, obviously, with intentions - I just purchased the flossiest of bicycles. Her name is Bianca, but I'm not ready to introduce her publicly yet. Talk to me when my ass isn't ready to walk off the job in protest.

There are also several amazing farmer's markets here each week. Every Saturday there is one that makes San Francisco's Stonestown Gallery mall's farmer's market run home to weep like an underdeveloped teen. And then when the weather warms up to 70 degrees in Spring, we have the weekly Thursday night town market in addition to the Saturday one - and they last through the Fall, until the weather is uncooperative. The downtown streets are closed to traffic and food trucks from every popular restaurant in town provide to-go options for the fair-ish vibe. I LOVE THIS TOWN.

It's so funny the way you view a place given your current place in life. When I moved here in late Summer of 2002, I really would not have looked twice at those who were clearly beyond college age. Those who might even be married, pursuing a masters or beyond. Young, but with family and working. I also didn't think about staying here, or even coming back after I left.

Chico is the amalgamation of a good College community. The sweetness of small town charm meshed with the magic that is the graduates of the local college who have the guts to say "I want to continue to pay low rent and a cheaper cost of living if it means driving a bit over an hour to a nearby airport." Most of the people we've met that fit within our age group are cut from the same cloth. How can you argue against space and safety and progressiveness and affordability? Answer is, if you can find a way, it is inarguable.

Our leaving San Francisco was bittersweet. It was 97% sweet and 3% bitter. The bitterness comes from a fear of change. What it took to tell a steady job in the midst of the recession that I was moving, and could I potentially keep my job? What it means to self motivate on the DAILY and in most cases BEYOND the norm, because when I'm sitting in front of the TV in the evening, the office is sitting there within eye shot, reminding me of the things I might have gotten done. I also miss my office buddies who I could joke with and gripe with and ultimately realize I have it pretty good with.

On the positive side Yo, I be workin in my bathrobe half the time.

But fools be calling me at home at 5:45 AM because on the East Coast, that is well beyond reasonable business hours and Hey! I work from home.

You might not know this, but the Pacific Coast timers are sort of the red-headed step-children of the business world. (No, you don't NEED to get up at 6am PST, but if you get up at 9am, an urgent email from 9amEST doesn't get answered until noon. THINK ABOUT IT and maybe just spoon your laptop all night).

I also honestly did not realize how many times k9s need to pee/poop/puke throughout the course of a day/week/month.

Now that I've caught you up on the day to day vibe of working for the man from home, let me tell you a little about leaving San Francisco.

It was for probably 6 months that Jon and I discussed changing up a life we had only moderately liked in Daly City, CA. We moved to San Francisco in the Summer of 2005 and lived there for five and a half years. Our address was San Francisco, but we lived in the outer realm of San Francisco - where the weather blew and nothing fun, entertainment, food or otherwise occurred.
It's really hard to say what kept us in a place that brought us no joy at all. But I suppose that in fairness, at the time we moved in we weren't looking for joy - we felt we had enough to go around.

When we finally started talking about moving away from San Francisco, we had been walking around the nearby Lake Merced for several months. It took several years for us to realize that like it or not, we needed to be exercising in some form or another. The nearby Lake Merced was perfect. It was a bit more than .5 miles from our house and neared 5 miles around the entire lake (that actually had once been one lake, but is now three small lakes). Taking this walk on an almost daily basis brought us closer together and introduced the topic of Change. Jon really wanted to finish up the college courses he hadn't finished and I was anxious at the idea that I had settled in Daly City: a God Damn sleeper of a fucking foggy town that Voldemort himself actually hung out in between Albania and Spinner's End.

You see, at the time we moved in to our place in San Francisco in 2005, we had moved in next door to a mad man, but it was not for YEARS later, only until we were on the cusp of departing the ant-farm apartment complex village that we realized how volatile our neighbor was.

I guess it is most easily summed up by saying the following: we rented a two story town home. Our only neighbors directly next door were actually two single bedroom units. One upstairs from us, and one downstairs from us. Right off the bat, we should have realized that for each lease cycle (one year), we had a new tenant in the downstairs unit.

It turns out, that the nut case IT guy next door and upstairs was actually literally losing his shit and had been for some time. With a steady pounding on his apartment floor, he ensured that his downstairs neighbor's ceiling eventually cracked and OUR framed pictures and mirrors shook like they were in an earthquake. Our old dog would pace from worry. This went on almost daily. It wasn't until after it became a legal issue that we realized that this neighbor had called other neighbor's synagogues to say that the passive neighbor was in fact evil and shouldn't be allowed in the temple. He set off paint bombs on the neighbor's porch and would provoke until the point that police came. At that point he'd turn off all of his lights, or answer the door and explain in eloquent detail why it was HE in fact that was being harassed.

Finally, after 4 other neighbors in 5 years, a young neighbor moved downstairs below this person, and she moved in alone. Occasionally you come across a person that is just not willing to take some shit YOU KNOW? And this chick was one of them. She made regular complaints about the neighbor upstairs to our landlord, she engaged the crazy guy AND his brainwashed wife (oh yes, she looked like THAT dungeons and dragons girl) in discussions about their behavior, and ultimately she was the one that brought enough attention to the situation that it was actually addressed.

It was one of those nights in our place when I had heard a bit of commotion, but mostly got up to grab a Coke. I flipped open the kitchen blinds to check what the deal was (since it wasn't highly unusual to see an ambulance out front of our place for craziness or the elderly etc). What I saw outside my window was a group of at least 7 police officers with their guns drawn at my upstairs neighbor.

What ensued was a crazy dramatic sort of stand off that included the neighbor's wife coming home, inadvertently letting the cops into her house, and then a following 30 minutes of hard core shit talking to the po-pos. It turned out that our crazy male neighbor had pulled a massive shotgun out and pointed it at our downstairs neighbor and her friend in anger. I one time saw this neighbor come home from the gun range toting a very satisfied paper target and it disturbed me greatly. We saw the shotgun the neighbor pulled, and tried to take a sneaky photo from our upstairs bathroom but it didn't turn out.

It took this event to get our housing complex management's attention, despite all of the complaints from former tenants. Mind you, at the time we moved in, they were (or so they claimed) the second largest housing complex in the United States.

In the end, we felt really blessed that we were already planning our exit. I can't believe that we had lived next door to a young IT person who it turned out, was harboring a few firearms. A person we had slowly become at odds with, and who was slowly losing his grip on reality.

Mental illness is a real thing and I don't think this person can be entirely blamed for the hardships and issues he has recently come across. From what we've pieced together, he lost his job at some point in the post 9/11 economy. He had a known mental health issue and at a certain point became unable to support his own medicine - this triggered a rapid decline in his social behavior in the community. I think this is sad and I don't mean to make light of his situation directly.

However, the whole situation did teach us a lesson in being truly happy in the moment.

Now, we are living in an awesome small town college community. We are two blocks away from an entrance to the 3rd largest municipal park in California. We hit up that dual weekly farmer's markets, I ride my bike in that park, and we celebrate our amazing neighbors who bring us fresh eggs from their free range chickens.

What a difference a year makes.