As a follow-up to my post about Dara’s experience with chemo I thought it might also be helpful, and provide some background for other posts around my care taking lessons learned, to talk about the process of her diagnosis and the surgery prior to chemo for her breast cancer. This is also another information dump sort of post—it’ll be interesting for someone who might be going through this process or having someone they know going through it to read a detailed experience.
When we were planning our move to LA from Brooklyn, we agreed that I would spend the first couple of weeks here setting things up. I genuinely believed that spending most of my time for two weeks would be enough to get us unpacked and functional.
I was really really really wrong.
We got our house fast, and we literally had one day to prepare before we moved in. I spent that day setting up our movers, electric, gas, renter’s insurance, wifi and whatever other services I’m forgetting.
While we were yard saling we saw this flea market near our place off the freeway. We thought we’d go see what cheap furniture we could get, but as soon as we rolled up we realized this was an LA answer to the Brooklyn Flea, a super expensive bougy “after” market for flea market items that have been flipped. It’s called the Artsy Flea. $11 hot dogs. Not our budget, but really cute to walk around in and get ideas. Plus we signed up for a local CSA.
We started at a deficit in terms of comfort. We have an airbed leftover from when Dara was going through radiation treatment and got a great free sublet three blocks from the radiation hospital so her daily radiation treatments didn’t have to involve a schlep. We bought her the fanciest airbed we could find on Amazon and it’s actually pretty comfortable. So we had that in the trunk going cross country for times when we needed a physical bed in order to stay with folks. But since space was a premium I only packed one blanket, one set of sheets and two pillows.
Our first night in the house we FROZE. We have these original from the 1920s windows that are basically like being outside because they don’t stay flush to each other and there’s no window insulation. That one quilt was not cutting it. As I talked about in my last post, we were also eating out of a cooler for a week while waiting for our new fridge.
I just had no idea how much work it was going to be to move into a house (even if it’s roughly the square footage of a big two bedroom apartment if you don’t include the attic). Those first couple of nights we had no furniture and then our movers came two days later with all of our boxes and our furniture.
Especially moving into a house with only five pieces of furniture. I decided I only wanted stuff that sparks joy in my new house, so while working towards that I left behind anything that didn’t spark joy or wasn’t worth the cost to move cross country. I knew I’d be furnishing from thrift stores and yard sales and craigslist. (Since we’re living off savings we had a pretty minimal furniture budget, and most of that budget is paying to move a sofa, a bed and my childhood ephemera from my mom’s house. She’s selling her 3 bed 2 bath in the East Bay–Castro Valley–if you’re interested.)
I actually prefer furnishing this way, because it gives me more liberty to DIY (I love crafting and working on furniture is like leveling up for me). Because I lived in Brooklyn with no outdoor space, anytime I wanted to spraypaint it was a hassle. Weirdly waiting on weather (sometimes it is endlessly and unpredictably rainy, snowy or too cold) before getting to paint things and use clandestine parts of my apartment building. I just hoped people walking by wouldn’t go into the nook I was leaving things in to dry and steal them.
In contrast, I took a break from writing this post to go put another layer of spray paint on boards that will soon be shelves in my closet. And I can just leave them out in the back because they’re not going to get screwed with.
My DIY passion has also created an EPIC list of projects I want to do to prepare our home. We’re setting up a memorial garden for all of our loved ones who have POTSA (Passed On To Something Awesome) in the side yard by the fountain. I’m planting an herb garden behind the house. My pinterest is poppin with ideas.
Not to mention the amount of logistical fuckery and hours on the phone with Time Warner because it turned out our landlord gave us the wrong address for the house, so while we were physically living in the space, we had to fix our address by one digit on everything. And Time Warner has required six hours on the phone to work this out. I seriously wish I had just canceled the service, returned the equipment and asked for a fresh install because it has wasted so much of my time. We also ended up with no electricity for one night because of the electric company and the last resident’s unpaid electric bill and the address issue. We signed our lease during Mercury Retrograde, perhaps I could have expected logistics issues.
I have experienced the weird period of time after a cohabitation break-up or a move where you don’t have appropriate furniture, but I just didn’t remember how frustrating it can be.
Not having furniture right away means a lot of creative adapting and literally looking around my house and seeing projects. Which is very difficult and kind of stressful for a recovering perfectionist. It can mean I am only seeing myself in a deficit. I’m awash in an environment full of shoulds. I should do this. I should do that.
It’s hard to look around and give myself credit for having unpacked 10 boxes that day or managing to carve out a work station to get some work done. (I’m still working for a few clients remotely.) I don’t see the curtains that took us hours to find while yard saling and thrifting, washed and managed to put up. I forget to really look at my fridge that I’ve owned for almost a week and get to put my veggies in!
The local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) delivers to your doorstep! It felt like Santa came on Wednesday morning when I walked out to find my box of veggies and farm fresh eggs!!! I get to pick the vegetables that come in my box, too, which was my major complaint about my last CSA, other than having to go pick it up without a car and how heavy kolrahbi is. If you’re in the LA area and interested in signing up, use my referral code: farmfreshtoyou.com BEVI4286 so I get credit for free veggies and you get $10 off your first box. The veggies and fruit are roughly the same price as going to the grocery store, could be cheaper if I bought a bigger box.
Since I like to think of stress as an optional and toxic energy, I work hard to find my positivity and my chill. I am trying to see this as an adventure and carving our amazing house out of the possibilities is a slow and fun process. I am trying to stay in gratitude and keep the “We did all this!” perspective rather than the “We need to do ALL THAT” overwhelm.
I have been creating this thing I’m calling “Mega Bed” out of the airbed. We borrowed two sleeping bags from my aunt after that first freezing night (it is SO nice having awesome relatives nearby). Every pillow and blanket I pull out of boxes ends up on Mega Bed and makes it the ultimate in comfort and nest. Without a sofa there’s not a lot of places to really kick it in here.
I set up a staging area for things that don’t have a place yet. It makes me feel better to have a place to unpack to even if we don’t have a home for it yet, and gives me a way to really see at a glance what we need in terms of organization.
And the other day when doing work it felt like literally everything was a communication cluster fuck (Monday–it felt astrological) I just decided to take a break from it, went and took a bath and watched and entire episode of Property Brothers. I just went for self care for 45 minutes and then when I came back 90% of what I was struggling with before had emails in my inbox with resolutions.
That reminded me how important my self care is in all of this. I need to carve out space/time to take care of myself otherwise the overwhelms will get bigger and the stress more persistent. I’m living my dreams, I don’t want to ruin it by being stressed out.
I put up a list of all of the things I love about my house and our progress on the fridge. To help me keep a positive perspective. I started working on a daily routine because routine is a form of self care, so is scheduling! I started our first meal plan. Eating in alignment with my body is important to me and has been really hard while we’ve been traveling and in flux. And eating out of a cooler before the stove worked.
Also, I keep remembering, it’s only February 4th and we’re already living in the house we visioned for. That’s spectacular progress.