• StevenF

Petaluma, Salt Lake City, Miami, Car Problems, and Facebook

The last few weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind. Isaias was making art for both the show he was doing at the All Hallow's Art Fest in Petaluma, California, and he was feverishly creating some exquisite pieces for a solo show he will be doing in Salt Lake City, Utah, which I shared here. On top of that, he's been extremely busy with his work as Head of Wardrobe at Magic Mike Live here in Las Vegas and as Associate Costume Designer for the touring version, which is commencing work in Miami, Florida. So he has been extremely busy.

He left for Miami on September 12, came back on the 21st; we immediately did a one-day, 91/2-hour drive to Petaluma (just north of San Francisco); set up his display the next day; did the show the next; had a day off on Sunday the 25th to recuperate and rest; drove another 91/2 hours back to Vegas on Monday the 26th (our last couple of hours being a little treacherous—more on that later); then Isaias had a day to run some errands for his job and start work on another art piece for the Salt Lake City show; and then on Wednesday it was right back to Miami, where he is working hard and is extremely busy.

We're not even sure at this point when his company will be flying him back here. We think it's the 15th, but it's very up-in-the-air right now. We know he will eventually be back sometime before the 22nd, when we have to drive all his stuff to Salt Lake City to set up on the 23rd. And then we think he'll be back to Miami yet again, maybe even straight out of Salt Lake. And then he has his Dia de los Muertos altar to construct for the exhibit at Springs Preserve her in Vegas on November 3, 4, and 5. So it's just been a extraordinarily busy time. I wish I could say that's the only reason I haven't been blogging, but the truth is I just haven't felt very motivated lately. If you can believe it, I've actually considered going back to Facebook and kind of considering this blog a failed experiment (more on that later, too).

I must admit, it has been very weird not having Isaias home while he's been in Miami. We are used to spending every day together, and when we go on trips, we normally go together. I was lucky to accompany him on business trips to Belgium and Australia for his job, and I probably could have gone on one of these Miami trips if I were able to get that much time off, but we couldn't work it out this time.

Isaias and I typically talk on the phone at least once a day, but because of the time shift in Miami and the schedules of both of our jobs, it has been difficult to do that. He's so busy and tired, and by the time he gets off work, I am at work, and by the time I get off work, he is asleep, so we have gone a few days at a time without speaking, although we text each other when we can, and I have gotten chances to speak with him very briefly and, in rarer cases, at length, so it is weird.

The house is quieter. Isaias likes to have the news on. I like it more quiet, so I have enjoyed that aspect. But I do miss him quite a bit. I'm happy for all these opportunities he is having. I am particularly excited for this show he is doing in Salt Lake City. It is an opportunity for a new audience to see his work, and I also think the particular theme of this show and the art pieces he is creating for it have been therapeutic for him as far as the deep grief he has felt over the deaths of so many loved ones he cares about, including his mom, over these past three years.

The show is called "Life, Death, Rebirth," which you can learn more about here and here. When Isaias was home, we actually had a deep discussion about death. Partly because he has been so immersed in the art he is creating and partly because he is so exhausted, Isaias had been extremely emotional that particular evening.

One of the things we discussed, which I think I brought up, was that when one looks at the type of art Isaias is creating for this show, and which is a theme in much of his normal artwork, the colors are so vibrant and alive. There is such color and beauty in his art. And yet people might be surprised to learn how much of that beauty, color, and vibrancy is created out of deep pain, heartbreak, and grief.

I mean, look at this piece for example:

This is the altar he did for Springs Preserve last year. So much color, life, and light. And yet, this particular piece contains so much loss for him: the loss of his mother; the loss of one of his best friends; and the loss of a cat that brought hope into his life when he was feeling so lost. These losses have affected him so deeply. They have changed him. And yet, out of them he has created such beauty and life.

His hope this year is to create an altar that features 1,000 battery-operated candles. I do not know how close he is to his goal yet, but he has bought many at a discount, friends have donated candles for his cause, and Springs Preserve will be donating some as well. So the vision he has will likely come to pass. Whatever he creates, I know it will be beautiful.

I did not know much about Day of the Dead before meeting Isaias, and truth be told, neither Isaias nor his family celebrates the holiday. But he has certainly been inspired by much of what it symbolizes and means. Butterflies, in particular, have become very meaningful to both of us. There is a belief in Day of the Dead traditions that the Monarch butterfly represents the spirits of those who have departed returning to be among their loved ones. And Isaias is always quick to make sure that people understand that Day of the Dead is a celebration of life, not death.

And that was one thing we covered in our discussion on Tuesday, that not only are we celebrating the lives of those who have departed, but I also brought up the fact that when people leave us, even though it feels difficult and unfamiliar, we are trying to navigate and celebrate the new life that exists for us, and which we must adapt to, when these people who are so important to us are no longer with us.

In a sense, there has to be a sort of "rebirth" for those of us who are temporarily left behind. Isaias has always been a man of great faith. In fact, that is one of the things that attracted me to him in the first place. But he said something to me in our discussion that I found surprising. He said that, of course, he believes in theory he will see and be with his departed loved ones again, but that there still exists the doubt of "What if that's not true? What if he doesn't?"

I've always known that my husband seems to fear death in a way that I do not. And I said that I guess that's why perhaps I have adapted more seamlessly when those I love pass away, because I feel absolutely sure that I will see and be with them again. I feel them even now.

Isaias, for example has expressed a fear that he will not see Jasper again, and I feel so positively that we both will.

Anyway, it was an interesting and sometimes enlightening discussion, and it also helped me understand Isaias' grief process a little better.

So, as I said Isaias was in Miami when we were getting ready for All Hallow's Art Fest in Petaluma. Typically in years past, we get ready together and pack everything together. In fact, it's usually Isaias that organizes the packed materials in the van.

But this year it was up to me to get everything ready by myself. We had gotten everything we needed sorted in the living room, and I have a checklist we use every year to make sure we don't forget anything. But it was really up to me to make sure everything was packed and put into the van. I actually thought I did a pretty good job packing everything and even thought I had some room to spare. But when Isaias ended up getting home, there were some additional things he brought that I hadn't anticipated, and so it was still a tight squeeze, although still less than we have brought in years past.

Isaias' art was scaled down somewhat from what it had been in previous years, which I actually think turned out to be a good thing, and he did not have as many large pieces. As the one who typically does the driving, I can tell you that this was the easiest year to see out the rear window.

A day before we were to leave, I went over to Zupa's (a food place I like) to get lunch. I parked my car and went inside to eat. When I came out and started to pull out, I heard an enormous crunching sound. I forget sometimes that the front end of my Honda Accord is low and so I have had many an instance where the parking barrier will "grab" the front end of my car as I pull out.

But this time felt different, and sure enough, as I pulled out, the entire front of my car came off. I just stared at it in disbelief. Fortunately, Zupa's is close to our home, so I merely put the front of the car in the back seat, where it stuck out the window, and drove it home.

This is what it looked like:

Fortunately, my brother- and sister-in-law, who know more about cars than I do, were nearby and came over to advise me. It was simply a matter of replacing the clips that had held it in place, most of which were damaged.

The nearby AutoZone did not have enough, but since we were taking the van to California anyway, I was able to buy enough to do a temporary fix and ordered some more from Amazon and which I just replaced this past Tuesday, so everything is good again, and hey, I learned a new skill.

But when it happened, I thought, "Of course it would happen the day before we leave." But I was grateful it was not costly, grateful my in-laws helped me know what to do, and grateful that it was something I was able to do myself. But it was still inconvenient.

Isaias' sister picked him up from the airport so I could get some sleep. Isaias slept on our trip quite a bit because he was very tired. I just listened to audiobooks, and the drive wasn't too bad. Not a lot of traffic at all, which surprised us.

Our motel room is one we have stayed in before. It's nice, although the air conditioning wasn't working as well as I would have liked. And it was hotter in Petaluma than it has been in years past.

The motel staff was a great, especially the lady that was in charge of the complimentary breakfast. I just wanted to put her in my pocket and take her home, I loved her attitude so much. Such a cute and pleasant woman.

It was really great to see all of these artists we haven't seen in person since the pandemic. It felt extra special to be involved in the show this year. It did feel like a smaller group of artists, but it was kind of nice because it didn't feel so crowded. And it actually turned out that the crowd and sales were especially good this year. We hadn't known what to expect, if people would show up, but I guess people were craving what they had missed out on these past couple of years because they came in abundance and with great enthusiasm.

This was Isaias' booth:

And here's a photo of us with all the artists and participants. We're on the left in the pale blue shirts.

It was a really great time this year. Often I find these trips stressful, but I had a really good time this year. We always seem to get more organized and efficient each year we do it, so it went smoothly, and there are so many great and different artists sharing their work.

Isaias' work is always popular, and we did quite well on sales this year. We were very pleased.

The show itself only lasts a few hours, and then we take everything down and pack it back up. After the show, we all got together at a beautiful river and just enjoyed each other's company. It was quite lovely.

In years past, we usually go home on Sunday, but this year we left on Monday, which I liked better. There's always an antique fair in Petaluma the day after the show, and I sometimes don't go so I get enough sleep to do the driving, but this year I went, and it was nice.

The drive back on Monday was great until we were almost to Barstow. Then we got a blinking engine light and the car would shudder if we drove too fast. We determined the problem was likely an engine misfire, and that although a serious problem, we could likely drive back to Vegas safely, which we did. We had considered staying the night in nearby Victorsville and having Honda look at the van the next day, but we took a chance and drove all the way back to Vegas. We had to take it easy, but we made it safely and took the van into Honda the next day.

It was determined the ignition coil needed to be replaced. Fortunately, we are still under warranty, so it was covered, and as Isaias was pretty much immediately going back to Miami, he didn't need the van, so it all worked out. It seems to be fixed and working fine again. We hope so anyway, because we have that upcoming trip to Salt Lake.

I've just been working at Omega Mart and enjoying the time catching up on TV shows and spending time with the cats. Speaking of which, here are some obligatory cat photos:

I've been experiencing some uncomfortable back problems. My back has been giving me trouble for a while now, but I think I may have aggravated something when setting up or taking down or packing during the Petaluma trip. I had some x-rays taken, which I'll be discussing with my doctor soon, and I have some pain medication, muscle relaxers, and steroids, none of which seem to be doing much. I'm also wearing a back brace, which does help, and I am making an appointment to see a physical therapist. Hopefully it's nothing serious, but it is uncomfortable and even feels a bit crippling at times. Standing all the time at work doesn't help either. I guess we'll see what's up soon.

I got another offer to produce another audiobook, so I'm excited about that. A scientific thriller this time—a long one, too, 18 hours! But I get paid per hour of the book, so that's good for me. I'm currently reading through it to make sure it's something I want to do, but so far, I think it will be a good project. And with Isaias not home, there will be more quiet opportunities to record.

That also means I won't have time to blog as much, not that I'm blogging that much as it is. I just don't seem to have the motivation or discipline to keep this blog up, it sometimes feels like. Which is why I sometimes wonder if I should get back on Facebook again. I have dabbled lately, and even made a couple of posts. But I still hate the platform. But I feel more likely to write more often on Facebook than I do here. And I also feel like I am more disciplined about not wasting as much time and not letting it affect me so negatively. Being off of it has taught me that I can just check it or post occasionally and not get so wrapped up in it. But I also worry that getting back on will lead to the same mental anguish that led me to leave it. So who knows? I haven't made a decision yet. There's also no reason I can't write super long posts here and link them to Facebook and use Facebook to post the shorter things. We'll see.

One last thing. Tomorrow is the anniversary of Jasper's death. It's so hard to believe it's already been a year. We miss that little guy so much. I've been quite emotional about it. Anyway, that's what's up with me.

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