Observations From One Month in California

Observations From One Month in California

I’ve been a west coast resident for an entire month. So obviously, I’m tanner and I’m thinner than I was when I left Austin. That’s just what happens here. Something in the air. Don’t hate the beautiful people!

Jokes aside, I am starting to get in a better place with my health. To help Pascale cope with losing her big backyard and barn time, I walk the dogs 2-3 miles a day. Plus the university’s baseball complex by my apartment has a giant practice field that I let her off the leash for a run in the afternoons. All this keeps Pascale’s energy level to a manageable level, and provides much needed cardio for me and Eliot. Him and I both got a little tubby in our last few months in Austin.

At first I felt almost panicked without a full time job and nothing but open days in front of me, but as my schedule’s filled up with school I’m starting to settle back into the life I had before I got eaten alive by a 40/hr a week desk job. Or maybe it’s the new location and forced alone time. Either way, I feel a little bit like I’m waking up.

When my Mom helped me pack up my Austin kitchen, I got rid of so many kitchen gadgets that I hadn’t used in years. She warned me that I’d probably want my food processor, but since I hadn’t touched it in months… off to the donate pile it went.

Turns out that when you actually cook fresh food, you want a food processor.

I now have a new, shiny mini-kitchenaid food processor, but more importantly an interest in cooking again. I can count the times on both hands that I cooked something from scratch after Tim died. Mostly I relied on professionals to feed me, but when I quit my job I gave myself a rule that I could only eat out if it was a social activity with friends. I’ve been cooking a ton, and I forgot how much I like it.

I may not have a dining table, but I can cook a pretty legit dinner.

A post shared by Lauren Mauldin (@lauren.u.mauldin) on

Not only is this cheaper, but it’s healthier. I haven’t been doing a super restrictive diet by any means, but have greatly lessoned the amount of fast & processed food I’ve been eating. Each week, those things look less and less attractive to me. It’s almost like our bodies thrive on vegetables and fresh protein. Who knew?!?!

Classes have just gotten started, but so far seem like they’ll have a challenging but manageable workload. My days are filled with critical reading and writing. I’ve had a little bit of a block when it comes to my book, but recently got a working outline on paper which renewed a bit of my vigor. Instead of the memoir, I’ve roughed out some personal essay ideas and have been doing as much freelance as I get can my hands on. Need something written or designed or online marketed? Hit me up yo! I also think I’m going to try and get a photography portfolio site up and running soon, to see if I can get any side revenue doing equestrian portraits.

My life as a California grad student. Spoiler alert – it ain’t bad.

A post shared by Lauren Mauldin (@lauren.u.mauldin) on

If I had to pinpoint my biggest point of stress right now, it’d be my lack of a reliable part-time job. I’m working the side hustle at multiple angles, but need more money coming in before I can stop checking my dwindling bank account each day and sighing deeply. Currently trying to not let it get to me, because I really am a privileged individual and have a lot helping me in this area. Still, I haven’t been unemployed since I was sixteen. It’s jarring.

The best update I can provide is that I found a barn for Simon last week. It’s a no frills hunter/jumper facility, but seems to be exceptionally run. They were organized, had decent land by California standards, and honestly I liked the owner/manager. She gave me a good vibe, and I tend to trust that — how Californian of me! He will be living in a stall with a small run attached to it, and the facility is close enough that I can get out there most days to turn him out in one of the barn’s turnouts while I get some reading though. The best part about the place is that it has its own schooling show series with TIP points. If I can figure out the part-time job, I might actually be able to horse show. Hustle hustle hustle!

Quintessential California.

A post shared by Lauren Mauldin (@lauren.u.mauldin) on

I still feel displaced here, but things are so much better than they were even two weeks ago. This weekend I dreamt about Tim, which I’ve been doing a lot more of lately.

In this dream, he came back to life but knew he died previously. Everyone knew. When we were talking, he mildly suggested I didn’t try to save him. Moreso, he said something unrelated and I immediately got deeply defensive and hurt. I counted out to him how long I performed CPR as I cried, apologizing that it wasn’t hard enough since none of his ribs were described as cracked on his autopsy. After that, I had a hard time talking with him because I didn’t know how to say that I missed him, but I didn’t need him to be back alive. A part of me wanted him to stay gone.

Those are the dreams I feel guilty about in the waking days of this new life. The apartment is filled with relics of Tim. There’s a pillow on the sofa made from the small gingham plaid of the shirt I gave him for our 2nd “Cotton” anniversary. The “Shit Bitch – You’s Fine!” bear he gave me for our first Valentine’s Day is on the shelf in my bedroom. For the first two weeks, I slept with the quilt made of his old t-shirts. There are pictures of him everywhere, but sometimes I see his face smiling in the frame and wonder how many of them I should keep out. What is the line between remembering and holding on?

Right now I am not sad, overall. I am stressed and anxious, but its manageable. I’m not scared. I’m inspired. I’m ready — I think.

12 thoughts on “Observations From One Month in California

  1. I sound like an old person, but putting on some jazz (yes, that’s right, jazz) and cooking has got to be one of the most relaxing things. Following instructions – I definitely can do. 😉
    I’m glad you’re settling in and that you found a place for Simon.

  2. I’m glad CA seems to be agreeing with you and the puppers, and that you’ve found Simon a place! Super excited that school has started too, and I’m sure a cool PT job is headed your way. 🙂

    And yeah. You’re ready. No doubts.

  3. I just found out a riding friend at another barn also follows your blog. It was nice to chat about all the cool things you write about and that we agreed you’re just one of the gang… a horsie girl, making her way in the world. You inspire in ways you will never know.

  4. Glad you found a good barn, I’m sure having him around will help your overall mood and give you a good outlet to get away from your stress for a while.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.