My Life Burnt to the Ground So I’m Building a New One!

Dear Reader,

I realize this blog has been realer than an episode of Degrassi: The Next Class lately. And I feel kind of bad about that. I’m not trying to push my problems onto all of you. However, one thing that really bothers me in the world of blogger/influencer types is people who promote a perfect, unattainable version of themselves and leave out all the challenging stuff. Life is not all walking down the street, making a quirky face while holding balloons then going to a trendy eastside cafe to grab a latte. In the MY-LIFE-IS-PERFECT-AND-BETTER-THAN-YOURS echo chamber that is lifestyle blogging, I’d like to be the one person that turns to camera and says “THIS IS ALL A GODDAMN LIE.”

In the last few months, two major things happened in my life. I got dumped and then I lost my job. I know these things happen in threes, so I’m kind of waiting for whatever is going to happen next. I’m just hoping it’s not cancer or immaculately-contracted full-blown AIDS. I think it’s pretty normal to take a minute and be like “man, this sucks” before bouncing back and being like “I GOT THIS.” I kind of did this process backwards, starting with the “I’M FINE I’M FINE I’M FINE” feeling and then getting to a “DUDE WHAT JUST HAPPENED WHAT AM I GONNA DO???” type reaction, where I am now. But one thing I know is that I’ve always had a nice life. Yes, things have gotten stressful, I’ve had periods of immense anxiety where I couldn’t sleep and was worried about jobs and money and bills and the banality of existence. But I also have always gotten to enjoy seeing art, eating with friends, exploring the city I live in, and traveling around the world. Taking a moment for gratitude and thinking about all the privileges you enjoy is a pretty great way of calming your life/money/career anxiety.

One of the upsides of experiencing a life trauma is that it kind of makes you feel like “Fuck it, what do I have to lose? I may as well do what I want.” When you experience loss (of a loved one, a friend, a job, etc) it makes you remember how temporary life is and how you have power and agency to push your life in the direction you want it to go. That has been the blessing of my current state. It’s a moment where I’ve looked around and thought to myself, “I’ve spent all my life building a personality and a reputation and now I’m going to use that to do what I want to do.” (Which is to run my own design business, make art, have my own product line, fall in love, buy a house and squeeze the fuck out of my boyfriend-husband until his eyes pop out of his handsome-but-not-intimidatingly-so-face).

So in the spirit of renewal and doing whatever I want, I’ve come up with a short list of things I want to do now that my life has burned to the ground. Everything sucks right now, but everything is also kind of awesome because I have so little to lose that I can do whatever I want. Some of these are kind of superficial, some more serious. PLEASE, DON’T JUDGE MY ORLANDO-IS-BURNING LIFE GOALZ.

Below is a list of things I can now do that a few months ago I thought I couldn’t.


I became obsessed with overalls after I saw the film East of Eden in high school. But I’ve never worn them for a few reasons. First, they’re not super flattering if you’re not super skinny, so I always thought I was too fat. Now I kind of don’t care if I’m too fat. Someday, when I’m ninety and obese, I’ll be like “YOUNGER ORLANDO SHOULD HAVE WORN THOSE OVERALLS!” So I’m gonna listen to that yelling ninety year old and put on some goddamn overalls. I started a pin board for overalls in 2010, but it was actually really hard to find them until recently when everyone finally realized how great they are. It’s like a fun costume that tells the world, “Hey, I’m a farmer, but like sexy.”

Overalls (from top): Black Overalls, Blue Wash Overalls, Black Short Overalls, Army Green Short Overalls.

Platinum Blond Hair

I had platinum blond hair in high school. And then in 2008 I thought it would be fun to do it again but I was like I can’t do that, blond hair is over. But everything is always over. But also starting again at the same time. Then I thought about doing it again last year but I was like “I’m too old.” But I think I’m over using age as an excuse for stuff. You’re never too old until you’re dead. So maybe this summer I’ll have crazy blond/white hair and everyone will be terrified.

Images: RadarX, Kyle Krieger Instagram.

Be a Businesslady

While I’m not fully employed by Homepolish, I’m still working with them from time to time and we are still friends (don’t worry). But now I have the opportunity to grow my own business and control my own destiny. This means I can continue working with design clients while also pursuing my other interests. Like writing this blog and taking on sponsorships, for example. I have learned a lot from the women in my life about how to be a boss. Like my friend Emily Henderson, who I worked with years ago and who now runs a design/content empire. When one door closes, a window opens, and I jump out of it into a new, terrifying career that’s all mine!

Image: Homepolish.

Ugly Sandals

I love Birkenstocks and other strappy/ugly/gay European sandals. But my ex hated them so I never bought any. I’m the youngest in my family and super-impressionable, so I think the reason I let his hatred for them sway me is that it made me question if they were cool or not. But now that I’m single I’m like “NO, BIRKENSTOCKS ARE CLASSIC.” It’s easy to hate them, but they are so comfortable, they have nice, masculine lines, and they go with anything. Also, it’s about to be spring and my feet want to be FREE.

Shoez: Birkenstocks, Asos Crossover Sandals, Brown Leather Sandals, Teva Sandal

Circle Tatoo

I actually doubt I’ll do this one, but I COULD IF I WANTED BECAUSE THERE IS NO ONE HERE TO SAY NO. I’ve wanted a very simple tattoo for a very long time. Since 2006, I’ve wanted a very simple circle, one pixel wide, on my forearm. I kind of doubt I’ll ever do it because I change my mind all the time and worry I’d want something else like two days later but maybe I’ll do it, who knows?

Images: Punctured Artefact, This Is Tattoo

Art Show

I studied art forever but I never make anything anymore. UNTIL NOW. I made a post-breakup New Years resolution to make art and have some kind of fancy art opening this year. I have an idea for a series of paintings I’m really excited about and have already started working out the logistics of how I’ll make them. This is about returning to my roots as a person who makes stuff and exercising my creativity. If I have to have my art opening in someone’s garage I’ll do it. AND IT WILL BE THE MOST GLAMOROUS ART OPENING OF THE YEAR.

Image: Orlando Soria Instagram

Watch Movies and Cry

Sometimes I do weird stuff when I’m alone. Like order sushi, drink a bottle of wine, and cry while watching Before Night Falls. You can’t really do weird stuff like that when you have a boyfriend because he’d come into the room and judge you for crying and drinking alone. And no one likes to be judged for crying and drinking alone. But it’s fun and so satisfying. So screw you, non-existent boyfriend! I just want to wallow alone.

Image: Homepolish

I’m sure there’s a million other things I can do on my own that I couldn’t when I had a full time job and a boyfriend, and I’ll keep discovering them as the days pass. Of course my life is a pit of suckage lately, but I’m genuinely pretty happy. My entire body is made of stress hormones and I feel crazy, like I don’t know what I’m doing, but ultimately I’m excited about what the future has in store.

…But still terrified.


54 thoughts on “My Life Burnt to the Ground So I’m Building a New One!

  1. Yes to everything!!! You are hot, so so hot, dude. You would look dope with platinum hair, esp with the natural color stubbly beard, that is sick and I love it.

    Just… not the shorteralls… those are 78000 shades of weird. The regular overalls tho, DO IT.

  2. Just want to say how much I enjoy your blog lately. So honest and funny yet real…the openness is refreshing.

  3. I have literally never left a comment on the interweb but I have to say, I f-ing love your honesty!!! I came here for the interior design stuff (you are amazing btw) but now I just want to hear you talk about life and the design stuff is an added bonus! You are the most human person I have ever encountered on the internet, and you’re a G D gem. I’m so insanely jealous of people who get to be your friend!

    1. My name is Katherine and I effing-concur! Kats unite in support of Orlando!

  4. I love your writing and your spirit!!! You are funny, real, “fragile” but strong at the same time. Thanks for sharing all this with us!

  5. I used to check in on your blog occasionally but now it is a daily visit! If for some crazy reason you were ever in Pittsburgh, I would hire your platinum-haired, birkenstock-wearing self in a hot second to re-design my sad late 90’s home. My too-hot-for-me husband (thank god he was going through a fat phase when we met or I would have been too intimidated to talk to him!) and I could take you to a trendy shop that sells men’s overalls (such things exist in the midwest, I swear) or for a tattoo, your choice.

  6. It is funny how even nice relationships can restrict us in all that little things we like (in my case it is leopard print). Rarely comment on any blogs, but your writing is amazing and I would like to thank you for bringing joy in your readers’ lifes despite going through some hard times.

  7. Please have an art show, and please announce it on your blog so your readers can come support you (even if it is held in someone’s garage).

  8. honestly your blogs lately mean so much to me. i have followed you forever and also just recently experienced a major breakup and i feel like you and your posts are a gift from above. (prayer hands emoji). thank you.

  9. Orlando, I’m obsessed with your blog. Seriously, it’s refreshing and one of my favorites (and I read several). Please keep it up, I’m sure nothing but success (and $$$ponsorhips) will come your way with these well-written, funny, and thoughtful posts. <3<3<3

  10. You are ridiculously hot and funny so I don’t know why in the world you are so self conscious. You do you!

    Also I’m dying to know what happened with Homepolish. How could you lose your job there?! You were so good for them.

  11. Just wanted you to know that I’m loving this whole series and even though it seems kindof condescending/weird to be proud of an adult stranger- I am very proud of you. And I think you will rock the hair, the ‘stocks, and the overalls.

    Also today I met someone who lived and worked in Yosemite in the late 80s and your dad was her dentist. The world is small and lovely.

  12. get the tattoo! I got one when something big and drastic went wrong in my life and reminded me that you can’t count on anyone to be permanent and people change and all that. But a tattoo is exactly what you want it to be and will basically stay exactly the same … all while reminding you that nothing else is that way. it was a little bit of weird therapy for me and it made something feel solid and permanent when nothing else did. for what it’s worth.

  13. I only started reading your blog last week and I love it. I’m planning to move soon so I came for the design – but these posts have kept me coming back for more. You’re so funny and I can relate so much. I went through a devastating breakup in 2015, the kind of thing where I felt like I’d been hit by a car (like a rube, I hadn’t seen it coming). It sucked so bad for longer than I’m willing to admit, but two years later I think it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I had to put my entire life back together and it’s so much better than it ever was. You will do the same!

  14. GO FOR IT!!! Set your old self ablaze and rise anew from the ashes.

    Awhile back, in my mid 20’s, I went through a rebellion like this, I call it a rebellion because it was a time in my life where I felt like I had no control over anything that happened to me, so I rebelled against all the conceived notions of who I was and did anything and everything I was not. I bleached my hair white, I started travelling, I found a new job, I simply began to do things I would never think of doing and it helped me get out of the slump I was in. I never had the chance to be rebellious as a teenager, so I never knew what it was like to be selfish, brash, and bold. It is so refreshing.

    My only advice is to be more outrageous with your choices. The louder the better. In the future you will cackle at the things you did during this time, cause I still do.

  15. Ok, first let me quantify MY authority…….my daughter (who thinks she’s a fashion expert) says I always pick out gay clothes for my son (he’s not). So, I’m perfect for you (winks). ❤️ the green overall shorts, also the blue mandales. (Which normally I hate – I’m sure you’ll rock a great pedi?) I say YES to the platinum hair. Cheers to getting back to your art!

  16. Be true to yourself. Wear Birkenstock’s, overalls and I read where being a bit chubby is fine these days. Your blog is so delightful.

  17. I’m not sure I’ve loved a transition more….

    All this stuff happened and I can do whatever I want and so first…


    YES! How are you so all of us and so perfect? This is my favorite blog ever (before this, and especially now). Thank you. I feel like the worst all of the time. But I’m not. And you — you are the best all the time. Not the worst. Never the worst. Love. Love. Love. Thank you!

  18. The year I turned 30, my life imploded. I lost my job, broke up with my boyfriend (after discovering him cheating on me—fun!), major health issues with my dad and sister, my aunt died, and the day before my 31st birthday I got in a terrible car accident in a different state. I’m 34, too, and in the 4 years since I’ve bought a house, adopted a dog, paid off my student loans, and found a job I’m tremendously thankful for that I enjoy. My love life still isn’t great, but I’m honestly happy and now I feel invincible. This too shall pass!

  19. I was referred to you by the QWEEN Emily Henderson, and I am so glad. You are seriously amazing, and thank you for your “lifestyle bloggers’ lives aren’t perfect GODDAMMIT” perspective. I sincerely appreciate it as a normal, non-lifestyle-blogger-person. I’m now going to read all of your old blog posts instead of doing the work I’m supposed to be doing today.

  20. Dear Orlawndo, You rock. Thank you for always being you. I sure am sorry that these bad things that have happened to you, but appreciate that you are here more, where I can enjoy you being your honestly hysterical self. I have to say, major crap is going on in the world, and it requires showing up, but I am also taking stock of positives when they appear. And here are a couple new ones in my life. Reading you more, seeing your creativity more. Two!!! vintage shops suddenly opened up just 1/2 block away from my home in Santa Cruz, what?!!!
    And here is a positive you may not have tried yet. I suggest for your Ugly Sandal list, Chaco sandals. I have the Z/2. They are the most comfortable, supportive, durable sandals I have worn and make a crazy tan line. I think they look cool. Wear them everyday, hiking, or traveling. I have.
    Affectionately, Amy, longtime reader and admirer, occasional commenter 😀

  21. This is so incredibly refreshing, thank you for baring your heart to the world! We may not know each other, but I believe you are going to do great things starting with this list!! Can’t wait to see where you go and your glamorous art opening!

  22. I’m with you on the rule of threes – I’m always looking out for the “third thing”, whether good or bad. When you got dumped, you also lost your home so it seems to me like that may be your third loss (and possibly free you up from fearing the next shoe to drop).

    Regardless, make it your year – I hope it culminates with you rocking overalls, platinum blond hair, Birkenstocks and a chic circle tattoo at your art opening.

    1. Seriously… you lost the home you poured your heart and soul into. That gorgeous, perfect space that I have pinned the heck out of. You made it so drop-dead gorgeous.
      That’s your third tragedy. Relax, because it can’t get any worse than that.

  23. I never comment on blogs even though I read them daily. But I wanted to tell you how much I have missed your voice. As evidenced by the comments already left here, you have many fans, and we can’t get enough of you! Also, I am a 35 year old woman who also loves overalls and Birkenstocks. I have avoided overalls for a long time because my stomach is too big, blah, blah. But I am totally going to make them my new uniform this spring and summer. You are an inspiration!

  24. so happy you’re back here in this space! Been in your shoes, and spent many a night with those bottles of wine and laughing in the face of people telling me it would be better…..MUHAHAHA, whatever, happily coupled people! but sure enough…here I am, still single, but doing my thing and loving it. So, much healing and love to you! Plus, I love your blogging voice. You are freaking hilarious and I wanna be your friend.

  25. It’s a forced change, and change is good and exciting and scary and messy and fun and you’ll do GREAT. Honestly, you have many people who are fans of both your design work AND your writing, so spending time on your blog is probably a great investment for your career-wise. I mean, honestly, I barely read blogs anymore because there are just pictures and it’s boring, but I religiously check yours now that you’re posting again because I love the long, melodramatic posts where you get into all the nitty-gritty of life. It’s refreshing!

  26. Orlando – thank you for this. I’m pretty much your opposite in every way (hetero married woman in her mid forties with two special needs kids and a job she wishes she could quit). But how you are feeling and the steps you are looking to take to move outside of that feeling? Both familiar (it feels like my life is burning down around me and I have no choice but to stay and keep acting calm about it when really I want to scream and cry and run away) and inspiring. Maybe I have no choice on running kids between the OT and the cardiologist and the neurologist and the ped and the opthamologist, but I think maybe I can give myself a kick in the pants and pick out a few things that I want to do that will remind me I’m more than a chubby middle aged depressed clinically invisible doormat. Somewhere in me is the remains of the fun irresponsible person I used to be. You keep moving forward and the rest of us will try to do the same (there is no way I’m doing overalls, but as the internet is my witness, I will buy a scarf that isn’t gray!).

  27. Now I NEED to see you in overalls and Birkenstocks! Can we have a fashion post like Emily does? Or a wine and movie crybaby post? Can’t wait to see the art, the kitchen and everything you do because you are beyond fabulous!

  28. I can’t wait to see what’s next for you! I enjoy the hell out of your blog and instagram and I think you have genuine talent and great ideas. And THANK YOU for keeping it real. So refreshing and so much more interesting.

  29. You’re like my best friend on the internet that I don’t know. I wore overalls at least 3 days a week in college (’78-’82). I was super skinny & they were super comfortable. Do it!

    1. I wore overalls in college (and for a few years after) including a pair of short-overalls. I especially loved my engineer striped pairs and of course they were always paired with Birkenstocks (and wool socks in the winter). It was the 90s and it’s looking like overalls and birks must have a twenty year cycle so now’s the time to go for it 🙂

      I think i got rid of my last pair since I haven’t seen them in a while and wore them the last time the summer after I turned 30. I bought mine at the General Store which is a hardware store that also sells clothes and guns – I’m sure there are fancier places to find them though.

  30. I think this is my favorite blog post I’ve ever read by any blogger, and I’ve had a healthy docket of blogs I read religiously for years. Also, your list sounds like a perfect prescription for what you’re going through. I went through something similar about a year and a half ago and took some similar steps – putting a ton of money into making my rental apt nice, not giving as many fucks about how I look, taking inventory of my work life, dying my hair and wearing Converse because they’re comfortable and make me want to dance in the street even though they make my legs look fatter than they do in nude colored sandals. Anyway, I’m finally starting to see the “fruits” of my labor. That weird murky phase, albeit longer than I would have liked, is finally opening up to a place that is feels good and more stable and sustainable than where I was at before. So, in other words, based on my own experience, I think you’re on the right track, just keep doing you. (And please keep writing this blog, I just found it from EH and it’s incredible – your writing is unparalleled!)

  31. I certainly cannot abide your donning bottom-right-Tevas, and am of the somewhat contrary opinion that tattoos are always a MASSIVE mistake. Other than that, let this phoenix rise, baby!

  32. hugs to you, orlando.
    ps i wear overalls and no one would say they’re appropriate for my age or body. fuckem. 🙂

  33. I want to come to your art exhibit and see you wearing overalls and birks and have amazing ice blonde hair and a simple circle tattoo. You’re amazing Orlando.

  34. You are going to kick ass out on your own and I cannot WAIT to see your art. I have loved every piece you’ve squeezed out while on this blog.

  35. There are decent guys out there–like me–who would encourage you to do all of it. Don’t ever doubt yourself. You are incredible and any guy who gets the privilege to put his arm around you should consider himself one lucky SOB.

  36. you need to stop worrying about the 3rd strike, for all you know it might be a paper cut on your lip, a stubbed toe or a hole in your favorite pair of socks. whatever it is you will survive as long as you believe you can !

  37. Haha, oh, Orlando. When can we meet and be friends IRL too? 🙂 I love your mind and spirit (and writing) so much. Thank you for sharing the aches and triumphs of your journey. Amen to everything — esp debunking the lifestyle bloggers have a perfect life (when did blogs become the new women’s magazines that inspire but also deeply shame??), overalls, and making art. I am actually also planning my first ever art show, likely in the living room of my 600 sq ft apartment. We can do it!!! Last thought — A wise friend once told me when I was going through my first heartbreak: Contemplating life after a deep loss can be too overwhelming, so take it one moment at a time. Ask yourself: “What can I do in these 60 seconds to be kind to [insert your name]?”

    Sending you a big hug!

  38. Omg, thanks for keeping it real! It’s all a goddamn lie was the best line, in all caps no less. I like your perspective, keep it positive and hang in there my friend. You’ve got this.

  39. I love your goals. I really love your design style and think you are every bit as wonderful and exciting to follow as Emily – who I also love – and also different and have your own set of super powers (like ‘making the art’ kind). You’re gonna make it after all 🙂

  40. Yes to all of this!! I lost my job and a few other horrible things (womp, womp) and I felt exactly like this!! It ended up being the best 5 months! Create, explore, lay in bed and feel sorry for yourself once in a while. Get a massage you can’t afford (or that’s just what I like to do). And maybe don’t wear Tevas though? Too far. :). You’d look great with your platinum hair with overalls and birks. Btw, I’m a new reader and you’re filling my soul. Always stay the same. Swak!

  41. You are a success already! And I love the art:) I always enjoyed the art segments on secrets of a stylist….and your old posts on art here on the blog. Been a fan of yours and Emily’s for a loong time. Cant wait to se how you continue to kill it:)

  42. These are amazing goals! I hope you have an amazing time reaching them or throwing them aside so you can do something else amazing. Not the art tho… definitely make art and sell prints online ???

  43. You do you. I am firmly in the “proud stranger” cheering section with a lot of other folks on here. Because reasons. Thank you for being real and raw and honest and everything in between. I love reading your blog so much.

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