Tuesday, November 25, 2014

swingers, mountain lions, & reunions oh my!

So when I first started thinking about leaving Japan, I got it in my head that I would move to LA and keep up my "career" in music journalism. Even though trick/rock. wasn't something that Lisa and I did for money, it was something I really loved and I thought the West Coast would be the best place to continue pursuing that.

I used some of my accumulated miles for a ticket, fought with our bundle-of-wires internet for a cheap rental car via Priceline and arrived in LA on a Wednesday night. Honestly, after all those 11-14 hour plane rides between Atlanta and Tokyo this was a breeze; I was more worried about finding the rental place and getting to Carrie's house safely.

Oh, and when I say I'd been driving in Georgia, I mean I'd been driving around town and then maybe like, 30ish minutes to Doraville and Roswell. To be honest I don't think I've even driven downtown since I moved back. So getting in that little car and getting on LA's big highway (I'm sorry, the 110? I can't remember now) was terrifying. Actually, I take that back. The highway itself wasn't bad--not too different from highways in Georgia--it was all those damn side streets and crazy parking signs that got me nervous.

By the time I got to Carrie's house my legs were shaking a little and I couldn't have been happier to be out of that car, I won't lie. Anyway, we headed to Swinger's Diner for dinner and had omelets and roasted potatoes while we caught up. Because, let's be real. Breakfast for dinner is always the best :)

day 1

The next morning I went to try out the Coffee Bean and can, I just say: I fuckin' love you Coffee Bean. I don't know why. It's not exceptionally amazing or anything, but I just really took to it. I could have done without, however, the meth head affecting a faux Irish accent hitting on me. "Well, aren't you just a slice of gorgeous there, aren't you."

Right. What is a slice of gorgeous? Is that pie? Pizza? I'm confused. And I haven't washed my hair since yesterday, I'm not wearing makeup and I really just want you to go away.

I ended up walking to The Grove during the day. Beautiful, beautiful shopping center, but honestly the only thing I ever did there was a eat a chicken salad wrap and people watch. And discovered that apparently cupcakes are a big thing? Looked delicious, but I was too cheap to drop almost 4 bones on a sugary treat.

That night Carrie had a beachfront BBQ with her run group so we headed down to Dockweiler Beach. There was a run as well, but we decided to sit it out and be in charge of the smores and cider instead. Everyone was really nice and super chill and definitely the type of people I think I'd get on really well with if I moved out there. I'm just really bummed I'd probably never be able to run with them since I kinda messed up my knee in college. Sad! Beach running seems like it'd be awesome.

day 2

On Friday I drove to Los Feliz to visit with my cousins! My one cousin lives in LA and the other in NYC and we both just happened to be visiting at the same time.

It was really nice to see them and catch up and I think one of the hardest things about moving to Georgia was being so far from our extended family. We talked a lot about that, childhood memories, watching Santa Claus come down that cul-de-sac in Jersey on a firetruck, and our grandpop. We all miss him a lot and it was really nice to talk about him with them. Miraculously I didn't cry, but I would've loved if my brother could've been there with the three us, too.

Oh! And we went to this great little place called Home. Anyone know it? I initially thought it was just the coffee shop and didn't even realize that giant outdoor area next door was part of it. Or rather, the actual restaurant haha.

That night I went to El Coyote with Carrie and Joey for dinner. As we were getting out of the car, we saw a pink corvette and Carrie tells about how supposedly there's this woman that got famous off of billboards that owns a pink corvette just like that one. Then just as we're walking in we literally almost walk right into her. Haha!

A woman sitting next to us in the entrance told us her name is Angelyne and she came to prominence in the 80's for all her billboards. Wikipedia says it better, but you get the gist.

My first celebrity sighting? Am I an Angeleno yet?
Not quite.

day 3 

During the day we went to see Interstellar at the Cinerama Dome. Seeing it in a dome was kind of awesome and I'm starting to think all movies should be shown that way.

No, but really.

Great movie by the way! At first it was really weird to see McConaughey not putting on a sleazy slur and leather pants, but it was really well done. I actually loved it until...the last 20 minutes. But! This is not a movie blog. So...

A few weeks earlier, we had signed up for a "Haunted Hollywood Sunset Hike" of wonder and joy and joyness. Despite the title, I thought it was just going to be a hike, but after our tour guide started talking about how there were sightings on the tour and people smelled gardenias coming down the hill, my first thought was hell naw. Maybe I watch too much Ghost Hunters, maybe I believe in it more than I'd like to, but I deeefinitely don't want to experience it.

Anyway, the hike itself was gorgeous and we got to hike around all these fancy mansions and super pricey houses built into the side of the hills. Our tour guide asked us all for ghost stories at certain "rest points" and told us some of her own. Apparently she had multiple ex-boyfriends who lived in haunted buildings. I had an ex who hunted ghosts. It terrified me. Nope nope nope.

When we got to the end of the tour, our guide told us that it was another 30 minutes or so to the top of the Hollywood Sign. Being the spry foursome that we are, we're all like, "Pshh no way that takes 30 minutes. We'll be there in like 20."

No really though.  

It took about 30 minutes. 

Or more.

Also I went from being afraid of running into Casper to running into a mountain lion. A DAMN MOUNTAIN LION. I saw this thing in We Bought a Zoo that said something about big cats being afraid of loud noise. So I suggested we just stomp around and be obnoxious if we suspected any big cats were getting close.

We're good guys, we're good. Thanks Matt Damon.

Luckily there were no mountain lions or ghosts, but I did feel this weird breeze when we started back down the path. I'm about 90% sure it was just a weird air pocket or something, but at the time it did freak me out...just a little. Or maybe I was just secretly hoping Zak Bagans would come running down the hill and we'd be on surprise episode of Ghost Adventures.

Wait. Scratch that. That's not what I want at all.

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Yay! Two blogs in a week. I'm excited. You know what else I'm excited for? Having Thanksgiving with my family for the first time in nearly 5 years! I want to say, "I'm not going to eat too much!" because I have a consultation at recruiting agency next week and I have to buy a suit buuuut I don't see that happening :D

If I don't post again before then, Happy Turkey Day everyone!


Thursday, November 20, 2014

(non)sense of direction

 So aside from that "sales" post in August, I haven't made a proper post here since...July? Lawd. However, for once I have a legitimate excuse! As most of you (maybe?) know, around the end of June/July I made the decision to leave Japan and move back to the U.S.

To be perfectly honest, those last few months in Japan were really difficult and bittersweet and I will probably never, ever move internationally again (unless I become some kind of three possession nomad), but now that everything is said and done and I've had time to settle in, I do miss Japan; I miss my friends and the life I made there. But, I'm also really really happy to be home and I have no doubt that this was the right decision for me.

Oh, I should probably preface this with a disclaimer: this isn't really gonna be one of those picture-heavy (well, maybe a little) posts. No scenery, no concert shots. Just me. Because it's been an incredibly introspective month and a half since I've been back and I need to get it out somewhere. I mean who uses LJ anymore anyway? Apologies in advance, it's a long one.

Way better than IHOP

Obligatory Sephora haul

Georgia weather means autumn swimming!

Some hipster beer with a hipster 'stache

Greek food with momma and grandma

Oh, that Halloween craze

Cuban food with Bruddah♡

About that picture quality: so I ordered the new iPhone on October 5th and it took about a month and a half to get it. I basically just got it and even then I was too paranoid to use it until I got a case. So these were all taken with my mom's old 4. Not even 4S. Aaaaah. This reeks of first world problem, I'm so sorry.

Anyway. So the first week, two weeks I'd say, were really easy. I was so relieved to not be packing and unpacking, dealing with forms, paying ludicrous amounts of money in taxes to the Japanese government and worrying about how I was going to get two suitcases and two carry-ons back to Atlanta that I didn't really think much beyond that. It was like coming home for Christmas, but weird because at the same time--and for the first time in nearly 5 years--I knew I didn't have to get back on a plane again in 10 days.

Before I knew it Halloween had passed (I was Rosie the Riveter) a month passed, and all the "Oh shit" feelings started to settle in. The faux Christmas vacation was over and I knew I had to start looking for jobs, but I didn't even know where to begin much less what state or city I wanted to make my next adventure.

When I left Japan, I was about 95% sure I wanted to move to LA and keep doing what I was doing with trickrock. I'd just get paid for it this time. So I bought a plane ticket to LA, my first time out in California, to visit Carrie and Nina. Really bummed I didn't get to see all my friends out there, but to be honest LA is a post all on its own so we'll get to that next :)

After I got back I felt kind of weird because...LA was really fun and I'm really glad I did it, but I'm not sure it's for me. I honestly don't know where I want to be stateside. Even though, I'm not a native Georgian (Jersey-born and raised) I've lived on the east coast my whole life. Well, you know. Aside from that 5 year stint in Japan.

So maybe the west coast is my next adventure? Not sure. Portland seems really cool, but I'm also still drawn to New York and most of my extended family still lives in the northeast.

Honestly, I have no idea and that's really scary.

"In my dragon wagon."

Speaking of scary, how about that master artwork up there? Courtesy of 3, maybe 4 year old me.

Ooops, I just dated myself. Can you find me?

So, for the last few years that I've been coming home, my mom has always mentioned that she wanted to go through old boxes in my closet and the basement, but we never got to it. So finally, we did. And there's a whooooole lot of boxes; as far back as preschool and as recent as college.

I've found a lot of gems; some that made me laugh, some that made me cry, some that I remember and some that I don't. I've found piles of of drawings, sketchbook after sketchbook, and pages and pages of creative writing. Honestly Spiegel's (11th or 12th?) grade writing class was probably one of the best high school decisions I ever made.

And honestly, I wasn't bad; both at writing and drawing. I've never been the best, but I've always been just good. Not great, not amazing, just...good. At a lot of things, actually. I was that kid with all the hobbies and I couldn't--still can't--pick just one so I'm constantly trying to do them all.

Then I wondered, why did I ever stop doing these things? I have so many interests and sometimes I wonder if subconsciously I avoid getting back into them because I can't perfect them. Or I'm afraid I'll pick up a pencil or look at that blanking cursor and be too afraid to start up again. Because that OCD, first-born, perfectionist part of my personality doesn't want to admit that I can't be the best and I can't do it all.

But that's okay, too.

I know this is really really long, but honestly going through all these boxes and having all this free time since I've been home has given me a lot of time to think and a lot to think about.

Japan was an amazing adventure and I know I wouldn't be half the person I am today if I hadn't made the difficult decision to leave my family and friends behind for a new adventure. I learned a lot, hurt a lot, and grew a lot over there. I also had the time of my life. It's made me tougher, wiser, kinder, yet also more realistic. I wouldn't have traded those experiences for anything, but also feel a bit sad that I missed so much stateside as well.

I think anytime you decide to embark on something new, you leave things behind, give things up. When we moved to Georgia I left behind all my childhood friends and extended family, when I moved to Japan I left behind my best friends from high school and college, my mom, dad, and brother. And finally coming back stateside, I left behind a part of my independence, a life I'd built for myself over nearly 5 years, my Japan "family" and lots of very dear friends.

And it's hard, really hard, each and every time.

I'm still kind of nervous about what's next and for the first time in a really long time, I don't know where I'll be in six months. Maybe I'll be out in Portland, hanging out with ridiculous tattooed and mustached hipsters or maybe I'll be in NYC in a tiny studio apartment with some expert IKEA furniture tessellating. And probably more hipster friends. Then again, maybe I'll still end up in California or in some southern coastal town in a house with a porch.

I have no idea. And that's the simultaneously thrilling and terrifying part that keeps me going.

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So, I know I say this every time (almost), but I really, really want to start blogging again. And be relatively consistent. I'm not quite sure what kind of blog I want to make this, but I know I want to keep it up. I'm thinking maybe sometimes it'll be photography focused, sometimes travel, sometimes daily life, and sometimes more personal like this. 

When I first made this blog, I think I probably made it with the intention of branding myself; of creating an image of the things I did and the life that I led just in case that music journalist career ever took off. And in a lot of ways, that was true. I did do those things and I did travel to those places, and I did meet those people.

And yet the personal touch wasn't there and that kind of bothered me. I miss having an outlet and a place to put these things down and if I've learned anything from going back through all these boxes and journals, it's that it's equally sobering and liberating to go back and be able to look back on the person you used to be, the person you are right now, and then maybe look forward to the person you want to be. 

That being said, I noticed that this blog has still been getting views even in my absence and that makes me really happy!

I'll try to keep interesting content coming and there's still a whole lot of "to write" posts I've had in a notebook since forever, but ultimately, I think you have to blog for yourself. In a way that makes you happy. I'm still trying to figure out what that is for me and I'll be busy with job searching and family stuff as the holidays are just around the corner, but my goal is to at least try to keep this up. 

There's a lot going on right now, but I know that somehow, some way things are going to work out. So thanks for sticking with me! 

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