I got an Award. . .

And took a long, long time to post about it!

Thanks to Daclaren, who got me started in blogging (I was the guinea pig for blog software she was going to use), I’ve been presented with this lovely award!

Again, I have to take time to say how grateful I am for Daclaren’s friendship. She’s a wonderful person, encouraging and loving, and I am lucky to have her in my life!

It’s taken me a bit to post about who I would bestow this lovely upon, as I don’t read as many blogs as I used to (and I should read more), and BOY I really want to give one to Daclaren, whose blog is just AWESOME. But, that isn’t in the rules. The rules are:

1) You have to pick 5 blogs that you consider deserving of this award for their creativity, design, interesting material, and also contribution to the blogging community.

2) Each award has to have the name of the author and link to his/her blog to be visited by everyone.

3) Each award winner has to show the award and put the name and link to the blog that presented her/him with the award.

4) The award winner and one who has given the prize have to show the link of “Arte y Pico” blog so everyone will know the origin to this award.

5) To show these rules.

I have one person on my list with different design, but most of these folks I tune in to read what they are saying, and what interesting things are happening. I would also like to give an honorary mention for my beloved Spluch — gone but not forgotten.

So, here are my bloggers:

Uncle Darren

He is talented, funny and interesting. And he’s kind of a shoe in since he cuddles me to sleep every night. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s nepotism — I have always loved his writing, even before I loved him, and we fell in love in a series of letters. He’s a fascinating writer, and talented artist, and I sure would love it if he would blog more.

Kipling

I read Kipling’s blogs before I met him, and let me tell you — he is hilarious, smart, and interesting to read. He always comes up with some really cool media, and waxes philosophic on just about anything and everything.

Coiled Soul

Sense of Humor? Check. Great content? Check! Talented Writer? CHECK! It’s Coiled Soul, folks, and she’s got all the makings of a good juicy blog. I don’t read it as much as I’d like, but when I do, it never, ever disappoints me.

What Not to Crochet

Anytime I need a laugh, I find myself browsing the fug. . .

Memoirs of Drunken Bastard

From neighbors to disappearing ponds — Steve’s finally blogging!

I have no idea what the hell is happening to people, but for God’s sake, do NOT stop walking in the middle of a path right in front of someone. Because if it is me, you’re gonna get smacked in the back of the head. Or I will at least visualize it. Dammit.

Two Years, and about Two Weeks Ago.

Two years and about two weeks ago puts us on or about July 16th, 2006. And I remember quite well where I was. I was in Aspers, staying with Josh and Jen. In fact, I think that the 16th is the day I introduced myself to a little piece of technology called the iPod (I was treating myself for lugging the CD-based MP3 player around Scotland!). I was preparing for something that I suppose most people would consider frightening, but I was beside myself with excitement — I was moving to Los Angeles!

I am, of course, glad I did — Darren is just the most wonderful man, and I am such a blessed woman that I have him in my life. My life radically changed, for the better, on July 18th. And I knew it would. I will say that knowing the date of your first kiss with someone can be surreal.

Anyway, this blog isn’t being written to rant about how much I love my husband. All ya’ll know that anyway (you blessed five, you!). This blog, written on encouragement from Lou Ann, is supposed to be about my experience of living in Los Angeles.

Back to my rambling. Two years, three months, and two weeks ago, I had already reduced all of my personal belongings to two suitcases. So, two years and two weeks ago, all I had to do was get them shut again, and get myself to the plane.

My life up until that point had been absolutely, scatterbrained hectic. So, I was in a lull — vacationing in Aspers before moving, spending much needed time with my family and getting myself reoriented to US time (and US heat. It was something like 55 degrees difference in the temperature between what I experienced in Scotland and what I found waiting for me in Philadelphia. It would be even worse when I got Los Angeles, a fact I fully knew (I was talking to Darren daily, and he was giving me updates on the horrid heat wave going on here, so I kind of knew to expect, as much as you can. I can liken it to getting my tongue pierced — I knew what to expect, it didn’t mean I was particularly . . . you know, ready).

And I made it here, and I love it here. A large part of my love for Los Angeles is that it’s been where I’ve been able to spend the happiest two years of my life. As much as I disdain Pittsburgh for memories that are not its fault, I love Los Angeles for memories that are not in its control! It’s not where you are that determines how rich your life is, but who you are with. And I’ve been priviledged to have been taught that lesson. Many of my friends and loved ones have picked a place to sequester themselves while taking stock, learning what they want out of life, or licking wounds. Los Angeles is the place I came to after the wounds had healed.

Lou Ann asked me specifically what it was like to live here for two years, and I will attempt to somewhat answer that question, but it’s early morning here, and I’m rambling already, so we’ll see what ends up dropping out of me. Like I said, I could write books on how much I love Darren and how much he means to me, and how my life has improved since I have him, but this blog is about “what’s it like to live in Los Angeles,” and I’ve rambled way past that already, so let me just get to it.

First and foremost is the weather. Yes, my God, is it beautiful here. Just beautiful. I say often that Los Angeles doesn’t have weather, it has climate. It’s always just about the right temperature (in the shade. That’s important. IN THE SHADE), and, well, it’s Southern California. It’s revered for its beautiful skies and beaches.

About those beaches — they are only heavily populated in the movies and on TV series. Sure, people are at the beach, but not as many as you’d probably think. And people are at the beach because no matter where you are in Los Angeles people are there. And I often mean a lotta people. They are everywhere here. And of course they are. Los Angeles is the second largest city in the US. It almost covers 500 square miles, and is home to around 3.8 million people. So yeah, I had to get used to the massive amount of people everywhere. Because it’s not just who lives here, it’s the huge influx of tourists ALL THE TIME.

And of course tourists come here all the time — even in the winter, our lows barely dip into the 40’s. It’s super warm here. So, speaking to that, let me explain Los Angeles seasons:

Spring (January to March)
Summer (April to July)
Fire (August to October)
Fall (November, December)

That’s right. There’s no winter, and there’s a fire season here. That’s what two years in Los Angeles gave me — exposure to fire season. Last year, we saw this fire tear up Griffith Park:

And later in the year, all of California was ablaze. There wasn’t a single county in the entirety of Southern California that didn’t have some massive wildfire to contend with, all at once. This is what it looked like from space:

So yeeeah, fire is definitely something you have to contend with here. It’s way one that California can kill you differently from other places. During the fires, the sky would often turn these strange, otherworldly colors from all the smoke. But, even that wasn’t hard to get used to, because there’s so much smog here that are sunsets are spectacular shows of colors, ranging from deep purples to neon oranges and sometimes you can even catch some green.

So, basically it’s sunny here all the time and it’s oppressively hot in the late summer, the season of fire. You get used to it.

And, there are people everywhere. You kind of get used to that, too, especially since you can have some pretty surreal experiences. One time, early in my days here, I saw my first god’s honest, big purple feather and crocodile boots pimp, complete with beat my bitches walking stick. And what did I think? “Only in Los Angeles.” And I loved it. If you aren’t ready to do that, then Los Angeles isn’t for you.

Which brings me to another point — crime. Crime here is actually just like crime anywhere else. If you go someplace you shouldn’t be and do something stupid, you are probably going to get hurt. Crime has been in a pretty steady decline, and according to that Wikipedia article on LA and other sources, violent crimes been declining. There have been a couple of times while riding the bus I sincerely feared for myself, but then . . . nothing happened. It’s really not all that scary of a place. People here are FRIENDLY. I mean that. They either:

1. Aren’t from here (a vast portion of the Los Angeles population moved here from somewhere else. It’s a place you choose to live).

2. Have lived here their entire lives.

3. Are a tourist and need your help.

This isn’t New York, folks. If you ask for directions, you’re sure to get them. And, as I can attest to, if you are at a train station and need guidance, there’s always someone willing to help.

Which brings me to one of the big parts of my experience in Los Angeles: Public Transportation.

A side note: Public transportation here, and in Orange County, is amazing. You can get anywhere, given enough time. You can easily get from our place in North Hollywood to Anaheim (Disney) with one train transfer. If you visit, I highly recommend you ditch the car, and use the transit.

My main feelings about public transportation? It’s the surreality in my day. I’m either on the phone, or listening to music, because before I was doing any of those things, it was a constant assault. Sometimes, even literally. I’ve seen someone physically kicked off the bus, I’ve had someone kicked off the bus, I’ve had someone feel me up on the bus . . . constant. But then I changed buses and it’s much more calm now 😉 Now, I’m mainly on Metro Rapid buses or using the train, both of which are much more geared to commuters.

I suppose this brings me to the scenery, and in LA, that is really hard to beat. Even theatres are interesting, as I found this sign on Hollywood Boulevard to sometimes be in freaky sync with what I was thinking:

If you’re looking for nature, the city itself isn’t where you really want to be, it’s not that ‘scenic’ perse, unless architecture is your thing, in which case we can kick some butt.

We DO have a lot of palm trees,

and those kick ass because they bear a strong resemblance to truffula trees:

The Lorax, however, would hate it here, because the only stars we have are the famous kind. I think we can see all of 12 stars on any given LA evening. Again, the smog.

It’s not all smoggy fun and games, as I found out when I was introduced to way two California can kill you, which is desert bugs. Specifically, the black widow spider. I was bit several times one morning, and let me tell you — that tiny bit of venom had me curled in a ball for two hours, and left my leg aching for a few days. BAD ASS, I tell you.

Another common creature found in California is the adorable chihuahua.

And they are adorable. You can find them in purses, or just wandering around the end of a leash. People here love their dogs. Darren and I are currently looking into getting one. Beloved for their small size, and thus their ability to fit into small apartments (unless you are a millionaire, you are renting your space in LA, I guarantee) quite happily, they are all over the place here. You’ll even see them in stores, since people are allowed to have support pets — you know, emotional support. The strangest iteration I’ve seen of this custom was a woman in Big Lots holding her bunny. Seriously. And I’m not talking teeny tiny bunny, I’m talking two armfuls of rabbit bunny.

So now, I suppose, I am at the closing of two years of experience in LA, and I’ll end with the experience from yesterday. Weighing in as the third way that Los Angeles can kill you:

Earthquake.

Anyone with an education knows that one day, California will no longer be with us. Why? Because are poised on the very edge of disaster, right near the Pacific Ring of Fire:

And right along the San Andreas Fault

This means we have an awful lot of seismic activity going on. And, yesterday, I got to feel, for the first, definitive time, what exactly an earthquake is.

If you’re from Pittsburgh and you’ve been to the Science Center, you’ve had the opportunity to visit the Earthquake Cafe’ – and that’s about what it’s like. Except you aren’t choosing how strong, and you have no idea when it’s going to hit, and all of a sudden, everything starts to shake. It reminded me of my first apartment in Pittsburgh, so dismally close to the train that it would rattle our walls every time it passed — only these buggers don’t have a schedule.

California has been devastated by Earthquakes before, most notably the Northridge Earthquake that caused shitloads of damage and killed a few people to boot. Yesterday’s was nothing, comparatively, but in those first moments, when your phone isn’t working and you just want to know if your loved ones are ok, it’s just as tense.

California has been enchanting, fun, and scary. I don’t regret coming here, I love living here. And our medication here rocks. Is it for everyone? No, of course not. But it works for me.

Jamie, Meet the Third Way LA can kill you: Earthquake.

Nice to meet you, earthquake.

Specifically, a 5.8 that I managed to feel in the office in Beverly Hills today.

A couple of my coworkers are still a little shaken, an hour later, but there’s no sign that Cedars management has any plans on sending us home. Which is kind of fine. The whole experience, I’d have to say, I could describe as “freaky.”

It sucked to have to pick my water up off the floor.

Another one just kind of semi-shook us — nothing big, something much more subtle. Like being in a small building when a truck goes by. The thing is, this place is huge!

Well, I suppose I’m grateful that I’ve been formally introduced to Mr. Earthquake. I’m just not looking forward to making his acquaintance again!

General Diarrhea of the Fingertips

Aah, blogging. That ‘hobby’ I’ve had, laying about, for years. The hobby that involves me writing something, and putting it up for the five voracious readers I have to enjoy. I’ve been trying to be bettera bout blogging, after being reminded by a friend that “I need to write.”

So, today, with the lack of anything interesting to link you to, I’ll just rant a little bit, ok?

First, I got one of those survey things in the mail from Jen. She was on the phone at the time she was mailing it. Unless it comes from her, Donna, or Ana, chances are I won’t go through a survey, but I did with this one.

Now, I’m not going to make you read the whole survey, chosen five, but I will point out what the most interesting question was:

2. What color are your socks right now? Tube socks, they are actually Darren’s. I couldn’t find decent freaking shoes this morning, so I’m in a pants suit with Chucks on. Seriously.

This, for some reason, had me partially amused and partially really really pissed at myself.

I wouldn’t call myself a morning person, but I do have to wake up in the morning on most days. You know, it’s part of the whole consulting gig thing. And that’s fine. But what got to me this morning was my apparent inability, even in adulthood, to manage to get myself ready.

Bad enough I’m growing ever fatter (or so it seems to me, and I know none of you think I’m fat blah blah blah but I was skinnier when I bought my clothes so just lemme bitch), but even worse that I can’t manage to find something simple — like my shoes — because I just don’t feel like exerting the effort. So, slacks with Chucks it is for me.

When I got to work I got the chance to chat with Ana online a bit, and I was telling her about my morning, and how people were staring at me (I thought it was kind of weird and then I realized that the last time I wore the blouse I had on it involved a safety pin, at which point I immediately expressed regret at not being punk in my wardrobe anymore, and also that people should make blouses that button all the way up, at least as an option), and I related what I found to be a very, very funny recollection of another wardrobe malfunction.

I had on this kind of spandex / cotton blend blouse from Express. Darren and I were living at the old place, and I let myself out into the hallway to go to work. All is normal at this point. I notice that the edge of my shirt is caught in my skirt. This only slightly creates a reaction — which is to tug gently on the tail of the shirt, right?

Except in some weird horrible cartoony twist of fate, I tugged just right, and ALL the buttons came popping out of the holes — in one huge motion, I had my unbottoned shirt hanging from my shoulders.

Now, of course my reaction was initially shock, and to quick button up, but I was trying not to break into hysterics, pull people from their apartment, and share my nudity. It just wasn’t that type of day.

It DID come back to haunt me when I realized three hours later that I had rebuttoned the blouse crooked.

Annoying.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, I really wish I could get dressed and ready for work at a time other than the morning or something. Something like that . . . .