Day 33: Seeing the City Anew

Do you ever feel like home seems a little lackluster after being away? Mind you, I’m grateful for the warm California sunshine as opposed to the gray skies that followed me across Europe, but after my vacation I missed that feeling of waking up every day and thinking, what new things will I discover?

It can be difficult to see past the everyday thrum of daily life and routines. Yet, there are always new things to be discovered in seemingly old, familiar places. When I visited home over the holidays, my aunt and uncle took me antiquing in a downtown area I’d never frequented before. We shopped in immaculately curated stores, grabbed cocoa in a cafe with the locals, and found a shabby-chic thrift store in the basement of an old brick building. I’d lived in NH for twenty-some-odd years before then, and yet there were so many nooks and crannies I had yet to see.

Luckily for me, Los Angeles is still a mystery in many ways. An enormous mystery, filled with historical sights, museums, art, music – you name it. It’s a metropolis brimming with scenic gardens and urban sprawl and beaches – or so I’ve heard.

Coming home to LA made me more determined to be as open-minded and wide-eyed as I can. In this instance, I say the more touristy you are, the better! When I lived in Boston, I thought I’d seen it all. Then, on a whim, I took a Segway tour (yes, dorky helmet and all) of the city and suddenly there was the spot where the Great Molasses Flood happened! I don’t want to live in LA and never see more than one or two neighborhoods.

The other night I pulled out my LA tour-book that I first bought before moving out here, and generated a list of everything I want to see. Then, I randomly assigned each place to a weekend. My first stop was to The Last Bookstore, a brick-and-mortar privately owned local bookstore in Downtown LA renowned for being incredibly cool.

My theme this year was to be more adventurous, in every sense of the word. The byline of that theme, though, was that I would really really make these adventures come to fruition, rather than dreaming the days away. Putting them on my calendar seemed like the logical next step in seeing my visits accomplished.
Until next time, stay touristy my friends!

 

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Fall-Ow Your Passions

OctMono

This year is the first time in a very long time that I have Halloween off to do whatever I please. Last October 31st, I stood miserably at the front of a restaurant I was hosting at – my second job – as I watched children in costumes happily frolic about with their parents and steal the candy off my stand. In fact, I’ve spent many holidays stuck at work, wishing I could be celebrating the time with my family and friends.

But not this year! 2015 saw my one year anniversary at my current full-time job, as well as the end of my time working a second position. I have been lucky enough that one job supports me enough to only work five out of seven days. Many people work two, even three jobs to support their families, and it wears you down quickly if you’re not careful.

Too often in my adult life, I’ve let a lot of time slip by not doing the things I want to. This past summer came and went without a blip. I dreamed endlessly about hosting a beach BBQ with friends, but never set the time aside to make it a reality.

When fall rolled around, I decided this wouldn’t be the case. I was determined to get out there, enjoy the weather (which is most definitely not fall-esque out here), and celebrate the season. With a little digging, I found an apple festival about three hours north of the city.

I grabbed my brother, and we spent the drive talking and singing along to old Disney tunes. The festival turned out to be a big flop – instead of 140 booths, as advertised online, we saw about maybe 20. The day was drizzly, the crafts were few, and there weren’t as many apple themed foods as we thought there’d be. Afterwards, we toured around the town looking at yard sales, but they were disappointing as well.

Nonetheless, we had a lot of fun, especially on the haunted hayride we rode back in LA that night! I wished the fair had been as engaging as the ones back home are, but I’m so glad I took the chance on it. Had I not gone, I know I would have regretted the decision immensely. As it stands, I was able to spend some quality time with my little bro AND face my fears and sit in the back of that hayride without crying.

I want to continue this streak of DOING rather than WISHING — and so far, it’s paying off! I spent the weekend working on  my apartment, finishing a DIY project, and getting some artwork hung. Stay tuned for updates! And in the meantime, remember that wishing doesn’t get you a cool hayride t-shirt.

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Love the One You Travel With

Last weekend, I finally got my life together enough to go on a long weekend trip to San Francisco with my friend S, and we had a blast! It was her first time there, and my first time getting to do all of the fun touristy stuff. We spent the six hour drive singing along to our favorite pop music, were enraptured by the Golden Gate in all of its foggy wonder, and unwittingly were caught up in a disastrous firecracker lighting ceremony that left us simultaneously laughing and coughing our lungs up.

I wasn't kidding about that fog

I wasn’t kidding about that fog

As I’ve mentioned previously, S is my current bunkmate, and we’ve also done some world traveling together. This past weekend went along so smoothly, though, it got me to wondering why we’re so good traveling together, and what lessons I can take from roughing it with her to apply to adventuring with others.

1). We are aware of and respect each other’s strengths and weaknesses. I am terrible with maps, but I am excellent at solidifying plans and making itineraries. S is amazing with directions, but sometimes lacks the foresight to see things through. We know these things about each other, and are accepting of them. Thus, I never try to plot our route without consulting her, and she lets me take the lead in making hotel reservations.

2). We are very go with the flow. I had really, really wanted to climb Coit Tower while we were in the city, and S was hell-bent on an Alcatraz tour. Sadly, Alcatraz had booked up weeks before we had even imagined ourselves visiting, and Coit Tower closed earlier than we were expecting. Rather than pout about it, we turned our extra time and money into an excellent seaside lunch and tour that involved taking a boat out underneath the Golden Gate and around Alcatraz. It was just as good, if not even more exciting, and at the end of the day our change in plans gave us more to do during our next trip there.

3). We are honest about how we’re feeling. Sunday night was supposed to be our fun night of dressing up and bar-hopping, but after a very full day of sightseeing, I was exhausted to my core. I was nervous to admit this to S, because I didn’t want to ruin the evening, but I could barely keep my eyes open in the cab ride over to the Mission district. Turns out, she was really tired too, and we ended up having a quiet movie night back at our AirBnb.

4). We make time for each other’s interests. I don’t think I could name a single Grateful Dead song to save my life, but S wanted to drop by an old house they had lived in, to honor her Uncle’s love of the group. So we made time for it. After all, she had accompanied me on a random detour into a cool glasses shop, where I spent about an hour and a half picking out a new pair. We realized that the trip was for both of us, and that it was important to honor the things each other was interested in.

5). We had an agreed upon plan for money. I wouldn’t say either of us is miserly, but we are still recent graduates trying to get by on minimal wages. Before we even left, we sat down to discuss how much we were each willing to spend (I wanted to keep my entire portion of the trip to $250), how we were going to pay for gas, etc. This way, there were no hard feelings when stopping at the gas station, or when I ate a breakfast I’d packed from home, rather than eating out. Nothing is more painful or awkward than trying to figure out money issues in the heat of the moment.

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Party of One

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Ask any of my friends and they’ll tell you – when it comes to staying in, I’m the queen. If someone shows the slightest hesitation at going out for the night, I jump all over it like bees on pollen. “Of course you should stay in! Get some rest, watch some Netflix. Who would want to go out after the hellish week you’ve had?!”

Trust me, though, I love a good adventure. Lately, though, it seems like I haven’t had many. The last time I went out with a friend was in early December – we met up to explore Chinatown and have pho. Before that… I don’t even know! My weekends are filled with sleep, working my second job, laundry, and writing (if I can get motivated enough). What I’m missing is passion and trying new things.

I spent a majority of this week wracking my brain to figure out why I’ve become a total homebody shut in, but it wasn’t until this morning that I got my first major clue. A couple girlfriends and I were planning on attending this very cool Hollywood costume exhibit today, and for the last few days had been going back and forth on times. At 10AM, my phone rang. It was my friend, profusely apologizing that she and the others wouldn’t be able to make it, that they had just wrapped on a four day-long set and she woke up feeling absolutely lethargic. Could we re-schedule?

Immediately I agreed – I’d had those weeks where at the end, it’s all you can do to get out of bed and throw some food into your stomach, before climbing back under the sheets. Sets are mentally and physically exhausting, and I wasn’t about to throw a fit and demand she meet me to look at Dorothy’s dress from The Wizard of Oz.

We hung up the phone, and I sat there in my pajamas, mildly wondering What now?

Aha! And there in lies my problem. I’ve been relying too much on friends to do the activities I want to do. About a hundred times a day, I think about the day trips and hikes I want to pursue, followed up quickly by a mental checklist of who’d want to do them with me. Many times, I draw up short, because I haven’t got a friend who adores long hikes like I do, or someone that rock climbs. At that point, I abandon the idea and promise to think about it later, when I’ve got someone to do it with.

Now, I’m seeing a little more clearly that it’s okay to go off and do some of these things by myself. Not having a partner in crime shouldn’t dictate that I’m stuck at home all day, uselessly purusing the Internet. I just relocated my dog-eared guide to Los Angeles and Southern California, and am thinking about scheduling in some places I’ve been dying to see.

Additionally, I’ve got to make a greater commitment to making plans with my friends doing things we all like. My roommate got me a fondue set for Christmas, and I’m eager to put it to use.