Nine Months in LA! NIGHT!

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Ah, picking up from my “six months” writeup of what life in LA has been like, especially after 18 months of travel…

Soon after the six month mark, I decided life wasn’t as I wanted it and set about looking for a new job and apartment. The role I found was exactly what I was looking for in so many aspects and it worked out perfectly. I started my new job a few weeks ago and will be moving into my third apartment in nine months on Sunday haha. I signed a 12-month lease this time. It will be good.

Back to what I’ve been doing with myself, following the themes of “SUN ALL DAY, FUN ALL NIGHT!” with “sun” and “day” topics already covered.

DRINK

Just kidding.

When I first moved to Santa Monica, I discovered the Misfit, which had a delicious happy hour. There was another popular place called the Bungalow, but I just went to shoot pool on weeknights and meet random people. Weekends were douchey.

I liked this.

I win.

There was one night my favorite wanker banker named Derek asked me if I wanted to go to Easter Island, to which I responded, “When?” not realizing this was not a normal response because he laughed and said, “You’re not going to ask why or how?… This is why we’re friends.”

He introduced me to one of his favorite watering holes and his friendly bartender made us his favorite drink with some twists.

Amazingly enough, this is probably the only bar I might actually ever be classified as a “regular”, since I’ve never been a bar person. I’m usually in Hollywood nowadays if I’m going out at night.

NIGHT DRIVES

When I have insomnia, there’s a 2-3 hour loop I go cruising. From Santa Monica, take the Pacific Coastal Highway up to Malibu. If I’m feeling adventurous/risky, continue to Mulholland Drive and ride all the curves to Hollywood, and then come back using traditional high-speed freeways.

RANDOM THOUGHTS

LIVE ENTERTAINMENT

One of my favorite things about LA is that THERE IS ALWAYS SOMETHING TO DO! I went a little nuts when I first arrived and have only slightly improved in the sense that I don’t go out EVERY day, just most nights of the week…

I see a show at least once a month at the UCB. Going to start venture out to other comedy places.

Oh the concerts!

Yes, I do.

The Hollywood Bowl is one of my favorite venues. Outdoor amphitheater in the middle of summer, enjoying the evening breeze (and it’s BYO!). I love it!

I also win tickets for concerts on occasion, thanks to LA Weekly or Time Out or whatever resources there are that help me know what’s going on every single day at any given time…

There were periods where I went to at least a concert a week.

Concerts on the beach!

Concerts at historic, small, intimate venues in Hollywood.

NIGHTCLUBS

Haven’t gotten sick of them yet.

I’ve been to most if not all the EDM nightclubs in LA.

Always fun. Although now I wait for particular DJs to go.

Go until 3 or 4 a.m.

I think I went three in a row one week. That was my limit haha.

I love to jump! :P

ART

Oh, the variety.

Lampposts outside LACMA.

ROOFTOP BARS

Rooftop at Shangri-La.

After a day at the beach.

Perch in DTLA.

RED CARPET

Okay, this was definitely a one-time occasion haha. One of my roommates at my first apartment was an actress and she invited me to her movie premiere. :) It was a fun experience!

Six Months in LA! DAY!

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I realized this past weekend was my six month anniversary of moving to Los Angeles. What have I been doing with myself since July 10, 2014 in Southern California? A runner I saw once in Santa Monica had a shirt that declared “SUN ALL DAY, FUN ALL NIGHT” which succinctly sums up my LA life credo.

DAY!

SO MUCH TO DO! I spend a lot of time by myself in LA. adventuring as I please. This is sometimes fortunate, sometimes unfortunate. I may have a lot of friends, but they’re everywhere else. That’s fine though, I can entertain myself rather well and keep busy. There are so many events going on that I’m rarely ever bored. Everyone else is missing out! :P

PARKS

I am not very good at relaxing but when I do, I love to go to the park! In particular, Palisades Park, which overlooks the Pacific Ocean, because it is conveniently a block away from where I live and very pretty. I regularly walk, jog, or read in Palisades Park. The beach is just too far some days haha.

I recently bought a Kindle so I would grab a sarong, portable speaker and iPod, and lay out in the sun. I am too lazy to carry a lounge chair like she did:

“Is the weather like this everyday?” I LOVE IT!

I think I only want to live in places with palm trees from now on.

FOOD

Mmm, probably my favorite topic after travel. I haven’t taken nearly enough photographs of food since I’ve been here.

Authentic Mexican is easy to come by.

Sashimi in West Hollywood.

Comfort Vietnamese food in Little Saigon.

My slight splurge when I realized it was my 6 month anniversary of being in LA. I celebrate random things in life, like half-birthdays too.

Food trucks are fun, whenever I can find them! There’s probably an app for it, but I like to just discover them by accident.

CANYON DRIVES

For days I’m feeling a bit reckless or in the mood for a more thrilling drive, I go into the canyons in Malibu area.

It’s scenic.

I’m not the only one to go cruising on these switchbacks.

I love the windy roads! It’s like a race track. :P

TRYING SOMETHING NEW (KIND OF) / RANDOM THOUGHTS

There was a cold spell in LA (defined as 40s-50s, which is cold when you have no fall/winter clothing!) and so I baked my usual dark chocolate chip walnut cookies. This year however, I tried something new and added seven year aged bourbon to the cookie dough for fun. Yum. Only half the cookie dough ended up being baked haha.

Everyone in LA seems to do yoga so I signed up for classes and quickly realized it was much too slow/relaxed for me. For 90 long minutes, it is more of a mental challenge to stay awake than it is physically challenging. I want to get back into krav maga or boxing, something intense and violent! :D

I went to exactly one Meetup so far to meet locals and it involved rollercoasters. :)

Out of curiosity, I attended an AA meeting last week. It was a very interesting experience. Someone asked me how long I had been sober and I thought, Less than 24 hours.

YES! :D

WANDERING

There was one afternoon I drove up to Thousand Oaks since I was going to Malibu anyway to pick up some musical theater tickets. At the Civic Arts Center, I came across an arts festival and best yet, a violin to play with! I also test drove a car and pretty much treated to free lunch for it.

I went for a bike ride a few times, which is fantastic on the beach path! Sunlight, ocean breeze in hair, interesting people and sights to roll past. I will get another bike this year probably.

A friend invited me over for a bonfire one Sunday evening after a day of rollercoasters.

Walking around the Venice Canals and admiring the unique architecture of the surrounds.

This was on my commute to work one morning. I live about five miles away from work and it agonizingly takes half an hour. My strategy is to put on party music every morning.

I visit Little Saigon, which is in Orange County, once a month. Cheap, delicious Vietnamese food and $20/hr massages makes for a great half day excursion. It’s about an hour south of where I live. Thai Town, my other comfort place, is about an hour east.

I have only explored a small portion of Santa Monica so far. I read a summary of the different Los Angeles neighborhoods once and it described Santa Monica as a Whole Foods if it were a neighborhood haha. Sometimes I’m a little shy about telling people which area of Santa Monica I live in, because it’s apparently the ritzier area. Yay for rent control!

Sometimes when I feel like going somewhere and/or if I don’t want to lose my street parking spot, I walk over to the Third Street Promenade and enjoy the buskers and tourist-watching.

HIKING

I used to travel often to Malibu for hiking (and then relaxing on the beach after!). Now I’m finding a lot of hikes I want to do in Hollywood that are on my list.

The following are from Malibu Creek State Park:

An eight mile walk in the park one day.

WEEKEND TRIPS

Coming back one morning from Manhattan Beach (which actually isn’t that far from me, but I just always go north to Malibu.) I need to explore the other beach cities south of me.

One day trip to Santa Barbara:

California wine country:

I used to drive the six hours to San Francisco (9+ if by Pacific Coastal Highway) almost every month for some reason or other. It’s slowed down to every other month because that’s quite a long ways for just a 2-day weekend and I am trying to focus on exploring LA more.

REALITY CHECKS

Ah, things you don’t have to think about when a nomad.

I also work too. This always made me laugh:

RUNNING

I wanted to have a personal challenge after I moved to LA (aside from the normal challenges!) so I decided in September to sign up for a half marathon. It was always on my bucket list to do 13 miles, for no reason other than I really like the number 13. I gave myself two months to train, which was probably ambitious by most people’s standards, especially for not ever being a runner. The longest distance I ever trained was about eight miles, along the beaches of Santa Monica and Venice.

On one morning run, there was this fun surprise:

Finally, the day before the race:

I had a kickass playlist prepared.

The only time I paused my music was for the taiko drums.

We ran along the beach.

At the end, I didn’t realize I would get a medal. ACCOMPLISHED!

I am signed up for a 10 mile race in San Diego next month. 10 miles is easy enough. It’s after 10 miles that’s rough haha.

Yep. Can’t sit still.

Six Months in LA! SUN!

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I realized this past weekend was my six month anniversary of moving to Los Angeles. What have I been doing with myself since July 10, 2014 in Southern California? A runner I saw once in Santa Monica had a shirt that declared “SUN ALL DAY, FUN ALL NIGHT” which succinctly sums up my LA life credo. When I am not working, I am generally in full adventuring mode. Friends from the U.S. and abroad have visited nearly every weekend for the past six months, which has been amazing! Otherwise, I’m wandering around everywhere (particularly where there’s good food haha).

SUN!

I’ve been trying to recreate the pleasures and freedom of travel life to minimize post-travel depression. I had basically followed summer around the world and wanted to keep to year-round warm, sunny weather. I half-joke about being powered by the sun, being from Florida (also known as the Sunshine State!), but it’s true.

My happiest days travelling were essentially oceanfront or in the ocean, so I wanted to live by the beach. Currently, I live a block away from Santa Monica State Beach, which is my weekday beach. On the weekends, I cruise up the Pacific Coastal Highway to Malibu, which is about half an hour away. My favorite beach is a 45 minute drive, which is worth the extra time and distance because of its remoteness and view. I appreciate/miss my near-private beaches. ;)

SUNSETS

My favorite part of the day isn’t day or night, it’s sunset, the twilight hour. Over the summer, I was able to watch everyday after work since it would be light out til 7 or 8 p.m. Nowadays, I only have the opportunity on the weekends because the sun sets at 4:45 p.m.

It’s awesome being a block over from the aptly named Ocean Avenue.

The following are favorites from Santa Monica, taken during my solo sunset runs/walks/watch:

From Venice:

From Malibu:

As the sun sets, the moon rises, and so does my excitement about nighttime fun! :D

Landing in Los Angeles!

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June 13.

BCN > FRA > LAX.

I was in disbelief. Was this really happening? Finally? I was on one of the last flights ever for this epic 18 month trip. I had never been to Los Angeles, but I was excited. I had met some very cool people from LA during my travels and had a good friend living there that I’d been meaning to visit for years. Such incentive to go and procrastinate the true homecoming! Sean, whom I had met on a bus bound for Ha Long Bay this past December, would be hosting me in Venice Beach. May, my former party buddy at Boston University, would be picking me up at the airport. I hadn’t seen her since graduation! JB, a good friend from Boston, was visiting LA the same time I was! This was going to be fantastic! :D

I WAS GOING TO BE ON AMERICAN SOIL AFTER 18 MONTHS! Oh em gee.

I peered out in awe as we flew over the city. Yep, this is happening. There were mountains! I recognized downtown LA’s cityscape from the movies. Fun!

It’s difficult to express all the emotions and thoughts of going home. Don’t be sad it’s over, be happy it happened! I felt like I had lived, experienced so many amazing things and places, and now they would exist only in my memories. How much had I changed? I was tired of being on the road, the constant happy hellos and heartaches of goodbyes, and was ready to return to familiar grounds and faces. I felt fulfilled by what I had accomplished in my past, living in the present and enjoying it, only looking forward to the future and what adventures it may bring. There would be reunions (with hugs!) with friends, new and old, on the West Coast, then seeing more friends and family back on the East Coast. The reality of having to find a job, an apartment, and a city to live in lingered in the back of my mind. I felt like many people were waiting to see what would happen to me. The fear of joblessness is what keeps many people from quitting their jobs and traveling the world, it seemed. That, and a certain amount of crazy/courage. Happy, sad, glad, excited, tired, nervous, giddy, I was all of the above as the plane began its descent. Wherever you go, there you are!

The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.
The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.
Gilbert K. Chesterton

At Los Angeles International Airport, the immigration process back into the country was easy enough. I half expected the officer to say, “Welcome home,” a la Inception (cue Hans Zimmer music!) as he cleared my stamp-filled passport. Don’t you realize I’ve been not-here for ages?! May found me (YAY!) and drove me in her Prius (hehe!) to the car rental location to pick up my own car. I was so used to driving a manual car it took me a good few minutes and too-sensitive braking to acclimate to driving an automatic again haha.

Time for new adventures in this strange country called America! :)