The new apartment

DSC_1071 DSC_1073 DSC_1079

Yesterday, John and I went for a run in our new neighborhood. We went down our street then took a detour through the hills and gawked at the fancy homes. From an overlook, we could see downtown in the hazy distance and the Hollywood sign nearby. Later, we walked to Trader Joe’s. WALKED. Less than a third of a mile from our Silver Lake apartment.

DSC_1081

Almost one month exactly after leaving home in Baltimore, we found our new home in Los Angeles. The search was not without a lot of stress, anxiety, and heartache. We looked at no less than 30 apartments. Some of them were adorable on the inside, as long as you could ignore the sketchy trash- and graffiti-ridden street. Others were advertised as “amazing,” “beautiful,” and “charming”—words thrown around very loosely on Craigslist—only for us to arrive and walk around a dirty unit with crumbling floors and pee in the toilet. Then, there were the two or three apartments we had our hearts set on but were scooped up by other applicants. Did I question this move? Yep. Did I want to cut my financial losses and move back home? I thought about it. Did everything work out the way it was supposed to? Yes. All around, it was a pretty important lesson on faith and positivity, because now that we’re finally feeling settled in the new place, I feel a lot more optimistic about our ongoing job searches.

DSC_1087 DSC_1099 DSC_1105 DSC_1125
L.A. is a rough city. I knew that before coming here, but only in a vague, abstract sort of way. No matter how hard you study the map trying to understand where all the neighborhoods are in relation to one other, you can’t see the distinctions between safe and unsafe. Between gritty and golden. Between gentrification and bitterness. Once on the ground, we figured out very quickly where we did and didn’t want to live. Silver Lake—a neighborhood famous for its vintage shops, rolling hills, and thriving arts scene—was at the top of our list. And I’m so thankful we found this gem in our budget.

DSC_1135

DSC_1129

DSC_1119 DSC_1111

DSC_1112

We still have a lot to do. The job search is proving to be nearly as difficult as finding an apartment was, and we’ll be receiving bills in the mail before long. Orientation for grad school starts tomorrow and I’ll soon be on a crazy schedule. But if we could make it through all the ups and downs of the past month while technically homeless, we can navigate the next steps just fine. Keep you posted, as usual.

DSC_1095

No such thing as certainty

tinyplanet

Tomorrow.

Tomorrow is my last day at my job before I move to L.A. (Less than three weeks away!) In a couple of days, I’ll receive my last full-time paycheck—a bittersweet reminder of the certainty and stability I’m giving up in exchange for adventure and dream fulfillment.

Tomorrow, I will still have a job. The next day, I won’t. That will be my certainty. (That, and sweatpants. Every day.)

The thing about certainty is that it’s often just a very comforting illusion. It’s the product of believing that what we have today will still be around tomorrow and taking whatever that is for granted. If that’s the case, how can a job, a paycheck, or stability be certain? Our perspectives on these things are different than they once were in this still-struggling economy, of course, but sometimes it takes a drastic change—in this case, my own volition to move—to realize none of it was ever certain anyway. I was just lucky.

If there’s ever a time to be uncertain, this is it. It’s like what people keep telling me: “It’s great you’re moving cross-country. Now’s the time to do it.” While I’d like to think I’ll always be the adventurous type, able to pick up and go follow my dream, I don’t disagree with the implication behind those comments. Now is the time. It’s why we’re doing it. While age isn’t a factor for everyone, in general, the older we get and the more rooted we become, the harder it is to make a bold move. There’s no guaranteeing that the future will be a more convenient time. Life doesn’t care about convenience. (The fact that I’m getting my wisdom teeth out one week before we leave is proof of that.)

So what do I know? I know that I can be certain of this moment and my intentions for the next. That’s about it.

I remember the day I quit my old restaurant gig hoping it would be my last. It probably wasn’t my last. I might actually have to master the art of balancing a large tray, once and for all, if I want to pay rent while attending school full-time. Or maybe I’ll be a dog walker. Getting paid to hang out with dogs sounds awesome, except for the poop part. Or maybe there’ll be the perfect writing opportunity, or maybe a combination of all of the above.

I’m open to the possibilities. I am so ready for a change, no matter how scary. Of that, I am certain.

Setting goals vs. actually reaching them

I’ve got to admit something: I am a half-assed flake when it comes to my biggest dreams. But not intentionally.

See, I have this terrible habit of setting goals without ever formulating a proper, detailed plan to reach them. I assume that once I’ve made a goal, even written it down on pretty paper (like you do), that it will somehow magically happen by sheer will. This has often led to major procrastination and last-minute rushing at best, and the intended goal completely deflating and never being realized at worst.

So clearly, I’m no expert on the subject of Getting Shit Done. And I’m not about to tell you How to Get Shit Done when I’ve got plenty of my own shit that needs Getting Done. (Next week’s blog post: “Knowing when you’ve abused the use of capitalization and/or are a bloggy asshat.”) But I am slowly understanding where the holes in my plans (or non-plans, as it were) lie, and it’s worth sharing this recent insight.

The biggest issue for me is a lack of a timeline with smaller, more specific goals to help make the ultimate goal a feasible reality. It’s one thing to create a nice little list of the things you know you need to do. It’s another thing entirely to put those events on a calendar and stick to them. It seems so simple, this idea of taking it step by step. Yet many of us–myself clearly included–are too eager to get to the real deal. We’re so blinded by the shininess of the prospect of glory that we forget that it takes more than a singular thought to suddenly get into grad school, or write a solid first draft, or run the marathon… without collapsing in a sweaty pile of despair.

If the first issue is solved by creating these more manageable goals, it in turn helps fix the second issue, which is not working toward the goal every single day. Imagine the benefits of working just a little bit– whether it’s a mile or page a day– rather than in one big chunk the night before the due date. Of not having to stop and think, “Now what comes next?” Because you already know. Because you haven’t had time to forget where you left off. And, you have your nifty little timeline of events.

These are not exactly ground-breaking revelations here. Many people before me have figured this process out, and with great success to back up its effectiveness. So why can’t I make life a little easier? Why can’t I break it up into cute, bite-sized chunks rather than just winging it and hoping for the best possible outcome?

Admitting your faults is the first step to success. Implementing ways to fix those faults is the necessary step to keep on that track. I’m going to give it a serious go in the coming weeks. If it means going to bed with a sticky note taped to my face, so be it.

What are your plan-making/time management issues? Or, better yet, what are your best practices for avoiding general wastefulness?

WTH?!? Wednesdays – When viruses attack

Happy WTH Wednesday, y’all. It’s been a long week since the karaoke vlogring. The night I decided to share my superior singing and “dancing” skills with the world, a virus decided to find my piece of crap computer. Hilarity ensured. I mean insanity.

First, it started with the pop-up ads. WTH. I knew something was wrong, ’cause I haven’t seen pop-up ads since the early 2000s. Then some invisible man with elevator music started telling me about Angelina Jolie’s recent shenanigans with Zion or Shiloh or Orange or whatever her kid’s name is. I was starting to get worried, but it wasn’t till this happened that I knew I was in deep doo-doo:

That’s right. My non-existant wife and children would find out about every mouse click I made unless I did vague things like submit to spyware’s credit card information requirements. Otherwise, every word I typed would be recorded. Well, crap. I guess I can forget about all potential job offers, because this virus will now determine the outcome of my life. At least, that’s how it made things seem.

My feelings of hysteria only intensified when I made a phone call to the Geek Squad, who wanted to charge me at least $350 to recover my hard drive and protect my computer. WTH. Eff. That. Sheeit. It’s the HOLIDAY SEASON for God’s/Jesus’/Buddha’s/Beiber’s sake. Have some sympathy, guys. I gots presents to buy. The worst part was that the three-year warranty I bought at Best Buy that would protect the computer from EVERYTHING–including frat party beer spills, my god– expired last month. As in, the month before this one right hurr. I’ve done a lot for good karma recently, but apparently, it still hates me. So, I didn’t know what to do. I still had two final papers due before I could graduate from the school thing forever. At least until I feel I have no other choice but to enroll in graduate school– a whole other feat in and of itself. But finally, I found a computer genius who could fix my computer for 200% less than the other guys.

Long story short, everything’s cool, yo. My computer’s good for now– at least until I decide that no PC is worth it and I’d rather spend $2,000 on a Mac than increments of a couple hundred dollars every year to recover plain ole PC documents. I know it’ll be worth it in the end to own a Mac, but shoot– there’s too much to save up for: new computers, trips to Europe, adult diapers. I’m already looking forward to the time when I’ll be able to revel in my adult diaperhood. Yum?

So even though it’s now technically Thursday (shut UP!), I say WTH to another week’s worth of technological-related WTH?!? Wednesdays. But I also say one hell of a congrats to me– I am officially a college graduate, having accomplished such a feat in 3 1/2 years. I am gloating, right here right now. Now I plan on drinking generous amounts of things and casually browsing Craigslist for freelance opportunites. This is adulthood.

WTH?!?

From Book Fest to Beer Fest: 21 and then some

While usually long periods of time in between posts are due to my extreme laziness, debauchery or simply having nothing worthy to say, I have a decent excuse this week: I am newly 21.

Huzzah! Kudos! or Mad propz! you shout. Yes, this is indeed thrilling. A whole new world of opportunities is at my feet. New doors are opening to me– mostly the doors of bars and liquor stores, and I’m okay with that. I’m glad to finally be rid of the same ID I’ve been carrying around since I was 16, and I’m glad my other ID can go in a scrapbook. (I recently gave my old wallet to my youngest sister, forgetting this very important card was still lodged inside. “Cassie,” sister asks, “you used to live in Tennessee?” “…No, give that back.”)

Now, I can drink the same drinks I’ve been drinking for years without feeling sneaky, guilty or paranoid. Plus, I won’t have to rub the top layer of skin off my hands while trying to remove unnecessarily large Sharpie “X”es off my hands. Let the good times roll.

Since my birthday was on a Sunday, John took me out for an incredible dinner late Saturday night at a restaurant called Tio Pepe’s in Baltimore. Oh mah gah, was it good. We ate artichoke hearts drizzled with heaven sauce as an appetizer, then moved onto lobster/crab/shrimp/oyster/chicken/sausage-filled paella while drinking a buzz-inducing amount of Sangria throughout. Later, I had the opportunity to bar hop starting at midnight and only drunkenly embarrassed myself once when I truly believed the elevator would totally open for me if I just walked right into it.

It was a great night, and it seemed my birthday could only get better. Sunday, John and I went to the first annual Baltimore Beer Festival, which was located at the Canton Waterfront Park. I got my first “over 21” wristband and a teeny beer mug which I could refill as much as my heart or liver desired. Wearing my brand new (pink!) Ravens jersey from someone who obviously reads my blog, I pranced around happily from vendor to vendor during what was the most gorgeous day of the season.

But as we left the festival, a (literally) sobering text brought news of a family member in the hospital. It was news that brought us back to reality, putting us face-to-face with a stinging reminder of human mortality and vulnerability. We spent much of the next couple of days pacing around in waiting rooms or elsewhere, hoping to hear good news. Finally, we did. And then, after what seemed like a forever-long wait, everything was going to be fine, and we could sigh a huge sigh of relief.

This event served as a reminder of the things that are most important to me that have nothing to do with beer or partying. And it certainly makes me take the people I love less for granted. There’s nothing like a surprise hospital visit to make you reevaluate your priorities.

Luckily, I get to write about this incident with only positive news. Aside from my birthday, there are even better things to celebrate now that everyone is safe and healthy. In the meantime, I get to enjoy my week off from some of my most time-consuming responsibilities and buy some beer just for the heck of it.

But if I don’t start getting carded soon, I’m seriously going to be mad that I didn’t try this stuff more often as an underager.