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2012: My First Year As A Californian
Some Background Info
Up until January 1st of 2012, I was a resident of Washington state, specifically the area to the west, just north of Seattle. The area I grew up in, Skagit County, was nothing special. It's a rain-soaked hell-hole from which most never escape. Small towns will do that to you, just suck the will to thrive in life right out of you and only the strongest amongst us has the proverbial cajones to bust out and dream big.
I am just such a guy and this is a review of my first year in Southern California.
Shortly after Christmas day, 2011, I packed up whatever essentials I could stuff into my little 2006 Hyundai Tiburon and began the long trip south. I had set up a living situation with an older woman who placed an article on Craigslist to rent out an extra bedroom in her home in Costa Mesa, a swanky town in Orange County within walking distance of the beach. There was also a pretty girl whom I met online and had been in communication with for a few months. She lived nearby and we were going to meet for the first time soon after I arrived. The idea in my head went something like, "I meet her, we fall madly in love, and have 500 babies (give or take)."
So I arrived in Costa Mesa on the evening of Dec. 31 and met the new roommate/landlord.
She seems like a nice lady......
Oh, she has a cat.....
She sure does love that cat.......
Oh my God, all the damn rules of the house revolve around that damn cat!
Aside from the "cat lady" aspect, she is also a pothead. Whatever, I don't judge. Though I did have aspirations of being a cop at the time, so it was a little awkward. I discover later that she, unlike many other potheads, is a high strung raging ball of anxiety who frets over everything, big and small, for hours on end to anyone whom she can hold captive. Most of the time, since I was still looking for work, that someone was me. I was too polite and too grateful for the living opportunity she gave me to ever tell her to just calm the hell down.
Back to the girl, we met on January 2nd and spent the day together. We hadn't yet spoken on the phone, so I was surprised to discover she had a demeanor about her that was not what I was expecting. Over the course of the day, she often would speak in a very hostile and angry tone, like she was pissed at some unnamed person or thing. She wasn't horrible by any means, but I was taken aback by it. It is worth noting that I was also a big wacky ball of nervousness due to finally meeting her and still adjusting to the big transition, so I just let her talk about whatever. I honestly forget most of the conversation, being a year ago and all. Anyway the date came to a close and I haphazardly got a kiss from her, which felt more awkward in retrospect. Then again, it was a kiss on the first date, so, yeah... score.
To cap off the saga of "The Girl From Online," it didn't work out at all. In fact, it went hilariously bad. Well, maybe not hilariously bad, more like heart-shatteringly bad and it stung for many months. She had a powerful influence on me and I'm not sure it's even 100% gone yet, maybe 94.6%. I realized she wasn't the girl who I had been texting for months, but an evil clone created by a mad scientist hellbent on crushing my dreams. Somewhere, the real girl is still chained to a radiator in the mad scientist's basement. I prefer this theory over the truth, because in this scenario, I could go save her and we could fight the mad scientist and his ninja army together. Then we'd get to work on those 500 babies.
Back to reality:
I'd like to say it was all her fault and that I tried my best to appease her ridiculously high standards...so I will, because that is the truth. I even contacted her months later because of the aforementioned lingering influence (I got addicted to the idea of her, addictions don't fade overnight, you know, just ask Lindsay Lohan.), only to discover nothing had changed. I can't hold a grudge and I believe fate probably did me a huge favor, but I'll be damned if that girl didn't stir up some strong feelings.
After that, I continued to look for work, hoping to get back on with the same company I worked for in Washington, but that was proving to be difficult since it was retail and the busy season was just ending. So I filled the time with exploring my new surroundings, getting all the necessary paperwork in order for change-of-address, car titles, etc., and trying volunteer work to help my fellow humans. I volunteered at the Los Angeles Food Bank and, though a rewarding experience, it was also a depressing one. So much food that came in those boxes was unusable garbage and had to be thrown out. I estimate that for every 10 boxes of food donations that arrived, only 1 box could actually be donated. There was so much broken glass jars, punctured bags, and moldy food that spread to otherwise good food. It was heartbreaking. The donations people made seemed mostly like trash they were just getting rid of. I haven't gone back in a while, though I have often thought about it just to do what little help I can.
I discovered a group of folks that got together once a week in Long Beach and played board games at a local coffee house. I joined the group and that is where I met most of the friends I have today, one year later. Eventually the majority of the group abandoned the game night concept, but I stayed and to this day I have become it's official organizer even though I don't get paid jack shit. Oh well, I continue to meet friends and I am really not complaining.
In February of 2012, I met another girl through online means and we seemed to hit it off. However, she was Jewish and, although she had no desire to date a Jewish man, she was constantly fretting about how her parents would react to my decidedly non-Jewishness. This was an odd contradiction in terms that I should have paid more attention to as it did cause some problems. We lasted about a month together, and ended things more or less mutually. She thought I was moving too fast, and I thought she was genuinely paranoid (She believed putting her cell phone in her pocket would give her cancer, like immediately). It was a good decision to end things when they did and I hope she is doing well and cancer-free. I stopped online dating for a while and just felt content to go it alone for another stretch of time.
Come March, I finally got a job with my former company, after much prodding. I settled right back into the same position I had in WA, and just about all of my new coworkers were friendly and easy-to-get-along with. The commute was a killer though and I eventually moved out of crazy Catlady McGuanopants' house and into my own apartment in Hawthorne, which is in the South Bay area of Los Angeles. It's a dump. But it is located very close to many places that aren't dilapidated shitholes, so that's nice. I claimed the commute and gas prices as the reason I moved to the cat lady but the main reason is, and always was, to get the everloving hell out of that soul-draining environment.
April saw the debut of my karaoke addiction, much to the chagrin of anyone within earshot. I never did have aspirations of drunken onstage singing glory, but one night, during a friend's birthday celebration, I was watching the people get up and do their thing and I thought I'd browse the song list catalog, for funsies. To my eternal surprise and delight, I came across a few selections from my all-time favorite band, Rise Against (NOT to be confused with Rage Against The Machine, a common mistake I have noticed.) I remember instantly thinking to myself, "Holy crap, I am going to do karaoke." I had to! I owed it to the band to butcher their songs onstage after consuming copious amounts of alcohol! And butcher I did. I went up there riding a sweet-ass buzz and I just let loose on that stage. Upon viewing the video afterward, I feel I owe an apology to the band and to every able-bodied patron of the bar that evening. When I sing, angels die, and I am obliged to say that entire legions of seraphs have fallen by my voice due to my newly discovered karaoke addiction. My bad.
I'm not sure why I continue to do karaoke knowing just how bad I am, but I do it anyway. If ye be brave enough to subject your eardrums to the horrors, here is a link to my karaoke debut. Ye have been warned.
Assuming you still have the will to live after viewing that, let's move on.
In May, I reunited with my family in Vegas for my little brother's 21st birthday. I didn't think I'd like Vegas much because I don't gamble (with money anyway; with people's lives....that's another story, muahahaha!) but I freakin' love Vegas EXCEPT for the blistering desert heat that Hell itself would be envious of! Holy crap, it's hot, and I spent 3 days and nights swimming in my own clothes, which are now permanently attached to my body. Thank God, Buddha, Tom Cruise, or whomever for air conditioning, which I did not have the honor of receiving until day 4 of my 5 day trip. It was good to see the fam though, for the most part.
Around July, I was ready to pursue my dreams of law enforcement. I had beefed up (sorta) and had studied all I needed to know for the preliminary exams. I passed my first written test for the LAPD and entered into their pre-academy training program while prepping for the next step, the Background Interview. Holy assballs, I hate that background interview! The LAPD, I discovered, is still one of the strictest agencies regarding past marijuana use. I smoked a lot of weed in high school, which I honestly admitted to, and thought I was safe because I stopped doing it 12 years ago. The LAPD said "Nope! You smoked marijuana before, so you can't be a cop." Then they raspberried me, "pllllllpppt!"
I was advised by the recruiters to try another, smaller agency like Long Beach, Torrance, El Segundo, pretty much anywhere outside of LA. If I could get on there, which was far more likely, I could eventually request a transfer into LAPD. So I applied to other agencies and was disheartened to discover that the competition was stiff, and that the openings were few and far between. Determined not to be deterred, I pressed on until I visited LA County Jail in November and witnessed many different officers being absolutely fucking horrible to every inmate, even the ones who were respectful and cooperative. These weren't the cops I wanted to be, these people were acting more like, dare I say it, Nazis! I realized that the job does this to people and, along with all the other knowledge I had gained from my experiences, I realized that this was not for me. The only reason I wanted to be a cop was to help people and use my observational and deductive skills in homicide investigations. The epiphany hit me like a ton of bricks and I made the hard decision to abandon this goal and pursue new avenues. It took me four long years of hard work to have it all end like this, but it's okay. I feel confident about my future still and look forward to the next big adventure. I've narrowed the possibilities to either a filmmaker or freelance unlicensed unicorn therapist.
The rest of summer came and went with little to tell, until August when I met a gal who had heard of my little board game group and decided to join. She was a military gal with three kids and a bizarre personality that I considered unique, at best. She was cute, but she had three kids so I didn't really think too much of it. Over the weeks, we got to be friends and she wanted to learn parkour, a sport-activity thing that I had been learning for over a year, starting in Seattle. I'll let this guy explain what it is. Before I knew it, I found myself dating her, and before long, holy crap, I was meeting her children. I'm still not sure how that happened as it is all a blur.
Things with her lasted a bit over a month and then just went south. Quickly.
She developed a sudden and rapid disinterest in me for reasons that were never fully explained. I treated her great, we had an awesome rapport, and her kids freakin' loved me. But alas it wasn't enough, for reasons I still don't know.
It dawned on me soon after why I didn't immediately go for her in the first place; I have no business dating a single mother of not one, but THREE children. I am emotionally mature enough to have kids and I know I'd be a great dad, but I also want to travel the world, have the freedom to take my gal out and do whatever we want without needing a babysitter, and I want to have kids of my own someday. Honestly, after three kids, this woman isn't likely to have more. I also realized that she had deep emotional scars that I was not able to help her with. So that didn't work out and we tried to just be friends but that was almost worse than dating her for some reason, and she just ignored my existence the last time I tried to contact her. Which is absolutely fine by me, I don't miss having her around at all because we never got that close to begin with. I just miss the kids and I hope they are thriving.
So, if you are keeping score, I have managed to make 3 different women hate my ass.
I testify to my dying day that I did nothing sleazy, illegal, or detestable to earn such loathing. These were all just ridiculously bad personality clashes. Three timeless tales of me "looking for love in all the wrong places."
Maybe "hate" isn't the objective term here to use. Let's go with "have developed a mutually felt indifference." Yeah, that seems more accurate.
Also, at the end of the summer, I busted my Disneyland cherry (at the age of 32) with some cherished friends from back home. Disneyland really is great and I hope to take my niece and nephew someday soon before they get to be my age. I also want to break into the exclusive and (once) secret Club 33, ninja-style if I have to. I also went to Stan Lee's Comikaze Expo in Los Angeles with a friend of mine from work. I had a great time and got to see two comic icons, Stan Lee and Todd McFarlane sit on a large stage and just talk to each other. It sounds boring to the unfamiliar reader, but those two guys have larger-than-life personalities and seeing them bounce off each other was amazing, funny, and brilliant. If you're in the area next year, I highly recommend this event. I also got to meet most of the writers from Cracked .com, one of the internet's top humor sites.
November saw my temporary return to the land of suicide and depression ("We're number 1, we're number 1!"), Washington state, for a week long trip to see the entire family. I did this as a surprise to most, who were not told of my arrival. My best friend, brother, niece, and nephew were pleasantly shocked when I revealed my arrival to them. Jaws were dropped and happiness was born merely of my presence. It felt good, but after less than a day in the cold and rainy shit weather, I was ready to go home. I'm sorry, but I have become spoiled on California weather. I like the sunshine and it likes me and we will never part again, I swear it!!
It's been the most eventful year of my life, bar none. I've learned a lot, I've changed a lot; I've pissed people off, I've impressed people enough to call me a friend, I lost a dream, I gained a new one, I got to see my favorite band perform live TWICE in one year, I performed live myself in front of tens upon tens of people, and I have a great outlook for the next year.
I am in no position to complain, so I won't.