Adventure vs. Anxiety

Today I’m going to talk about why I haven’t been posting anything recently, why I’ve been so stressed out, and why I hate making large life decisions. It’s a simple word – we’ve all heard it and used it in less extreme cases and really it’s something so simple and psychological I sometimes want to just smack myself for letting it stop me. Did you guess yet? It’s anxiety.

Anxiety is one of those things that no one ever wants to talk about (which is ironic that I’m talking about it on my entrance back to the blogging stage). According to Merriam-Webster, anxiety is “an uneasy state of mind”. In plain English, it’s the thing that makes you want to stay in at night instead of hanging out with friends, or it’s the thing that makes your mind run at a thousand miles an hour, or it’s the thing telling you your blog posts are crap and you should find a new hobby (cough). Anxiety is really quite annoying.

But you know what? My blog posts aren’t crap (or maybe they are) and I want to keep sharing them with the world regardless. Who gives a shit if they’re not as prime as some of the bloggers I look up to? They’re still mine to share and mine to love and nothing else matters. Anxiety be darned.

As much as I joke about anxiety though, it’s a real, confining thing. Recently, a friend and I have been making plans to go camping in Yosemite over the summer. When we were discussing our schedule for the few days, she mentioned she wanted to hike Half Dome and told me I should start training and arm conditioning now. My brain went, ‘Training? Arms? Aren’t we just hiking?’ After some quick Googling though, I learned that Half Dome is one of the most iconic and difficult hikes in Yosemite. And why train your arms? Well because the last 400 ft of the hike involves you pulling yourself up by some cables attached to a rock, requiring a fair bit of arm strength.

Huh.

My first reaction to this idea was “Wow! This sounds awesome! I’m gonna do it!”, quickly followed by, “Shit, that looks terrifying.” A bit more Internet research and hiker testimonials has now put me right around “Okay, it’s manageable but it’s really hard but OMG what am I doing I’m going to die.” And thus I’ve hit my wall. Because I am so convinced that with some regular training I can conquer this hike, and with a bit of fear-of-heights-swallowing at the end, I believe I could even finish the cables section and get to the very top, I am so determined to do this hike. But this also doesn’t stop me from having a panic attack about every other day about it. What if I slip and fall? What if I get a muscle cramp? What if I let my friend down? Whatifwhatifwhatif?

That’s the root of anxiety – the questions that buzz through your head at a million miles per second, making you want to call your friend and tell her you can’t do it, even if you know you can. It’s a life-freezing thing that stops you in your step, freaks you out, and makes you want to hermit away from the world until it’s too late to accomplish the things you missed out on. It’s debilitating, it’s annoying, and it’s heart-breaking.

One of the hardest things about this whole anxiety-blocking-my-hiking-dreams thing is that I absolutely love hiking. I’ve only really gotten into the activity in the last year but it has swept me up in its path. Just this past weekend I hiked Escondido Falls and, while most of our group stopped at the bottom of the falls, I dare-devilishly ventured to the top of the falls with a few other girls to witness a grander waterfall and feel more accomplished than before. I’m constantly looking for new iconic hikes to expand my hiking repertoire. Between the exercise and the return to nature, hiking has become the perfect activity for me. And then anxiety has to get in the way of all that.

People hate talking about anxiety, along with many other mental illnesses and instabilities, but I’m all for starting the conversation and making it louder and louder so that everyone can understand the struggle that accompanies these things. That’s a blog post for another time but for now, I making myself a public pledge: I will not let anxiety stop me from accomplishing my goals. I will post my blog posts even if my brain says they’re crap and I will do the Half Dome hike this summer. I can do it. And so can you.
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Serial-ly Addictive

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT!

Like many other armchair detectives, I’ve recently become engrossed in the widely popular podcast Serial. I’ve always been a fan of murder mystery-detective-type stories. From Agatha Christie’s famous whodunits to the BBC’s Sherlock to watching way too much Criminal Minds with my roommates, I’ve always enjoyed piecing together the various clues of a case — determining motive, analyzing evidence, and ultimately solving the cases. Maybe it’s the problem-solving aspect of mysteries, but I love hearing every detail and angle of these cases, trying to beat the clock and solve them before the answer is revealed. I can’t say I’m good at it, but it’s still fun.

So when a friend mentioned the Serial podcast to me about a week ago, I figured I’d check it out. A 1999 case of a high school girl murdered by her ex-boyfriend (or so they think). Sounds pretty interesting, right? For those of you who haven’t listened to this series yet, a little background: The podcast reviews the 15-year-old murder case of Hae Min Lee, a high school senior, murdered by her then-recent ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed. Adnan became a suspect when his accomplice Jay Wilds testified against him, explaining Adnan and his own (Jay’s) role in the murder and burial of Hae. However, Adnan stands by his innocence and as the narrator begins to open up the old case, the messiness of the trial tumbles out and giant questions about the murder case arise.

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As many critics have said, Serial is extremely addictive in nature. The podcast is structured so that a different angle is viewed each week, slowly building up a case as the police might. First, motives and alibis, then witnesses, then evidence, and so on. It keeps you on the edge, wanting to keep listening so you can hear more clues and keep trying to piece it together. While I didn’t necessarily enjoy the narrator injecting her own thoughts and opinions every so often, she raised a large number of hard hitting questions that made me continue to re-look at the case in more and more different lights. By the end I wanted to take all the testimonies, suspicions, he-said-she-said’s, and toss them away to look at the case from the ground up, facts and hard evidence only.

Why do I say this? Well, after listening the first few episodes you’ll know that there are an extraordinary amount of inconsistencies, lies, conflicting facts, and confusions within the case itself that it’s hard to figure out how the case even came to a conclusion in the first place. With who knows how many maddeningly different timelines along with straight-out poor handling of the case facts, the whole situation could not be more confusing. Constantly, there a pieces of evidence that are brought up only to be pushed aside later and forgotten. The whole case, in my eyes, was handled terribly. Instead of analyzing all different possibly explanations on how the murder could have occurred and who could have been involved, police and prosecutors jumped straight to one conclusion and forced evidence to fit the timeline.

My biggest problem with the case is the lack of focus on DNA evidence. As someone who is science-minded, hard facts like DNA should be the basis of any investigation. Skin samples under the victim’s nails, strands of hair, any DNA evidence left on things at the scene of the crime should all take priority, matching DNA to suspects or those involved rather than just assuming they must match. In the case with Hae’s murder, almost no DNA evidence was every actually examined, and for what reason, I have no idea. If the skin under Hae’s nail doesn’t match Adnan’s but matches someone else, shouldn’t we examine this other person rather than pointing the finger solely at Adnan because he was the ex-boyfriend?

Similarly, the lack of actual hard evidence makes the whole case extremely hard for me to digest. Now, I haven’t read the case files or gone through the records with a fine tooth comb, but from the brief mentions during the podcast, it sounds like hard evidence like rope and empty alcohol bottles from the crime scene were largely ignored. The conviction was turned out solely based on witness testimonies, many of which conflicted or changed throughout the course of the trial, without any basis in hard factual evidence. It blows my mind.

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Coming down to it all, you’re probably wondering, ‘Well, who do you think did it?’ Honestly, I really don’t know. I haven’t done all my research on the case to make a firm judgement. But from the podcast, I heard enough to determine that the whole case seems fishy. I can’t say if Adnan is lying or telling the truth, but my brain keeps going back to episode one, where the narrator points out that people tend to forget the details of the days that are completely ordinary — a point that tells me that Adnan probably wasn’t involved. I also can’t pin down Jay, who’s constantly changing testimony, timeline, and involvement in the crime makes me really question him as a reliable source, even if he claims he was just trying to protect friends and family by keeping them uninvolved. His whole story sounds extremely wrong to me. If I were to make a conclusion, I would say a third person was involved — someone who maybe had a grudge against Adnan for some reason and used Jay as an accomplice (like Jay says) but threatens Jay enough to get him to frame Adnan as the murderer instead of the third party. Or maybe it simply was a random murder.

Unfortunately, Serial season 2 won’t be covering the continuation of this case, despite me eagerly awaiting to hear more about the development of the DNA evidence. In any case, Serial gave me a new perspective on murder mystery cases and I encourage anyone who enjoys on-edge whodunits to check out this podcast. But be forewarned, you might lose about 12 hours of your coming week gripped by this addictive series!

7 Types of People You See in the Airport

Today I’m flying to Chicago. Flying is not an unusual thing for me – I’ve been flying since I was 6 months old (not by myself, but you get it). I’ve got the airport routine down: check in for your flight 24 hours early to get the best boarding group, wear comfortable clothes that you don’t mind sitting in for 4-8 hours and don’t require dis- and re-assembly during security, show up to security with your laptop and tiny bag of liquids (if any) already out and ready to dump in the bin, board the plane ready to stow my overhead bag (if any) asap and get out of the aisle so others can go by, etc. But if you’ve ever travelled, you know that most people are not this prepared for flying (and you know that you might be one of them).

People watching in the airport (because security only took 10 minutes and you’re now 2 hours early for your flight – hi, that’s me today) can reveal all sorts of interesting characters. Where are these people going? What’s their purpose in flying? Why today not tomorrow? But no matter where these people are going or why, it’s easy to distinguish a few different types of people that you really will only come across in the airport.

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1. The College Kid

While all the flyers that fall into this category are probably in fact not in college, it is easy to assume that these trawling travelers might still spend their nights cramming for exams. Usually clad in yoga pants or chubbies and often sporting a college sweatshirt (or any sweatshirt), these flyers are the kings of comfort. They don’t give two shits what they might actually look like (some of them have literally rolled straight out of bed) but they are going to be the most comfortable people on the plane. No stiff jeans or fancy shirts to confine these travelers – they can practically do yoga while they’re squished into their tiny coach seats. And by yoga, I mean finding the most odd (but oddly comfortable) sleeping position to pass out in once the flight starts its ascent. With their no-shits attitude, these travelers tend to be nonchalant in their traveling, not rude but not always kind either (sometime they roll out on the wrong side of the bed) and ultimately easy to exist around during the uncomfortable situation that is airports. Maybe that’s cause they are built for comfort.

Special features: Neck pillows, expensive headphones (not uncommonly of the Dr. Dre variety), and exotic printed leggings/shorts.

2. The Business Man

We all know this one: the men and women clad in full business suits, complete with tie and bluetooth ear piece. Most often seen at night during the odd flying hour known as the redeye flights, these travelers live lives unbeknownst to the common man. How can they be comfortable in a suit and tie, we plebeians ask, and still not get their shirt creased after hours sitting still. They are a mystery amongst us. Depending on where you’re flying from or to, these flyers can range from obnoxiously loud as they complete business deals via their bluetooths to uncharacteristically stoic, entranced by the New York Times and the Economist. No matter who they are, you know they’ll be the one with infinite-battery laptop, working on Excel spreadsheets more complicated than quantum physics on the plane.

Special features: Amazingly tiny roller bags (how do they fit it all??), foreign newspapers, and waist-clip name badges (so you can identify what crazy company makes their employees travel in a four-piece suit).

3. The Over-Eager Vacationer

Usually composed of a family of four, including two small children and a father dressed in some sort of loud hawaiian shirt, this traveler is the vacationer on steroids. Equipped with god-knows how many suitcases, matching T-shirts, and travel guides up the wazoo, they are so excited to go to (insert beach-y vacation spot) that you’d think they had just found out they had won the lottery. Although not outwardly rude, they can lose track of their airport surrounding while fantasizing about fancy drinks with little umbrellas in them that they can become a slight roadblock to other travelers. Ultimately harmless, the over-eager vacationer has one goal in mind and any length of flight won’t stand in their way.

Special features: Leash children, hawaiian lais, and multiple pairs of sunglasses.

4. The Retired Vacationer

Unlike the Over-Eager Vacationer, the Retired Vacationer has a more casual approach to their traveling experience. Generally in the upper age range, this flyer doesn’t care about hawaiian shirts or fruity drinks on beaches, they’re just going someplace to go someplace. With nothing better to do, they board flights to wherever they can kick back and continue doing nothing. They are living the retired life the right way. And if they’re really doing it right, they’re also playing the wheelchair card to get a free ride all around the airport. I mean, what’s not to love?

Special features: Canes with ornate handles, old fashioned cloth baggage, and sunglasses that resemble the shades your optometrist gives you after you get your eyes dilated. 

5. The Average Joe

You could have literally picked this flyer straight off the street. They camouflage themselves easily into the heard of travelers wearing a mismatch of odd clothing, constantly looking a little lost, just like any other person in a city they don’t know – except they’re in an airport. Who knows where they’re going or why, these travelers seem to have no clear purpose and thus remain the average joe of the traveling tribe. Often with very little baggage and a slow rambling gait, the average joe fades into the background of air travel, acting as the filler persons between the Vacationers and Business Men of the airport.

Special features: Shirt, shoes, and cell service.

6. The Group

Like a herd of wild animals, the group travelers are possibly the most comical of all travelers. Between sports teams and school groups, the group travelers are easily identified by matching something, be it backpacks, lanyards, jerseys, or obnoxious baseball caps. Together they traverse the airport as a human amoeba, usually with at least one chaperone snapping at the stragglers and guiding the individuals to “stay with the group”. Due to their large size, the Group is impossible to ignore, not only because of their uniformity but because of their innate ability to constantly be in the way. But fret not, their matching attire is enough to make even the most frustrated traveler laugh a bit before shoving their way through.

Special features: Tour guide with portable microphone and literally matching everything.

7. Special Sighting Today: The Musician

This was a new one that I spotted today: the traveling musician. Lugging around a giant instrument in what looks like an industrial strength case, this traveler seemed to find issue with every possible thing that happened in the airport, especially when it concerned their instrument. To the everyday person, their instrument was an instrument, but to these musicians, their instrument was worth more than their first born and they made sure everyone in the airport knew it. Eclectically dressed as if they had just come a performance with the symphony but had slept in their clothes, these travelers expected people to bow in their wake as they complained of lugging their enormous instruments across the airport. But fret not, as a traveler, they won’t bother you if you don’t bother them. Music to your ears.

Special features: Bowtie, conductor’s baton, and long locks like Rapunzel.

Now to hit the skies. Tell me about any airport characters you’ve encountered in the comments! Happy flying!

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Liebster Award

EXCITEMENT! Today something super special has happened! My wonderful friend Erika from Bearika Rose has nominated me for the Liebster Award! At first I didn’t really know what this was, but after some internet trawling, I’ve discovered that the Liebster Award is an on-going award for bloggers who have less than 200 followers. Essentially, the award aims to give smaller, newer, younger blogs a bit more exposure and help readers (like you) discover such blogs (like me). I’m definitely still new to the blogosphere but I’m loving it so far and I’m so thankful to Erika for nominating me! Erika was one of my inspirations for starting this blog so I’m so glad that she’s enjoyed reading my posts as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them. Now to pass this award along!

Liebester Award

The Rules for the Liebster Award:

  1. Thank and link the person who nominated you. (Done!)
  2. Write the rules and display the award. (Done-zo!)
  3. Answer 11 questions and write 11 of your own.
  4. Nominate 11 other bloggers (with less than 200 followers) and don’t forget to let them know.
  5. Write 11 facts about yourself.

11 Questions from Erika:

1. How did you come upon the name of your blog?

I feel like this is the question every person comes across at some point in their life, whether it’s choosing a username, a title, or even naming your cat. Originally, when I was toying with the idea of starting this blog, I was just finishing up #100happydays on my Instagram and was getting a little nostalgic about soon not taking pictures every day so I first came up with the idea of a photo-oriented blog. Then, the more I thought about blogging and what blogging really is, I realized it’s sort of like writing letters and sending them to the entire world. As someone who originally aspired to be a creative writer, I definitely wanted to incorporate writing into my blog as well. So, ultimately, I combined the two concepts and creates Pixels (for photos) and Prints (for words). And alliteration because who doesn’t love some alliteration?

2. What’s your favorite number and why?

This is probably a really stupid reason, but my favorite number is 2 because I like things that come in pairs, it adds and multiples itself to the same number, it’s even, and it’s prime. I’m a nerd.

3. If you could pick a day to relive, what day would it be?

I’ve thought about this question for a while now and I think I’ve decided that I wouldn’t relive any day. I’ve enjoyed so many days in my life that it’s impossible to pick just one and it just makes me strive more to have even more exciting and wonderful days to come.

4. What do you think is your best piece of writing to date?

This is a toss-up between two completely different pieces. One is this short story I wrote a few years ago about a young kid growing up in a gang-controlled metropolitan jungle. It was a really fluid story that just seemed to flow out of me and fit. I haven’t been able to touch it since the new words don’t seem right. The other is an analytical essay about Freud’s Oedipus complex as seen in Murdoch’s A Severed Head. Yep, incest. My professor said it was the best paper he’d read since he started teaching. So apparently I’m good at writing about incest. Woo?

5. How do you wake up in the morning? Easily? With an alarm clock? In the afternoon?

Unfortunately, since I’ve entered the working world, I’ve become uncomfortably used to waking up at 6:45 every morning. Despite this, I am still not a morning person so don’t expect me to be civil before I’ve had a shower and brushed my teeth. During the school year, my sleep schedule tends to lean much closer to noon though. If only the workplace would let me work late and wake late, then I’d be living the dream.

6. What’s your favorite piece of clothing?

Oddly enough, it’s this patterned summer hi-lo dress (that I’m actually wearing in my picture up there on the right). It’s super comfy and easy to wear and looks cute no matter how ugly I’m feeling that day. Although I guess I should say my yoga pants are my favorite piece of clothing since I probably wear those more than anything else – whoops.

7. If your life had a theme song, what would it be?

Ke$ha. Yes, judge away, Ke$ha is my inspiration and sings the songs of my life. So to choose a theme song: “We R Who We R”.

8. Advice to your younger self?

Don’t be mean to your mum! She’s the most lovely human ever and she’s not out to make your life miserable, I promise. Trust me, she’s going to be your best friend in a few years, so might as well jump start the process and become friends now!

9. You can eat for free at one restaurant for the rest of your life, what restaurant?

Oooooo, this is hard. In’n’out? Noah’s bagels? Chipotle? No, no, I think I’d have to pick Urth Cafe. Foodie haven, complete with coffee foam art.

10. What film are you most looking forward to seeing this summer?

Hands down, The Fault in Our Stars. It is easily one of my all-time favorite books and I have heard amazing things about the film that I simply can’t wait to see it. Buuuuut, I’m planning to wait until it’s out of theaters to watch it so that I won’t publicly humiliate myself with the amount of tears I shed during the movie.

11. Who do you need to thank more in your life?

My friends. I love them all so much and I’ve recently realized exactly how much they’ve helped me and supported me through some of the toughest times in my life. If you’re reading this, friends, I love you all and can’t thank you enough for being so awesome and incredible!

11 Questions from me:

  1. What’s one thing on your bucket list?
  2. If you could go to any country where would you go and why?
  3. Who’s your favorite superhero?
  4. Would you ever hitchhike and if so, where?
  5. What’s your favorite ice cream flavour?
  6. If you could magically acquire any skill, what would it be?
  7. Nutella or peanut butter?
  8. What’s your weirdest expression or habit?
  9. Did you have any inspiration when you started your blog?
  10. What’s your guilty pleasure?
  11. You just won the lottery, what do you do?

11 Bloggers I Nominate:

Megan from Catty Fashion

Tricia from 50 Shades of Flavour (It’s my mum!)

…and unfortunately I haven’t been in the blogosphere long enough to know many more blogs that fit the category of this award. The ones I’ve listed are awesome though!

11 Facts about me:

  1. A few years ago, I taught myself ukulele. I’ve forgotten most of it now but I’m planning to pick it up again soon!
  2. I have two adorable, sassy cats who I’m casually obsessed with. (They’re both sleeping next to me as I blog this!)
  3. I watch an unhealthy amount of Foot Network TV and am obsessed with Chopped.
  4. As of recent, I’ve become very focused on fitness and I love working out but I can’t run more than 2 miles without sounding like I’m getting asphyxiated.
  5. Instead of collecting knick-knacks from different places, I tend to bring back postcards because they’re cheap and are still a good memory.
  6. I tend to spell and pronounce words the British way sometimes since I grew up thinking they were the normal, correct way due to my Irish mum.
  7. Unlike most 15-year-olds who cherish their luscious locks, I cut off all my hair and donated it to Locks of Love.
  8. I have never broken a bone or broken my phone.
  9. I have a permanently tilted knee cap due to a tight IT band in my left thigh, meaning I dislocate my knee on a regular basis.
  10. I am mildly lactose allergic, an unfortunate allergy I inherited from my mother that makes me either have a stomach ache or pass out after binging on ice cream.
  11. Annnnd I can’t whistle (yes, I’ve tried and every person and their mother has tried to teach me).

Wow that was long. Well, now that you know lots of random information about me, pass on this award to others! Or if you’re just a kind reader, then thanks for bearing with me through this mayhem of random facts. It’s like any award show where they don’t have timed speeches – the recipient just rambles on and on and on and… Anyway. Tell me about an interesting award you’ve won in the comments!

You’ve Got Mail

You know what needs to make a comeback? Postcards.

Remember that feeling when you were a kid and you got mail? Literally any mail at all and you instantly felt important. Someone had taken the time to write you a letter, stick it in an envelope, stick a stamp on it, and drop it in the mailbox. That was special. Blue’s Clues said it best when they invented the “Mail Time” song. And then you grew up and you were just excited to receive anything but mail, because mail usually meant bank statements or utility bills. But don’t lie – you still get excited whenever you get some non-adult-like items in the mail, whether it be a holiday card or even a coupon from BevMo.

So what about postcards? Yes, if you don’t have friends traveling abroad, or just friends in general, receiving postcards might not be something that happens to you very often. And then there’s the whole advent of technology and cell phones that you can just get a text or facebook from your traveling buddies, rather than have them take the time to buy, write, stamp, and send a dinky old postcard. Blah blah blah but postcards!!

Why am I ranting about postcards? Well, today I received a postcard from one of my dearest friends who is currently country-hopping across Europe and I was so excited by it. Not only was I receiving fun mail, but it was so nice to have a glimpse into my friend’s life! True, she probably wrote the post card two weeks ago and is probably no where near Seville anymore but I still loved receiving this little memento of her journey.

postcard from bijou

I’ve already tacked the postcard up in my sparse little cubicle at work (to remind me that there is a world outside of those tiny grey padded walls?) and I’ve probably read it about seven times now. It’s nice to have a departure from the usual facebook, text, email and know that my friend was thinking of me while she’s adventuring and took some times to share her adventures with me. I mean, it’s a picture and a personal message all in one – what’s not to love?

Maybe bills would be more appealing if they came in postcard form? Maybe not.

Receiving this postcard has rejuvenated me to write postcards to my friends who aren’t here with me this summer. Or, you know, even to those who are. Beware, friends, postcards are coming your way! Let me know about your last postcard or any thoughts you have on this old fashioned form of communication in the comments!

The City of Second Chances

If you’re any type of TV-watcher (and no, I don’t mean Netflix on your computer – I mean a good, old, television set), you may have seen the ads for Discover L.A., a site promoting tourism in Los Angeles, CA, using some eye-catching, artsy graphics and deep, metaphorical voiceovers. (For those of you who haven’t seen it, search “what’s your LA story” in YouTube or try this one out for a taste.) The ads are short – maybe 15 seconds on average – and feature different well known parts of LA: Venice, LACMA, beaches, the Hollywood sign, and the chance to run into celebrities in random coffee shops.

As someone who has now lived in LA, albeit the ghetto of LA, for the last three years, I’ve always had a fond distaste for the city. Yes, it has it’s appeals, it’s special places, and it’s shiny exterior, but I’ve always focused on the worst of LA: the smoggy “haze” that constantly hangs over the city and is now even a weather classification there; the depressingly excessive homeless population on Skid Row that the city pretends doesn’t exist; and the arrogant, I’m-more-entitled-than-thou attitude and lifestyle that everyone seems to carry around with them.

LA is a city that people come to with dreams the size of rocket ships and pockets with only a bit of spare change, hoping to make something of themselves, start some new and exciting life chapter, and hopefully, one day, see their name up in lights. As they say in the movie Pretty Woman, “Everyone comes here; this is Hollywood, land of dreams.” And it’s true. If you walk down any street in LA, any time of day, I guarantee you won’t find a more eclectic mix of people anywhere else in the world (except perhaps Berkeley, but that’s a different story).

Watching these ads for LA, I originally scoffed. Very clearly, the ads romanticize LA, highlighting it’s wonderful assets and the sunny beauty of the southern California area while ignoring the dingy and dirty streets that surround these small tourist oases. But the more I watched these ads this summer from my northern California hometown, the more I felt something tug inside me.

Then, tonight, I saw the movie Chef with my lovely mum. First of all, the movie itself is great – nothing overly exciting but a great story of a chef turned food-truck-rogue and his relationship with food and family. I definitely recommend it. The movie is ultimately set in LA, with small scenes taking place on 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica and at various identifiable LA farmer’s markets. Throughout the entire movie, I leaned over to whisper to my mum where all these places were (sorry Mum!). Not only that, but as a small-time foodie, I have embraced the food truck culture, tied to exotic, creative, and sometimes just plain weird street cuisine. Watching it all play out on a screen somehow brought it all home for me: I miss LA.

Despite it’s dark sides, it’s broken dreams, it’s dirt, I have now realized that LA holds a little part in my heart and my life. I’ve had some crazy experiences in LA, some of which I could never replicate anywhere else. And while LA might drop you to the ground time and time again, the people of LA are fighters – they are determined to find out what makes them special, what makes them shine like the Hollywood lights at night. LA offers them a chance to do just that. It’s a city of second chances. A city filled with food trucks, artists, color, diversity, celebrities, special sights, dreams, and adventure.

I never thought I would be swayed to let LA into my heart (and don’t worry San Francisco, you’ll always be the city for me), but here I am writing a sappy post about missing LA. So LA, thanks for letting me give you a second chance, and that, folks, is my L.A. story.

The Funny Thing About First Day’s

There’s something funny about “first day”s. No matter where you are, what you’re doing, or even how old you are, first day’s always seem to go the same way.

I just started a new internship. Technically, I’ve just finished my second day on the job, but it took me about 24 hours to really process how funny my first day was. Maybe it’s just me, but leading up to my first day I was a knot of nerves. Crazy scenarios of being turned away before even making it in the front door and being shunned by fellow employees haunted my brain leading up to my 6am wake-up call Monday morning. Now, I know some people have the blind and bold confidence to just dive head-first into things without doubts or reservations. I am not one of them. Every single thing I did, I questioned. Did I park in the right place? Am I in the right building? Did I spell my name right? It’s exactly like when I was starting college, high school, middle school, even kindergarten – questioning if I was doing the right thing in the right place at the right time. It’s like the start of a bad murder novel. Poor girl was just in the wrong place at the wrong time… And with my over active imagination, anything was possible.

Luckily, I found my boss and, like any proper first day, was then introduced to just about every single person who worked in my building (okay, my building only has two floors but it’s still a lot!). My boss was overjoyed to show me off. As the only intern on the second floor, he proudly introduced me to all his colleagues as “our intern” to have them ogle at me as if I was some rare and exotic species. I felt like I was on display, not unlike how every young and new student feels on their first day of school: under a microscope, under observation by all your peers. But the worst of it was, there was no possible way for me to remember every person’s name. Yes, they all had name badges but these hung on lanyards that often fell to people’s hips and there was absolutely no subtle way for me to check out their hip to figure out their name. So like any awkward person who has been introduced to way too many people at once, I avoided using names as much as possible, nodding and smiling enthusiastically and desperately hoping I wouldn’t need to use their name again in the near future.

Next, I was introduced to my cubicle, the rectangular little box where I would be spending my days at the job. Four padded walls, a bare white desk, a solitary chair, and a computer desktop waiting to be set up by little old me. Apart from the computer, the space was not unlike the padded rooms you might find in a psychiatric clinic. Why was this cubical empty? Was this where someone went mad? Staring at their computer monitor for endless hours, feeling those tan padded walls closing in without the clock ticking anywhere nearer to the end of the day? Cross my fingers that won’t be me in a few weeks. So as I’m sitting there like the confused little intern I am, I start to smell something – food. Fresh cooked food.

Which thus leads me to lunch. I discover that the cafeteria for my building is located directly beneath my little forlorn cubicle. (Is that why its prior occupant went crazy? From the constant torment of delicious smelling food? Or maybe they died of obesity and from constantly eating the food they smelled. Either seems likely). But no first day would be complete without the struggle of where to sit for lunch. At least once in their life, every single person has this moment, where they have their food in hand and a mess of tables spread out before them, stuck in place because they just don’t know where to sit. No one is familiar. Is there a preconceived order to this cafeteria? As a lowly intern, can I sit here? So, continuing my marathon of awkward first day faux-pas, I chose an empty table and self-consciously dug into my lukewarm lunch. I was shortly joined by a few other confused interns and together we shared stories of our first day flubs.

The rest of my first day passed fairly uneventfully, with me being assigned a few menial tasks to keep me busy until my boss sent me home with the promise of more work the following day. I botched my way through some training documents, trying to contain my awkwardness, battled an hour of rush hour traffic home, and then collapsed into bed by 9pm. Having now survived another day of work though, I’m surprised how different day two was. Without any of the awkwardness and anxiety of the first day, today was smooth, easy, and best of all, not exhausting. What is it about first day’s that make them so strange and out-of-the-ordinary? They’re filled with expectations and questions and bundles of nerves and somehow, no matter how old I get or what I do, they always seem to go the same way. I guess that’s the funny thing about first days: despite being the start of something new, they always are the same.