Monday, May 28, 2007

Me on the beach at Pacific PalisadesI could have spent my Memorial Day in worse places. Here I am on the beach in Pacific Palisades. I was there with a group of my friends and their kids.

It had been since I lived in Baltimore that I'd seen some of them. I've kept in touch via email and through my visits to Los Angeles. It's nice to be back in the fold again, though there is a lot of catching up to do. And though I'm not sure I'd like to live near the ocean in the greater Los Angeles area, it was wonderful to have warm sand push between my toes again.

Into the great wide open

Mitch, shirtless, and Gary hold hands with the kids. Remy, Becca and Gary's almost two year old daughter was out of the picture. I was sitting with Becca, Petra, and Kristen when I snapped this photo.

I've landed a writing gig through the creative temp agency, and possibly another one. That's great, but my goal is to land a full-time job. However, it's nice to have that happen so quickly after getting here and registering with them. To do the writing job, I'm taking off from my non-creative temp job on Wednesday. You with me? Funny thing is, the creative one will pay in a day what I make in a week at the non-creative one. Still with me? Good. I knew I had smart readers. The place where I'm working now understands I'm looking for creative work, and that these freelance jobs will come up every now and then, so it's the perfect situation for me.

My long term goal is to land a full-time job, which the creative agency seems to have an abundance of. All seem to pay really well so it's just a game of chance and the right circumstances. Eventually, one will come through them or through my own search. I'm flattered that this agency took me, as they don't just take anyone. However, I've been working to build a strong writing portfolio so opportunities like this will be available to me.


Boo the catI'd mentioned a great cat named Boo that I met on my neighborhood walks. Well, here he is. Beautiful, sweet cat. Yesterday they were all out, except the one with the stripes on his arms. No worries, I'll get a better shot of him soon. I've also decided that they aren't strays, but belong to a house in the neighborhood. Since my last walks, I've noticed a lot of the cats don't have ID on them, but are owned. Perhaps they are well trained to stay around the houses, as I always come upon them in front of the same ones.

Good, I'll rest a little easier knowing that.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

I got my cable hooked up this morning during an early appointment. I have no idea why I made the appointment from 8-10 on a Saturday, but I did. I was mad at myself when 7:00 AM rolled around and all I wanted to do was stay in bed. I still had to get up and get $60 from the bank to give to the cable guy. I'm lucky, because like everything else, my bank is in walking distance. I could throw a stone and probably hit it. After trudging back to my apartment, the guy showed up around 8:30. He worked, I nodded off, and an hour later I had cable. Tonight, I watched the rest of a "Wire" episode and watched my name flash by on the credits. So strange to be sitting here in Los Angeles and see that. Felt weird and distant.

I took a walk in the neighborhood and man is it gorgeous. Houses worth millions with perfectly landscaped yards, like this one.

One of the beautiful houses in my neighborhood

And, like this monster that I walked by today.

I've already made friends with many of the cats in the neighborhood. All are healthily skeptical of me at first, then offer themselves up for a good petting once they are convinced I'm not dangerous. One of them is a great cat named Boo, who looks like a grey version of Atticus. Today, I was greeted by these three cats who I think were strays that the neighborhood is taking care of. They looked too healthy to be complete strays, but had no collars and dirty paws.

Cats in Toluca Lake.

The one in the foreground was a sweet old guy with amazing stripes on his front legs. I've never seen markings like them on a cat. This is a horrible picture I took, as I've seemed to suck at picture taking lately. For some reason, they all come out blurry. My eyes are fine, so I don't know if I'm shaking or what. I'm going to try to take a better one of these guys. I started petting black and white guy, and the other two in the background came up to join us. They all seemed to get along. I'm sure I'll see them again on my walks. This neighborhood is in Toluca Lake. I'll be taking much better pictures of it as well, and it's a perfect place for walks. I know I have only explored a fraction of it.

A hot bath is calling, then bed. Even though this is Los Angeles, it's been chilly as of late.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Alas, Comcast is no more for me. I have changed back to the AOL address until I get my permanent email address here. You can click on the "send me email" link to see the address. Note, if you have sent me email in the last couple of days, please forward it to the AOL address, as I don't have it anymore. Also, update your contacts for me.

Written Saturday, May 20th:

I'm a complete picture of contentment right now. I'm sitting in a corner table, outside at Urth Caffe. The weather is perfect, a slight wind blows and I have my jacket in case Los Angeles pulls one of its quick temperature changes. In fact, it was a jacket that drew some attention when I first snagged this perfect table. A man approached me and asked if it was a great jacket. At least that's what I thought he said. I was obviously confused, and he asked again but I understood it to be a grey jacket, second time around. Finally, sensing my utter confusion, he asked, "Are you Nicole?" "No," I said. He said, "Sorry, didn't mean to terrify you." I laughed, and told him he hadn't.

Thing is, what if I'd said I was Nicole? What would I have learned, being this other woman with the grey jacket? Mine is beige, by the way. A light beige, could be mistaken for grey in the right light.

What can I say about my first couple of weeks here? It's been a mix of some disappointments and other pleasant surprises. First disappointment was that the job I interviewed for out here just fell through. I don't know if they decided to just not have a person there or to shelve it since it was part-time. However, I learned from the recruiter that the company said they really liked me and would keep me in mind for full-time permanent positions with the major toy conglomerate. Cool. I've done work for them before. The next disappointment was learning that Shannon wasn't available for the Pirates 3 premiere. He hooked me up with another photographer whom I met a week before the event. He was a great guy, not to mention easy on the eyes, and funny. However, the event was all about me and Shannon doing it. We just have that energy and call these adventures our ShannAnnegans. Next up was one of my great contacts and good friends out here was no longer with the company that I'd done a fun job for. I was more sorry for him, but sorry that we wouldn't teaming up to do more jobs together for that company. Turns out he's happy about it and is going great guns after a ten day trip to Costa Rica to surf. Fuck yeah.

Next up, was after being invited by Disney to cover the Pirates 3 premiere for Fractalmatter.com, (I did Pirates 2 for the same outfit with Shannon photographing) they withdrew the invitation because of the overwhelming response from international major outlets. Apparently they did a huge press purge, including half of the broadcast outlets they had lined up, and being not a large name even though we have a huge amount of readers, we got the boot. Truth is, had Shannon been with me it would have been a much larger disappointment. I pleaded our case with the publicist, but in the end it wasn't to be. Some very major outlets got cut, so I don't feel that bad. I read into it that they were hell bent on beating Spiderman 3's opening weekend. Spidey beat out Pirates 2's record breaking opening weekend and they want payback. The more major international, the more buzz and being that Spidey's Tokyo opening worked. Well, who were they to not try and follow suit. All of course, which didn't help me. Upside is, I got much needed rest and more time to nest in my apartment, which is looking surprisingly cute. Imagine being a size six and trying to squeeze into a size two. That's what I've been doing with my apartment, which is much smaller than my one in Baltimore. That is, even with the "weight loss" of getting rid of a lot of stuff. However, I'm creating quite the home for myself.

Despite all this, I'm feeling great. I'm optimistic and completely glad that I made this move. Sure, I'm in the rose colored glasses period, but I'm well aware of that. I know because things feel right in my gut. So what that the first few things I had set up here didn't go the way I wanted. It's not personal. The old me would have taken it personally, thinking that there were forces against me because I was well, me. Or, that there was some big message behind it that was telling me that coming back to LA was a huge mistake. I don't think that way anymore. It's just the way things roll out and I'll just move on to the next thing. I also keep my eyes on the positive. My social life for one, has quadruple millioned. Also, I have a temp job. I went to another branch of the same temp agency that I worked through in Baltimore last week to register for temporary work so that I have an income while I look for full-time work. Instead of hooking me up with temp work, they asked me if I wanted to work in their office on a temporary basis. Guess they liked me or something. Their office is in a really cute area and I start tomorrow. Go me in getting the temporary stable income. They understand completely that I'm looking for a full-time gig in my field. That's kind of flattering when the temp agency snags you for themselves. Even funnier is that the two guys that work there are HUGE fans of "The Wire." It came up that I had come from Baltimore and that prompted the discussion. Imagine their shock. Hell, imagine my shock. It wouldn't be my first.

The next shock would come when I was searching for a new top on Melrose Avenue. I went into this hipster joint and the sales woman, an impossibly skinny 25-year-old slinked up to me and asked if she could help me. Imagine a Sarah Jessica Parker type, but prettier. Like a lot of people in Los Angeles, she was an aspiring everything. When I spoke, she told me she detected an accent from me. Though I don’t have an accent, in fact it's my lack of accent that gets that question asked of me a lot, I played along. I told her I'd just come from Baltimore. Her blue eyes brightened, framed by her light brown curly hair, and she told me that there was a show that was filmed there that she absolutely loved, called "The Wire." I was incredulous.

When I get home, I'm firing off an email to David Simon to tell him that people do indeed watch his show outside of Baltimore. He would always joke that no one watched it. The thing is, the guys at the temp agency weren't aspiring anythings. They were regular suit wearing white guys. This girl was a hip, funky white girl. David sent me an email, responding to a mass email that I sent to friends that I'd finally made it to Los Angeles. He said among other things, "Don't get captured."

I won't. That is, unless I want to.

It's now Tuesday and I'm in the middle of my second day of work at the temp agency. It's light, easy work and the people were very nice and accommodating. I have another job interview on Wednesday through the creative temp agency that I registered with. They are doing it by phone which works perfectly for me. On Wednesday, I get my hair cut at a top salon. However, I'm not paying top salon prices for it. I love it when I already know my way around a town.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

On my way walking home from the coffee shop, I looked up and saw this:

Fire in Griffith Park

I took this photo a block from my house. The fire was in Griffith Park and had just started. The photo doesn't do the plume of smoke justice. Helicopters that were enveloped when I took the photo looked like pinheads next to it. The fire burned over 800 acres of the park, which is still closed. The tallest building in the photo is one of the Warner Bros. buildings.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

The furniture and boxes arrived yesterday starting at 9AM. Before that, I was jumpy, stirring at the sound of every truck that passed no matter what time in the morning it was. My senses were raw, I was ready to jump when told to.

It was funny to see the same driver on the other side of the country. Even though it was his job, it was comforting to be in the presence of someone who had made that same drive with me. He's a handsome man, all manly man and from what I learned has a very interesting history. A Cuban immigrant at the age of eight after his family read the writing on the wall when Castro took over and left their wealthy life with just the shirts on their backs. He spoke perfect English and if I'd had to guess his background it would have been Native American, not Cuban. I found that out when I walked into my apartment and heard him speaking Spanish with the loader he'd hired on this end. I commented on it, impressed, and he told me of his heritage.

I also found out that both of the men had been shot in their lives. The mover, who was Guatemalan and one hell of a salsa dancer, (he showed me), told me that he'd been shot in his home country when he was the victim of a robbery. Shot, with a shotgun, to the neck. He pulled his shirt down and showed me the scarring, then took my hand and put it to the disfigured skin so I could feel the pellets still lodged underneath. Holy shit. He told me that he couldn't speak for a year, but was thankful that he was still alive. He was a spiritual man and I see why. When we were talking, Lou the driver came in and mentioned that he'd been shot in Beirut. His wound had entered through his thigh, right next to his groin and lodged underneath his back just over his hip. Yes, he showed me the scar from the bullet being removed. Both said that you can't feel it when you're shot because of the adrenaline rush. I hope I never find out.

Both men did a great job, and Lou was funny. He opened my closet where I'd slung my bra over the hanger railing and got it right in his face. I realized, laughed and apologized, and he said "Well, I'll take that any day over a man's jockstrap."

Once they were finished, paid and tipped, my apartment was a labyrinth of boxes. I managed to unpack seven or eight of them that day even though I was fatigued beyond belief. Today, I have my work cut out for me but I'm just going to delve in and try to get as much finished as possible. I'm determined to have normalcy and order in my life come Monday.

A couple nights ago I went out with Shannon and he and I walked around a shopping district. Shannon took me in a store where he buys these cool shirts with designs embroidered on them and joked around with Ramon, who is the 28-year-old son of the owners. The two had me bent over in hysterics with their antics. Ramon was a Mexican, hat wearing backward, big T-shirt wearing tree trunk of a guy who could just roll with Shannon's humor and take it up a notch. I can't even begin to describe how funny they were. It felt good to laugh that hard.

Okay, play time is over. Back to the apartment to unpack.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

My furniture comes tomorrow. I'm glad this is my last night on the roll-up mat and I'll be able to start nesting after the chaos. I'm nervous of course, as any time I'm making a disruption of this magnitude to my surroundings it's nerve wracking. Once everything gets started I should be fine. It's the waiting for that doorbell/phone to ring and having to spring into action at a moment's notice. I just hope it doesn't take very long. I've said this many times and I'll say it again. I'm so over the moving process of this move.

With that thought, off to bed...or should I say mat.

Monday, May 07, 2007

I arrived in Los Angeles on Saturday. My dad and I drove across country, and he made a super duper traveling companion, even lending his lap to the cats. The dry cleaners will get to hone their hair removal skills when he brings in the khakis he wore. Luckily, he was smart enough to pack one set of clothes that didn't see the light of day until he was out of the car for good. He was great company and it was fun to have a week with my dad and talk and laugh. I can't imagine having done that trip alone after driving it with him.

I'm in a coffee shop, big surprise, that has free wireless. In my apartment, I'm bare bones, waiting for my furniture to arrive on Friday. That includes no internet access. Everyone's signal that I could pick up had passwords on their wireless, smart little users that they are. So, I was happy to learn there was free wireless here. The place is filled with people on their laptops and has a great energy. I already knew about this place as it's one of my favorite in Los Angeles and now it's walking distance from my apartment.

My apartment is directly across the street from Warner Bros. studios. I walk outside and am greeted by Hollywood, along with massive posters of their productions that line the sides of the buildings. I'm in the heart of media central, Universal Studios is blocks from me on the other side, Disney just down the Street from Warner, and so many more that I can't even remember.

My apartment is nothing special but it's clean, convenient and quiet except in the morning when the traffic heads down the street outside my window. That's amplified by the fact that the only barrier in the apartment are the blinds on my windows and made worse by no furniture to lessen the sound. I'm sleeping on Shannon's roll up mat that he lent to me. He came over the first night was was there and when I was testing the new key with him inside, I opened the door to his bare white ass. Cracked me up.

I'm being careful to not fall into many mindsets. One is to rush around and be disorganized. That's for people in their early twenties to do when they come to a place like Los Angeles. The other is to give myself plenty of mental space and stay the course. It's easy to get distracted here and I am going to work on remembering that I know what I'm doing. I also don't think in any way that moving here is going to solve everything. I never thought that. One thing it did solve though, was getting me the heck out of Baltimore. I'll miss my mom and Jack a lot. And there are other people and things that I'll miss. Certainly. But, it wasn't a good fit and there was no way around that.

I'm cutting this post short because there is a lot for me to do. I need to get some sort of food that I don't have to prepare, as I have no dishes, and see where the heck I'm going to put all my furniture when it arrives. I spent an hour at Cingular getting my phone number ported to a local one and adding a land line and Internet service. On the way back, a motorcycle pulled up next to me and the man on it, clad entirely in black leather with black gloves and helmet, saw something on my driver's side mirror and brushed it off. I thought it was great and laughed. I could see that he was smiling through the tinted face shield of his helmet. I was talking to my mom at the time and told her what had just occured. The light turned and the man sped off. His license plate said, "Magcman."

The cats fared better than expected. Bless their little hearts. I'm so glad to have them here. I'm blocks from where I adopted Atticus, so this is really a return home for him. I took Scout in just the other side of the hill in the Hollywood Hills. Someone had abandoned her and a person at the company where I was working sent out an email about her. She went home with me that night.