Category Archives: California Experiences

Blogs posted to California Experiences will cover a wide range of topics focusing on my experiences in California since moving here from New York City in February of 2013.

Time to Tweet for Good! Join me in supporting clean beaches on Social Media.

8ForTheBay

 

PLEASE READ AND JOIN ME! I WANT YOUR HELP!

As a resident of Los Angeles, California I feel it is my obligation to help keep one of our greatest natural resources clean and healthy.  That’s why I am personally supporting Heal the Bay on September 20th for Coastal Cleanup Day.

If you are reading this, whether you are from California or all the way on the other side of the world in a country like Japan you can help make this year’s Coastal Cleanup Day a huge success.

On this day hundreds of thousands of volunteers around the world join together to cleanup their local beaches, rivers, creeks and watersheds. That includes over 10,000 people in the LA area according to the Heal the Bay website.

I see events like this as having multiple goals.  Personally I see it as a great day to cleanup our beaches and coastal waterways, but also as a way to raise awareness throughout Southern California and the rest of the world about pollution in our waters.

How can you raise awareness from the comfort of your home and help this day become a huge success? Join Heal the Bay’s Thunderclap campaign.

It’s like a giant online flashmob, and if it goes as planned, they will have hundreds of people tweeting the same message about Coastal Cleanup Day at the same time. This could result in #CoastalCleanupDay trending, which is great news for everyone.

All you have to do is signup to share your support for Coastal Cleanup Day on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc.). You will help inform the world about how many people value clean beaches.

Join here: https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/16062-8forthebay

Invite your friends to join, share on Facebook and retweet as much as possible.

Seriously? I crashed my Jeep before pulling out of the driveway…

When I turned on my computer this morning and pulled up NBC News my eyes were immediately pulled to an article titled “Is Today Really the Most Depressing Day of the Year?” I will confidently answer this question without even reading the article.  My answer?  Well, I do in fact find this day to be pretty depressing, although it may be a bit aggressive to call it the MOST depressing day of the year.

When I woke up this morning I was dragging.  After a long vacation it was time to get back to reality. Sadly, my head was about two days behind me on this one.

All was going fine this morning until I got in my Jeep Grand Cherokee.  I take a lot of pride in my Jeep. In fact, just last week I took it into the shop and got all sorts of routine maintenance done (for about $400) just to make sure it was happy and healthy. I’ve always found that if you treat your car well it will treat you well in return so that’s what I’ve always done.  Until today that is.

Once I was in my Jeep I pulled my hot pink sunglasses down to shade my eyes and buckled my seat belt just as I always do.  I then turned the car on, put it in reverse and the car started moving.  I freaked out because I thought my foot was on the brake but it wasn’t so I quickly went to hit the brake as the car started to slowly roll backwards.  What came as an even bigger surprise to me was when the car raced in reverse because I accidentally jammed my foot on the gas instead of the brake.  The Jeep was at a bit of an angle so I naturally didn’t go straight down the driveway when this occurred.

As the car shot back I first found myself panicking. Never a good thing in times like this one.  Sadly, my brain was just not functioning at its fullest at this point in the  morning. I quickly looked forward and backward and realized my foot was on the gas and not the break in the matter of about 10 seconds, which was about 5 seconds too late.  By the time I got my foot on the brake pedal the damage was done.

I pulled forward a little and straightened out my Jeep before putting it securely in park and running to the back of it to see what damage my Jeep and the tree had sustained.  The tree was fine of course and luckily I just saw a small dent on the back bumper.  Nothing I couldn’t live with, although I was pretty upset.

It wasn’t until I got to work that I noticed the other damage to my car.  I guess I should have been just as worried about the front of it as I was the back because the tree planter that brushed the front of my Jeep managed to pull the bumper off on the left side.  Luckily not completely torn off, but enough to call for taking it into the shop as soon as possible.

Standing in the parking lot as I arrived at work the reality sunk in. My Jeep was most definitely not okay.  Even though I wanted to cry for most of the day I am glad this Jeep wasn’t my Jeep:

Jeep Grand Cherokee accident causes major fire

 

 

 

 

 

Or this one:

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And I’m certainly glad I didn’t drive into the house with my Jeep like this guy did:

Crash7

 

 

Smudging your home – Cast out negative energy

smudgeWhile innocently walking through my office Thursday afternoon my colleague stopped me to say,

You know Bobby, you sure are having some bad luck in your apartment. Maybe you should cleanse the place. Get rid of negative energy, spirits, etc. Just get some sage and sage your apartment as well as yourself and your boyfriend.

Prior to moving to Los Angeles I would have thought this person crazy.  In all my years growing up in the south and then living in New York City for six years I had never heard of “cleansing” your home with sage. After moving to Los Angeles though I have already taken part in the cleansing of a friends condo.

I didn’t really understand what we were doing at first beyond her saying she was blessing her new home.  She walked around the entire two bedroom condo with burning sage in her hand chanting as she waved it around making sure the smoke spread throughout the entire place while those of us with her followed her around.

I figured that this friend who was cleansing and blessing her new home was typically an eccentric person, so I didn’t question it.  It wasn’t until my colleague suggested I cleanse my apartment that I took the time to research what the meaning behind this was.

That’s when I learned that the act of cleansing/blessing your home with sage is called smudging.  Smudging is the burning of herbs, in this case white sage to remove negative energy indoors and outdoors to purify spaces and objects.  It’s an ancient Native American practice.

The second I heard it was a Native American practice I was sold.  I am Native American after all.  That’s right, this pasty faced white boy is a true blue registered Choctaw, but obviously my Irish shows the most.

I’ve always loved Native American spirituality over modern organized religion so I’ve decided after researching what it means to smudge your home I have decided, along with my boyfriend, to smudge our home.

Now that we know what smudging is how do you do it?

First you have to buy a bundle of white sage. You can actually buy smudge sage that is bundled specifically for this practice and can be found at stores like:

  • The Farmers Market at the Grove in Los Angeles
  • Whole Foods
  • Most organic grocery stores
  • Any store that features incents

Once you have purchased your sage you just head on home from there.  Once home enter your house and leave the door open. From there you light the end of the bundle of sage and wave it slowly around in the air until it begins to give off wafts of smoke.

Walk around your home as if your were following a clock moving to your left first.  As you move around your home say a prayer or chant casting out negative energy.  There are many different suggestions out there as to what you should be saying but a simple chant like:

I banish all negative energies from this house with the energy of love and light.

will suffice.

Once you return to your front door you can move outside to smudge your entry way.  Once you are done find a sage place like an outdoor fireplace, a fireproof pot or something along those lines to place the smoldering sage to let it smoke itself out.

This will rid your home of negative energies that can really be affecting your home.  It’s my hope that this helps save me from any more drama for the time being.  I could use a month without an iPhone breaking or falling in the toilet or an elderly family member falling in my living room or friends fighting at one of our parties.  I think everyone could use some positive energy in their lives and homes and this is one thing you can try to cast out negativity.

If only someone in New York had told me about this trick because I feel like my home there was filled with negativity for years.  Thank you California friends and colleagues for this idea!

Fighting a case of the Mondays

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Waking up on a Monday morning is the same for me no matter what coast I am living on. It’s simply brutal.  The alarm clock goes off and I instantly groan.  Within seconds, but rarely feeling like it is quick enough for my liking, my boyfriend hits the snooze button. We then cuddle until the alarm sings out a second time, then a third and often a fourth time.

57437109Finally, that awful announcement rings out one last time telling me I am pushing my luck and need to stop allowing that snooze button to be pushed. From the side of the bed with its mocking instrumental song that I swear would be saying this if there were lyrics to it:

It’s Monday, it’s beautiful, get up off your butt you lazy fool. Look at me, I am as chipper as I am every other morning of the week as should you be!

I always wish I can just set the alarm clock on fire and roll back over, but without a second thought, I roll over as my boyfriend hits the snooze button a last time. It’s Monday after all so I guess I have to get up!

After 45 minutes of this snooze button routine I find the strength to pull my body out of bed and stumble to the bathroom. As I approach the mirror I am immediately thankful that I took my contacts out the night before, the first time I had taken them out in over a month, because my morning mess of hair isn’t fully visible to me as I stand in front of the mirror.  I know I have to look like a tragedy and that’s the last thing I need to witness when tired and grumpy!

The typical Monday anxiety swept up and down my chest as if I was about to go over a drop on an old rickety wooden roller coaster and I thought once again to myself, “well shit, another Monday”. Then stepped into the shower to wash the weekend fun off of me and out of mind so I could focus and start the week with a clean slate.

Trying to make it through my morning routine often seems impossible. I guess the shower doesn’t clean my mind well enough because I tend to still be dragging after.  This morning in particular I dragged as much as I could without making myself late to the office.  It’s strange because yesterday consisted of nothing but resting and relaxing. You would think I had set myself up for the perfect Monday morning, but it’s almost as if nothing I do can get me past a “case of the Mondays” as they would say in the movie Office Space.  It’s the same for me on every coast of the United States and across the world for that matter. I’m just not a morning person regardless of timezone or circumstances.

Knowing that I was screwed if I didn’t take action to combat this vicious case of the Mondays I decided I would treat myself to a Starbucks grande coffee. My magic weapon against my Monday morning exhaustion.  On my way into the office I swung by Starbucks and grabbed just that.  A nice, steaming cup of coffee with a splash of soy milk and a dash of Sweet N’ Low.  It’s like a warm embrace for my throat as I took my first sip. A smile came to my face with every sip that flooded between my lips, past my tongue and down my throat into my stomach.  It didn’t take long for me to feel the rush of caffeine as it seeped into my bloodstream.

The first few sip hit my lips like a charge of electricity.  I knew my Monday wasn’t going to be totally awful after that.  Coffee was in my hand.  With no care in the world when it comes to the fact that my cardiologist, general practitioner, psychiatrist and therapist have all told me to cut back or cut out completely the amount of coffee I drink I just walked to my car sipping away at my bitter, dark and luxurious happy juice.

As I approached my car, a sexy Jeep Grand Cherokee, I placed the paper Starbucks coffee cup on the roof and opened the door.  Heaving my body into the driver’s seat I got physically situated and then reached my hand up blindly to grab my coffee.

Without more than a second of hesitation my hand found it as if the cup had a beacon calling for me to drink some more.  I pulled it into the Jeep and started to place it in the cub holder closest to me when all of a sudden my hand was drenched in hot black liquid.

My eyes darted down to see that some how the cup had gotten squeezed.  The cap Coffee Cuppopped off and coffee exploded from the cup as if it was lava bursting out of an active volcano.

How the heck was I supposed to deal with this? I found some tissues and soaked up as much liquid as I could and then thought to myself, “maybe this is a sign?”

As I mentioned, countless medical providers have told me to either cutback the amount of coffee I drink each week or cut coffee out of my diet completely. From my cardiologist to my gastrologist to my general practitioner to my psychiatrist, no medical provider left the coffee stone unturned. apparently coffee isn’t good for my heart, it’s not good for people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) which I have, it isn’t good for people with anxiety and in general it is a good idea to not drink a ton of coffee on a regular basis.

Having this in mind both before I purchased the coffee, after I purchased the coffee and while I looked at my spilled coffee all over my Jeep I had one thought come to mind, “Is this karma?”

Coffee was a thing of New York for me.  I use to drink it by the gallon, grab a cup every morning with friends and a refresher every afternoon. Here in California though, the people I surround myself with have been advocating for me to try more natural alternatives to coffee.  Maybe it’s time I find a new secret weapon against a case of the Mondays. There are plenty of ways to energize myself in the mornings including:

  • Exercise: I’ve been trying to run in the mornings, but goodness knows my inability to wake up on a regular day has prevented me from waking up early enough to run on a running day.
  • Water: Drinking tons of water is supposed to help with energy so I have increased the amount of water I drink each day 10 times over.
  • Green Tea:  Green Tea actually contains a large amount of caffeine so you can get that caffeine jolt with out the coffee shakes.
  • Multivitamin’s: Apparently these are supposed to help give you energy, but I don’t notice it in the instantaneous way I do with coffee.
  • Wheatgrass Juice (and Green Smoothies): This is a natural source of energy containing tons of vitamins, minerals and other things to help energize your body.  Tons of my colleagues drink wheatgrass juices and other green based smoothies in the morning.  I’ve tried it once or twice, but still need to give it a fair shot.

There are many other alternatives, but these are some of the ones that are most mentioned to me.  Maybe it’s time I take the next step forward with getting my feet on the ground here in LA and kick the coffee habit I developed in NYC.  I have a feeling Green Tea would stain less if I absent mindedly spilled it all over the car in a half-asleep state of mind like I was in tonight.

What’s your favorite remedy for Monday exhaustion?

Coyote rib cage… redefined coyote ugly for me!

CoyoteNature is something that surrounds you when you live Los Angeles, CA.  Something I had known was going to be the case, but I hadn’t really wrapped my head around the full meaning.  That has changed now however.

Since moving to California I have gone on a number of hikes.  Every time I ventured out into the mountains I knew what the risks were.  Poison oak creeps around every bend, rattlesnakes slither along the ground and coyotes roam freely in the wild.  My first thought was to be too freaked out to venture out on any nature hikes, but I quickly got over that thanks to how beautiful California is.

Then this past weekend arrived and the reality of what is truly involved in the wilds of California became clear to me.  Walking along a dirt path in Lake Hughes, California this past weekend my friend came to a sudden stop.  She was looking off to the side of the path when she said, “um is that what I think it is?”

It was exactly what she thought it was.  My first thought was that it was a snake coiled quietly in the desert mountain brush.  That alone would have disgusted me more than enough for me to head back to my car and drive back to my apartment in West Hollywood.  Yet it wasn’t a snake of any kind.  Instead it was the remains of a coyote.  The rib cage to be exact. It redefined coyote ugly for me because those remains were no pretty.

You would think a snake would have bothered me more since I am petrified of snakes, but something about this random rib cage sitting a quarter-mile away from the little cabin room I was going to be staying in that night completely shook me.  Every bone had been licked clean.  It was as if the rib cage was an impostor, but it wasn’t. It was the real deal!

One of the feelings I was plagued by my last six months in New York City was that I felt overwhelmed by the lack of places I could escape to and not see buildings all around me.  I wanted nature and open spaces.  Spaces where I could exercise and clear my mind.  After 5 1/2 years Central Park was no longer cutting it for me.

Now I have to ask, what have I gotten myself into?  And even more, as we learned from Jessica Simpson’s sad experience when her dog was snatched by a coyote, what have I gotten my dog Evian into?

I’m not going to let this realization of what exactly is involved when it comes to nature stop me from going on more hikes, but it sure as heck is a new experience when moving from New York City… oh wait… is it a new experience? I guess I forgot about this little guy that ran loose in NYC two years ago!

SNTV – Wild coyote runs loose in NYC by splashnews

Wishing the phone would ring – Family

Me and some of my family members!
Me and some of my family members!

Typically I hate when my phone rings.  That may sound strange, but I find 80% of the phone calls I answer or make tend to be a waste of my time and who has time to waste these days?  Staying true to my age I would prefer a nice long instant message conversation.  Yes, I’m dating myself, but I am referring to AOL Instant Message (AIM) or Google Message.

Remember the conversations you use to have on AIM?  A conversation where you actually have someone to talk to, but at the same time can step away from for a minute or two without a second thought.  Pretty much the same type of conversation you have to GChat nowadays. You could multitask and still get to stay up-to-date with whoever you may be speaking to.

If I am unable to have an instant message conversation then texting (and iMessaging if you have to be literal) is the next best thing usually.  It’s a little harder to hold a long conversation, but it allows me to speak with people in a very concise way.  No time is typically wasted when this is the case.

Today, I sat in my car chugging along in rush hour traffic on my way home from work wanting nothing more than to hear my phone ring.  Typically I would be listening to the news, a book on tape, scanning emails or doing something productive, but not today.  It was strange, but I really wanted to hear that god awful ringtone that Apple tries to pass off as some sort of “marimba” jam.  My body shudders at the meer thought of that little tune, but at the same time my ears longed to hear it.

For the past few years I hadn’t really been in much contact with my family.  Then a bit over a year ago things started to change drastically in my life.  With the changes being made my family slowly started to pop-up all around me to support me.  My phone, for the first time in years, started to ring giving me reason to actually pay for minutes that I hardly ever used in the past. My family was calling.

Now that my family calls me now and again I guess my heart longed to hear a familial voice. My mind yearned for the comfort I had started to receive over the past year.  My ears hoped to hear the voices that tell me that I am a part of a family and never alone.

It’s funny when I think about that because it makes me think of the different reasons I decided to move to California.  One of those reasons was to reconnect with, be closer to and love my family.  In more ways than one I have grown closer to my family, all of my family, in the past two and a half months.  I originally meant “closer” as in physically closer, but it’s true that I am closer both physically and emotionally.  Something that couldn’t have been the case had I stayed in New York City since I have absolutely no family in the area.

So today I found myself wishing to hear my phone right. Wanting my phone to ring is a positive step forward.  I’m no longer at home crying because of the shit life dealt me at the beginning of 2012.  Nope, now I am sitting in my car feeling so thankful for my family that I actually want to endure that darn Marimba ring tone just to hear their voices and feel their support in my life.

I spent years trying to convince myself that family doesn’t necessarily mean those you share a bloodline with, but let me tell you… nothing replaces that kind of family.

The California DMV Tanked My Mood

thAs last week came to an end I announced to my boyfriend, my mother, some colleagues and other friends that I just had to hold out until Monday, May 20th and I will be able to start a new week.  All the stress of back to back travel, events (both work and personal, and a jam-packed schedule was to be left behind me.

Then I got to experience my first trip to the California Department of Motor Vehicles.  It is time I exchange my New York drivers license for a California one.  This isn’t the hardest thing on earth to accomplish, but it isn’t without its hurdles.

First of all, like all Department of Motor Vehicles from across the nation, California’s are no different in that they are historically plagued with long lines.  Who has time for that?  Luckily, I live in the great state of California where their DMV allows you to schedule appointments ahead of time.  That sure kept the stress off of me!

My appointment, which I had scheduled over a month ago, was for this morning at 8:30 am.  The DMV opened at 8:00 am so I assumed there would already be a crowd when I was to arrive at 8:30.

To my surprise when I pulled into the parking lot of the Santa Monica DMV there were very few cars parked in the lot.  I didn’t count my lucky stars yet though. It is a DMV after all.  I assume some people inside couldn’t drive themselves there, if they all could then they wouldn’t be at the DMV right?

I sashayed, in the way that I do, through the front doors to find no line in the place.  The seats to the right were only occupied by a handful of people leaving at least 90% of them empty.  I naïvely laughed to myself and thought, “well this will go much fast than I thought”!

Now all I had to do was fill out the form to exchange my license and take the written test and I would be done.

So I thought, it turns out that I had forgotten to bring a copy of my birth certificate or my passport with me. One of the documents would be required to get a California driver’s license.

Immediately upon realizing I had forgotten these documents I walked back to my Jeep, sat down in the driver’s seat and slammed my head against the steering wheel.  After a long weekend which I had to work during I woke up early this morning just for this test.  I showered quickly and hit the road so I could study some for the written exam on my way and when I arrived.  All that stress was for nothing and I have to go through the entire process of making an appointment that doesn’t conflict with work or my personal life, study and deal with entering the DMV one more time.

There is one thing positive to come out of this experience and that is that California has received a point from me for the speed and efficiency of telling me I was inadequately prepared to apply for my driver’s license.  I feel like I would have been at the New York City DMV for an hour before someone would have told me I was unable to get my license today.

Now I’m stuck trying to shake off the foul mood this has left me in.  I have no driver’s license from California.  I have yet to take the written test.  I have to make a new appointment and wait a couple more weeks and still have to deal with this all over again.  My mental move to be more upbeat, optimistic and in a good mood is off to a rocky start. If only I had realized I needed those documents maybe my goal of starting the week on a positive note could have been achieved.

Totally Fucked – Spring Awakening… it just seems appropriate when you are speaking or writing about the DMV.