Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Living In LA - First Impressions

Part of a series on moving west

Moving is hard. Moving across the country is extra hard, because change is scary. Adapting one's eastern mentality to fit in on the gold coast is more difficult than it sounds and it is certainly not a speedy process. Here are some first impressions of a few LA cultural norms that have left a New England transplant scratching her head.

1. Sushi is the new coffee
Sushi is delicious, nutritious, and fun for the whole family (but not for pregnant ladies because raw fish), and it is everywhere in Los Angeles. What the city lacks in coffee shops it more than makes up for with sushi joints. Now as fresh and tantalizing as this all is, a true New Englander will miss being able to see a Starbucks across the street from the window of the Dunkin' Donuts she's standing in.

2. Jaywalking is actually illegal
The true New Englander knows that jaywalking is a national (or apparently, regional) pastime. Students jaywalk, businessmen jaywalk, green-grocers jaywalk; one could reasonably assume that the Queen of England jaywalks. But in California, one does not jaywalk, because playing real-life Frogger in this state will get you a fine of up to $191. New Englanders in LA feel encumbered and tardy as they wait to cross the street.

3. Weather is confusing
New Englanders know how to read the sky, and they understand that weather tends to be more or less steady over a pretty large area. In Los Angeles, the sky fills with grey clouds, but it does not rain. Drive 10 miles inland and the temperature will raise by 20 degrees. The West Coast boasts its dry heat, but the iPhone says that humidity is at 75%. Nothing makes sense.

4. Strangers smile a lot
Maybe it's the sunshine, or easy access to frozen yogurt, or even the fumes from the gridlock traffic, but the average Angeleno carries a smile on his face and a welcome in his heart. Or something like that. New Englanders know that all pedestrians exist in separate universes to one's own. They go along their ways and interact if and when it seems socially necessary. Angelenos, on the other hand, greet one another while walking down on the street, shopping for produce in the grocery store, and entering and exiting the elevator. In Los Angeles, pleasant greetings are always necessary.

5. Dressing for success
On the east coast, you've "made it" when you're wearing a suit and tie on 5 days out of every week. The sharper the cut, the higher the Wall Street salary. LA executives, on the other hand, sport designer blue jeans and T-shirts. To the untrained eye, it can be difficult to tell who is a company executive and who is on vacation with his family. New England transplants don't know what to do with all of their pantsuits.

Now look how Spidey's NYC senses are tingling all wrong here

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Time I Cried in an Airport

I am not a frequent flier and while I've always considered myself a fairly adept and savvy traveler, it's mostly because I had never really encountered a significant hiccup in my itinerary before.


A couple of days ago, I was scheduled to fly out of Hartford's airport at 6:35pm, spend an hourish layover in Atlanta, and then depart at 9:55pm in order to continue my travels to Los Angeles, where I would bask in the rays of assumed superiority emitted by tanned and toned celebs and plastic surgeons (they are the majority demographics of LA, right?).

But that didn't go according to plan, so here begins my rant against Delta Airlines and the story of how I lost my shit in the Atlanta International Airport.

Tuesday: 5:00pm - Drop off my luggage to discover my flight to Atlanta has been delayed 30 minutes. That's cool. I'll still have more than 20 minutes to make my connection. Good thing my flight to LA is located in the same terminal as we're slated to fly into.

A lot of flights have been delayed today, mostly because of weather, but the luggage lady tells me mine has been fudged due to "mechanical problems." I understand that planes break sometimes, and as long as mine is fixed before I'm on it, I have no problems.

6:40pm - We should be boarding right about now so that we can make our new 7:06pm departure time, but the front desk seems to have no intention of opening the doors or taking tickets. I feel that this is the beginning of something grand and terrible.

7:00pm - Why am I not on this plane yet? Why aren't any of us on this plane yet? You at the desk, sir, don't tell me this is weather related...the plane has been sitting out there for 45 minutes.


7:25pm - Gate A12 is dangerously close to mutiny.

7:35pm - Finally seated on the plane. Ask a stewardess if the problem was indeed mechanical. She scoffs at me and is all "No way! That's ridiculous! Who told you that?!?"

Don't chide me, ma'am. I know you're lying because the craft I purchased a ticket for was supposed to have two rows of three seats each, but we actually have a row of three and a row of two. This is not the airplane we were supposed to be on. Probs related to, I don't know, mechanical issues?

9:40pm - Taxi-ing around in Atlanta. Various patrons lose their minds as they count down the minutes to their connections' departures.

Stewardess: "Could you please raise your hand if you have a connection to make within the next 30 minutes"


Stewardess: "Okay, let's let these customers off first, please. Thank you for flying with Delta!"

The deplaning procedure looks like something out of a Black Friday disaster video.

9:52pm - I have all of three minutes until take off and I've discovered that my plane to LA has moved to a different terminal, because Delta clearly feeds off of the destruction of my sanity. I sprint madly from terminal B to A while carrying  an enormous backpack and carry-on bag. I have no awards (mother) from Army, but I'm pretty sure I'm crushing a ruck march right now. Delta customers everywhere do something that might be jogging while airport security shouts "no running, y'all, please!"

10:01pm - My flight to LAX is in the mother-flippin' air, without the ~10 of us who just missed it because Delta couldn't be bothered to hold our plane for SIX MINUTES.

I'm told I have to go all the way back to the opposite end of the terminal to change my flight because screw convenience. I curse under by breath.

10:10pm - Discover I can't get out of Atlanta until 8:30 the next morning and I'll have to stay the night in a Best Western. Learning that everyone going to LA, Miami, Austin, and Tennessee from my flight have also been waylaid just makes things worse, because the more I hate Delta, the more my brains start to spin around all hysterical-like.

This is it. It might not sound that bad (free night in a hotel, sweet!), but I assure you, everything is wrong. The first tears fall and I can't stop them. I am sweaty and sore from sprinting with 25+ pounds of extra weight (which is sort of a lot for a 4'10" lady), I am alone in Georgia for the night, I have no idea what is happening to my luggage, and this airport is freaking enormous.* 

As I make my way outside, I snuffle and blubber on an escalator, down a moving sidewalk, on a terminal shuttle, and through the parking lot, while a nice lady security officer calls me "sweetie" and walks me all the way to the hotel shuttles so I won't get lost.

I'm sure I look like a lost and distressed 13 year old at this point, albeit with a grossly sweaty back, but in reality, I am a 21 year old who has lost all ability to contain herself. Several strangers ask me if I'm okay, if I've gotten a new flight, if I've got somewhere to go, etc. It is embarrassing and I can't stop crying because my entire existence is a black hole of feelings.

The loss of my marbles did get me onto the first shuttle to Best Western, though, because everyone feels bad for a hysterical pre-teen looking girl. Eventually, I rounded up the scraps of my sanity, got through the night, and made it to the west coast. All is right with the world again, but I did learn some very valuable lessons, which are listed here for your knowledge-benefit:

1. Delta Airlines is a terrible airline. Half of our plane missed connections, and no one missed theirs by more than 10 minutes. Best Western was overwhelmingly filled with waylaid Delta customers (not just from my  plane) that night.

2. People in Atlanta are very nice. Like, what-the-hell-people-aren't-like-this-in-New-England-nice.

3. It's called "Hotlanta" because the city feels like a sauna at both 11pm and 5am. How this hellish soup of a climate breeds such polite people completely baffles me.

4. Best Western's complimentary shampoo and conditioner is Pantene brand. Quality!

5. I am not as emotionally hardy as I thought I was.

*(and I may or may not be PMSing)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

10 Things That Don't Belong on Facebook

Also check out this sweet Chrome extension
that turns pictures of baby humans into
pictures of baby animals and other cool things!

1. Gratuitous photos of your new baby
Or gratuitous baby anything. To spare the internet a repeat of this rant, check out this article that I wrote for ModernMom.com on the Do's and Don'ts of mommy-postings.

2. Photos of food
Because Facebook isn't Instagram, and food should stay on Instagram.
**If you're a baker who posts albums of your latest cakes/cupcakes/sugary treats, though, please disregard this and never ever stop with the pictures.

3. Full makeup/scantily dressed photos with the caption "I may not be pretty, but I have a big heart."
It's needy and depressing, but not enough so to actually give anyone else the feels.

4. Photos of guns and/or dead deer/turkeys
And with this, I'm also going to give a double thumbs down to any profile pictures of trucks with tints and lift kits. Insert any Jeff Foxworthy "you might be a redneck if..." quip here.

5. Save the world with a like/share!
This orphan has a collapsed lung, early onset rheumatoid arthritis AND the bubonic plague! 10,000 likes and doctors will save her!1!!11!

Additionally, Bill Gates is not giving a million dollars to everyone who shares a photo of him holding a photoshopped sign.


6. Blathering statuses about political issues
Annoying, but acceptable in November of a Presidential election year. At any other time, literally no one wants to hear your political opinions. Start a blog or go back to the debate team.

7. Love notes to your significant other
It's verbal PDA and it's gross.

8. Gotcha messages to your exes and/or haters
Facebook is no clothesline, so stop airing out your dirty laundry. NOW GO PUT SOME ALOE ON THAT BURN.

9. Show spoilers
Don't be that guy. Please. #RedWedding

10. Anything that looks or sounds like this:

Sarah Soopersad: =(

Bethany Bestfriend: oh no! whats up gurl?
Sarah Soopersad: dont wanna talk about it
Bethany Bestfriend: ill call u
Sarah Soopersad: no

There you have it, folks. Now go out and make the people love you.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Fitness Flops and Workout Whomps

Or in other words, ways in which I regularly embarrass myself at the gym.

On the daily, I am not a particularly graceful person, and I tend to become even less functional of a human being when I work out. Some girls look totally hot and graceful and sporty when they get their sweat on, but I generally end up looking something more like this:

Potentially an overstatement, but this gif gets funnier
the longer you stare at it.
I'll tell myself for the time being that every person is guilty of committing these workout faux-pas, and if that's not the case, just don't tell me, alright? Here's how we all (right? RIGHT?) make asses of ourselves while working out.

The Stairmaster Stumble
I'm talking about the tall, continually moving stair belt sort of machine here. I love the stairmaster because it's a challenging alternative to the treadmill (and jogging wrecks my shin splints after a while). After 10-15 minutes of plodding up and up though, the steps start to seem higher than they had been when I began. A single misstep makes the whole thing goes CRASH BANG LOOK EVERYONE SHE TRIPPED LOL and then it's a mad scramble to back to the top to avoid being rudely deposited onto the floor.

Then I shiftily look left and right to try to gauge how many people witnessed the incident.

Treadmill Trippin'
It happens for a lot of reasons. Maybe the song changed to something with a radically different tempo. Maybe I got too comfortable in the stride, spaced out, and started to drift to the side of the belt. Maybe I kicked myself in the back of the ankle for the thousandth time and literally tripped over my own feet.

Maybe all three of these things happen within the same jogging sesh and everyone else is all "is she alright or like, about to pass out from exhaustion or something?" My balance is sub-par.

iPod Drop
Probably the loudest of the bloopers. When the iPod/iPhone/anonymous Android device falls, the only recovery option is to stop the machine, get off, and pick it up off the floor while audibly cursing and silently praying that the screen hasn't smashed into a million pieces. Literally everyone else in the room will slow down to make like One Republic and stop and stare at the entire process while whispering "ooh, ooh, no that's not very good, no." It's the rubber-necking of the cardio room.

Bounce and Stop
If you haven't ever heard me whine about my height before, I'm 4'10", which means that my chest area is, um, close to the panel of buttons on most treadmills. This means that if I'm not careful, the girls might bounce right on top of the large pause/stop button, bringing my jog to an unexpected halt.

In other words, my boobs turn off the treadmill sometimes.

Unintentional Dance Party
The endorphins are high, I'm feeling good, and how else am I supposed to let it all out when the music shakes my bones and there's a tune-splosion happening in my brain? The only option is an above-the-waist dance party. Oh sure, I'm fully aware that I look like a damn fool when I bust out the Beyonce finger dance like what's going on over to the right here, but when the front of my brain is all "don't fall off the machine; keep moving plz," the best dance I can pull off (if you want to call it that) consists of me basically pointing all over in different directions.

Let's be real. We've all made asses of ourselves in the cardio room. Workout klutziness can be boiled down into an inspirational metaphor like so: The road to fitness is a bumpy and rocky one. Everybody trips every once in awhile.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Unexpected Library Sightings

An accurate representation of how
much I'm enjoying my time here.
Also, stripes.
I don't study in the library often. There's a reason. It's stuffy, just a little too cold, and full of people who seem to live in a perpetual state of near-panic. But today I'm writing a research paper, so I need to be near books. Sigh. As a reminder of why I prefer to study in my room, here's a list of things I've seen today that a) just don't seem right, and b) have further distracted me from my paper.

Sleeping - Dude a table over from me (wearing formal attire) has been snoozing for the last three hours. He keeps waking up, looking around, and readjusting to nap in a different position. Gazes longingly at the (empty) comfortable lounge chairs in the corner of the room. Sets his head back down on the wooden table and nods off again.
**Yeah, I know this isn't an unusual in a college library, but he came in, napped on and off for three hours, and left.

Rolling cigarettes and drinking Kombucha - Stahp, hipster. Your loose tobacco looks like cat nip.

Jamming - Earphones in, no work out, sitting at a desk four stories below the ground level. Questionable character.

Acting all old school - Like, actually old though. Fifty-something year old man next to me has a MacBook Pro in front of him, he's writing on a legal pad with a mechanical pencil and switching back and forth between two pairs of glasses. Acquire bifocals.

Strolling - Lady stands up, already looking a little odd wearing her earmuffs indoors. Lady takes a lap around the reading room, stopping every once in a while to read book spines or snoop on working students. Lady gazes pensively out a window, probs contemplating her limitless soul and the nature of humanity (she stood there for a while). Lady sits in a cushioned chair and takes a 5 minute power nap(?). Go home, Lady.

Gymnastics - Seriously, someone is using a chair like a ballet bar and stretching her hamstrings.

Blogging - What am I even doing here? This paper is due like, soon.