Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Visiting California

So my week in California has come and gone.
It was a great visit, full of friends, good food, warm sunny weather, and all in all good times.

My first stop after taking the Flyaway from LAX was Union Station and Olvera Street. 

With lots of architecture and historical buildings dating back to the founding of Los Angeles, I always enjoy hanging out at Olvera Street. The Mexican food is delicious, and the strolling musicians and shops bring back fond memories from going there in college and bringing my Spanish students there for a field trip using public transportation from Woodland Hills.  I was surprised to see Mr. Churro (which has delicious churros with a variety of fillings) had moved, and there was also a new cafe on the corner which was really nice.

The next part of my trip was spending time in Pasadena and Eagle Rock.  I stayed with friends in Pasadena, and they only live three blocks from the school where I taught kindergarten.  I'm still in contact with some of the teachers there, and so I visited my students that are fourth graders now.  They've grown so much (go figure) and it was rewarding to seeing how they are doing and catching up a bit with my former colleagues. 
After that it was off to Eagle Rock via the Metro Rapid bus.  I got to see the familar places: Swork coffee shop, Jamba Juice, Senor Fish, and of course Occidental.  It was warm and sunny, and the walking around made me feel nostalgic. 
The other highlights of the trip were visiting the Rose Bowl, the Americana in Glendale, hiking in Eaton Canyon, the good food, and just catching up with friends.  It was so refreshing to be somewhere familiar and reconnect with the people that I haven't seen in a long time.  Some people I saw during my last visit to California in November 2009, but one of my friends I hadn't seen since we both left Germany in July 2001.

My trip wouldn't have been complete without complications due to an impending snow storm.  Around 9 at night I started putting two and two together, and I realized that US Airways allows you to change your ticket without any fees if there's a weather advisory.  My flight was scheduled to leave at 11 in the morning and arrive at 7 at night, which was right in the middle of the heaviest forecast snow.  I was too late to catch the redeyes that night, but luckily I was able to get on the 6:30 AM flight. 

The next challenge was finding a way to the airport.  One of my friends was working near LAX the following morning, but he only had to get in by 7 and couldn't get me there early enough to check in.  After calling up multiple shuttle services and finding many without any availablity, I lucked out and found one, and it picked me up at 3 AM.  I was at the airport by 4:15, and after waiting for security to open I got checked in and camped out at my gate.

The flight was surprisingly empty, and they needed to shift people from the front of the plane to the back in order to balance out the weight distribution.  At first people were reluctant to move their seats, but there were plenty of empty window and aisle seats with empty seats next to them.  Besides that the flight was uneventful.
I was so grateful to have had the opportunity to travel to Los Angeles.  I didn't get to catch up with everyone I wanted to or visit every place I wanted to, but it was such a wondeful feeling spending time with such great friends and being able to stay in contact with them. 
Now I have one week until my return to Santiago on February 3rd.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

On my way to Los Angeles

My laptop is open, and here I am typing this blog post.  I see 3:17 AM staring at me in the face, and I am pretty exhausted now.  But I do this to myself on purpose so I can sleep on the 6 hour plane ride to Los Angeles and prevent myself from letting the 3 hour time difference affect me too much.  (My flight leaves from Philadelphia at 7:35 AM)

I've been putting off updating becuase I haven't been feeling particularly inspired.  I've been putting this pressure on myself to come up with amazing stories that will make people want to keep on reading, but unfortunately there hasn't been too much exciting happening lately.  I figure that updating with less than exciting thoughts is better than not updating at all.

The lack of work and lack of meaningful things to do was challenging for me the past few weeks, but I've made it through it.  This last night here was spent over a friend's house playing Magic and video games and included all types of random jokes and of course ordering a pizza for a late night dinner.  Even though it was nothing special it was a really great night.  Thinking back to about a year ago, I realize that I spent my last night in New Jersey with those same exact friends before my flight out of New York during the snowstorm.

I also got to visit some friends near Harrisburg last weekend, and it was a really nice weekend just getting away from home.  Just spending time together watching TV, sharing a meal, and reconnecting with others that also have an interest in traveling and other cultures was a refreshing experience.

I'm realizing I spent too much time focusing on what wasn't going right (not being able to find a job, letting small things frustrate me), but this night helped me refocus on the good friends that I do have and to make the most of my last two weeks.  Plus I'm going to Los Angeles and will get to see friends, eat good food, and visit familiar places.  I already know that being there will feel like a time warp for me, as I cannot fathom that I lived in Los Angeles for 7 years and did not take better advantage of all of the cultural opportunities there.  At the same time, I was also without a car for 5 of those 7 years.

I know that time is going to fly by once I am back from California next week.  I'll have one week to pack, celebrate the family birthdays, go to a Linkin Park concert, and say my goodbyes to family and friends for an indefinite period of time.  And no, I don't think the fact that I have a one way ticket back has hit me yet.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

My third winter in 12 months.....

I am at home, relaxing inside while it is snowing yet again.

Almost 3 weeks have gone by since I returned home, and I have about 3 more weeks before I fly back to Santiago.

I have had copious amounts of free time, as my search for short term work and tutoring have not turned up successful.  I've been listing and selling books online, cleaning through the house with my dad, and sorting through my Magic cards to bring back with me to Santiago.

I've also done some shopping and am amazed at the low prices for things.  New clothing is so much cheaper here, and it's nice getting things before I go back.  I've also found a lot of old clothing that either doesn't fit me or that I don't wear anymore, and so I've donated it.

For those readers in the South Jersey area, I am also selling my car.  It's a 1998 Subaru Legacy Outback station wagon with 154,000 miles on it.  It has power steering and brakes, AC, automatic transmission, a 2.5 liter engine, and the inspection is good until July 2011.  I'm asking 2900 for it.  If you (or anyone you know) is interested please have them contact me at