Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Quiet Thanksgiving Weekend

I've had a couple of bemusing conversations with friends recently who seem vaguely disappointed that M and I haven't spent many weekends sightseeing in Los Angeles. This confuses me, because I can't say that I'm entirely sure what sights we are supposed to be seeing. So help me out a little bit: when you imagine Los Angeles, what landmarks or passtimes do you have in mind? I've been to the beach several times, I even worked a corporate team-building experience there once. I've been to Griffith park, with the famous observatory and the views of the Hollywood sign. I've driven on Sunset Blvd., and I've been to the Getty Villa and the Getty Center. I've strolled the UCLA campus. I drive past the Fox studios on my way home from work everyday. What else did you have in mind? What would you consider the young life in Los Angeles to look like?

Does it look like this?

That's just a little bit of my decorations from Thanksgiving dinner. M and I decided that it just wasn't quite cost effective to try to go home for Thanksgiving, the first time for either of us, and to do it ourselves this year. It was just a *little* chilly in sunny LA, and only slightly fall-ish, but it suited us just fine.

With the help of one of M's teacher friends, we put a turkey breast, greenbean casserole, sweetpotato casserole, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, rolls, cranberry Waldorf salad, and a pumpkin pie on the table, and it was all very yummy! I didn't take pictures of the foood, because we were hungry, the natural light had faded by then, and because traditional Thanksgiving recepies are so suprisingly non-stressful that I felt like I was cheating to make a big deal out of it. But let me assure you, it was all yum!

M was quite satisfied with our efforts!

I will say, despite all our self-satisfaction, that it was disappointing to not be able to see our families. There were the pleasant phone calls home, but it's not the same thing as sitting at a table full of people you love. I'm looking forward to Christmas!

But don't worry, we weren't about to mope all weekend! On Friday, M and I took advantage of the non-Novembery weather to wander the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanical Gardens in Pasadena. It was sunny and perfumed with flower blossoms at their 127 acre complex, featuring restored historical homes, a waterfall, greenhouses with one of the country's largest orchid collections, and peacocks. Ironically, none of which are pictured here because of my difficulty with the harsh California late-afternoon sunlight. Ha!:

This is how M and I prefer to handle holidays and weekends. We avoid the touristy famous places in favor of the quiet sanctuaries of peaceful existence. It was an excellent Thanksgiving holiday, where were able to enjoy each other.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Of Reception and Luncheon

A month ago I started a new job; it's another temporary thing, but this one lasts for about three months, with the possibility of going permanent, so I at least have the illusion or normalcy right now. I'm overjoyed.

Additional perks abound: it's really close to me, in a beautiful and very secure office complex in Century City. The building in the center is where I work:

This is my daily ride up the escalators from the parking garage to the main lobby of the building. The parking garage for this office complex is ridiculous, by the way. It is 8 layers, four being loading dock or reserved parking, and then four for take-it-as-you-come parking. It includes a service station and a car wash!

It's another receptionist gig, but this one involves more varied duties than I've been given before, so it is far from rote, even after a month. I maintain the conference rooms and the conference room schedule book, escort guests to their meetings in our suite of offices, as well as check people into of the security list and validate their parking when they're done. I also answer the phones for the executives as a back up to their personal assistants, distribute the newspapers in the morning, and make any maintenance requests for our office to the offices of the building, and so on. I'm pretty much a Girl Friday, the retro nature of which I truly love. The variety of tasks is great, and I especially appreciate that the people who have been training me have been very nice. So far they seem to like me, and that counts for a lot too.

This is my lobby:

This is my desk, and the largest conference room barely visible over the counter:

As you might expect from a building this opulent, this job came with the best salary I'd been offered to date. It's not changing my quality of life or anything, but it's allowing me to be slightly less worrisome than I had been.

The hours are 7:30 to 4:30, which is great, because I get a jump on the infamous L.A. traffic heading both ways (totally worth it). The odd thing about the hours is that everyone works as much as possible during the work day, including through lunch. That's right, a nine-hour work day! I'm fine with that, though, because its extra salary, and my office orders-in lunch every day, which we get to eat for free! This was the menu my first day of work:

Mmmm, crab cakes!

In addition to my other random administrative and supportive duties, my boss is slowly transitioning me making the lunch orders for the whole office, and on Friday the office tried a new restaurant of my suggestion. B.A.D. Sushi (it stands for Best and Delicious, people) is a charming new restaurant within walking distance of my apartment with high-quality fish, exquisite and unexpected special rolls, and an extremely charming waitstaff and manager. I was so happy to get them a sale of the magnitude of our lunch order, and I was really happy that my wealthy, picky, and vocal co-workers enjoyed it as much as they did. It really was something of a workplace success. We will definitely be ordering from them again!

There's nothing like free sushi for lunch!

Monday, November 1, 2010

It's Nice to Go Home

Last weekend M and I both left town, him to visit a dear friend from high school, and me to visit my parents back in Arlington. The visit home really highlighted for me the difference between my parents' energy level, and that of M and I.

My parents, who, mind you, were on vacation last week, had me hit the ground running with a trip to Steinmart, a run by the Toyota dealership, and finally a meal out (which isn't an every-day thing with my parents). So much for curling up on the couch after a taxing plane flight!

The next day kept up the same feeling of business, with errands and activities from morning to night. I'm not complaining, I enjoyed all of them, and the pace made a very short visit feel full, but M and I do not keep such a busy schedule when left to our own devices. We prefer time to unwind between errands and activities, which I hope makes us feel less stressed and less worn out, but which also makes us way less productive.

Being home, I felt busy and rushed, but I also felt more energized and creative than I ever have in L.A. I'm not sure if that's the adrenaline, or maybe it has more to do with other factors, like the great windows in my paretnts' house, or the drawers overflowing with craft supplies, or the presence of a super handy dad and an extremely creative mom. I like my life in L.A., but I want more of how I feel at home mixed in. I just wish I knew how to make that feeling happen!

I feel like there are so many differences between the domestic bliss I imagine for myself and the way I actually live, which is normal since I'm twenty two and just out of college, and it takes time to learn to paint walls, cook great meals repeatedly and confidently, grow your own successful garden, remember everyone's birthday and so forth, not to mention doing it all with an 8-5 job. I'm just impatient to have/be it all!

Anyway, I love visiting home, where we have creative holiday spirit, even if barely anyone sees it:

My dad has always been interested in the details: pumpkin carving and cake and cookie decorating galore. He did the witch, and I did the owl. I've missed carving pumpkins!

I also love my parents' garden, overflowing with green things, even if the fall chill is setting in.

I got to say hello to Mabel again, who is a goofball, but I love her:

We even went on a walk in a new nature preserve/park in Arlington. It was a great weekend, with good food and energy and creativity and Halloween cheer!

I love you Mom, Dad, Mabel, Co-Jack, Honey and Poppy!