Saturday, March 31, 2007

Orientation

Today was orientation day for my new job. I had to go in to sign my offer and see what my training schedule was going to be, but they also had me get orientation out of the way while I was there. I'll be training for 7 full weeks before actually starting my job, which I'm really looking forward to. I've never been in a job that provided so much training and preparation beforehand, so it should be very interesting, and I'm really excited about it! At the start of the orientation, I was given a huge Bible of a Career Guide that I was told I would live and breathe by once all was said and done. It was very informative, indeed, and it definitely gives me something to do while I'm waiting to officially start my training on Tuesday. I'll be training for 2 weeks at a store in Arcadia (close to Pasadena), then 4+ weeks at the store in Beverly Hills, which is where my first interview took place. The new store that I'll be working at in Topanga/Canoga Park will open at the end of May. I'm becoming more and more impressed with the company and am totally pumped about starting a career there. I still can't help but feel like someone's going to tell me that this is all a joke, or that they'll change their minds about hiring me...it just seems unreal that I'm actually working for a company I set my sights on as soon as I started job-searching in the L.A. area. I'm hoping my dubious feelings will subside once I start getting my hands dirty and begin my training. So far, everyone's been incredibly helpful, positive and just all around cool. My hours will be a little wacky, though, and there's already a conflict with the Clippers game Gui and I have tickets for next Saturday (which is Irisa's bday, too) and my work schedule for that day, but it might work out. It will be hard to lose my weekends since those are the only days Guillaume and I get to spend entirely together. But, I'm hoping my schedule won't include too many weekends, and if it does, we'll have to deal with it, won't we? This is gonna be a whole new ball game, but I'm totally ready to play!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Long Beach

So, Albert and I took a trip to the beach close to our apartment today. We didn't stay for it, but we wanted to see if it really was within walking distance and if it was worth a visit. We found exactly what we'd hoped for: beautiful sand and sun only a stone's throw away. The beach isn't the best beach in California, but it's definitely good enough for a Texas girl used to the dark, often dreary gulf beaches of South Padre and Corpus Christi. We came back to the apartment to meet Guillaume and took him down to see what we discovered. He took a few shots of the beach while we drove by, on our way to Trader Joe's (By the way, Trader Joe's is THE shizNIT! Guillaume found some of the best French wine - according to him - for only $10 a bottle, and they have all kinds of good, organic cheeses, syrups and sodas...even San Pelligrino Aranciata that I had everyday while I was in Italy...for super-duper cheap!!!!! Totally going to be my new hang-out). So, here are the pics...not too great, but just a 2 min. drive from our place.




You can't really see the sand in the pictures, but there's tons of it...I'll be sure to post more after we go to to beach this weekend! : ) Can't wait!

Back in the loop

Sorry about the lack of posts this past week. It's been an adventurous time with lots of exciting moments and some good news. First off, I had 2 interviews scheduled for early Tuesday the 27th, so my brother Albert and I set off for California on Sunday morning around 5:30 am...we had a few delays with the car trailer, but we were still able to avoid major traffic during the day. We had planned to stop to rest somewhere in Tucson before heading out again on Tuesday, but after driving past the city we decided to head towards Phoenix and look for a place to stop on the way. We attempted to stop at a shady hotel in the middle of nowhere, but made a quick u-turn after realizing it looked like one of those creepy places out of a hitchcock movie. After talking to mom on the phone, we made a determined decision to just drive the full way through. I wasn't too tired at the time, and when I began feeling a little drowsy, we pulled over to a truck stop for a quick nap. Just as I was setting my phone alarm for an hour later, Guillaume called in to let me know he was home from San Francisco. He also told me that someone had broken the back window of his car while it was parked at his office in Cerritos. I was pissed! Who does that?? It's obvious the person driving his 1995 P.O.S. Saturn isn't someone who has money to throw away on buying a new window! Grrrrrr. So, needless to say, I was no longer in the mood to sleep at this point and we headed back out on the road. We finally made it to LA after a nice traffic-filled freeway commute from the north at 4 AM!!! Yes, even at 4 AM, LA has freakin' traffic! When we finally made it home, our truck and trailer were too big to fit down our little one-way street, which resulted in another adventure that took us around the neighborhood, down alley-ways and finally in our driveway to unload the junk from the truck. Phew!! What a day! At 9 AM Albert and I were finally able to catch some zees, but I couldn't sleep for more than a couple of hours before I had to get up to organize the new mess in our living room and kitchen. Fun, fun!

Since our arrival, we've found a nice restaurant and bar that serves amazing seafood just down the street, we've done some grocery shopping at the famous Ralph's (not my favorite place; I think we'll try Trader Joe's next time), completely organized our new living space, and done a bit of exploration around the 'hood - including a stop at Carl's ,Jr. Today, I'm taking my little bro to the beach that's a few blocks from our apt. I'll give a full report of that later.

As for my interviews....they both went really well. My first interview was with my preferred job, and I was really stoked about it. It was a pretty informal conversation, with typical questions about past experiences and such. It ended well, and a 2nd interview was scheduled for Wed. My other interview on Tuesday was with an asset management company, which went unexpectedly well, too. It was a very laid-back interview, and the job seemed to be much cooler than I had originally thought it would be. They told me they'd defintely be in touch for a second interview and thought I was the best candidate that they'd seen so far. I was really excited for both jobs!! But, yesterday I had the 2nd interview with my preferred job and it seemed to really go well. While I was making dinner with Guillaume last night, I got a phone call from my interviewer who offered me the job (which I readily accepted)! It's such a great feeling to be employed again and in the job that I had set my hopes on attaining when I moved here! It's sure to be a company I'll grow with and one that I expect to be very happy working for. So, I'll start with orientation tomorrow and begin training for the next 7 weeks on Tuesday. The store will be opening in the Westfield Mall in Topanga, and will be a 2-story store with over 100 employees. It's not very close to where we're living now, but I plan to be closer to that area after a few months. Exciting times are ahead!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Vegas

So, here I am...in Las Vegas. You might be asking yourself how I got here. Well, my brilliant self thought that waiting for the first flight to Austin through Phoenix tomorrow morning was hogwash. So, when they made the announcement that I'd surely miss the flight to Austin because of the delays in Phoenix, I pulled out the charm and made a successful attempt to strategize a flight to Austin that bypassed Phoenix. The end result of my impressive persuasion was that I was sent by prepaid cab to the Orange County/Santa Ana/John Wayne airport in Orange County to catch the next flight to Vegas and get to Austin by 3:30am. I just couldn't fathom spending another night in a hotel or in my empty, bedless, Guillaume-less apartment. So, 7 hours later, here I am, waiting in the Vegas airport for yet another delayed flight to arrive before I officially make my way home. It's been an interesting journey so far, though. The cab driver told me a story about a pregnant woman who cops pulled over for driving by herself in the HOV lane. Well, she took the cop to court for the ticket with the explanation that her 6-month pregnant belly was actually a second person, and therefore, she was breaking no laws by driving in the 2-person-minimum HOV lane. Well, the woman won...basically on the grounds that if a person murders a pregnant woman and both she and the baby die, the person is charged with a double homicide..so the 2-person rule applies. I just thought this was such a brilliant story...and I promised my cab-driver that I'd share it with my friends. :) I also met a couple of cool cats on the plane ride from John Wayne to Vegas, which was another plus, and now that I'm in Vegas, I'm getting a craving for ice-cream or popcorn, so I may make my way to an ice-cream stand (even though it's always so freakin' cold in this airport!), and then test my luck at the penny slots! Woohoo! So, I'll be back to good ol' Austin sometime tomorrow morning...right now it's 5AM, but doubt that'll stick. Hopefully I'll be able to get a bit of shut-eye on my way back before I get started on packing and moving!!! See y'all soon!
update: I'm finally in Austin - flight arrived promptly at 7:15 am and my bag was the first on the carousel...woo-hooo...things are looking up for me! ; )

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Stuck

Of course, just when everything's feeling like smooth-sailing, my flight gets delayed. I was sitting at the LB airport bar, chowing down on an avocado and bacon burger, fries and a pint of Sam Adams when I received a text message from Gladys in Mexico that her flight was canceled to Phoenix for bad weather. Crap! That's where I'm flying through!! Yep, I'm making my way back to Austin to collect my things (namely, my car) and make the drive back for good. My flight's scheduled to take off toward Phoenix in half an hour, but the plane hasn't even left the airport to pick us up! I'm pretty sure I'll be here for a while, but at least the Long Beach Airport is on it with free wi-fi...woohoo! It's hard to believe the weather only one hour away is so crappy when it's absolutely perfect here. I'm starting to like this west-coast thing. I just hope I don't get stuck in Phoenix (too many smokers and too much dust)!

My first night

So last night was the first night I stayed at my new apartment in the LBC (yeah, like Warren G.). It was a little scary...being alone in a very new place with no one around that you know is definitely a scary situation. But, I survived. It was very cold, and since we don't have our bed set up yet, I had to make myself a space to sleep with pillows and blankets I'd just bought from Target...not the most comfortable set-up, but it was just one night. I was awakened around 1 AM to the sound of a helicopter flying overhead. Now, we don't live in a bad neighborhood, but in California, I've learned that the difference between the ghetto and the Bel Air Estates can be a very short block. So, needless to say, I was a bit shaken up at the prospect of some strange fugitive breaking through my bedroom window to kill me. Mind you, I occasionally have these same fears lying in bed at 2AM in Kyle, Texas, so let's not be so quick to blame my new 'hood. Anyway, after spending a bit of time in my new digs I started visualizing what it will be like once everything's all moved in and set up for us. I pictured a very comfortable set-up with a little beachy feel to it, windows opened often, and smells of feel-good food cooking in our antique mini-oven...I think it's going to be nice. In one week, I'll have officially established myself as a Long Beach resident and a whole new chapter will begin. A little bit exhilirating.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A breath of air

It's been a long, full, hectic week - make that nearly a week. I've been in California for 5 full days now, and everyday I've learned something new about the place and people. It's funny how you can have so many people telling you so many different and same things about one place and you never really get to prove or disprove those things until you're actually there. I'm actually here now and the weather's meh, the people are rarely beautiful (I definitely prefer Texans), and the shopping...it's better than I imagined!
So, there's good news and bad news to report from the west coast. The good news is that Gui and I finally found an apartment and I signed the lease yesterday. It's in a pretty nice area of Long Beach with beach and shops within walking distance. It's incredibly tiny (well, by Guillaume's French standards, it's standard size), the stove and fridge are tiny, but the closet space is ample (thank God). It's completely empty at the moment, so I'm making a trip to Target to pick up some essentials this afternoon before Gui gets back from San Fran [to update: he left on Monday and is in San Francisco until Sunday for work].
Now, to the bad news. I haven't had as much luck with the job search as I'd hoped. I went to a job interview on Monday with a placement firm, and they were completely pumped about getting me into a job. I had an interview with a hedgefund yesterday in Beverly Hills, which was an enlightening experience. I've never seen so many Bentleys, Benzes and Beamers on one level in a parking garage before in my life! I definitely felt sub-par driving around Santa Monica Blvd and Rodeo Drive in Guillaume's little, beat-up Saturn. :) But, the interview went well. I don't think I'd be up for such a long commute (about 2 hours each way) every single day, which brings me to another point. As much as I hate traffic, I defintely don't mind
LA traffic. It's fast, full-speed traffic that only exploits the crappy, slow drivers. And, everyone uses their blinkers (indicators, for you Brits reading this)!!! That's certaintly a very welcome change to my commute.
I'm realizing that the strangest thing about where we're living is the very obvious mix of people - youngsters and old folks alike are all going to the same places. Example: during our St. Patty's celebration, we found that at every bar, there were people celebrating that were our age with folks my parents' ages! It was a little different, but defintely a fun time [will post pics soon]. This little coffee haven I found a few blocks from our place is another example; about half are 20-somethings and the other half late-fourties and older. It's another change that I think I'll start to get used to. Everyone's rather friendly here, too, which is a relief.
So, off for more exploration. Updates to be forthcoming!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

I'm here!

Ok, I don't have much time to write about everything right now, but I've made it safely to Long Beach...it's very nice! It was so great to see Guillaume at the airport, and the weather has turned out to be really nice for my first day in town. The bad news is that my interview with Bloomie's went really crappy....well, actually it didn't go crappy, but I was informed that they had just filled the position that I had applied for. They wanted me to consider other positions (floor positions like sales, cust. service, merchandising, etc.), but I'm not going to sell my self out like that. I don't have the desire to work in retail, and I'm just going to wait it out and hope for the best. We'll see how things go Monday with my other interview. Right now, Gui and I are having a coffee/muffin break while we look around for apartments. It's really nice in this area - very trendy with starbucks all around and a few small bars and pubs. We still need to find a place to have a green beer!! I'm not even wearing green today!!!! So, off we go...I'll keep things updated soon. I'm sorry if I haven't called anyone, my stupid phone is roaming and likely charging me out the a** to talk on it.....I need Ely to hook me up! : ) I'm gonna see about getting another plan while I'm here, maybe. So, y'all have fun for me tonight...don't forget the ICBs and kilts! TAKE PICTURES! All my love to everyone back home!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Lucky in love

I never realized how great a relationship could be until I met Guillaume - we mesh well, we talk, we argue, we compliment eachother and he makes me laugh so much. I've had my unlucky streaks with relationships - a fair share if you ask me, but who hasn't? What I love about my relationship with Guillaume is that we talk to eachother like friends - we tell eachother everything, and he knows how to pick me up when I'm down and make me believe when I'm doubting. I hope that he feels the same about me. We definitely have our differences, but we never disrespect eachother for those differences, and that's such a novelty in a relationship these days. I'm sure there will be times when we'll need time apart from eachother or we'll completely butt heads on a topic (that actually happens often now), but I think we've both learned that our time together should never be taken for granted, and that's what will get us through. If I never hit the lottery or get to drive that Continental GTC I've always dreamed of owning, I will still be such a lucky girl.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The forces of the world are united against us

Yesterday I met up with the ladies for my going-away brunch at Taverna, where we gossipped about our jobs, gushed about our futures, ran into unwelcomed old flames, and toasted to new beginnings. It was a wonderful feast of food with friends that even a little rain couldn't ruin. After we were satisfied with the amount of food (and champagne) in our bellies, we made our way across the street to the local gelateria; I had a craving for gelato and coffee, so I was delighted to see a gelato cappuccino on the menu. Just as I was placing my order, I answered a call from Guillaume, expecting to hear some good news about finding a car or an apartment, but I was sadly disappointed when he gave me the news that he's going to be in San Francisco for the entire time I'll be in town to interview for jobs. What the heck?!! We knew he'd have to go to San Fran for work on occasion at some point, but we didn't expect him to be leaving for the Golden Gate City just 2 weeks into the internship! Grrrr. I was completely bummed that our reunion after 2 months is going to have to be consolidated into one measly day. Booooo. It just seems that everything is starting to go against us, and it totally sucks. Well, maybe I'm over-exaggerating a bit, but come on! Now I'm not sure if I should change my flight to come back earlier, if I should keep my flight and just hang around LA with out him, or if I should change my flight to come back later and spend some time in SF with him. Decisions, decisions. I'll have to make up my mind soon enough and will be sure to share it here when it's made.

So, moving on...the rest of the day was spent shopping (btw, the new Anthropologie store on Lamar and 6th is the shiznit!), shopping, shopping, shopping and having dinner with the ladies. It was a very long day, and when dinner was over and I was ready to head home, I decided to live in the moment and joined Irisa to hear our fave local band (well, non-emotional local band...hehe) play a free SXSW show, which was just divine! The open bar may have had something to do with it, but the music was certainly the high-point of the night. I know I mentioned this before, but I'm really gonna miss Austin and all it has to offer. I mean, where else is it common practice to hold a live music event open to the public with open bar all night? Not to mention that the bands playing (The Lemurs & What Made Milwaukee Famous) are some of cream of the local talent crop in Austin. While we were waiting for the doors to open to the party, we had a drink at the pub just down the street, where we chatted with the bartender who's an aspiring musician himself. He even gave us one of his CDs! I'm definitely going to miss this place, especially in March and September, when the great city opens its doors to people from all over the world to share some of its envied treasures. I really hope that when I return home to Austin that those same treasures will still be here.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Exhaustive Progress

Exhaustion has set in. After a long, full day of shopping for work clothes and sandals, I finally headed home around 6pm with a pair of *yawn* black slacks. Boooo. I also scored a $12 sweater at The Limited and a cute tank from Strut, but nothing that was on my list. I kept thinking while I was shopping, "Now, I could buy this pretty cute top for $58 or save my money and spend it on a really cute top at Zara once I get to LA next week." I hope LA doesn't disappoint in the fashion department, but what am I saying?...it's ELLLL AAAAAY...of course it won't disappoint here. Geesh, I must be really tired.
So, after a long day of shopping, I contemplated going out for a drink, but then realized I was just not in the mood to put together an outfit and try to doll myself up. I decided to veg-out, but couldn't help but feel guilty that I wasn't doing something in preparation for this horrid week of packing and cleaning and organizing. About half-way through the opening act of SNL, I jumped off the couch and went straight for the garage to sift through the mountain of Rubbermaid storage boxes. Man, I have a lot of shiznit! After going through the first 3 boxes, I figured I would soon start seeing ornaments and tinsel when I lifted the next box lid, but nope...more kitchen stuff, more purses, more shoes, more JUNK!! Today is the day I decide to ditch my pack-rat ways and turn over a new leaf of purging! It felt good to narrow my box count down from 8 boxes to 4! Woohoo!! My mom could definitely take some hints from the new me; her organization skills are, shall I say, reprehensible and I think she could do with a little purging herself. In fact, it's obvious that her bad pack-ratting habits were passed along to me in the womb. So, alas, I've managed to pack up the kitchen stuffs (as Gui likes to pluralize it) and a few other items to take along, while at the same time making some space in the garage for more of Mom's junk ;)

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Guillaume has made his way West

I finally received the much-anticipated phone call from Guillaume last night, while having coffee with friends, to inform me that he had arrived safely in the city of angels. It was about an hour after he arrived and you could tell his face was beaming with excitement the whole length of the conversation. The call was brief because he doesn't have a cell phone set-up yet and was running out of quarters for the pay phone. From what I gathered, he was picked up by two Canadians who he described as being "very, very cool" (a relief since I've never met a proper Canadian and was a little worried about what they'd think of a very American French guy...but, admittedly, my worry was slightly artificial, knowing that Guillaume gets along with everyone he meets). He said the flight was good and he's shacking up at the local Holiday Inn for now until he can arrange for an apartment (that's a whole other story that merits its own blog someday), but he made it clear to me that they were all going out to a bar and he was thrilled about it.
I was a little disappointed with such a short call, but I was very happy to hear that he arrived safely and was in very good spirits. I'm realizing, waking up this morning, that it's much more difficult to be apart from him when he's so freakin' close than when he's an ocean away. I've got to adapt for the next week to our new time difference. Instead of his schedule being 7 hours ahead, he's now 2 hours behind. So, for instance, waking up this morning, we'd usually have a nice long web-cam chat over Messenger or Skype, while he was in the late afternoon of his day; I'd go about my day afterwards, he'd go out with friends in the evening and we'd have another - much briefer - call anywhere between 5 and 8pm just as he was going to bed and I was getting ready to go out. Guillaume is, by no means, an early-to-rise kinda guy...he loves his sleep and could sleep for 18 hours straight if given the chance, so this new waiting game I'm going to have to play for the next week is going to be predictably torturous! Besides this, we will be in polar opposite mentalities this week as he begins a new job and exploring a new city, making new friends, while I'm wrapping up my time at work and with friends, hurriedly packing and preparing for interviews and the big move (which I'm totally unprepared for at the mo).
It's undoubtedly going to be a tough week, but I'll try to remain focused on the light at the end of the tunnel that's only 6 days away now. Wow.

Friday, March 9, 2007

What I'm gonna miss

I'm sure this list will change (and possibly lengthen) as time goes by, but it might be interesting to see how on-target my predictions about what I'm gonna miss about Austin will be.

1. ALL OF MY FRIENDS & FAMILY HERE
2. Seeing burnt orange at every turn
3. Kind-hearted Austinites - a group of us went to lunch today and there was a couple seated at the only big table in the restaurant, when only two-seat tables were available, so when they noticed our dilemma, they voluntarily decided to switch tables mid-meal...this doesn't just happen anywhere, people.
4. SXSW, ACL Fest, Bob Marley Fest, Harley Fest, Marathons (though not the traffic they create)
5. Strolling along South Congress on the weekends
6. Texas license plates & bumper stickers (my favorite shown here).
7. Josie's Enchiladas from Maudie's - I'll have to find a replacement in SoCal
8. Randomly running into old friends and making new ones every single day
9. Being a native (no, not a Native American...being a native of the city I live in). It's always fun to be the tour guide for folks new to town, so I'm going to have to learn to turn the tables and open myself up to a new city
10. Trudy's
11. The Drag
12. Brunches with my girl-friends that last 8 hours and the all-you-can-drink mimosas Taverna naively offers us. (Thanks, Gladys.)


Thursday, March 8, 2007

Shaping Up to Ship Out

It's almost time to get my hands dirty and begin unearthing the boxes and furniture from the garage and my black hole of a closet. I haven't actually lived outside of my parents' house for nearly 2 years now (not counting the 5 months that I lived with Guillaume at Merrimac Apts during his internship). It's strange to think of all the things one can accumulate over the years, and even stranger to think of how it can all just disappear with one move. I can't recall what dishes are mine, what sheets go with my bed, or what books I actually bought. I haven't needed living room or kitchen furniture for 2 years now, and my mind is anxiously trying to remember what happened to all that stuff I used to have. There is much to organize as I get ready for the big move. My room is a complete disaster...papers and shoes tossed about, clothes piled on clothes, hair products and brushes strewn about the floor in front of my mirror. I've got a lot of work to do....