Saturday, July 31, 2010

Goodbye, Mountain View

Well, just about everything I own is packed up in this shoddy rental truck, and I get to watch it barreling down 360 miles of freeway with my boyfriend behind the wheel as I follow in my car filled up with the rest of everything I own. 

Goodbye, Mountain View. Try not to miss me too much.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

(LA) Summer Kickoff

While this weekend's festivities were scheduled around my boyfriend's friend visiting, I internally felt like it was a celebration of me officially moving down.

I spent two days furiously apartment hunting with the frustration of finding one all by myself but knowing it had to also be good enough for my boyfriend to move into, since he got a short-term lease anticipating my near-future move.  I can't even feel frustrated over that "wasted time" because my weekend was that good.  It started with an old computer science friend advising me that it will be better to just suck it up and squeeze into my boyfriend's studio with him for the remaining 4 months of his lease instead of paying far too much for a mediocre apartment.

A large part of my aversion to this outcome was that I would have to leave my cats with his mom, who lives in the middle of a mountainous forest, and I worry they will get lost and die, but my friend told me to stop being such a worried parent.  I also think perhaps that I was determined to be more in control of this move, not just moving away with my boyfriend.  Another part of it was probably feeling like this apartment is more his than mine, which for the last year at my Mountain View apartment made me feel less entitled to space and decisions (like "no shoes inside" and "we're keeping 3 mountain bikes in the living room" and "sorry there's only one towel rack in the bathroom" and "good luck fitting your food anywhere because we like to have large quantities of chilled beer"), but I've been here for 3 weeks and I feel comfortable enough.  Plus I think as the girl and with my culinary contributions that I will have some leverage.

So I decided to move in with my boyfriend!  How crazy is that??  I've started a list of what all I need to bring down instead of putting into storage, and in place of more apartment hunting, I spent Friday with my boyfriend's visiting friend -- got my iPhone 3G replaced for being defective, was treated to lunch, and watched Salt at The Grove -- and it was glorious.  I suppose I was kind of stressing out over the resignation letter I had drafted that day, but after I sent it later that afternoon, not even it could ruin the weekend.

The weekend was pretty ordinary, all thing considered.  We went out to a really trendy (but expensively delicious) Korean BBQ place in Culver City (where we technically live) for dinner and went barhopping in the area, topping off the night with pomegranate hookah.

Saturday I had the awesome idea to preface a night of drinking downtown with a BBQ:

Most of the guests were my boyfriend's friends (though I have come to know them pretty well, and one of them I knew before I even met my boyfriend), but when setting out the platter of pre-skewered vegetables, I remembered this was my future (even if only briefly) home, and I was a co-host of the summer BBQ shindig.

It was a casual gathering that ended with drinks by the pool, and utterly delicious.  I can't wait to do it again.

So here's to more awesome summer activities with my boyfriend (though the summer is already half over...why did it take so long to warm up?!), and then a cozy fall in this tiny studio, and then many more in the life that follows.

Welcome to LA.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Waiting for Life to Begin

So I'm moving back to Los Angeles. Like an adult, not with an expiration date. It's still sinking in.

I am both terribly off-put by the idea and incredibly excited.

On the one hand, LA is a dirty, crowded, expensive, depressing, soul-crushing city.
On the other, I started a life here in college and haven't felt much like I've been living my own life ever since I left; I have felt it put on hold, like I'm waiting for something.

I keep getting caught up in "this is just a transition" thoughts, which in some ways is true.  I keep thinking this is just a dress rehearsal, that life hasn't really begun, so keep on twiddling your thumbs waiting for the next round of musical chairs. 

We're always waiting for our lives to begin, figuring we'll be someone else some day. But all we have is now.

live your life now.

Friday, July 16, 2010


I just saw Inception.  It was pretty awesome. The fact that I say that when I spent the last hour of the movie squirming in bladder-ful pain means it was a great movie. Damn you, large Icee, and your 50-cent upgrade from regular size!

I've always been a dream person, though. I find dreams and the subconscious extremely fascinating, and am constantly inspired by my own.  I really should be better about writing them down when I wake up, because sometimes I remember having an epic dream the night before -- one that, upon waking, inspires me to write a book or game about it -- but lose the really special details of it by the time I sit down with time to write about it.

~ Spoilers (kind plot spoilers)! ~

I think Inception did a great job capturing the experience of the dreamer, while also making it an action movie. It was like Ocean's Eleven but for dreams/thoughts instead of Vegas/money.

In the movie, they called it "the kick" but I've always called it "falling awake". Everyone knows what I'm talking about, and I'm so happy they used that experience in the movie. Actually, I guess they twisted it to be more about actually falling and that waking you up. The phenomenon I am talking about is when you are asleep and feel like you are falling and wake up with a jolt in bed, obviously in no actual danger of falling.

I also thought they did a great job taking advantage of the fact that when you are asleep/dreaming, time moves slower in the dream than in real life. The first time I realized this was when I was about 5 years old and still sleeping in my parents' bed on occasion. My mom got up and said she'd wake me up when she was done with her shower, and I swore I was asleep for an hour. Inception uses this concept to build levels of induced dreaming such that at each level, more time passes in the dream than in the level above, making it possible to accomplish a whole lot in the space of a nap or single night of sleep. In effect, if the dream-inducing concept in the movie were possible, it would solve the problem of not having enough time in a day. Obviously it wouldn't provide more time to do physical things. What it would be useful for is to spend time in your mind thinking about problems or decisions, or if you architected it properly (the materials available in the dream), you could study!  That's the nerd in me speaking, because I wish I had enough time in my life to learn any number of new skills and languages.

Since the dreams can be shared, I imagine the social potential.  Second Life is a virtual world where people can meet up with their avatars to watch movies together, or meet with an online class or community.  In the movie, all the dream participants had to be in close proximity, so distant network dreaming wouldn't necessarily be possible (or would it?), but I can imagine a lot of fun being had with a group of friends sleeping for a few hours and (safely) traveling a foreign city or an amusement park together, or a couple getting together for a fancy date without even leaving home. Anyone see the movie Date Night? Imagine a married couple taking a 20 minute nape together and being able to go on a dream date in that time? The possibilities would be as limitless as the human mind.

People always tell me that I am strange to be able to remember my dreams with such detail, but really it's only the ones that mean something to me at the time that I particularly hold onto, kind of like memories from before the age of 5 -- you only really hold onto the extra memorable ones. Well I have had a lot of dreams in my life that I wish so hard that I could go back to. The dream-inducing in this movie makes that possible: you architect a dream that, coupled with the time-lengthening property of dreams, enables you to live for many hours or longer -- even years -- in an alternate reality that you can create yourself, without losing hardly any time in the real world. In the movie, this is recognized as a drug, and I am glad it did not overlook that potential. What is truly amazing about it is your body does not age in the real world, only your mind. The downside? You lose your natural ability to dream on your own. That would be a travesty. As great as it would be to invent my own dream worlds to escape to, I would despair at losing the incredibly things my subconscious completely invents on its own, the ones that still surprise and inspire me.

take time to dream.

p.s. I went to Borders after the movie, and couldn't stop myself.  It's been a little over a year since my mom closed her bookstore, the one I grew up in (when I was ~4, I even picked out which bookshelf in the layout would be the children's section), and I realized how much I miss it. Borders was competition for my mom's tiny independent shop in downtown Willow Glen, but the selection is marvelous, and I had to stop myself from spending the entire afternoon browsing.  When I have a house some day, I will have so many bookshelves full of books because I seriously want every one (and have no time to read them)!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

This is why I never get a good night's sleep.

Dear dude who lives above the boyfriend,

Why must you leave your A/C on allllllll night?  I mean that's when it's nice outside and opening the windows cools things off without sapping the energy grid. Seriously, though, your A/C drips asynchronously on the boyfriend's A/C (which is a lot louder than it sounds), right next to the bed, and keeps me awake. Not appreciated. Also, you don't sound as awesome as you think you do on your bass --> turn your amp down. I like to sleep in and/or hear the TV. Where do you get off coming down here right after the boyfriend moved in to be all, "why do I hear thump thump thump at 3am?" when you stomp around like you're Roosevelt or something? We try to keep the volume down on the TV but you're not making it so easy.




Dear gardeners,

Why must you use machinery to cut greenery every weekday morning at like 8am? Are you completely opposed to anyone in the apartment complex sleeping in? Maybe you should sleep in longer before coming to work. That would make everyone happier and well rested!




Dear toddler that lives in the bedroom below my Mountain View apartment,

What's with the morning tantrums? I get it, you're angry about being so tiny and futile in the rebellion against your British mum and her insistence that you wear hellish clothing, but repeatedly slamming your closet door doesn't really solve anything, plus it wakes me up earlier than I want to be. Believe me, I've been there, but all tantrums do is frustrate the people around you and force them to plot your "accidental" death that much more earnestly.




Dear early-rising roommate,

I have the "Stuff White People Like" daily calendar so I know you like to wake up with the sun and seize the day and everything, but must you do it with such vigor? The kitchen cupboards with which my bedroom shares a wall will close just as well with a gentle closing motion as they do with an enthusiastic slam. Also, if you are going to spend half an hour before work making an extravagant breakfast, make me some, too, will you? I was totally awake anyway.




Dear everyone in my building,

Isn't slamming doors a little juvenile? I suppose I'm all for it if you're 16 years old and just said something really angsty and need to make a dramatic exit, but I find it hard to believe that this is the case for so many apartments so many times in the day. Perhaps I should slam my front door more often to demonstrate how violently it shakes the entire building. Not cool.




Dear Sara,

Why do you even bother living in apartments? All the people who live in apartment buildings are CRAZY! And loud. And rude. Work on making enough money to buy a freaking house already. It would do us both a favor.



Wednesday, July 14, 2010

So this is the real world?

I'm about 1/3 of the way through my 4-week "personal leave"/job hunt in LA. So far I've applied to plenty of jobs which I may or may not be qualified for, had 1 final-round interview (which I think went well, but it's hard to say, really), revamped my website when I ran out of jobs to apply to, and endlessly slipped into a state of despair as I questioned this life I'm living.

I really do enjoy programming, but I've come to realize how much really boring programming there is out there. I see openings for jobs I really want, but I'm not nearly qualified enough for them to be considered over hundreds of professionals who are far more experienced in those areas. I wonder if I just failed miserably at taking the right classes in college, or if I simply graduated at the wrong time.

Finding a great job is difficult!

Ideally I want to work on some kind of user interface, a website or tool or game that I might actually use or at least show off to my friends and family because I am proud of it. I want to work at a small company with that innovative and passionate start-up-y feel but without the fear of going belly-up. I want stability without that corporate bureaucracy.

Companies like that either aren't hiring, or are only hiring people who are already proven awesome at it (published game titles, online portfolios, 5+ years post-grad experience). Has it always been that way, or is that just a sign of the shitty economy? Is it always going to be that way, or do I just have to suffer through a few years/jobs I feel meh about until the economy improves and thus the need for developers in more interesting fields is great enough that they'd take someone like me, someone who knows some, has dabbled in such things either briefly in college or here and there as a hobby but reallllllllllly wants the opportunity to further develop professionally if only someone would give her the chance.

More and more I really want to be involved in video game (or at least the entertainment sector) development. I had a shot in college to switch from Computer Engineering & Computer Science to Computer Science Games, but decided not to because I wanted to leave my options open, to not be too specialized. While I like not being locked into a niche field, I am kicking myself for not at least making an effort in college to break into that industry that is so incredibly difficult to enter.

I guess I'm fearing a future of the daily grind, showing up to a job I don't particularly like because I'm not particularly enjoying what I'm doing or particularly proud of what I'm/we're producing, just to pay the bills.

I know what I want to do, I just wish I knew a more possible way to get Can't everyone else want something else so I'm the only one who wants to do that so they'll hire me?!

Dear Economy,

Please improve super duper fast so I can have a better perspective of my life and the future and whether or not to regret what I'm doing with it.




Well, I apparently kicked enough ass on Monday at my interview, because they emailed me an offer letter a little while ago. It's a little less money than I make now, but they have stock options and match contributions to an IRA account, and "more money" isn't really my biggest selling point at this time in my life. I have 1 week to decide.

I'm incredibly jazzed that I have a ticket to moving back down here, now. But I'm scared.

I'm scared of letting people down -- my old company/co-workers, my parents (who don't want me to move away from them again, and who partially think it's a bad career move), and myself if this doesn't turn out well.

I'm scared that this won't be the job I want it to be. But I have to realize that I am only 22 years old, and I will have many jobs in my life and may not find *the* job for a while. A job is what I do 8 hours a day 5 days a week, not everything I do or everything I am.

I'm scared because it means I'm moving again. I know, this is what I want -- the biggest reason for me taking this unpaid time off work to job hunt down here was because I want to move back down here! But I always get nervous about big change, and I know this about myself.

I can finally drink that bottle of champagne I bought months ago for celebrating a new job in LA.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Que Sara!

I spent a few days revamping my website so it didn't look quite so lame. Check it out!

If you click on that pen on the home page, you can go to the bulletin board and leave me a note!

The custom fonts are a bit unpredictable. They all show up on my and the boyfriend's computers, but don't on some others. Let me know which render and which done, and which browser (Firefox, Chrome, etc.) you are using along with the version number. 

I finally got the mechanism for the recipe page, but I still have to create the recipe files for it to parse. I'll take care of that starting probably Tuesday. I have an interview tomorrow afternoon and will probably want to play afterward.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

LA LA Living

So in an attempt to fix my life, I took 4 weeks off of work to go to LA to find a new job down here.

Last week felt like the final week of school before summer vacation. Work dragged on and on!  Not having enough work to do was part of the problem, but also because I could_not_wait to live with Kevin for a whole month.

My vacation started off pretty awesomely. The boyfriend came up with a friend, and we went to a 21st birthday party like we were still in college or something, and then went to the county fair for 4th of July festivities and fireworks.

Then I packed up all my worldly possessions and drove until I reached Culver City and found a parking spot.

I got a really nasty sore throat over the weekend so the first few days were pretty tame. I slept in pretty late, justified by the idea that sleep helps you get well faster. I even went grocery shopping at Trader Joe's and watched One Tree Hill on the soap network while making dinner for the boyfriend before he came home. I felt like a real housewife! Only content with that status. Maybe they all start out that way.

Then I got down to business and applied to hella jobs. I even passed the phone screen and have an interview on Monday! How awesome am I??

Overall, it's summer time and the living's easy.

It's definitely difficult to get down to business. I made a daily schedule for myself to keep me on track and productive, but so far I have not succeeded in meeting said schedule. But honestly, things keep getting in the way. Like being sick. And the first day I didn't have a desk yet to set up my computer, and the boyfriend's computer like committed suicide while I was doing the dishes. And the gym is closed for painting. And the boyfriend gave me a puzzle ring for our anniversary and I took it apart too quickly and I spent like 2 hours trying to put it back together but failed, and it's the one puzzle ring that doesn't have good instructions or a video of any kind, which makes me sad because I never got to wear it. 

Being an adult is difficult when it's summer and you don't have to get dressed and go to work and and there's a pool in the courtyard (not that I've used it yet) and there's lots of delicious food to cook and eat.

Tomorrow I'll get up earlier and get down to business faster.  Maybe.  If I get my coffee maker working.

Overall, though, I'm excited. Because I'm taking the first big step to making my life happier, like a real goddamn adult.

I'll keep you updated.


p.s. I made my puff pastry recipe for ICBC, but it failed miserably (read: the puff pastry refused to stay whole and leaked a flood of brie cheese everywhere, which burned in the pan. It was still tasty, but it wasn't beautiful or photogenic in any way. I'll try it again -- or a different recipe entirely -- and post a recipe + picture if that one turns out better.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Let Me Down

I live in a constant struggle between doing what will make me happy and doing what will let the fewest people down.

Today that conflict is swimming around in my head.

As mentioned before, I am at a crossroads.  After this holiday weekend, I am going back down to LA for a four-week unpaid vacation ("personal leave") in hopes of a more successful job hunt as a local.  This is the bit that will make me happy.

I feel the excitement of a schoolgirl during the last week of classes before summer break! I get to live with the boyfriend for a month, which I haven't gotten to do for a significant length of time since his winter break, and before that, last summer. Nevertheless, long distance has not degraded our relationship too much -- we see each other almost every weekend and talk every day; he is my best friend. I also get to visit several friends I left behind after graduating college. Beyond that, I have planned a daily schedule for while he is at work, to include three hours of job applications, a mid-day break for lunch, tanning, and exercise, and three hours of skill development (Actionscript/Flash, web technologies, and spiffing up my website -- I'll post a link when it's more something to be proud of). If I am awesome enough to overcome the 12% unemployment in LA, I will finish the four weeks with a new job to replace my current one, which I am not crazy about. 

Sounds like a good deal, right? So why do I feel uneasy about it?

When I first started casually searching for jobs a few months ago, I felt guilty about the prospect of abandoning my team before the customer demo.  Well today was our last team meeting before the demo, when we all get split up to do other things because our project is being shelved indefinitely (until Customers show interest and sign a contract to give us more funding) -- hence the perfect timing for my four-week leave, approved by the supervisor lining up my next project upon my return.

I'm not abandoning my team, so what's the problem?

Also for the last few months, I have been putting off submitting my paperwork to initiate the investigation for my security clearance required to really get involved in the projects at my company.  Well while discussing my next project with my supervisor, she asked if my investigation was started. Fearful for getting in trouble (in case I can't get a job in four weeks and find myself dejectedly returning in August), I finished updating my paperwork and turned it in. Today, I signed it and showed up for fingerprinting.

Now, the reason I was putting off submitting my paperwork is twofold.

(1) I feel an immense anxiousness over the idea of the government investigating my entire life (I'm sure they'll find and read this at some point), digging me out of my pseudo-anonymity in the world.  A polygraph? Not jazzed about that. Being required to ask the government's position before publishing anything or leaving the country? A security clearance sounds a lot like signing my life over like a goddamn soldier.

(2) The cost of one of these top secret security clearance investigations? I've heard it's something in the ballpark of 10-grand. Now, I'd imagine that if my company invested in such an expensive undertaking, they wouldn't be too happy about me jumping ship before returning anything on that investment.

I do not like to burn bridges.

I suppose resigning a mere few weeks after the initiation would probably save a lot more resources than if I were to do so several months in to the process, or shortly after my clearance goes through. But I can't imagine I'd leave a good impression by disappearing suddenly in the middle of a "personal leave" that started immediately after finally submitting my paperwork months after my security officer started hounding me about it.

Seriously? I am feeling guilty about trying to get out of something I never wanted in the first place?

As I said, today was the last team meeting. My team lead came to my office afterward to praise my hard work over these last 10 months. He said that I did an "exceptional job, especially for someone with your experience level" and that it "was a real pleasure having you on the team."

Well now who feels like a real asshole for secretly trying to get away?

I am trying to tell myself that the timing is right, if I really get to find what I am looking for in LA, that I worked really hard and left a good impression on my team, that I am not abandoning anyone, but I still can't shake the unease that I am burning bridges with the company.

But why should I give a damn? I don't want to work there in the future, do I? All I should care about are my team members who can act as references down the road. And leaving is a move in the direction of shaping my life to be the way I want it to be.

live your life the way that will make you the most happy, regardless of the heaviest conflicting expectations.

I'll let you know when I figure out an easy way to do that.