a unique opportunity to work from a different office on a different team for a couple months came up back in july. the only catch was that you needed to 1) start asap, and 2) find a way to cover your own job for six weeks. so within about a week, i inquired, mulled it over with a few different admins, and then proceeded to pack up and drive down to santa monica.
at first it scared me that i could say yes so quickly and so easily to abandoning my current life for a bit. i guess it helped knowing that i had an end date, and that if i hated it, i'd be back in sf in no time. the worry came out of a quote that has stuck with me from the unbearable lightness of being, "a person who longs to leave the place where he lives is an unhappy person." i wouldn't say i am/was an unhappy person, but i did see a huge uptick in the quality of my life since i've moved to socal. for the first couple weeks, i was reluctant to tell people at home just how good i was feeling because i didn't want them to worry that i'd remain in socal permanently (though i must admit that the thought did cross my mind more than once, especially since it's not a terribly far fetched idea). i've been thinking a lot about why life felt different (better) so i can try to replicate the feeling now that i'm back home.
proximity to closeness
spending most of my free time with close friends was probably the biggest change. i (stupidly) tend to forget just how nice it is to be around people who know me. people i trust. people who have already put in the 10,000 hours generally required for me to feel comfortable around. people who have seen me through my worst and for some reason still want to be friends. it's kinda funny (and sad) that my social life in la was so much more fulfilling down here than it has been in sf. a lot of that is my fault -- i honestly didn't have enough patience/time/interest in cultivating new friendships to fully enjoy living in sf. i was fully aware of that when i moved, but tried it anyway with all the "do it while you're still young! sf is awesome!" nagging. now that 1) i realize how much i miss being around people i feel comfortable with, and 2) katie and jason have moved to san jose, i'll be moving back down to the south bay in a few weeks.
time to breathe
i didn't realize that i'd been sprinting for so long at work until i arrived at the la office and had a chance to breathe. i tend to say yes to a lot of projects. at first, it was because i legitimately could take on more work. then i'd realized that even with a fuller plate, i could still manage to get it all done in ~45 hours a week. i feel like every time i speak to an admin s/he says s/he's swamped ("you know, the usual"). i don't mean to be skeptical or cynical but sometimes i'm really curious as to what each admin has on her/his plate and whether being "super busy" really just means "i suck at time management/being efficient". so i kept saying yes and kept finishing my work during normal work hours, but didn't realize it was because i was starting to cut corners, literally running around the office to shorten transit time (to the bathroom, to the stairs, to the conference room), and skipping out on company-wide meetings/internal news. after calming down in la, i quickly returned to old (frantic) habits my first day back in mountain view. my old buddies, anxiety and stress, have tried creeping their way back in and my initial reaction is to shut them out -- which makes me feel lazy, unmotivated, and unenthusiastic about work. last time this happened was after returning from india, and my solution was to leave my job and find a new one. oops. can't let that happen again. so this time, i'll find ways to be less interruption-driven and remain calm about my neverending, exhausting todo list.
other la stuff:
driving in la is terrible. why?
- liberal use of the car horn (reminded me of india)
- multiple cars seem to think it's okay to turn left from the right lane
- everyone tails each other while going 60+ mph (though this does make for a very efficient freeway)
- if you leave more than a car's length between you and the next car, someone will merge between you to close the gap
- good luck trying to merge lanes if you're not aggressive
- bicyclists love cycling towards you, against traffic
- every driver thinks s/he's most important and will block the intersection to make her/his own life easier while making you miss your light
- where are the u-turn available streets?!
- civil engineers love installing unprotected greens, allowing one car to turn left per light cycle
besides miraculously managing to avoid being involved in a car accident, i also discovered:
- i no longer enjoy loopy or intense roller coasters due to sea sickness. also noticed that stefan and i were the oldest people at six flags.
- santa barbara has great beaches and is a wonderful place to retire as a rich old white person. life would consist of shopping, going to the movies, and beaching.
- venice beach is pretty much telegraph (berkeley) planted next door to a beach. fun fact: i'd planned on visiting the boardwalk the day a crazy dude decided to run down pedestrians on the boardwalk, BUT was saved by danny who last-minute switched the days we were supposed to hang out that weekend.
- santa monica tourists have apparently never been to a mall before. i don't understand the hullabaloo about 3rd street promenade. every store is part of a chain and accessible in sf/fresno.
- there's an exclusive club(?) called the magic castle. and nph is the president of that castle. and he frequently hangs out at the bar.
- tsukemen is a freakin' delicious form of ramen if you eat it at tsujita.
- daikokuya is the only ramen shop i know of with consistent 1-hour waits throughout the entire day.
- semisweet bakery's cronut > dk's donuts's cronut > safeway/vons's cronut. but i don't understand the big deal. definitely not worth a 4-hour wait, hipsters and foodies.
- i've become the type of person who would rather go to the beach than the museum. :) but maybe that was just me dreading the drive to the museum vs. the walk to the beach.