DAY 1 - FRIDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2009
It is 5:15AM Eastern Time Zone at the Chattanooga airport. With tears and "I love you", I tell my family "See you later" because goodbyes are just too final. Mustering up all of the courage I have, I walk through the metal detectors and scanners and step through into a new chapter of my life.
My flights from Chattanooga to Atlanta and from Atlanta to LAX were the best of the 6 plane rides I have had to date. The only unpleasant portion of the 4 1/2 hour flight from ATL to LAX was how uncomfortable the seats were after sitting for so long. I made a friend on this flight who is originally from New Zealand and is a singer/songwriter. She lives in LA and is currently working on her music career. If you are interested, look her up at www.myspace.com/helenhendersonmusic. She has a Folk Rock/Blue/Country vibe. Anyways, luckily a bathroom break and a stretch of the legs at the back of plane helped the last hour of the flight seem a bit more bearable. It was a bit weird flying over New Mexico and Arizona, and then through California and seeing how different the landscape is from Chattanooga. Finally leaving the East for the first time definitely brings into perspective how much more there is to the world.
Surprisingly, after landing, getting through the airport to baggage claims was easy, and luckily the baggage handlers were having a good day and put my luggage on the correct planes to get to me. Securing my bags, I rolled out to grab a cab. $27 later I arrive at my cousin's friend's apartment right next to the ocean and marina, thus the name of the city, Marina del Rey. After a quick look around my new temporary pad, a survey of my new-to-me vehicle (1998 Ford Explorer Sport), and a nice nap, I get ready to venture out for grub and to find my new job.
Now, being nervous and a bit tired doesn't usually mix well when driving a new vehicle in a new place. It equaled out to not even barely driving a mile and almost having a wreck. That woke me up real fast and my nervousness pretty much subsided.
The Counter is a burger joint suggested to me by my "sublet landlord" where I divulged in a chicken sandwich on a wheat bun with roasted corn and black beans........WOW, it was really good. On the side there were fries with red salt that could easily have fed a small country. After a nice conversation with the manager who came by (her name was Jaime) I set out for Rush Hour traffic on a Friday for Burbank to find the location of my new job at Gordon Biersch.
Approximately 2 hours, 30 miles, and a 1/4 tank of gas later, I arrived. With a quick 5 minute conversation with the server manager at Gordon Biersch, I was informed that they are overstaffed and that I would only receive a couple of lunch shifts per week which wouldn't be even close to the amount of money that I need to maintain or be worth my the drive time. Feeling defeated, I left the restaurant with a bit of anxiety and the feeling to flee. With a few walks around the block to cool my head while talking to my mom, I made the journey back home. Luckily, traffic had dissipated from Rush Hour to regular traffic and the drive home took only 1 hour.
Ralphs is the main grocery store in the LA area, so I had my first experience there because I needed to stock up on essentials and food to last me the next week or so. It reminds me a bit of a Bi-Lo and Food Lion if you are familiar with either of those. Walmarts are almost non-existent here, but they are around. They just aren't close enough though.
Returning home, some dinner and a bit of TV put me right to sleep.................
DAY 2 - SATURDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2009
Waking up to the overwhelming sensation of feeling too far away from where I needed to live and adding to the jobless population, I fixed breakfast and set to craigslist on the hunt for a new job or jobs that could help satisfy my out-go flow of money and hopefully some leads on a new place to live. After connecting with some old friends and acquaintances, those leads were looking much better. Feeling somewhat relieved after all of the "bad" from the previous day, a good a restful day was in order, also including a nice run. This run took me out around the ocean and the beach since I live so close. Too bad its too cold for the water. A couch potato I was after arriving back from my run, and remained one the rest of the evening.
DAY 3 - SUNDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2009
After breakfast, some TV, and a shower, Noon arrived and I was off to meet an old friend, Ikaika Dankowski, who I knew from Chattanooga and moved out here for a job opportunity through Big Brothers Big Sisters. He suggested In N Out Burgers, a very busy and popular place I might add, for lunch. The drive down Hollywood Blvd. from his place to get there was amazing for the fact that along the way I saw for the first time the Hollywood sign, the Kodak Theatre, and the Chinese Theatre all paved with the Walk of Fame. With Ikaika's treat to me as a "Welcome to LA" meal, I got a double burger, fries, and a Dr. Pepper. From there, we walked back to Hollywood Blvd. to explore and let me see up close and personal the sites we had passed. I must say, it is weird seeing things and places on television and in the movies for many, many years and then all of a sudden they are tangible. The Chinese Theatre holds many movie premieres, the Kodak Theatre for a long time was the location for the American Idol Finale shows, and of course the Walk of Fame holds the names and stars of those honored having made their marks in TV, film and music. I even saw Ryan Seacrest's star among many other famous names I recognized and admire.
Wasting time and just chillin', I took the Metro for the first time in Los Angeles with Ikaika to a pretty cool barbershop called Rudy's so he could get his hair done. The outside definitely did not portray what was on the inside. It was a very hip place unlike what I had experienced before. Nothing too crazy though.
Because he works for Big Brothers Big Sisters, Ikaika lands many different tickets to various events in the city because of the sponsors associated with the company. With that, we soon after were off to a Lakers game. We took the Metro to Downtown LA (another first) so we could get to the Staples Center. This would be my first NBA game, and on top of that, the Lakers! And on top of that, we had VIP seats! There was a special VIP entrance allowing us access to special food and drinks not available to the regular crowd. We decided to mingle with the common folk below and went for some McDonald's instead. I really enjoyed the experience, although we had to leave early due to Ikaika's pre-planned obligations for the remainder of the evening. The ride back on the Metro was a bit weird because a suspicious character sat across from where we stood among the other riders and started spouting off absurdities that seemed to possibly be directed towards us. We moved down to the next exit on the Metro so as to avoid any possible confrontations leaving Ikaika uneasy. Once to our stop, Ikaika instructs me to stay on his heels, and then was off, as in running out of the station. In flip-flops, I stumble my way up stairs and escalators to find out that Ikaika was under the impression that the odd character had a gun. Guess we'll never know, but better safe than sorry. With his friends picking him up on the sidewalk a block from his place, I make my way back to my car to begin my journey home.
Now, LA traffic is already crazy as it is, but when you add in crazy signs, turns, and exits, getting lost VERY quickly is VERY easy. Making many wrong turns, I eventually come to an intersection that my iPhone Google Map App tells me to turn left at in order to get back home. It is a One Way street going in the direction that I need to go. I make the turn, and all of a sudden I see flashing lights behind me. And of course, it was the famous LAPD. I was approached on both sides of my vehicle and was kindly greeted. The officer asked if I knew why I was being pulled over and of course I had no idea. Informatively, I was told by the officer that the road I came from allowed for no turns at that intersection due to a high-volume of accidents. I kindly informed him that my map on my phone told me to turn left there and that I truthfully only noticed the One Way sign, and that I did look before I turned. And of course, I had yet to put the Proof of Insurance in my car that I printed off, so that didn't look too good for me.. As with any other time I have been pulled over during my driving history, they took their sweet time running my TN license and tags on the car. Coming back and getting my current address here in LA, I was cited for only not having my Proof of Insurance but informed that it will get written off once I prove that I did have insurance on or before that date, which I did. So an official ticket was avoided.
Once home, my usual commenced and I watched TV. Before turning in for the night, I worked on my resume and sent out some emails hoping for some bites by the next day for work.
So, my LA experience overall has had its ups and downs, but that's with just about everything else in life. I got to experience a lot of firsts all in one day and got to experience things a lot that many don't always get to do. And just like anywhere you go, there will always be pros and cons. You have to take the good with the bad. It'll all be worth it in the end when I get to prove to the world what I am made of, and to show everyone that I am what they have been looking for.
With the next week ahead, there is optimism in the air!