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How Jho Got Her West Coast Groove Back…

18 Jun

So what happened was that I went into work one day intending to ask about the possibility of relocating back to California (as I had diligently discussed with my hubby) and ended up giving my notice, albeit for 30 to 60 days in the future. Don’t get me wrong – there are lots of things I loved (and miss) about living in New York City, but the daily grind, coupled with a total lack of private living space and a completely unfulfilling (and often crazy-making, I-am-going-to-kill-someone-and-end-up-in-jail) work life made for a decidedly unhappy Jho.

CityBoy and I discussed the pros and cons, got out our lists of potential relocation cities, and started thinking about dates and times and tasks and things-to-do. Then I jumped the proverbial gun. I asked for a sit-down with my then boss and in a space of mere minutes, decided “fuck it, let’s just do it” and committed to my leave-taking. About two seconds after that, I remembered that I was no longer the sole decider of my destiny. Many “shit”s and “oh crap”s floated through my head.  Continue reading


Moving Thoughts

27 Jan

my little sister made these sweet cupcakes

The other day, a coworker, knowing that I moved from California to New York, asked me about my experience. He and his girlfriend are considering moving from New York to Florida, and he wanted some firsthand knowledge. This got me thinking. It’s been almost two years since my move (!!), but I haven’t really reflected too much, at least here, about how the move has gone, how it’s affected me and my relationships with others, and whether I’d do it again.

Since we’re all still thinking about the new year and what it holds for each of us (beyond the feverish, resolution-fueled exercising I see at the gym and yoga studio), I figure this deserves some attention. Here’s what I’ve learned in the past year and a half (not in any particular order):

Save up.
If you’re considering moving to a new city and you don’t already have a job lined up, wait. Stop. Save. As much as you can, but I’m recommending at least enough to cover your expenses for six to nine months. I’d never been unemployed for an extended period of time before I moved to New York, and I’d never really struggled to find work, so I naively thought that it would take me three to six months TOPS to find a new job.
Boy was I mistaken. It took me a full year, about a thousand job applications, and interviews with three companies (the only ones who responded), to find a part-time entry-level customer service job. Whose salary is not even close to what I was making at my previous job.
Of course my search was hindered by the worst national job market in decades, a failing economy, and an extremely competitive under-employed labor pool in New York City, but I wish I’d really heeded all those friends and family members who expressed serious reservations about my plans to leave a good job without having a new one in place. Especially since NYC is probably the most expensive city in the US.

Hello World!

21 Sep

Well, I’m back. It was a wild and crazy summer, full of drama, mayhem (well, not anything major…just a couple trips to the emergency room for infected appendages and one very painful bout of strep throat) and more drama.

What I'm wearing around the house these preparation for my friend's wedding this weekend

The bad news is that I’m still in NYC. I know, not really bad news, just disappointing, a little, for this gal who was bit by wanderlust this summer and dreamed of a fresh new life with CityBoy in the glitteringly green utopias of Seattle or Portland or San Francisco. We still plan to get there, by hook or by crook, but it’ll be a few more months (let’s pray not years) down the road.

The good news is that I’m working. At a real, albeit part-time, job. With actual people. With whom I get to interact on a regular basis. The job itself is in customer service (I live to serve!) and it’s just challenging enough without being mind-cripplingly (and more importantly, work – ie, writing – cripplingly) demanding.

And it’s very nice to have a break from the drudgery of job-searching and day-filling and TV-watching that has been my burden, lo these many many months. Later on, I hope it translates to full-time work, with the holy grail of employment: benefits. But for now, I’m plugging along, working and writing and reading and thinking and…you guessed it, still watching TV. In my pajamas on my days-off, a ready bag of Ruffles’ Sour Cream and Cheddar chips at my side, CityBoy safely out of the picture at his own job, leaving me free to indulge in sitcom and reality TV claptrap.

So, if you’re still paying attention, I promise to be better, write more often and report more doings in this nutty, crazy city I’m currently calling home.

Rock on, my friends.

– Jho

NYC – the Rage Experiment

16 Jun

Hello friends.

I know I’ve been out of touch recently.  I’m attributing it to a case of the get-me-outa-here’s.  NYC has been an interesting experiment in social anxiety, over-stimulation and food orgies, but I’m a little burned out.

I actually miss the O.C., where I used to sit in my car in blissful separation from smelly and annoying others (well, okay, a lot of that time was spent in traffic-stalled separation, but at least they weren’t actually *in* my car, just in the other lane, or behind or in front of me, where I could safely yell at them for driving badly), and people didn’t feel the need to invade my space (not counting car space, as previously mentioned) on a daily, minute-by-minute basis.

Continue reading

The Long Journey Home

31 Jul

empire state buildingOkay, so it’s been almost three weeks since I arrived at JFK, bleary-eyed and loaded down with suitcases, but I thought I’d recap the most salient moments of the journey anyway.

It was a very emotional goodbye with the fam in Long Beach, disguised or undercut by my total inability to “surrender to the moment.”  I’d been packing, sorting, schlepping, and repacking for so many days that I was still in “let’s do this” mode when we arrived at the airport.  If you know me at all, you know that one of my favorite sayings is, “there’s no crying in baseball,” which I take as a mantra for life.  Of course I was sad, upset to see my mom so upset, and terrified of what I’d gotten myself into.  But was I going to show this, in any way, to the outside world?  Hells no.

You should understand that, while my family is extremely physically affectionate, we are verbally challenged in the feelings department.  Love is dispensed in bone-crushing hugs, noogies (from my dad), an overabundance of food and lots of rambunctious horseplay.  So there I was, barking orders at my older sister, the Drill Sargeant, about how to station my overloaded bags near the head of the check-in line without getting yelled at by airport security, briskly ignoring the fact that my mom was steadily getting more and more red-faced and red-eyed.  Several fierce hugs and promises to “call as soon as you land” later and I was working my way through check-in, where, thankfully, each of my checked bags weighed in just under the 50 lb. limit – that’s called effective packing, baby!

While waiting at the gate, I made my biggest mistake of the entire moving saga – maligning (entirely in my head, mind you) the parenting skills of a nearby couple, as their young son attempted to destroy his surroundings.  I know, we’ve all seen poorly behaved children in public and cringed and stared, but this kid took the proverbial cake.

He was more like an undisciplined, overstrong puppy, who his parents basically tried to corral within the four or five seat radius they’d created with their bodies and their bags.  He pushed and shoved and stomped and tore and smacked and lunged, in symphony with his parents’ nearly constant “stop that”s and “quit it”s and “no, I told you, no”s.  I thought, good lord, I feel sorry for the poor bastard who has to sit next to these jerks.

I know.  I KNOW.  I jinxed myself.  Because who do you suppose was sitting RIGHT NEXT TO ME when I boarded the flight?  None other than the Monster Child himself.  I knew it wasn’t going to be a good flight when the MC immediately started to pull the flight materials out of the pocket in front of him and fling them to the ground, along with, later, his earphones (repeatedly hucked at me – thank god they were the lightweight crap the airlines give out), his toys, and, I am not kidding, a heavy cardboard early reader book, which flew from his hand, up into the air, over the seats in front of us and landed with a thud, narrowly avoided hitting any of my fellow passengers.  It was a freakin’ miracle.  I kept waiting for the flight attendent to come over and say that they’d have to put the child in restraints.  Unfortunately it was not to be.

After a very tense hour and a half (this was a red-eye, mind you), the MC finally fell asleep, wrapped around his mother.  He was not a small child, probably about the size of my five year old niece (I hoped he was much younger and just ‘big for his age,’ which would somewhat explain his total lack of manners), and I could not believe that the mother was at all comfortable with this giant baby in her arms.

The only thing that made the flight bearable was knowing that only a fraction of my life span would be spent with the MC, as opposed to the child’s poor family, especially his mother.  Imagine – being totally unable to govern your own child.  It made me wince in horror.  And made me appreciate all the lovely children I know.  Thank god whatever private beatings their parents are inflicting are working.

True to his word, Cityboy met me at JFK at the ripe old time of 5am.  I’m pretty sure it was the earliest he’d been up in a long, long time.  Actually I’d be willing to bet my precious few belongings on that fact.  I think there’s even some footage of the blessed arrival, courtesy of Cityboy’s documentarian leanings, which I’ll have to procure for you later.

Nothing is better than having someone to tell your kooky stories to, and I immediately began to relate my harrowing airline adventure.  Even though I’m sure he was delirious with not enough sleep, Cityboy listened.  And in the end, that’s why I came East, to my new Home.

Rock on, people.


So long, California: Freeway Clowns

14 Jul

A few weeks back, before the Big Move, Big Sis and I were tooling down (or up to be more exact, since “down” to me is south and “up” is north – something else that drives CityBoy crazy) the 405 and we noticed a rather unusual looking vehicle.  Only matched by its equally unusual driver.

Clowning around on the 405

I’m sure I’ll see lots and lots of strange things in NYC, but nothing beats a freeway clown blasting down the road in his decked-out convertible at 75 miles per hour.

If you’re looking for a clown in the So. Cal. area, this guy gets around.

Rock on, Jho

I’m Pretty Sure This Is NOT How I Packed This

11 Jul

There was a brief moment when I considered driving cross-country to my new home.  It sounded so romantic, me and CityBoy taking in all the wonders of our great nation, the red rocks of Arizona, the Grand Canyon, the world’s biggest soup spoon, Mt. Rushmore, the Great Lakes.  It was an endless mind-parade of gorgeous landscapes, quaint towns and the wide open sky.

Until I remembered that I’m a bad road tripper.  I doubted that CityBoy would still find me interesting and my occasional (okay, nearly constant) oddball comments endearing after we’d slogged 2,800 miles together.  So I decided the only sane option was to cull my possessions, take only my most precious and needed items and ship most everything to New York.

About the culling:  do not underestimate 1) how much shite you can accummulate in a few brief years of single living, 2) how long said shite will take to sort and 3) how hard (and unexpectedly expensive) it will be to ship your now culled shite to your new home.  Let me just say that my family and friends are very happy (I hope) recepients of my conspicuous consumption.

By the time I left Orange County on July 8th, I was on very familiar terms with the U.S. Post Office-Huntington Beach branch staff.  It took three separate trips to the post office, each time loaded with 4-5 boxes, to transport most of my belongings.  Here’s a photo of the HB branch in the wee hours of morning.  Notice the nearly empty parking lot, which is not how this place usually looks.

7am at the HB post office

Over the course of this process, I learned a few things:

– You will always need more boxes.  Just buy the 25 pack from UHaul and get over it.
– There is no such thing as too much packing tape or too much bubble wrap.
– Accept any and all help that is offered.  You will sicken of your own miserable life as it marches past you in an endless parade of boxes, shoes, kitchen thingies.  Your friends will somewhat lessen the nausea (or at least take some of the crap off your hands).
– Assume that your mailing labels will be read by five year olds.  They like BIG print and clearly marked “To” addresses.
– If you’re dropping off boxes to the Huntington Beach branch, park at the far end of the parking lot (it’s a shorter distance to the actual interior of the post office) and grab a number when you unload your first box.  By the time you’re done unloading your boxes, your number should be called.

And lastly, assume that your boxes will be put through the worst possible conditions and arrive in the worst possible shape.

refused box

I shipped three boxes of books directly to CityBoy’s storage company, who claimed they could directly receive packages (all CityBoy would have to do was move them from the first floor office up to his actual storage units).  What they failed to mention, on their website or over the phone, was that they do NOT accept packages from the US Postal Service – some BS about packages not being insured by the post office.

So…my three boxes arrived…and were summarily refused.  They then had to make the 2,800 mile trek back to California.  So far, one box has turned up repackaged and containing only 10 out of the roughly 40 books I shipped and another box has arrived in the sad state you see above.  I have to say that I’m impressed that the box arrived intact, albeit looking like it had been laundered.  The whereabouts of the other box or the missing books is, as of now, unknown.

I wish I had the willpower of my good friend Michele, who pares down every spring and moved from Seattle to Southern California with only 3 days’ notice and one carload of belongings.  You rock, girl.