First Year in LA

It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy… They kept going, because they were holding onto something.

I never thought I’d be writing this.

I never guessed I’d be where I am. Or that I’d start this journey laid off and be right back there again on the anniversary of it.

I find myself unusually speechless and perplexed as I examine the last year of things.

I want to add quickly, it’s not easy to make my life open like this and talk about everything. After all, I’m just one person out of a large equation. Years back, there is no way I would have considered it because there’s a measure of self doubt and worries that come along with sharing your tales. I’ve tried to show all sides of things, plenty of good has happened for me while here, and I’m so happy I got to experience them beside all the challenges along the way.

It has been one year to the day this April 6th, when I arrived to LA full of spitfire and stress.

One year after 5 hectic adventure filled days of travel from the far reaches of the east coast, with 3 cats and a car in tow, out of a little city called Winston Salem in NC. It was the biggest move I’d ever made so far. In fact, I wrote a blog all about everything, so please feel free to revisit or read that first before you come back here. It’s an especially good guide to send to others thinking of making such a large move, with all the logistics and costs broken down, planning, and execution.

I want to focus on the aftermath of arrival, survival, and the rest in-between.

When I last regaled with my tale of arrival, I was coming in laid off and going to immediate action to try to locate a job. I applied to everything possible. At first, post related jobs, but then moved into bookstores, coffee shops, retail, basically anything at all. Unexpectedly, I had the joy of announcing I’d managed to find post related AE work within that first crucial month. I still can’t believe it, when I look back and wonder how I managed it. That when the parking lot gate shorted out and locked us all in as I headed out. Remember, where I come from there are just parking lots open everywhere as far as the eye can see! What a welcoming in!!

“Welp. There we have it! Literally blocked and metaphorically?” After attempting to understand the mechanisms or find a magical button to make this gated beast open, 20 minutes passed with a queue of us ever growing and stuck waiting. I realized I had but one choice left. I grabbed the Lyft app and hurried up to get a driver over. It cost me 40$ there and back. I didn’t really have the funds to spend, but in a pinch, it solved the problem. 

What I learned is every chance meeting and interview can come fast and furious, and you have to quickly say yes and try or it’ll be gone before you can analyze and plan to do it. Just say yes if it interests you. Yeah, you might not be sure of a few other logistics. Sometimes, that might bite you later. Then again, you won’t have regret haunting you ‘if I’d just tried or gone…’ Be wary of anything too good to be true scenarios or places asking for loads of skills everywhere across the board but won’t negotiate or low/free paying. That is an entirely different matter.

I have noticed this phenomenon about myself. If it sounds like a decent opportunity, take it. You can change your mind or leave some circumstances, and others you can simply adjust for the future not to make the same mistakes if it goes largely wrong. My life and career decision making skills have grown rapidly as a result! It doesn’t suit the analytical side of me, but I have gotten used to it.

Since then, work wise, I’ve been able to stick with post related work ever since. In the year, I had two post jobs as an AE, although the first one really was editing and assisting. I made an awesome new friend who also does AE and editing work, Lexi. Only recently I got to share anything I’ve worked on, between the Threads episodes, Netflix “Lost in Space” main title sequence, as well as the Nat Geo “Story of Us” sizzle w/Morgan Freeman.

It’s hard when a lot of what you work on is internal, under NDA, or something that falls through before it’s finished. There are many times I wish I could show more of my editing work. I don’t get to control that outcome, and it’s uncomfortable to feel I’ve gone awhile with nothing to show. When I’m doing assistant editing work, I know that organizing, syncing, prepping for delivery are all important aspects involved in a series, promo/spot, sizzle, trailer, or otherwise. I know that those elements of the process are every bit as important as the final product – it would never reach there without everything before it. I try to remember that when I get to feeling that way.

Also adjusting to the more focused roles here vs. midwest and east, where typically as an editor, you end up doing a lot more of everything. Editing was more of a start to finish process, there were no assistants usually. Some roles you even shot then edited. Expectation wise, assistant editing and editing here are a bit different in their own way. It was an adjustment but expected.

Lovely view ✨😊🌊⭐️✨

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In the free time I had before starting the job, the thing I wanted to do since I came to visit was go see the ocean. I didn’t even care what else I did if I could just do that. I think it’s certainly one big draw is all the various beaches to visit here. The hardest part is making it through the traffic and parking. And not only visiting just Santa Monica beach, but Manhattan and Venice or many other smaller ones – plus there’s the highway that runs right along it for a very beautiful drive.

 

I’ve been back a few times, but not nearly as often as I’d hoped or planned to. There’s something cleansing about sitting and watching the waves, the fresh salty ocean air, the happy people relaxing in the sun or playing in the water. It probably helps that I’m out getting some sunlight/Vitamin D, also – hello, perpetually low Vitamin D levels!

Dipping your toes in, letting them sink into the grainy sand as each wave rolls forth and pulls back again. I went many times: first with Kylee, again when Garrett’s mom visited, and once more I went with friends. I still want to go back sometime soon. I kind of need a hard reset!

Trekked all the way over to these pretty rocks by the shoreline ✨🖤🌊✨

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✨🦊🌊🌴✨ so peaceful.

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Speaking of, one major plus was being able to spend physical time with friends where for so long, for so many years I was a great distance away and had to mostly interact online. Not only was I away from friends, but family too. I kept hope that I’d see them again one day. You miss a lot. You watch things from afar and have huge FOMO (fear of missing out) I don’t know if that’s something everyone thinks to consider before they make a leap, but know you might find yourself on your own depending where you go.

Additionally, I got to meet so many people I’d wanted to in person from random chance, meetups, and gatherings, and it was nice being in a more central area to do that at. Reconnecting with old friends and spending real time having fun or even doing daily stuff together. I recall fondly we had a wonderful birthday party out in the park, where in the past I would simply have to settle for sending my wishes/gift and wishing I could actually come and spend time celebrating.

This gives me life hahah ☂️☀️☂️☀️(credit goes to @emwilbz)

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A lot of my friends are in the post realm, so the fact we can all take time out and get together means a lot. It additionally means that when plans swap or cancel, your friends understand. I struggled with that for awhile back in college when sometimes schedules grew and interfered with social plans. It’s always going to take effort to stay in touch, visit, and make time where sometimes there seems to be none at all. I feel like many of us struggle to reach a balance, and even when you get it, it isn’t easy to maintain. I spent a lot of past holidays alone, sometimes decorating the apartment to cheer myself up and go through the motions.

 

One of my favourite friend gatherings this year was a girls day out with fresh seafood, seeing the ocean on those smaller beaches on the highway, and visiting a really cool farm where you could pick your own strawberries. That was so much fun! There were farm animals and equipment along our walk, it was the most “Indiana” I’ve felt in a very long time. The front had a large barn shop, and it was full of fresh produce, honey, and assorted flowers. They had wonderful smelling lavendar, haha I think we all ended up getting a bunch tied together for our apartments. Kylee made some of the most fantastic jam out of those fresh berries. I was a heathen and ate all mine before cooking with it.

Mirroring that, I helped Kylee with her new endeavor on gardening this past summer. She did SO much research and smartly planned out the entirety. From start to finish, it was quite a learning experience for me as I hadn’t gardened since I was younger. From getting the supplies, to her mapping out the square foot garden and layouts, the seeds, everything else, to breaking up the soil and weeding, planting little flowers on the perimeter of a lovely white fence, it was a job well done when finished! I can’t wait for this summer.

She had an array of plants and veggies, including of course – C O R N! haha. Some worked out well, others not as much. It was a good lesson in what needs what, for how much area, and how much water. Many cute gardens and large rows of roses surrounded her garden along with one very tall tree. It is a peaceful area to visit and spend time at.

I was finally able to attend the BCPC (Blue Collar Post Collective) meetups IN PERSON. This was so great on a personal level for me. I’d wanted to go for so long. I once attended a meetup via Facetime, still chuckle when I think about being passed by with people all waving and having a good time. It has been a pure inspiration and honor to work so closely with an amazing bunch of friends this way! One of my favourites was during October where we all dressed up for the meet up, I love the spirit imbued. It’s been inspiring to see familiar and new faces. I’ve seen it grow and enrich everyone who’s been a part of it.

Not to mention the area around St. Felix where it is held has a lot of interesting shops and other restaurants nearby, and ah yes! The yummiest poutine I’ve ever had (sidenote: the only I’ve ever had,  so I might be biased) I got to go inside the Amoeba Records, the largest music store still around. I forgot how much fun it is to paw around those giant bins for buttons. I used to pass so much time in malls when I was a teenager – typical mall rat. Music stores were my haven. I could go in and listen to all sorts of new bands and come out with a cd or two and some buttons, and it was everything.

 

To further add to the great feels, I got to go to a little fall festival at Tapia Brothers Farm with tons of pumpkins, some animals, and fresh corn! We all had a good time picking out various size and colored pumpkins to sprinkle around the place. I still have the dried corn on my wall, I was supposed to take it down months ago but I can’t really help keeping a little in my apartment. I really had needed the time out and away from stress, and what better way than to eat away my sorrows with laying in hay surrounded by friends and pumpkins. It was a beautiful day out.

 

Even though I’ve been struggling and things haven’t been the most mentally or financially stable, I’ve been holding steady when I didn’t think it was possible. Somehow, someway, I still attempted to make the most of circumstances. I guess when you come in hot like I did, you can’t really expect to level out for some time. I mean, I did hope for a better outcome, but I can’t control everything. Generally speaking, there’s several defining moments that lend to a bumpy ride and mostly I was not certain at any point I would keep surviving that way.

For holidays, my big Christmas tree I’d had for years finally got tossed because it was high time, poor thing wasn’t even lighting up without a new string from the dollar store. I still wasn’t sure I was ready to celebrate on holiday anymore anyway as my motivation sails had kind of gone away. But I rallied to see if it would change how I felt and so I decorated, I baked a bit, and eeked out a few gifts. I even made a small meal on Thanksgiving too, though it was brightened even more by some of my friend’s cooking!

Because of tossing away the other tree, I ended up with a mini tree I put on the desk by the computer that was gifted and a total surprise and joy. That little thing brought me so much happiness every day I came back home all of december into january – I pretty much leave it up through my birthday then begrudgingly take it down because I know it’s getting dusty by now.

Also for the first time ever, I got to go to a cat cafe for my birthday! I mean, pfschchh. A room full of cats and toys and caffeine, with places to sit and play with them while you drink. HOW AWESOME THEY DID THAT!

Can you think of a more fitting birthday place!? I can’t believe I got to do it. I’m pretty sure everyone was in delight being there.

I like the fact they get adopted and go to homes, and for the meantime get to enjoy some pats, love, and interactions. In fact, one I was playing with got scooped up and was heading off to its new home! “but, but… waitttt!” haha. The people there were nice and organized, and I can see how happy the cats are with plenty of room to run and sleep. I had so much fun playing with them all. I should not be left in rooms with kittens and cats. I will stuff my pockets full and run back home. (cat lady in the making!)

We also had the most delicious brunch and got to shop for gems and stones. That was one cool shop. I love incense and crystals and all that. Used to spend a lot of times at shops like these, just enjoying the ambience and smelling the new incense sticks til I couldn’t smell anything but them anymore. Remembering long ago, I’d heard about cat cafes in Japan, but I never thought I’d get the chance to visit one since going to Japan is still on the ol’ list of places I’d like to travel to one day (Including New Zealand and Iceland and Scotland and Finland and yeah..)

 

With that, let’s not forget the weather differences! From rain, snow, and mugginess, to pretty much hot all the time with small bouts of gray days and some decently less hot days. The few magical times it actually rained were so spread out, and I’ve slowly realized how much my cold meter has adjusted to being out in warmer weather for this long:

“Ploop ploop plop edeedeeedee hehehhe” ☔️💦🌧

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I’ll never get used to be so hot during the summer, even though it is a different kind of heat. Not so much muggy, as like being in a pizza oven? I’m warm-blooded too so I make use of freezer ice packs to keep myself cooler when I get home and you can be sure I have a big fan running at the computers to keep those cooled down, too.

I still have never turned on my heater.

…I probably never will.

Lastly, when it comes to bill differences, the only thing that stands out most aside from the traffic and gas costs – something you can’t avoid and ultimately hear the most about – is the electric bills are a lot more than anything I’ve experienced elsewhere. It’s a strange thing. I pay it and move on, but it does sort of suck to pay 300$ (nope: now it’s 600$ strangely it doubled LOL what is life) every cycle or 2 months, back home I just paid for it monthly. The costs are very different for a small studio, which I covered in the past. I’m still investigating this doubling to this day, because it doesn’t really feel right, so wish me luck!

My phone doesn’t work nearly as well as it did before. I had this problem, when I moved from Indiana to NC because my phone couldn’t even pull up my banking info without great tasks. Bad signal. I swapped carriers and was good to go after that. Here, my phone struggles! Probably again you might say carrier, but I really don’t know anymore. Seems to be partly my apartment building or location and that. I can’t still send text messages with pictures from my apartment or it lags out every time.  I could always pay extra for a signal boost, but nah.

The rest of bills is give or take similar, although at the last place I lived in NC or back home. I just had electric, water, and internet. Here, it’s some weird scattering costs of sewer and trash and water tacked in addition to rents. It’s whatever. It’s “normal” but definitely different. I still say it sounds like a lot of just made up split costs that don’t always seem definitive.

I moved from a 2 bedroom with washer and dryer to a small studio, and to say to that is an adjustment is under-explaining it. But, to keep it simple, I knew it would be a challenge, and all year it has been to keep it organized and bearable. Many times I’ve tripped over things and bumped into them, especially the cats, but we’re all getting more used to it, so that’ll have to do. When I have scares where I’m not sure about work, I am grateful to have a place at all, but everything is so relative anyway – it’s hard not to miss a little extra room and I do miss being able to do my laundry more often at home.

perpetually covered in my kitty Momo’s fur xD

So many of these experiences made moving and my first year so wonderful. They were a bright light in a mentally tough time. For the first time ever, I’d had to admit my stress and anxiety were hitting epic proportions. I trial’ed medication and found something that works while I need it. I speak up more about what I’m going through. I try to encourage others when they need it, because I know how hard this can be, though it’s different for each one of us, too.

I just do my best.

I do it because I want to.

If I’ve learned anything, it’s that feeling alone, unable to share how you really feel, and struggling on top of it is a terrible situation. I don’t want anyone else to suffer like that. I want more people to speak up.

I got involved with BCPC’s “How are You Doing?” mental health support group on FB because I know there are others out there that struggle and feel alone. I don’t wish for anyone to experience it if there was any other way. I kept trying to think of ways for people to even anonymously express themselves without fear of judgment or blacklisting. In the end, it became clear a safe haven was just what we all needed. I’m doing okay these days. I have been slowly getting out of the hole I found myself in, but it’s going to take awhile.

I feel and felt a lot of pressure to live up to having the help I received to even make it, and I’ve worked hard all the way to try to prove I’m worth it, and to thank people for putting their faith in me.. but it never feels like enough. Even though it sucks while writing the end of all this to get laid off, I’m working hard to find more work.

Strangely in a matter of days after that, I got the news that my Netflix credit went through and the intro was premiered out to the wild. I couldn’t believe it! I don’t know how I can go from such low to such highs, but maybe that IS really just the nature of the post beast or one hell of a coincidence. I don’t know anymore.

When I think I am chasing after a ghost, when I most feel maybe it’s just not working out, something good happens that pushes me to keep going forward. I grow more weary and burdened, but I’m still trying.

Where am I going from here?

I don’t know!! I truly have no idea what is going to happen, but nothing will take away the time and memories I’ve had my last year. I don’t regret a second leaving North Carolina. I had no idea what to expect when I packed up all my boxes and my lease ended, and once more I find myself curious and frightened a bit at what will happen next. For good or bad, I don’t know anymore, but I hope it’s kind. I really need it.

So to anyone reading and made it this far, let me try to thank you for sharing with me this adventure. For rooting for me. Supporting me and encouraging me to even do this. Did you think I’d make it a year? A month, even? I hope you know there is more courage hiding inside you than even you know. You can go on when you don’t even feel it’s possible. Those are moments of strength. And know that it takes a lot of strength to also say enough is enough, or to realize another passion you want to follow.

To take heart that when the time comes, you’ll do what is right for you. That you’ll move onward, even if it ends differently than you thought, because you have something you’re holding onto and you want to fight for it. Trying isn’t failure. Stopping and coming back isn’t ruin. Frustration is the conduit for wanting something better.

If this all ends badly anyway, I hope I won’t feel like I failed. Going back through all these moments and memories, I realize I really have embodied tenacity and perseverance. A lot of the times I didn’t know I was doing that. It’s good to reflect and learn that you overcame some really difficult circumstances.

If one can make it through so many bad circumstances, can’t one keep doing so? Maybe! Maybe so, but it isn’t easy. Sometimes the stress really feels heavy. I would have never gotten here without the help along the way.

There are many turning points that things would have been worse had I not been surrounded this time by friends and my sister and Garrett and my kitties. This ragtag collection of souls I know keep me going. It could be much worse.

For now, I’m busy job hunting like a maniac, crafting, writing these blogs, catching up on my interests, soon to revamp my reel, and doing everything I can to stay busy. I hope if you’re at the next BCPC meetup, or see me wandering around (admittedly I’m not hard to spot from afar!) please feel free to introduce yourself and talk to me about anything here or what I’ve written about in the past or just to say “hiya!” I’d love that.

Stay strong.

It’s been one hell of a year.

Here’s to another?

No wait…

Here’s to another!

Yes. More confidence that time.

 

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