Here’s an exhaustive answer to the seemingly simple question you might be thinking, which is “How’s California?”
One Year Ago Today
On this day I signed up for something that I felt was a scam from the beginning, and even though I questioned it along the way I still went for it. It was for something from Family Energy, which supposedly fixes your electric bill rates so your company doesn’t charge you over a certain amount. I think the easiest way to legitimize it is that they have a price ceiling that will probably never be reached, and then they just pocket the difference. If it ever did go above that price then this company would pay the difference, but as that is very unlikely it’s just a third party skimming cents off of people. I was really surprised at how I fell for this even with all my suspicions, but I was thankful for my mom who listened to me after this happened and calmly told me how to get out of it (which I did with ease). I was pretty scared at the time, but that was one of the most coherent and best-written sections of my blog at any rate.
I’m in a writing mood, and since I have some time before “my bedtime” I might as well share something really important. First, I’ll start with my grandma. Last week I was happy to see that she sent me a thinking-of-you card which was really nice. Since then I’ve been meaning to call her and thank her, and I realized I haven’t called anyone since I moved out here. I talked with my parents each week, but I haven’t talked with any other relatives (except for Words with Friends chats with my aunt; speaking of which it’s my move…). So every day I’ve thought about calling her, but I haven’t in part because it’s always late and I’m afraid she’ll be asleep or busy. But yesterday it was 7am and 10am where she is on a Monday morning, but I just chickened out. I get nervous about what to say, and I’m afraid of the awkwardness of not having anything else to add but not wanting to hang up on my gramma. I hate that I’m this way, because if God forbid she died I’d have this hanging over my head forever.
The reason I bring this up (although I would have anyway) is that I’m afraid of talking with my family and friends because I don’t know how to explain what my new life is like. I get asked the seemingly simple question of “How is California?” all the time, but the answer is very complex. I’ve determined that the short answer comes down to my current mood that day. If work was rough or it’s dark and I’m alone, I might say that I don’t really like it. Or if I’ve just finished my work weekend and it’s bright and beautiful, I might say that I love it. It also depends on who is asking me, because with a co-worker or player I don’t want to say I hate my job, and with my dad especially I don’t want to speak ill of this huge decision that I’ve reached and made such a big deal about.
But there’s more to the answer to that question, and more than I can even see or comprehend. To make a short pros and cons list, I love the weather (and the beach and palm trees) and living on my own in a big city full of possibilities and things to do, but I also hate how lonely I am in this big city and how I lost my economic comfort. It’s really hard to compare those two halves of this change in my life. I love the weather and just the smell of it here, and especially going to the ocean and seeing palm trees everywhere. When I think about the snow and cold weather I left behind I can’t imagine ever going back, even for one day. But it’s also been an adjustment getting used to being a young white guy surrounded by Hispanics, Asians, and every other race under the Sun. I love diversity, but it gets really lonely when I don’t have anyone to relate to.
And speaking of being lonely, that’s probably the toughest thing about being out here. I miss my family and my friends dearly. The thought of being lucky if I see my mom or dad just once a year makes me want to cry. Sometimes I long to be a little kid again where life was so simple, but that too is another issue for another time). I really miss my friends, because even though I felt I didn’t have many I’ve now realized that I had a host of great friends whom I all miss. I had a great best friend in Brian, and I shudder to think that our 16+ years of friendship could come to an end if we can’t stay in touch. I miss our weekly poker game, I miss all my co-workers at Turning Stone who were all really friendly and they truly made work enjoyable most of the time. I just miss the possibility of having friends over to play Pokemon or to go to the movies or a concert.
It’s just so different for me now. My free time is mostly spent the same way, which is to say that I still watch a lot of TV and movies and play a lot of Diablo. I go to the beach every once in a while, but definitely not every day like I previously thought about. In honesty, after the first week when my mom was here I’ve gone to the beach just once, and that was last week for 40 minutes. I did go to a few when visiting my California relatives, but that wasn’t me taking it upon myself to go. Having them in this state has been a tremendous comfort to me, and I think of them as my California parents now because they’re really all I got.
So to really enjoy my time out here, I think it comes down to money. Since I can barely (if I can at all) afford to live out here under my current earnings, I’ve decided I need a second job to supplement my part-time income. I don’t ever expect to make a lot of money in my life, but right now all I want is to be able to go out to eat if I want or buy a video game without feeling like now I can’t pay my bills if I do. Having another job could mean that I can go to the movies, see concerts, and check out the theme parks and other attractions this huge city has to offer. Of course, working more means less time to actually do those things, so it’s sort of a catch-22.
So this comes down to happiness. I never wanted to get a second job before because I liked my free time too much and I felt I was making enough money to easily get by (which I was). I’m afraid that having to work another 16 or so hours a week would ultimately leave me hating life. If I feel like all I do is work and try to sleep, when will I have time to actually do these things I talk about? But more importantly, will those extra 16 or so hours a week feel like torture? Right now I can hardly stand going into work each day I have to, especially when I think about how mean some players have been and how a lot of them don’t tip. After some weekends of work all I want to do is stay in my apartment where no one can abuse me.
In thinking about this second job, I really don’t know what I’d want to do. I can’t expect to make any more than minimum wage, so really I just want to find something that won’t feel soul-crushing. Ideally I’d like to either work around people where they’re always happy (like at a theme park), or not work around people but be by myself (like in a janitorial role). It’d also be nice to do something that makes a difference, like if I helped animals or old people or something. Sometimes I think about a whole new career in general, and possibly going back to school. But I never give that much thought since I still don’t know what I’d want to do. I’d hate to waste more time and even more money going to college, just to get a degree in something I don’t want to spend the rest of my life doing. One thought would be trying to study things that interest me like space or the psychology of the mind, but I fear that I’m not smart enough to understand those subjects even though they fascinate me. Again, this is another topic.
Now about my apartment: I love living by myself, although I do miss having my best friend right in the next room. I can keep the place clean and organized how I want, and I can have the TV on or music playing as loud as I want. It gets lonely though, and I really want to get a cat for companionship. I really miss Brian’s cats, and I hate that I can’t have pets in this apartment. I seriously consider trying to find another place just so I can have a cat—it’s that bad. But otherwise I love this apartment, and I really don’t feel like going through that process again and having to move all my stuff. If I did get a cat though, that’d probably be the end for the rest of my life of me living totally alone. When I come home everything is untouched and just how I left it, which is obviously how I want things to stay. But I think about how I really could have enough room to live here with another person, if I could stand the shared living/sleeping area and sacrifice in closet space and other freedoms. But there’s enough room for another bed and desk if I did have a very close friend who wanted to move in (or God forbid a girl), so that thought passes through my mind as well.
I feel I’ve exhausted every angle of this, so I’ll get back to my point. How is California? In short, the answer is that the weather is better; I like having more possibilities for things to do, places to go, food to eat; but other than that it’s no better that the life I had. My new job isn’t a step up in any respect, and it might not even be a lateral move. I hate not having any friends here and I miss my family. Does the warm weather alone make it worth the sacrifice of not having any money or friends, and feeling so alone a lot of the time? No, not really. Not at least until the winter will I know if the climate is enough to make me want to stay and feel good about being here.
So the million dollar question: Am I happier being in Los Angeles, California than I was in Clinton, New York? No. Maybe it really is the grass-is-always-greener problem. I keep looking for something else that could make me happy but I never really find it. The only thing that I really think will make me happy in the end is to find a wife and have kids. The biggest letdown of all would be to finally have that and then be disappointed as well. But I feel like even if I had all the money in the world and could live in any beautiful locale I wanted, I’d still be unhappy if I didn’t have a woman to share it with.
And the other question: Do I want to move back to New York, or do I wish I never came out here at all? That one I’m not so sure about. Yes, if I woke up tomorrow and found that this was all a dream, and I was back in my shared apartment in Clinton working at Turning Stone Casino, with a fairly comfortable bank account, I don’t think I’d mind. There were plenty of things about my old life that I don’t miss, but it was familiar and comfortable and if I went back to it I don’t imagine I’d regret it.
I first thought that the worst thing would be to not make the move to California and always wonder what could have been. Then I thought the worst thing would be to move out prematurely and then not like it or not be able to afford it and have to move back, feeling like a failure (especially since I made such a big deal about leaving). But now I think the worst thing would be to move back without giving this enough time and exploring all other possibilities. The first thing that comes to mind is that in the winter when it gets cold and starts to snow, I’d sure as shoot be kicking myself for willingly going back. In that respect I feel I have to stay at least a year to really get a feel for life out here. Plus I just have to make every opportunity to make it work somehow. Even if this job or this city didn’t work out, there are an infinite number of job possibilities and lots of other places in California I could go. Then beyond that, there’s Vegas or anywhere else that could be a good location, if for no other reason than the weather is nice and the cost of living isn’t as bad.
So having said all that, I still don’t know how to answer these questions. I’ve certainly done a lot of soul-searching, and I’ve realized just how complex life really is. When talking to my mom about all of this I told her how I thought once I moved out here I’d be done with these big-picture contemplations, like I’d miraculously just be done with making life decisions. She just laughed and said, “Really?” It’s one reason why I love talking to her, because she just listens and it makes me want to tell her more than she asked for. I feel bad because conversely, I hold back when talking to my dad because I fear he’ll overreact to every bad thing and be quick to talk about me moving back “home.” This is an example of how my answers to these questions are different depending on whom I’m talking to and how I’m feeling that particular day. I know that’s unfair, and I feel like no one has an accurate description of what my life is like now or how I feel about it. But that’s only because I don’t really know how I feel about it, and I don’t want to say everything is great when it’s not or say that everything is terrible when it isn’t. This is why I’ve taken well over an hour now to discuss all these things with you, so I hope this sort of answers your question.
I wanted to get up between 4 and 5pm to get six hours of sleep tops, but it was so hard to pry myself from my bed. After 6:30 I was finally up, but I felt I got too much rest because I wanted to get to bed sort of early tonight. Really I just wanted to have more of the day free. I showered and then did my laundry, and I’ve decided that I should try and do it every week and a half now. It’ll save me a few bucks each month, but since I have enough clothes and washer/dryer space to accommodate this I might as well. Plus it’ll give me more free time so why not?
When I finally got the laundry done and yesterday’s blog post typed up I got hungry for dinner. I went with Asian chicken although this time any of my meals seemed appetizing since I hadn’t eaten anything yet today. I still need to go to the store to get some things, but I decided to eat most of the food I have now rather than keep things stocked. No sense paying for a month’s worth of food when I could potentially need that money for other things. I believe I’ve already talked about how I will need (and want) to get a second job soon if only so I can afford to enjoy this new city I live in. I might expound on this later, but every time I go out and see all the great places to eat and think of all the places I could go, I get sad that I don’t have the money to partake in them. I can’t really even justify eating out once a week when I have food at home, but I have to allow myself something.
So after dinner I watched some shows on TV and played Diablo. I did another big part of Act V with my crusader, and I think I just have the final part to do. It’s at level 54 now I think, and it’s possible it could reach 60 by the time I finish just the first difficulty. I still have not died with this character, which is impressive since I nodded off for a bit tonight and awoke to a dying character. Then I read another chapter of The Two Towers, and I’ll read the last chapter tomorrow. Then I’ll still have one more book to go, but I’m already thinking about my next book or series. I didn’t bring many of my books with me so I’ll probably just reread the few I have. I wish I had my Harry Potter books or Left Behind. I could see if I can find free books on my iPhone, or of course check out the public library (duh).
Then I sat down and watched Wall Street for the first time. I never cared to see that movie but figured I might as well, and it was pretty entertaining. It really makes me want to watch Boiler Room again, which I think of every time I pass by the boiler room at work. I watched the long making-of documentary after, and there was an even longer one that I skipped that was nearly an hour. After getting ready for bed I decided to do more blogging about my thoughts, so now I’m going to bed more than an hour later than I planned at 7am. Thanks for reading, and “(When this began) I had nothing to say / And I got lost in the nothingness inside of me / (I was confused) And I let it all out to find / That I’m not the only person with these things in mind / (Inside of me) But all that they can see the words revealed / Is the only real thing that I’ve got left to feel / (Nothing to lose) Just stuck, hollow and alone / And the fault is my own, and the fault is my own.”
—Eric Del Medico