No score and one year ago...

I realized today while I was at work that it's my one year anniversary. I've lived in California for one whole year.

That puts me pretty far ahead of where most of my friends and loved ones back home expected; I think the betting pool on my returning home, hat in hand, was somewhere around six months. But I proved them wrong! I don't even own a hat!

I like Los Angeles. I love the West Coast. I think the future will see me moving to Northern California, and if my plans of somehow acquiring millions of dollars with little to no effort go smoothly, I'll buy a cabin in Big Sur. Until then, I'm liking where I'm at.

It's been a pretty tumultuous year. I moved halfway across the country. My parents got divorced and, despite telling myself repeatedly that I'm 26 and beyond the influence of such an event, it has really taken a lot to process mentally. I still can't really "go there" in my head without getting misty, but at the same time I feel detached and in denial if I don't. I think my sister has taken it pretty badly, but I can't get her to open up about it at all. So we just go on living.

Wait. No. No, we don't. I have spent the last 20+ years "just living." I didn't want to admit it for fear of failing and having it pointed out to me forever, but I came out here to do something bigger and better than I've done so far. I think that goal lies somewhere in writing or even performing comedy, and I'm taking the first steps finally. Something else pretty momentous happened over the last 12 months: I met Kat. Kat has been a simultaneously wild and inspiring yet stabilizing force in my life, and that's a big part of why we're getting married in October. She has helped me see a lot of flaws I was glazing over, as well as a lot of really great things about me that I have been completely refusing to acknowledge.

So she bought me classes at the Upright Citizens Brigade. It's nothing too earth-shaking, but it's my start. I am going to start hitting up the open mic nights locally as well. I am thrilled and terrified at the prospect, but I need to start pushing my comfort zone outward more.

I've also gone from feeling more at home in LA than I do in St. Louis. Maybe part of that is all the bullshit that's been going on at home with my folks splitting, but (and I know this is the most pretentious thing I've ever written) I just feel like people out here get it. There's a lot more emphasis on making something of yourself, not just busting your ass to get a desk job with health benefits.

Speaking of which, I have a day job that I like okay, but it's just that: a day job. With health benefits. It's definitely not what I want to do with the rest of my life, and I can't for the life of me understand people who are able to dedicate themselves fully and completely to a company. Surely these people weren't six years old at some point saying, "I wanna be a middle manager!" Were they? Did people really aspire to this kind of soul-crushing mediocrity where you worth is based on spreadsheets and meetings? Or do too many of us feel too hurt at looking in the mirror and saying, "You're too fat to be in the NFL. You're too dumb to be an astronaut. You're too afraid to be a fireman. You had dreams and wishes and plans and you haven't done anything to reach them," so we shut that part of ourselves down? It's a fate worse than death, and I think it's one that absolutely pervades the Midwest.

I know a lot of really smart, motivated people from back home, but the fact is the majority of my friends and loved ones work jobs they're just okay with, do things they never really saw themselves doing or even went to school for, and constantly dream of that day when everything will change while doing nothing to change it. I was totally that guy. And I moved out to California and fell into a similar rut and was close to becoming that guy all over again. I don't want to be that guy. I can't be that guy; I won't live very long.

I see some of the small town in me changing. It's still there, and I recognize the behavior and the way of thinking, but it's not my natural reaction any more. It's this weird, quaint voice in my head that sometimes debates with my regular internal monologue.

I'm not really sure where I'm going with any of this; I don't even really know where I intended to go. I just felt like reflecting on my first year in California and then it turned all weepy and preachy.

So in summation: I love California. I still get homesick. I'm living with the most wonderful and amazing woman I have ever met and she has (for reasons unknown to most everyone) agreed to marry me. I miss my Mom and Dad. I miss my sister. I miss my friends back home, but I love the friends I've made here. I have a job that's adequate. I have plans to do something bigger and better. And I'm starting right now.

My loony bun is fine Benny Lava

I was starting to think I was desensitized to YouTube. The barrage of nutshots, drunk co-eds, pre-teens pretending to be drunk, daily pratfalls and horrible Japanese TV shows started out as entertaining but really it's impossible to sustain at such a high level.

Plus I'm still having trouble even looking at YouTube after discovering they allow totally uncensored childbirth videos. Seriously? I can't show a boob but I can show a bleeding, prolapsed vagina with a human head sticking out of it? Either the human body is beautiful and we can all be adults or none of it is allowed, including Nature-style footage of people reproducing.

But anyway, I've found a will to YouTube again thanks to a guy from Maine named Seth and this amazing video he shared with the group. I don't think he did any of the editing, and I only say that because this obviously took some time to put together. So whoever the hell you are, buffalax, I'm giving you props.


Spring in LA

I got outside today and the weather was beautiful. It's probably just under 70, bright and sunny with a nice breeze meandering through the city from the beach.

I fell in love with LA today. I was out and about, with no real particular place to go, watching the lively Jewish boys rough-housing outside the temple and snapping to better behavior when their plaintive Hasidic elders walked out. I saw the sharp-dressed black families walking home from church down Sawyer Street, the men in neatly pressed suits and the women in floral dresses with hats. The boys wore collared shirts with short sleeves and the girls' dresses had polka dots. They were all smiling and talking with one another as they made their way. The cholos and their girlfriends were out in the parks walking with their babies and holding hands.

The sun felt good on my skin and brought back all the reasons I came out here. I am happy today. I haven't been for awhile but today I'm very happy.

I got my hair cut by a nice Armenian woman with short black hair that had a shock of red dyed in the bangs. She could barely speak English and the haircut she gave me makes me look like a douchebag, but oh well. The Salvadoran kid getting his head butchered by the Russian woman behind me didn't fare any better.

I got a sandwich at some little shop and the owner was this amazing Jheri-Curled Mexican/East Indian guy. He had this small harem of Latina and Indian women making sandwiches while he bullshitted with me at the counter. He was big and broad and smiling and not at all someone I would trust with anything other than a sandwich but he made me smile just talking about nothing.

I went grocery shopping and the couple in front of me had a cute little girl who kept waving at me from behind her dad's legs. I bought my random ass mix of Stella Artois and shampoo and toothpaste, and now I'm back at the apartment to clean before my fiance comes home and my sister and her boyfriend come to visit.

But I just can't bring myself in off the balcony long enough to do anything. The sun is too nice, the air is too warm, and the beer is too perfect on my lips.