Back AGAIN. For awhile this time ;)

So… I just got back last night from a quick trip to Los Angeles.  Hopefully I will finally be able to catch up on a lot of random things.   The trip to L.A. was short, and fun.  I flew into the Long Beach airport which I’d never done before, and I loved it!  It’s a very tiny airport (I think even smaller than Burbank?) and it was so easy and not stressful.

I felt like I was on a bit of a covert operation though.  A friend of mine from law school had graciously invited me to stay with her and her fiance in their new rental house in Long Beach and borrow one of their cars for my trip.  However, due to a bit of planning failure on my part, it turned out I would be arriving while my friend was still out of town for a wedding.  So her and her fiance decided to leave one of their cars parked in one of the long term lots with the keys inside under the mat and the doors unlocked (brave!).  So basically, I flew into an airport I’d never been to, caught the courtesy shuttle to a car I’d never been in, opened the unlocked door, removed the keys and parking ticket from under the mat, and then drove to a house I’d never been in and let myself in.  I was so caught up in the covert operation-ness of it all that as soon as I got inside I sat down my bag and thought “ok, what is the next step??”

For the next step, I decided to use the trusty iPhone to find a place for lunch, and I ended up walking down and discovering the “Belmont Shores” area of Long Beach.  I have a very negative connotation in my mind when I hear “Long Beach”, but Belmont Shores challenged my thinking.  Second street is lined with shops (from boutique style shops to Banana Republic and Gap) and restaurants and the neighborhood streets are lined with those super tall palm trees a la Beverly Hills.   You can see the ocean from certain points on the street which was definitely beautiful.  I found Banana Republic right away.  I think I have some kind of radar! But I managed to not buy anything… I have bought SO MANY new clothes lately, it’s insane.  I need a support group or something.

Anyway, the trip had two purposes- one for an event where I received an award, and since I had to go to L.A. for that anyway, I decided to double the purpose of the trip to find an apartment.   I think I found my future home, at least for the next year!! I’d love to post a picture or two here, but I can’t have my internet stalkers knowing where I live 😉

The award event was a fantastic lunch at a beautiful L.A. hotel.  The plaque they gave me  was so big I had to leave it behind in L.A. because I had no way to get it home on my flight out that afternoon.  I also received a cash prize which was wonderful since I had to pay to fly myself out there.   I feel very honored that my school chose me for the award 🙂

In other news, I’m back in Portland for now (key words for now).  If I do get the apartment, they prefer me to move in mid-october which is sooner than I had planned on moving to L.A., but very preferred because living out of suitcases is getting OLD.  Also, when I’ve been in Portland I have been alternating between sleeping on my mom’s love seat (not ideal for a 6’4″ woman), or sharing a bed with my friend Becky at her condo.  I appreciate the hospitality of both my mom and Becky, but I really do miss having my own space.   In the meantime, the only other trip I have coming up is a trip to North Carolina to see my brother, SIL, and my two nieces (including one brand new one!) and nephew.  I’m thinking of buying a new camera before I go so I can get better pictures.   Ideally, something in between my point-and-shoot little digital camera that I have now, and one of the those uber-expensive SLR cameras.  I’m thinking something around $200-$300 with better zoom, etc.  will do 🙂

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Jumping ahead a little… Oakland Airport.

I flew out of Houston, Texas on August 28th headed to L.A. to help my boyfriend pack up his apartment and move things into my storage unit (he’s letting me use his furniture.. free storage for him, great deal for me!).   On the way, I had a layover at the Oakland Airport.  I’m not really sure if I’ve had a layover there before, but I don’t think so.  Despite never hearing anything particularly good about Oakland (California..), I really liked the airport!  There are beautiful views from the airport windows of the bay and planes coming into land just over the bay and touching down on the runway just beyond the sand.  I LOVED it!

Oakland Airport Windows

Oakland Airport Windows

There are two other things I loved: first, free wifi!  It is always a pleasant surprise to me when I find an airport with free wifi.  I’ll admit it doesn’t actually affect me much anymore, because now with the iphone I can do pretty much anything I need to do without access to a wifi connection.  But for those who are iPhoneless, and even for me when I have an hour to spare and the desire to finally update my blog, free wifi connections are amazing!  (Of course, that blog I wrote ultimately got lost in technical error land… but had that not happened, I would have had a brilliant blog post up thanks to Oakland airport wifi!).

The other thing I loved: The name is suddenly escaping me, but there was a mexican restaurant in the airport, and I’m pretty sure the name started with an “A”.  I got a delicious mesquite grilled chicken salad and a margarita.  It was fantastic! Definitely the best airport food I’ve had!  (Although, that is also because I’ve tended to be a cheapo and always look for the cheapest thing possible to eat during layovers in airports).  I had a long few weeks, and I realized that it would be nice to sit down at an actual restaurant and get something yummy instead of something cheap.  The salad was only $8 or $9 so really not any different than a regular restaurant. Anyway, it was delicious! Go there if you ever have a layover in Oakland! 🙂

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It’s taking awhile for me to come to the realization that I can actually afford things now.  I grew up poor and I’ve worked my way through college and law school, and so a lot of the time I’m still that penny pinching girl looking for the cheapest option available.  And I have to tell myself, “Michelle… you have money now.  You can afford a yummy salad.  You don’t have to settle for a bagel at starbucks or a bag of pretzels from the newstand.”   I’m still working on finding a balance between acting like I’m still poor vs. just blowing money.

Now on to the real point of this post: the salad above was the last time I had meat.  I’ve been planning to give up meat for awhile, and have steered clear of red meat for a long time.  I’ve been contemplating giving up chicken for awhile but I LOOOOOVE chicken.  Well, I got to L.A. and Alexander had decided to go on a vegan diet for health reasons and I decided it was as good a time as ever to give up meat.  I’m not as hardcore as him yet.  I’m weening myself off dairy but it is really difficult adjusting to not eating meat or dairy when one of the two seems to be in about almost everything.  I’m working on it 🙂   It is for the health reasons for me as well.  It’s also really good for the environment to not eat meat.  And, while I don’t think it’s wrong to eat meat, I do think that animals get horribly mistreated in most farming operations and that is wrong.   So, not eating meat = health benefits, environmental benefits, and hopefully fewer animals being tortured.  Sounds like a pretty good deal.   And honestly, I’m two weeks in now and so far I don’t even crave meat at all.  (And I’m finally starting to lose my 3L/Bar Studying weight, which is another awesome benefit!)