Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas Time is Here. Happiness and Cheer.

Outside "my" house/apartment in Pasadena -Thanksgiving 2013

Merry Christmas from 91103! Hello again and my apologies for the delay.  Has it really been FIVE months since my last update?  Sigh. Thank goodness for Facebook. I do much better at posting short bursts of info on the spur-of-the-moment than I do writing a regular blog I'm afraid.

So what's new since the last time we chatted? Well, the good news is that I feel like I've found a "routine" again and life is slowly falling back into that singsongy pattern that we all need here and there in our lives to keep the insanity at bay.  Since this blog post will have to serve as my Christmas card this year, let me walk you through some of the highlights of the last few months via pictures.


The start of school.  Unlike past experiences, my school started the year with a smattering of SEVEN Jewish holidays (i.e. seven days off spread throughout the month). Thus creating a very stuttering start to a school year.  The weather was also very hot. So hot that I escaped (with Sheba in tow) to Bev & Lee's house in Mesa, AZ for the first week of September. Home cooked meals, a pool and central air conditioning got us through one of the two worst "weather" weeks I've had since moving.

I already have my teachers fooled (that's supposed to be me)
The new job is great. Overwhelming, but great.  I feel appreciated, over-worked (in a good way) and competent. There are still the normal issues of any job and "culturally" I'm a little out of my league... but I'm learning fast. And overall, on a professional level, I am very happy. Challenged. Hopeful.  And besides the horrendous commute (2.5 hours in my car every day), I couldn't have found a more perfect fit for me at this stage of my career. Alas, this most likely means another MOVE is in my future (looking for a place on the west side a little closer to work). Ug.

Obligatory Sunset/Ocean picture.  Trying to see at least one new beach every month. 


October found the TRUE "start" of school and also found Miss Erica chaperoning the Middle School Field Trip.  100 6-8th graders and five adults for 4 days and 4 nights.  San Bernardino Mountains was the destination; a Jewish Day Camp near Big Bear Lake @ 8,000 feet above sea level.  I survived and even managed to bond with a handful of the kids. But that's about all I'm going to say about that.  Four days of no sleep does not a happy Erica make. Besides NOT sleeping, we DID hike, canoe, shot arrows, climb ropes and participate in various team building games.  Not very "Erica-like" activities!

View from the top  

That boat had a slow leak. I was already sitting in three inches of water by the time we left the shore.
In NON-school related October-activities, I had my first "famous person" sighting.  Chrissy from Growing Pains! I was at the Emergency Room with my neighbor who was experiencing crazy back pain when her hubby was at work.  While I was waiting for Emilee to get checked out I looked to my left and thought I recognized this girl but couldn't remember from where? Thank goodness for Facebook friends who immediately identified her.  I'm still getting used to the fact that I'm forever two miles from Jennifer Anniston buying a Christmas tree or that I just missed Adam Sandler and his daughter at a park or even that I drive by the Chinese Theatre every morning for work.  So strange. 

Chrissy from Growing Pains. All grown up.
My friend Emily (from Augsburg) at her "70's" B-day theme party in Altadena.
The final "big" activity of October was Disneyland with several Ramos family members who drove down from Modesto!

My friend Carla hosted a fantastic Halloween party at her condo on the West Side.  We had spent an entire WEEKEND decorating the place so wearing a costume was a MUST. And not just "any" costume. A GREAT costume.  Thus, I found myself renting a costume for the first time in my life at a little shop in Pasadena.  I thought it was pretty stellar (although VERY warm)! 

I also decided to join a couple of groups this fall to hopefully meet more people and get to know other areas of the city.  So, once a month I meet a group of 16-20 women for a meet up book club where we discuss Chick Lit over drinks and a good meal.  And once a month I also try to "meet up" with a Theatre group to see live theatre around L.A.  Thus far we've seen an original musical about 9-11 and "Evita".  I skipped out on "Lion King" this month to see Michael Buble' in concert with my mom instead ;)  Oh, and I'll FINALLY be seeing "Book of Mormon" in February with my friends Kim & TJ! Waiting YEARS for that one.

"Evita" @ The Pantages in Hollywood

Outside the Stapels Center before Michael Buble'. Love him. The Staples Center not so much.
Long over-due gathering of USC friends 

My first Hanukkah! Pressman's Interim Head of School lights the 7th candle.
So that about brings you up to date.  Life continues to fly by. I find myself wondering how those of you with children do it.  My days are already 12-15 hours long. How on earth do people get home from work, pick up kids, get dinner made and get to activities?  I'm lucky if I can get home and get 7 hours of sleep!  Alas, I guess those are choices I make and it seems to suit me (most of the time) so I won't complain.  

I'll be heading out to Arizona tomorrow to spend Christmas "week" with Bev & Lee.  Anna and Marcus will stay in the mid-west and drive up to join Ryan's family for Christmas in Detroit.  It will be very strange not to have my six or seven various friend and family Christmas parties lined up this year.  I will miss those traditions very much.  But I have to say, the #1 reason I left Minnesota was because of the weather.... and THAT seems to be working out exactly as planned.  ;) 

My love to you this year as always.  Please stay in touch... and come visit.  I think of you all often. 
Erica Leigh 

P.s. I will be back in Minnesota for a few days from July 8-11th if you want to write it on your calendars ;) Would love to see as many of you as I can. 
Sheba says "Meow" for 2014

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Summer Shenanigans

And we're back!

As the final hours of July wind down, and before the madness of the new school season is upon me (upon so many of you reading this actually), I wanted to update the blog and let you all know what I've been up to for the last couple of months.

Things at "The Workplace That Shall Not Be Named" got worse before they got better.  The upper-ups made some unexpected and HUGE changes in our department with no warning to our managers let alone the tiny little peons like me.  A huge shakeup is upon the institute right now and I was so happy to be able to sit back and watch it unfold knowing that no matter what they did or said, none of it would have any impact on ME directly (as I was giving my notice within the month no matter what).

After the shake-up, for whatever reason, people seemed to get a whole lot "nicer" to me.  Or maybe it was just time.  I had been there more than 4 months by that point and people started to know who I was (no matter how hard I tried to "hide"). They liked me.  They were kind. Interested.  Even my emotional-mess-of-a-manager started speaking to me like a real person and giving me projects of interest that I knew I could do.  So it was beyond fun for me to walk into my manager's office on Monday, June 24th at 5:15pm and tell her that I thought it was time for me to move on.  That I didn't see a future in Development. Thank you so much but I would like to pursue "other opportunities".  :) Oh... and my last day will be Friday.

Never burn bridges is a lesson I've learned from a very young age and it's remarkable how it's worked out for me.  This woman, who never saw my TRUE work ethic, never pushed me to do anything REAL, never asked me to really "perform", completely teared-up in front of me. Told me she understood and "did I need a letter of reference".  Really?! Really? A letter of reference?! Sigh.  Wow.

So yes.  My last day was Friday, June 28th and it was phenomenal.  Had a great "good-bye" lunch, got a wonderful gift card to iTunes with some beautifully written words in a card by my team and then got to leave and never look back.

I spent the first week of July in the blazing hot city of Modesto, CA visiting the Twins.  Nena was still on maternity leave and Sella is a teacher who was on Summer Break so we had a full 4 days together with families and the kids.  Swimming, eating, watching movies and sleeping 9 hours a night (at least I did... I doubt my Mom-Friends got that much ;)).  Just what the doctor ordered.

Nena & Sella @ Cool Hand Luke's

Week 2:
Lunched with an old friend from England who is moving back to L.A. to have her baby!  It will be so nice to have someone from my Rajabali family so close.

I officially put in four looong days at my new job! The drive wasn't too awful (and will hopefully be even better when I'm working normal school hours which are 7:30am-3:30pm instead of summer hours which were 8:30am to 6:00pm) and it was SO GOOD to be "home".  Installing Apple TV's, updating MacBooks, meeting with Principals to discuss what to teach teachers at Back-to-School week.  I'm so looking forward to getting started (August 5th is D-day for me although other teachers don't start until the middle/end of the month).

Week 3: 
Perhaps the next greatest thing about my job (besides the fact that I HAVE one.. and it's in my field... and it pays pretty darn okay) is the (paid) TIME OFF.  I've always had a love/hate relationship with "time-off" as I haven't had a job that actually PAID me NOT to work (PTO and all that jazz).  So while I loved having the days (or summer months) off in my former jobs to pursue other interests like wedding videography or photography, it always made the finance side of my life very difficult.  Was I going to make enough that month to pay the mortgage or would I have to ask my brother for money (again)?  Sigh.  With this new gig my paid time off is factored in as a "faculty" member.  I'm salaried. I know how much I'm making and it will come steadily in checks throughout the year.... even when I'm sleeping in while visiting Arizona during my Winter Break (2 weeks), traveling the Outback of Australia (hopefully someday soon) during Spring Break (2 weeks) or flying back to Minnesota to see family and friends at Okoboji and beyond (entire month of July).  For someone who finds absolute "routine" absolutely horrific, this is the best of both worlds for me.

Thus, the last two weeks of July I spent celebrating in Iowa/Minnesota.  Here is my trip by the numbers:

Family Members Seen: 25 (Okoboji was another success and getting to spend a few days with my
nephew Tristan was such a treat)
Friends/Babies Visited63 (including an amazing Belle Plaine pool party hosted by my parents; an out-of-this-world gathering in Waconia hosted by my girl CJohnson; and a Groom's Dinner/Wedding of an old friend all of which helped jack up this number as it would have been impossible to visit ALL of those lovely people individually in less than 7 days!)
Pounds Gained: (too much so-bad-it's-good food + alcoholic beverages. Ug.)
Shopping Trips Taken: 3 (I won't write how much I spent--yikes!-- but I can tell you have much I SAVED... by shopping Outlets in Minnesota that have no sales tax on shoes or clothing!)
Photo-shoots: 2 (one paid and requested by a former family client with twins and one volunteer at the Groom's Dinner of my friend!)
Weddings Attended: 1 (and as a GUEST... not a Video/Photographer! Holy Cats)
Hair Appointment: 1 (soo overdue I was almost crying from relief when it was over)
Doctor's Appointment: 1 (had to make sure I was good-to-go for this upcoming school year before I switched insurances and providers etc. Happy to report I'm A-Okay!)

Unbelievable that everything worked out as it did.  I couldn't have asked for a better July.  Now I'm looking at getting back into a routine (both for work and for my health), getting back to online dating (I haven't given up yet and hopefully there will be a blog update at some point from THAT front that doesn't end in tears or frustration) and getting OUT and ABOUT to enjoy this beautiful state I now call home.

Enjoy the pics below. Thanks to all who made time to see me back in Minnesota. Remember, you've got a free couch/blow-up bed in Pasadena anytime!

One of my many shopping trips. So good!

The Huls family at Okoboji (we're all here!)
Amazing Mexican night with college friends.

The Erickson Crew @ Okoboji (mini golf to follow!)

The cutest 8-month old in the world
The Belle Plaine Crew (the ISO on my camera was set too high :( but you get the just)

A sample of the best people you will ever meet (Waconia, MN)
My best friends from senior year of High School. We're all grown up. Congrats to Shane + Katie!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

If You Don't have Something Nice to Say, Don't Say Anything at All!

Greetings from the Golden state my darling friends and family!

Apologies for the delay in posting but, as the title of this post suggests, I wanted to wait until I had something GOOD to share with you all instead of bothering you with details of this relatively stressful "transition period" that is my life ;))

It has been surprisingly easy to meet people here thus far.  In Minnesota, the majority of my family and friends were engaged or married by 25 and having kids by 29. In LA I have yet to meet a NEW kiddo!  Most everyone is single/divorced, newly married or child-less by choice, or JUST starting their families--even though mom and dad are close to 40.  It's a very interesting shift but one that I'm liking.  My college friend Emily has also introduced me to a few girls from the Junior League of Pasadena and subsequently I've started going through those first stages of new girl-friendships again (i.e. exchanging mobile numbers, friending each other on FB, meeting up for a group drink, scheduling a movie etc.).  It's sort of like "dating" in its own right!  But less pressure and more fun.

New neighbor Emilee @ our
back yard BBQ!
I have new "flat-mates" at 406 N Raymond and I LOVE them.  Emilee is an Event Planner and her husband Andy is a full-time Fireman! They have a tiny dog named Olive who I adore (and who loves to run over to my apartment and scare Sheba... even though Sheba is 3x as big as Olive!) It's also nice to have people within shouting distance who would actually notice if I wasn't to come home one night and gives me peace of mind that someone would take care of Sheba if the worst happened. (Animal moms think about this stuff just as much as Human moms!)

Wedding friends!
I have also started to (slowly) see many of the friends I already had before I moved to Cali.   I spent a couple of evenings in Rodando Beach visiting an old Augsburg friend (and her son) as well as meeting up with the bride and groom who flew me to St. Lucia 2.5 years ago and really started the ball-rolling for me move to Cali.

My Augsburg friend and her 2-year old at Hermosa Beach

I spent last weekend in Modesto (a 5 hour drive north) visiting my friend's Sella and Nena (aka The Twins).  Nena had just given birth to baby Hunter the week before so we took some photos, caught up on general life stuff and just enjoyed each other's company for a few nights.

Nena & Hunter (Modesto, CA)
I'm still dealing with the phantom pains of my "broken heart".  I had to stop online dating after the aforementioned "job drama" as I needed to re-focus all of my extra time and energy into finding a full-time job I could be passionate about (priorities!) but when I stopped meeting new men every week it was harder not to think about the one I lost.  Sigh.  As with all things, time will be necessary. There is no magical cure. It stinks.  I don't know how so many of you have lived through it (this is my first go-around) ;)  I have been on a couple of dates even AFTER stopping the online site (friends of friends) and it's so much more natural.  Still no crazy "sparks" but again, you can't rush these things.  Maybe after a few dates and hanging out together with mutual friends something will naturally develop?  Who knows.  Not me... obviously.

Job Updates:  Since the last post (more than 6 weeks ago already. Wow. Time Flies.) I have learned to relax and let things flow at my current job.  I do not offer to do more than I am asked. I leave promptly at 5pm every night. I keep my head down (for the most part) and my mouth closed (relatively speaking). There are days when I am busy and there are days (sometimes several in a row) where I sit at my computer with nothing to do.  Those are the worst days.  As a Type-A, over-acheiver it is not in my DNA to sit around until someone gives me something to do.  The saddest part (for me) is that there really ARE things that need to be done in this Department.  Yes, they might be a little more than I could handle on my own at this point but if someone were to take me under his/her wing and actually TRAIN me that would be all it would take.  What a waste.

All of which leads me to my amazing, life-changing news and the reason I took the time to write today's post...

I got offered a REAL job this past Tuesday!  At a private school. Doing what I love. Getting PAID enough money to actually stay in California and start LIVING.  For those of you who don't know exactly what it is I LOVE to do, the below job description (which I found online about two weeks ago @ is about as good as it gets.  When I read it I didn't quite believe it was real.  I have NEVER in all my months and years of searching/working since graduating with my Master's degree in 2006 actually seen a job description that would PAY me to do what I wanted to do.  What I'm good at.  And then I found this. In a SEA of nothingness that is the internet job search.  And the fact that I was CHOSEN from among this sea is nothing short of amazing to me. Miraculous.

The salary is awesome (for what I'm used to), there is full medical/dental (which I haven't really had since becoming a self-employed adult), sick days, vacation days, retirement matching and an UNBELIEVABLE amount of days OFF during the year (like 10-11 WEEKS).  This kind of job would be amazing anywhere in the country/world right now but to find it in LA where there are so many millions of people to choose from-- millions of people who are under-employed or un-employed or temporarily-employed? Again. Miraculous.

So yes.  The only two slightly worrisome issues that come with this life-changing announcement are:

1) The location:  The K-8 school is located near Beverly Hills. And while Beverly Hills is only 19 miles away from my house, it's the exact 19 miles you SHOULD NOT drive in California rush-hour.  Heading into work should be fine. I'm estimating about a 40 minute drive.  But heading home?  I shudder.  I've heard horror stories of up to TWO HOURS. We'll have to play it by ear.  Moving is always an option but not until next March... and also it's just a general pain in the ass to move.

2) The start date: The position doesn't start until "next" school year (which will be end of July/August 1st for me this first time around). So I am still stuck at my current job for the next 8 weeks (which feels like an eternity) PLUS that means I can't tell anyone around here that I got this "real" job for the same 8 weeks, AND this still assumes that my current "temporary job" will still be AROUND in the next 8 weeks so I can continue to pay my bills.  YIKES.

So yes. Still a bit touch-and-go for the next couple of months BUT a million times better off than I was a couple of weeks ago :)

Time to run. Thanks for the love and thanks to those of you who care enough about me to read this and respond with your own life stories.  Love to you all!


My Amazing New Job Description (as of August 1st):

The Instructional Technology Specialist is a member of the Pressman Academy faculty and reports to the Elementary School Principal and Middle School Principal. The instructional technology specialist provides instruction, training, and resources in order to facilitate the use of technology as a tool for learning in classrooms and across the Elementary and Middle Schools. The instructional technology specialist also acts as the liaison between the faculty, administration and the school's information technology consultants who maintain the school's overall IT system.
As an educational leader at Pressman Academy, the instructional technology specialist is expected to promote and role model professional practices within the context of a Jewish school.
Duties and Responsibilities
  • Professional Development with teachers.
    • Training on curriculum related software
    • Offering technology related courses for faculty and staff to promote life-long learning and develop technology competencies
Training on network operating system, E-mail, school-wide systems (ECC teachers included)
  • Investigating new technology systems for faculty related to the curriculum.
  • Teaching demonstration lessons with teachers.
  • Designing, developing, and maintaining online learning environments.
  • Parent and student education related to Internet ethics and use.
  • Keeping up with current technology practices both in and out of the classroom.
  • Recommendations involving the institution of new hardware, software, and school-wide systems.
  • Roll-out of new systems.
  • Analysis and evaluation of current and future technology systems including renovations of classroom, computer labs, school website, and database system.
  • Development of a technology rich curriculum and support of the 1:1 program.
  • Assessment of student progress related to technology.
  • Assessment of faculty progress related to technology.
  • Chair the school's technology committee.
  • Trouble shooting technology problems with faculty and staff.
  • Maintaining mobile computer labs/iPad carts.
  • Some classroom direct instruction.
  • Hold a masters degree in Educational Technology
  • Strong background in instructional strategies and teaching
  • Superior communication skills
  • Experience in schools
  • Member of ISTE and other related technology groups

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

406 N Raymond Ave

Greetings from 406 N Raymond!

Finally.  [Huge Sigh]  Almost exactly one month ago today I had all of my things packed and organized for the big move.  As of yesterday, I can honestly say I am "moved".  Settled. Organized. Home.

The last two weeks have been a blur.

Job:  {Edited to protect the innocent}


Home:  I got the call last Tuesday that my things from Minnesota may be arriving as soon as Thursday the 7th! I immediately called Bev & Lee and asked how soon they could get here (thank goodness they stay in Arizona during half of the year now. Only a 6-hour drive away!).  They agreed they would arrive Wednesday night (with SHEBA!) and that way could be there to help unload and start getting the house set up. 

Sheba did GREAT leaving the Arizona house and traveling the final 6 hours to her new home in Pasadena.  She's a true world traveler now.  The best part for me is that she really bonded with "Grandma and Grandpa"!  My mom would sing to her just like she sings to her REAL grand-baby Tristan and toward the end she even let my dad pet her head every once in awhile.  It was such a relief to get her here and see how much she's "grown". 

New Friends

Exploring a new space (ANY new space!)

Thank goodness for family is all I can say.  No matter how old you get you will always need your parents. The three of us spent Thursday, Friday and almost all day Saturday shopping, moving, building, cleaning, shopping some more and unpacking.  It was truly exhausting.   But, just as I had "envisioned", practically everything was done, hung and up-and-running by the time Bev & Lee left on Sunday morning at 6:30am to head back to Arizona.   I'm still waiting on two final pieces which should arrive in the next week and then I will post a new YouTube video showing off all of our hard work.

Perhaps the coolest thing happened on Sunday when I discovered (by accident through Facebook) that one of my old friends from London was actually IN L.A. for a conference!  We connected via FB and discovered we had about 4 hours of free overlapping time that Sunday to get together and see the beach etc. and then I offered to drop him at LAX to catch his return flight.

It was just another example of all roads leading to LA for this girl.  How many other places could I live in this country (besides maybe New York) where I'm going to be able to "accidentally" (or on purpose) run into so many of the fabulous friends I've made over the years from all over the world?

So. That is all for now. I am tired and need to sleep.  My love to you all.  And for those of you still in the "tundra" keep the faith. It's almost over for another year ;)  And, of course, you know you always have a couch in Cali anytime you need to escape.

Enjoying a "Hook" burger after some shopping

Dad does better BEHIND the camera ;)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Place to Live

What a week... or has it been three?  It feels like only days since I've seen many of you and yet years since I left Minnesota.  Perhaps working at an institution like Caltech will help me better understand the space/time continuum ;)

House: As stated in my email, I have, in fact, found a place to call my California home.  It's a beautiful Victorian house in the heart of Pasadena that has been divided into a Tri-plex.  I have Unit #2 (bottom lefthand side of the house if you're looking at it from the front) and an awesome husband and wife team as landlord.  It's a little less space for a little more money but I was prepared for that when I left Minnesota.  Storage will be tricky (do people not have Christmas trees/ decorations in California? I mean COME ON people!) but Bev and Lee are driving up from Arizona (with Sheba... YEA!!!) at some point next week and I'm sure between the four of us we'll be able to sort everything out. 

However, now that I have the actual living space my piles-o-stuff that are waiting to be moved from Minnesota are no longer accurate.  I just don't have ROOM for many of the things I thought I would. Luckily, my fabulous friend L. lives a few houses down from Bev & Lee and she was able to swing by and remove the items I will no longer be needing.  Now we wait to see how competent the moving company is. My things are supposed to arrive between March 5 and the 12th.  Seriously?  They can't give ME more than ONE DAY notice of when they're "picking up" but I'm supposed to be okay with not knowing where my stuff is for over a WEEK?! This is the 21st century people. Just tell me how many days it's going to take you to get here and let me PLAN. Sigh. I'm not okay with it but there's nothing I can do at this point so I just have to let go and hope for the best.

The outside of my new house/apartment. This is the listing so you can see where it's situated in Pasadena (i.e. North end of town right off of the 210 freeway).

Click on the link below to see video footage of Unit #2 as it looked before I moved in. I plan on posting a new video once everything has arrived (both new and old) and it looks like a home.

I get the keys (and pay the huge damage deposit/March payment. gulp.) on Thursday and will move in on Friday (March 1st).   Internet guys are coming out on Saturday morning and by Saturday afternoon my new living room set (couch, tables, lamps etc) will be delivered and set up.

Job: Stay tuned next week when I hopefully have more of a grasp as to what the heck my actual JOB is/is going to be ;)  It's a good thing I'm a bull----er by nature. When people at Caltech ask me what I do (as they are prone to do the first week of a new job) I just speak enthusiastically and quickly and make sure I mention the department I work for (i.e. Development) and who my boss is (Amy).  That usually illicits  nods and smiles and then I can escape back to whatever I was trying to do/read/type/learn!  But so far, so good. And while that may not be saying much after only two days at least it's something (and something good in my book)!

Misc: Oh yea... and the weather? Forget about it.  I already have.  Just assume every day is "gorgeous" (by Minnesota standards) and you're good to go.   I love it.  I always did find it strange how much time people back home obsessed about the weather.  I mean, I totally get WHY they do--the weather is crazy-- I just thought it was strange.  I was never one for small talk about weather. It's either good or crappy. Let's move on.

The following picture is of my new Target.  And yes, those are Palm trees.  And yes, that is a Mountain.
My new Target store

In closing, I would like to give a HAPPY BIRTHDAY shout out to a handful of people.  Tons of amazing people were born in the 11 days that span Feb 25th to March 7th.  I hope you're all reading this and know that I'm thinking/talking about YOU ;)

Hugs and Kisses until next time (and keep the emails/comments/texts/fb messages coming. It makes my day to know so many fabulous people out there are thinking about little old me!)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Greetings from Pasadena, CA!  What a week it's been. Time really does fly when you're not living in the Tundra :)

The second day of travel was thankfully uneventful.  Our weather/road conditions were truly perfect and it was just the sheer longevity that exhausted us. Sheba was beyond angry at me for the first 30 minutes of Day 2-- so much so that she injured her right paw (slightly) in a fit of 'get-me-the-heck-out-of-this-cage' RAGE as we were leaving the motel on the second day. Luckily (for all of us), that initial burst of energy took everything out of her and she resigned herself to quietly sitting in her bed, in the cage, in the dark, for the 13.5 hour day.  My poor baby. Sigh.

Sheba enjoys her new temporary Arizona surroundings
Beauty of the Palm Springs area

Mom and Dad had everything ready for our arrival in Mesa, AZ.  Phoebe stayed in the second bedroom and Sheba and I had the pull-out in the office.
Total trip time = 26.5 hours.
Total mileage (from Belle Plaine to Mesa) was around 1715.  I tried to make a date with a friend who lives in Arizona for drinks on Sunday night but was so tired I couldn't even wait for his text response before passing out! (Sorry again P.)

Saturday, Sunday and Monday were spent trying to get things organized and making Sheba feel comfortable.  Lots of sleeping, eating and napping (and yes, napping is different than sleeping.... obviously ;))

Tuesday afternoon I set off by myself for California. The six hour drive from Mesa to Aliso Viejo, CA seemed like nothing compared to my previous two day's journey. It was almost two years ago to the date when I drove I-10 West through Palm Springs into the "OC" for the first time and decided there was no place on earth I would rather live.  And this second trip didn't disappoint.

In-N-Out Burger. Yummy.
I arrived in the OC around 5:30pm and hit my new favorite California fast-food joint: In-N-Out Burger.  Yummy.  After catching up with a couple of California girlfriends via phone, I took a quick trip to my favorite SoCal guy's house and spent a few hours with him and his kids getting properly caught up.

Finally it was time to head north for the final leg (less than an hour on Hwy 5 to Pasadena).  The rain had really started coming down and I was anxious to check in to the Travelodge.

After a good night's sleep I was up and navigating Pasadena for a meeting at the Temp Agency this afternoon.  Paperwork, W-2's, online tests, confidentiality agreements etc. had to be done.  The BEST news is that supposedly my first pay check will be available for pick-up on March 1st ;)  Crazy how that works (hopefully. knocking on wood).

The rest of today has been spent on searching for some-what-affordable apartments and rooms in the Pasadena area.  As most of you know directions/maps/navigation isn't my strong suit. The internet helps but it's still overwhelming for me. I was able to find and set up about six different meetings over the next two days for units that are immediately available for rent.  Fingers crossed I can find something (the sooner I can find something, the sooner my stuff can be shipped from Minnesota and the sooner Sheba and I can be reunited in our new HOME!).

The next time you "hear" from me I will be a California employee (sort of). Happy Oscars weekend!
My home for the next 10 days: Pasadena Travelodge!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

When It Rains...

I honestly thought these final days in Minnesota would be about saying my good-byes, organizing my things and making lists (one of my favorite things to do).  Instead, it ended with a wind-fall of California job opportunities! 

I have been working since October at "winning" a job at the Apple retail store in Manhattan Beach.  A friend-of-a-friend had ticked my name behind the scenes at Apple and after several phone interviews with SEVERAL managers I was offered a PART-TIME gig as a specialist (one of the "blue-shirt" people who greet you and sell you things as you walk around any store).  But while Apple is indeed my one true love in this world, the fact that the job was retail (which I have no experience in), part-time, and located in one of the most expensive areas of L.A. was troublesome. Where would I live? Even if I could live off of the money I've saved these last six months, there was no way I could get a lease at an apartment complex with that kind of income.  

Enter: My Brentwood Angel.  

A DIFFERENT friend-of-a-friend (we'll refer to her as K.) lives in the (very exclusive) Brentwood neighborhood of L.A. with her husband and two small children.  We've been emailing quite a bit as I try to navigate the cross-country move and she was keeping her eyes open for any and all job opportunities for me.  After I told her about the Apple gig, K. mentioned they had a room above their garage... and that if I didn't mind the fact that it didn't have running water it was mine for as long as I needed to get settled and find full-time work.  Seriously? Angel. 

I jumped at the chance and immediately called Apple to tell them my decision.  They told me to take my time moving west, and, once I was settled, to come in and meet everyone.  So as of Monday, February 4th, that was my California "job" plan. Start at the Apple store, get to know some hopefully cool people and ask for help in re-starting my video and photography business (apparently there are several other professional photographers that work at the store).

By Wednesday that planned had changed entirely. 

My old college roommate M. has worked in Higher Education for most of her career. First in Minnesota and now in California.  She is currently at {Name of College} and working behind the scenes. M. knows I'm moving west and we had joked about me working with her at {Name of College}.  Suddenly, M. texts me that there is a temp-to-hire position open in her department and since they've had bad luck with temps lately she told her boss about me specifically. She needed my resume. I sent it. M. and I spoke on the phone that night. It sounded promising.  I had hoped for a phone interview with M's boss at the very least.  But on Wednesday, as I'm teaching my final technology class in Waconia, M. texts me with the news that her boss would like to offer me the temp job based purely on M's recommendation... and that I start on February 20th!  What...!?

Suddenly, there's a "real" job on the table...and located in Pasadena (almost exactly where I want to be in California).  I can start looking for apartments! I can have my stuff shipped from Minnesota! Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness.  Could I be any more lucky?

Umm... yes. It turns out I can. 

Friday afternoon, K. emails me from her office (she works for SAG-AFTRA... the actor's union). The head of Communications for SAG is looking for a new assistant... and she got me an interview! A woman who, if you google her, shows up in thousands of pictures with her arm around any number of celebrities and who's-who in Hollywood.  Are you kidding me?! I would LOVE that job.  Organizing someone else's life?! Bossing people around (in a good/ necessary way?!). Yes, PLEASE.

So... I guess you could say I now have options? Amazing. Feeling so lucky and blessed.

To Be Continued...