Travel

Mid-Summer

With as rarely as I’m posting these days, maybe my blog post titles should just be the seasons. Umm.. let’s see, what have I been up to. I visited my mom in Los Angeles. This was my first time flying in to Bob Hope airport in Burbank, and wow! It was such a nice experience. Way better than the stress of LAX. Would fly again.

LOS ANGELES

Last time when I saw my mom at Christmas we went and saw La La Land. Not gonna lie, was heavily influenced by the movie to go visit Griffith Park & Observatory. It was quite lovely trekking through the park and then making it to the observatory on the top of the hill. Our timing was perfect, and we arrived just in time for the planetarium show, which made me nauseous.  So realistic!

Want

The next day we checked out the botanical gardens, where the main draw was the garden’s resident peacocks. I figured that it would be nice to see one or two, but they were everywhere when we walked in. In the first ten minutes we even stumbled upon a peacock in full glory.

Seeing a peacock at 100% meant that we had to take photos with the peacock. I’ve never done this before, and to be honest, I found it a little scary. The peacock was vibrating furiously, chasing after peahens, and making lots of mating calls. EEK! Even when we passed the main peacock dating hub, and were on the very outskirts of the park, we never stopped hearing their mating calls.

It was father’s day, and my aunt wanted to have a big lunch. Of course, everyone was already off doing holiday lunches with their fathers, so instead I celebrated with my mom, aunt, and grandma, all of us father-less. It didn’t make me sad, it was just an observation at the time, but later I found myself thinking about the differences in how we all processed the fact of this loss.

An insane line around 3 blocks for… donut ice cream sandwiches?
Pastry pit stop @ 85 Below, a Taiwanese bakery chain
There were all sorts of whack mayo/corn/squid ink pastries, but I was curious about the coffee. The house coffee was a sweetened milky americano.

All in all a successful trip.

What else? There was Pride. I ran for a bit in the Trans march since I was out and about right when it started, but I haven’t participated in Pride in years, really. It’s always a hot drunken mess.

DOGSITTING

It’s summer, so dogsitting is ramping up. I’ve got about a grand worth of work coming up in the next few weeks, which means I’ll be busy! I took care of two BIG dogs, but they were just the sweetest and laziest dogs ever, so no troubles there.

Cuddlebugs

READING

The service I use to check out e-books and audiobooks from the library (Overdrive) just released a new app called Libby that makes it much easier to check out & read/listen to books, and I’ve been loving it. Previously I would log in to Overdrive on my computer, download the books through Amazon, then send to my phone, and for the audiobooks, that was super tricky getting them to the phone and in the right format. I’m currently reading a biography of William Tecumseh Sherman, Carrie Fisher’s Wishful Drinking, China Rich Girlfriend, and listening to audiobooks of  Furiously Happy, The Price of Salt & James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time.

APARTMENT

Things have been super stressful at the apartment with multiple roommates moving in/out. It’s been utter uncertainty, chaos and drama for about a month, and that was starting to wear on me. I found myself feeling very sad about all the changes, even though I knew that everyone was doing what was best for themselves, and that we have to change to evolve. I dunno, you live 4 years, 6 years with a person and you will feel something when they leave.

NEW JERSEY

With all that was going on at home, I was looking forward to visiting NJ for a wedding. I was a bit confused about what to pack since we were staying on the Jersey Shore in a little beach town, but the event was at a Yacht Club and ‘black tie optional.’ Also I had checked the weather, and it was high 80s, alternating between cloudy and storms. Um… Not great beach weather.

Once we had settled in to our crappy beach hotel, Ryan said he needed a tie, and the closest real shopping options were outlets in Atlantic City, about a half hour away. I was tired, but we weren’t doing anything else, so I went to AC. It wasn’t particularly bustling on a Friday afternoon.

There is a Western themed hotel. Not a bad idea, but the props were pretty janky
There were the Atlantic City version of tuk-tuk drivers… You sit in a bench and they walk behind you, pushing you down the boardwalk. It looks very strange. Like a couch just drifting down the road.

Amid the fake … everything, I found a little bit of reality. Back in the day the beach was segregated, and Chicken Bone Beach was the tiny strip of the boardwalk/beach for black folks. It was called that by the whites because supposedly people were leaving behind their chicken bones in the sand. At first I was aghast at the naming, but it turns out that the local community is trying to reclaim the name. From the Wikipedia page, it sounds like this was a pretty hopping strip, with all sorts of community events and celebrity sightings.

Right as we were finishing up our shopping, a flash rainstorm hit and we were drenched. We ran to an Old Navy to wait it out, but it just didn’t quit. So for the whole ride back we were soggy and grumpy. Oh, also I was terrified because it was really hard to see driving in the storm. Ryan was calm about it, but how can you be calm when you can’t freaking see?

Walking the main drag, looking for pancakes
Hydrangeas were everywhere.
Small town, big breakfasts!
Ryan breaks his 8 month sobriety just for a night. It was a beautiful wedding, but I felt a little out of place since nearly everyone at the event was either family or had known  each other since middle school. Middle school???
8am beach bums

I got lucky with decent weather the last 2 days of the trip and that meant some quality beach time. On the last day I got up early and slightly hungover just so I could go swimming one more time. Later that day we made it out to see Ryan’s parents, and then it was off to the airport hotel to veg and watch Game of Thrones.

Obligatory beach selfie

Well, that’s most of what I’ve been up to. And back to the housing situation – three weeks into new roommates, and everyone is still not all moved in. There’s quite a bit of redecorating going on, so the house is going to be chaos for a bit longer, I guess.

Life, Travel

Spring

Last month I hit up the Codeland conference in New York. Codeland was a completely new conference run by the folks behind the CodeNewbie podcast, and I had decided to attend on a bit of a whim (you know this is starting to be a theme with me and conferences, I should really put some more thought into this). At the time when I booked everything I was feeling a bit bedraggled, and the thought of getting out of town, even for a conference, sounded good to me.

Coffee believes in me!
Battle of the bootcamps – Pros and cons of bootcamps, or… are bootcamps a scam?

It turned out to be a good choice. The conference had some really strong content, and an amazing vibe of acceptance and inclusion (it was woke as fuck, as I said in my coding blog). It’s strange. How do you create an atmosphere like that? One thing that they did do was offer tons of scholarships. I think there were 50+ programmers there for free.  It was a conference focused on new programmers, so that might have checked some  egos at the door. It was also a single track conference, which was new to me. I was stuck in the same room with a couple hundred other people 9-5 for 2 days. We should have gone insane, but we didn’t. The Bollywood dancing helped. Oh! I also ran into a few folks from my bootcamp that I recognized from their Github profiles. Great to meet people in real life.

We’re BFFs – Best Food Friends <3

I got to stay with my friend Michelle and even though we didn’t do too much, I somehow ate SO MUCH FOOD. Food bloggers, sheesh. Feeling like I should be social, I also set up a few happy hours and met up with some other friends, new and old. It was exhausting to fit that in around the conference, but the right thing to do.

Cherry blossoms @ Brooklyn Botanical Gardens === selfie time. Peep the fashion blogger in the middle. She was standing stone still while her photographer (boyfriend??) clicked away. So awkward in real life.
3 people, 3 pizzas, duh.
Taking my friend Natalie’s dog to the park for some beginner puppy training. Informative for everyone, and the pup pooped outside for the first time ever!!!

One thing that surprised me was that while I was there, I had absolutely no urge to live in NYC. Everything just felt like so much effort/so far away, and I was in Times Square for the conference, which probably was the worst possible place to be.

I also had terrible public transit luck, getting stuck on the subway during a massive power outage on my way to day one of the conference. I was stuck for a half hour, missing the first few talks. Others weren’t so lucky, and sat in dark trains for an hour or more. Then on my way out to the airport the AirTrain was busted. The unmarked shuttle bus was packed with unhappy people, and whenever we stopped at a terminal, people waiting to get on couldn’t because tourists did not want to get off or move in away from the bag rack to let others on. One lady who I guess was really late for her flight begged for people to move back to make space, but nobody moved. She became angry, and yelled at us as we puttered away. Sitting next to me was a very dapper gentleman rage posting on Facebook about the incompetence of the MTA(“This is sooo New York”). Once I got to JFK, my flight was delayed an hour. Then 2 hours. Then 3 hours. I later learned that SFO was doing some pre-scheduled maintenance of the runways, going from 5 runways to 1*. WTH. It was chaos, and flights to SFO were getting pushed back and cancelled. I didn’t get in until 2am, and had to pony up forty bucks for a cab home, which normally I would bitch about, but really I was just so relieved to be home and done traveling. What a mess!

* For 9 weekends April to June there is maintenance. It’s still a shitshow, I learned as Ryan’s flight the other day was delayed terribly just like mine. This is just going to continue, so why can’t they just reroute flights to Oakland? It’s better than a 3-6 hr flight delay/cancellation every weekend.

Drowning my transit sorrows in Shake Shack. And then there were like  3 more hours to fill.
2 am, time to find a cab

Speaking of homes, I’ve made more progress in the process of applying for a Below Market Rate apartment.  I finished my apprenticeship in April and got hired on full time as a software developer, just barely making the max income cutoff. With my income looking steadier, I was finally ready for my one on one counseling session to go over my goals and budget for househunting. The housing counselor was initially kind of hostile and challenging toward me. He was giving me shit about my proof of income, then he really wanted me to tell him about Yale, and how pretentious my classmates were, but I wasn’t biting, and hello college was forever ago man. Eventually he softened up, and by the end he was encouraging, saying that I was in a good place to buy (good income, no debt, etc.). He approved me, pushing me on to the next step. I just need to get pre-approved for a loan, and then I can start applying.

I feel a little anxiety about going to the next step, and it’s for a silly reason. I have to pick a person from the suggested list of providers, and then call and schedule an appointment. Then I have to gather all my paperwork and go there, and go over the numbers all over again. I’ve got inertia, and it’s because I don’t want to make a phone call and go to a bank to do more paperwork. Isn’t that stupid? Why can’t I just do this online, I said to myself. But no. PHONE. HOOMAN INTERACTION. I think the internet is making me socially stunted.

I still waver between “meh” and “no” on the whole buying an apartment thing, but  even if I don’t continue, it felt really good to run the numbers with an objective third party and hear that if I wanted to, I could buy an (below market rate…) apartment by myself. These scenarios involve tapping my retirement or borrowing $ for a down payment, but let’s just ignore that and say I’ve made it! Woot!

Travel

Los Angeles / Pittsburgh

Based on my recent posts, it must seem like all I do is travel. Nope!

All I do is code, day in and day out, as I finish my program’s final projects. Traveling is the only thing that has seemed remotely blogworthy  in my life. Here’s a two-fer super gigantic post with lots of photos from my recent trips.

Continue Reading

Travel

I tried uploading some trip photos to WordPress from my phone the other day, and ended up accidentally posting a blog post, so sorry if you saw my garbled mess of photos in your feed!

Despite having even less of a plan than I did in NY, I was pretty excited for the Philadelphia leg of the trip. We went by bus since it’s so close, and being at Port Authority was like New York saying “Get the hell out!” It was just miserable, mostly because I walked in on a lady in a bathroom stall (door wasn’t closed, let alone locked).  The cleaning lady didn’t warn me at all as I was walking by her (she totally knew)!  In general the terminal was gross and depressing, but aren’t all bus terminals? I did spot a blog celebrity, which was exciting, but then I felt kind of embarrassed for recognizing the person at all. I should get off gossip sites and read more.

Continue Reading

Travel

New York

Hello from New York! Got in on Friday  and staying a week. Since I’m tagging along on Ryan’s trip out east, I didn’t come with much of an agenda. However there has been plenty to fill my days as when I’m not walking around, I’m studying.

Continue Reading