SoCal: Why you’d want to live here

I spent my last two weeks in Southern California running around like a crazed rabbit, culminating in a last day worthy of the Amazing Race. If my first week was hectic, here’s my second week:

Me and Sarah Cousins Woot At the Improv

  • Went to Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Night with the cousins. If you know me at all, you’d know that I haven’t seen a scary movie in 10 years and I hate being surprised. Much screaming ensued. (There was one actor in the Saw maze who scared me so well that I had to congratulate him afterward!)
  • Had lunch with Ciara, a high school friend and now famous jewelry designer, in North Hollywood. We had Philly cheese steaks. Mmmm
  • Explored North Hollywood, with their little stores and cupcake places. I tried to hang out at Independent Coffee because I’m a fan of little neighborhood coffee shops, but I accidentally ordered the worst thing ever. (Do not have their powdered green tea latte – it tastes like piss. Seriously.)
  • Had dinner with Nelson, a Fil-Am designer whom I’d met at the IGDA Manila forums, and talked shop. He makes serious military games for different countries – they teach soldiers the culture of their assigned posts so they don’t misunderstand the locals and make stupid mistakes. Amazing job, if you ask me
  • Watched my first stand-up show at Improv in Ontario, with college friend Glowie. American humor is hit and miss for me, and the comics that night were so-so, though Gary Owen was kind of funny

It was actually raining hard that week so I thought business was slow 😉 I decided to make up for it on my last week:

Wall of Horror The students (well, some) Jorge! Gypsy Den

  • Saw Zombieland with my cousin at Arclight Theater in Sherman Oaks. The movie was AWESOME. Hilarious. Gruesome. The theater was pretty fancy, too, with an usher introducing the film before the screening. And they’ve got excellent seats
  • GDC Austin friend Jorge flew in from Seattle to Orange County, so of course I went back to Irvine! For two nights this time 🙂
  • Attended the IGDA Orange County chapter meeting; great turnout, incredibly useful speech by Feargus Urquhart of Obsidian on contract negotiations, and fun drinks with Jim and the gang afterward. IGDA meetings here inspire me – I have so many ideas now for IGDA Manila!
  • Attended Beer Wednesday, which was ridiculously more fun this time around. Met a lot of great people. But I removed my eyeglasses upon someone’s* advice, got astigmatism-induced motion sickness, and vomited 😦 I’m never drinking without my eyeglasses again! (Thanks Jorge, Jim, and Jason B. for taking care of me!)
  • Had delicious vegetarian lunch at Gypsy Den in Costa Mesa with my cousin Justine. Best chai latte I’ve ever had! The cafe was located in the Anti Mall, where everything was indie, artsy, and beautiful – my type of place
  • Of course, I overbooked – so I was still in Irvine on the day of my flight out from LAX to San Francisco. And when my cousin in LA got the flu, I had to figure out how to get around on short notice!
  • Thus begins my Amazing Race: Took the Amtrak at 1:46 pm (1 hour ride), ran to catch the subway (30 min ride) and then the bus (1 hour ride) to catch my airport shuttle at the apartment (scheduled at 4:45 pm). It didn’t help that the train was late and there were two people making a scene on the bus (see below)
  • Made it, barely, and got to LAX only to find out that my flight was delayed one hour. Balls.

I didn’t like LA. My boss had warned me beforehand, saying I might not escape with my soul intact. I’m sure it’s a great and exciting city and all, but it was just too unfriendly for me. Each time I went out, there’d be people arguing and cursing on the street. And I’d never seen so many cops in my life! They were pulling people out randomly from subways or detaining people on sidewalks at night. On the bus from North Hollywood to Woodland Hills, two strangers were cursing each other from across the bus, and I was seated right in the middle. A vertical slice of their conversation went like this:

Girl: “Fuck you!”
Guy: “No, fuck you, bitch!”
Girl: “Stop harassing me! I’m an undercover cop!”
Guy: “Oh yeah? See here? This is my badge. Where’s yours? I should arrest you!”
Girl: “You can’t arrest me – I said I’m a cop! I’m going to call the Metro Sheriff!”
Guy: “Go ahead! Why don’t you get off the bus and let’s see what’s going to happen to you?”
Girl: “Fuck you!” (etc etc)
Me (in my head): “Please don’t do this now – I need to catch my shuttle!”
(By the way, she did call the sheriff – but they didn’t stop the bus, thank God.)

This was typical. Even in LAX, a girl was yelling at the cashier in Burger King because her order wasn’t understood correctly. The rest of us travelers in line were looking at each other and rolling our eyes. Seriously, where’s the love? (Death Cab for Cutie even sang about this lack of love here.)

On the other hand, I really liked Orange County 🙂 Being in Irvine was just like being in GDC Austin, with a big bunch of game developers welcoming a stranger like me into their fold. But the difference here was everyone actually _knew_ each other, which made everything friendlier and more personal. I’m actually trying to find a way to go back there for Halloween, which is nuts on several levels – but when was I ever sane, anyway?


*I mean you, Dave.

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