Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Don't Start With Me, Homey

'Tis the season to enjoy the 3 minutes shaved off my morning commutes since people are taking off for the holidays. I can feel the presence of Our Lord Baby Jesus on the freeway.

This is my last week of super-hyper-crazy-full-time work until the new year, since my boss will be out of town for the holidays. I'll do a little bit of telecommuting, but ultimately the next two weeks are going to be a combination of enjoying time off and finally addressing the mountainous accumulation of to-do's work has kept me from, like buying food and shaving. Seriously, my 5 o' clock shadow is more like a 5 o' clock eclipse. Gentlemen...?

In terms of today: today was a frustrating day of running errands and ultimately not getting much actual shit done, which sucks, because in addition to just making me look bad it also guarantees tomorrow won't be a pocketful of posies.

So. Meh. Meh. I'm just working for next week. Next week and the sweet, sweet temporary liberation it promises.

Speaking of weekends, this past one was pretty good. I went to Christmas parties both Friday and Saturday; one with college friends, one with high school friends. The college one was definitely a good time; we had a white elephant exchange where I made off with this thing:

*made out with
Does your flask have rainbow fur and giant googly eyes? Oh yeah I forgot, you don't have a flask.

And then Saturday was a classic holiday theme party involving an ugly sweater competition which, frankly, I don't understand how I lost.

True Life: my shoulders are quintuplets
Nicholas Cage is like the ultimate trump card for ugliness! Whatevs, guess I'll just have to try a different angle next year.

Because my friends are anti-Semites, get it?
It was cool hanging out with my old-time high school peeps, especially in a casual setting that involved lots of people and alcohol. My conversation skills follow a very nice little bell curve correlating with how much I drink.


Remember how in my last post I basically outed myself as a snobby hipster who wants their dining experience to be as much 'experience' as it is 'dining'? Well. I went to a place that I've heard about and is also somewhat close to where I live last weekend, and I must say I was pleased on all fronts. No, there was no patio or courtyard, which I'm sure we can all agree is a darn shame. But what it did have was everything else going for it. I went to Homegirl Cafe, which is a mindfuckingly delicious and small-scale-trendy cafe/bakery located on the outskirts of China Town.

I know, I didn't know there was stuff there either. Mostly because there isn't. Except for this place.

The menu features lots of very delicious and healthy permutations of Mexican dishes, but all organic-free-range-feel-goody shit; shit in the sense of, "Damn, this is some good shit." They also have a lot of vegetarian and vegan items, which made me happy as a soy clam.

But I haven't told you the coolest part about this place, which is that it operates out of Homeboy Industries. You guys, I cannot explain how about this I am. Homeboy Industries is a job placement and rehabilitation organization that provides a million and one services to former convicts and gang members. Homeboy Industries does virtually everything you could ever want as a former-whatever, from substance and domestic abuse rehabilitation programs, to tattoo removal services, to running one of the best damn cafes I've ever eaten at. And it's completely staffed by people in the program-- that is, former convicts and gang members. So in your head you're probably imagining a place that looks something like this:

I'll have a bowl of nails... without any milk.
But it actually looks like this:

And then there's THIS:

Slip me some cupcakes, homegirl!
And (almost) needless to say, everyone there is very friendly and welcoming.

This place is perfect because I can enjoy my hoity-toity food, be relatively healthy about it, and ease my sense of privileged guilt since I'm supporting an incredible cause. Everyone wins!

Especially me, because I'm a white middle class female.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Caffeine for the Work-Stressed Hiker's Soul

Today started off pretty all right with a 6am hike in Griffith Park. I don't know if I've properly bragged about my new leisure/physical activity, so let me take a moment to milk the sweet udder of self-congratulation.

Macy and I have pledged to do pre-work morning hikes, as of now only once a week, but who knows what the future holds. We've gone about 3 times already, and so far it's been great. I wake up super hackin' early at like 5:30am, we meet up, and hike either around Griffith Park or the trail/park behind my apartment for an hour or so. Of course, when I say "hiking" I mean walking in places where there's trees, but there is a little incline involved. And descending the dirt trails in the Hollywood Hills? It's like Survivor Man out there. Okay, maybe Survivor Fetus (coincidentally also the name of my new pro-life reality series), but in the end everything circles back to one infallible argument: what exactly did you do at 6 this morning?

The unexpected bonus is that Macy has work before I do, which means we finish up in time for her to get ready for work, and I have time to go about my morning routine in a luxuriously slow manner. Or, more commonly, completely defeat the purpose of these hikes by going out and getting breakfast before work. In this situation it's very easy to justify "needing" coffee, but not so easy to justify the sumptuous baked good that inevitably goes with it. Not to mention I've just become a snob about dining experiences in general. I'm living the coziest possible version of a poor person's life in the sense that I go to places for the ambiance and then order the cheapest thing on the menu. I've reached that point where I feel like I'm cheating myself if I get coffee from 7/11 or even Starbucks... I have to go to some froofy little fuckin' "niche-y" cafe that's decorated to look like a cave behind a waterfall so anyone who goes there is really just embarrassing themselves if they're at all shocked or disgruntled that the danishes are $6 a pop.

Mitt supports overpriced pastries.
SO OF COURSE let me tell you all about the froof cafe I went to today. I decided to try it out because it was close to my work in Santa Monica and Yelp said it had a patio. Mentions of a 'patio' are always a good sign that a place is going to be smugly quaint and charming, which is exactly what I look for when I'm going out for coffee. the place was called the Coffee Connection, whose patio I would go so far as to say is actually a courtyard. And man, courtyards are the next level-- even better than terraces! Any ol' pizzeria with enough space to put chairs outside can have a patio. But this place had a whole enclosed outdoor area shrouded in vines and greenery and, best of all, a great number of outdoor heaters. I was thoroughly charmed, and sat outside with my organic coffee and my ballin' warmed-up vegan blueberry muffin just reveling in the constructed tranquility.

Yeah. You WISH you had a medium vanilla soy latte with freshly-ground cloves.
Assuming I don't get fired from my job, I will be back.

Speaking of which, the update on the job is that it is still really really hard. My fuck-ups have not been the same magnitude as last week, when I regaled to you a very tidied-up version of the emotional crisis I was undergoing with regards to my work. But I still feel like I'm constantly messing up and for every step forward I'm doing one bunny hop back. The 16th will be the one-month anniversary of my full-time employment as a PA, and I'm dreading the prospect of a "chat" about my work so far, since there's no possible scenario in which I see that going well. There's no way to put it other than I'm still a complete n00b and multi-tasking isn't as inherent in me as I hoped it would be. I keep telling myself that I've only been doing the job for a month, and I should try not to take all the criticism so personally. It's just hard because it's the kind of job where it's hard to see what I've been doing well because the only things that get noticed are the things I do wrong. That takes a toll. It's like if someone was keeping track of how often I fart, and every time I did they sent a mass email to everyone telling them about it. Over time people would think, "Wow, it's disgusting how often that Jessica chick farts." But they're not seeing all the hours of the day when I'm not farting. And of course, I can't go ahead and email them an update every second of the day that I'm non-gassy, it just doesn't work like that.

...And beans are a good fat-free source of protein and fiber. A gassy vegan is a healthy vegan, so you should be happy for me.

That had nothing to do with the metaphor, it was just a side note. And kind of a defense, to no one in particular except maybe me because I'm the only one I have to ride in a car with.

Well, now that I've gone ahead and written all that, you can add it to your ever-growing catalogue of your overall impression of me. To recap:

1. Hikes in the morning
2. Eats breakfast like a hipster
3. Criticizes self very harshly
4. Farts

Oh, and in my seamless segues from one topic to the next I didn't know where to include this, but it was amusing enough to me that I decided to append it here. I asked my co-worker if she had been to Coffee Connection, and she said, "Yeah, but I dunno... it's kind of gaudy."

I was pretty confused because if anything, the place seemed the opposite of tacky and stuffy. It took me a moment to realize she had actually said, "It's kind of God-y" ...because it operates under some sort of church or fellowship. Which I totally didn't realize until after I had ordered my coffee and muffin. Epic miscommunication pun.

Or should I say miscommunicat-pun.
Or should I say mis-communion-cation.
Or should I say mis-communi-stations-of-the-cross.

Out of common human decency and the desire to keep what little reader-base I have I'll stop there. But just know that I could keep going.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Trip to the Port of Long Bridges

It ain't easy being a personal assistant. And I'm not saying that in the "It ain't easy being cheesy" way. Clearly there is nothing easier for Chester Cheeto than being cheesy. However, it is legitimately extremely difficult to be a personal assistant, and to be honest, the past few days I feel like I've been drowning. Had I taken so much as one course or workshop on business administration I might have a clue as to what the hell I'm supposed to be doing. But nope, I just had to take "Monotheisms" and "The Films of Clint Eastwood."

While there is definite credit to learning something completely through hands-on experience, PAing has got to be one of the most challenging ways to go about that. I seem to only be figuring out what I'm doing right or wrong by making mistakes. Mistakes are healthy and normal, sure. But these mistakes aren't endearing little, "Ohh, you set the margins too wide on this report, but now you know for next time" ones. They are fuck-ups in a person's life schedule. HER LIFE IS IN MY HANDS PEOPLE.

In this example, Hades is the new phone whose voicemail she can't figure out how to access.
Missing doctor appointments, saving all the best typos for emails to wealthy investors... it's no bueno. Which is why I just spent the past hour reading the first twelve Google results for "how to be a good personal assistant." The top thing they all stress is confidentiality, so maybe blogging about everything I do has been my biggest mistake so far. I guess when you're a personal assistant you're not supposed to talk about it. What if 90% of the world population are actually just really really good personal assistants? I have no way of knowing.

Though in this political climate it'd probably be closer to 99%AMIRIGHT?!

That's right, I push the limits with my satirical political humor. Look out.

I've spent all day stressing at work so I'm going to attempt to decompress from that for a bit. Hey, let's talk about that thing that happened when I missed my exit heading down to San Diego this weekend.

Don't ask me how, but one second I was driving on the 110 and the next I was looking up ahead and seeing all these massive curved bridges and thinking to myself, "Whoah, that would probably be super trippy to drive on." And sure enough, 30 seconds later the freeway curved around and my little car was hoofing it up the spine of these gigantic brontosauri. Over water.

Driving Home Alone... 3
Yessir, as it turns out I had somehow navigated myself straight into the Port of Long Beach. For anyone who's never been, it looks like a ship-themed level in a video game... or maybe it just looked that way from the heavy dose of acid I ingested about a half hour prior. It was definitely a weird-looking place of intimidating size. Like if Texas opened a Splash Zone. Everything was just so... big. The bridges must have been several hundred feet high and stretched across open water for close to a mile. Don't believe me? Check out this cRaZy AeRiAl pHoTo:

Yes, Super Stock, we all see you.
And on either end of the bridge were cement platforms stacked with thousands of massive/plentiful cargo crates.

What is in there?! Cheese? Taxidermy buffalos? High-quality imported pornography? There's just no need for that much high-quality pornography. The people have spoken and they want the free cheap kind!

The experience was a little thrilling and terrifying, if not solely because I had no idea this would be the day I would tour the Port of Long Beach. Driving over the bridge was kind of gnarly... but I was braver about it than I probably would have been had I not crossed this bridge earlier this summer:

At least we're in New Orleans, where I know I have nothing to worry about.
It was a very symbolic moment of crossing bridges and achieving new heights, and other things I'll include in my article about children's education.