December 4

Dec. 4th, 2014 03:57 pm
in_the_blue: (greetings from oakland)
No prompts today, but that's all right. I can always find something to talk about. Today, random stuff about California.

I am completely spoiled by the California winter weather. It's been raining for a while, but it's not like the rain in the Northwest because it's not accompanied by the threat of freezing rain. Yesterday I had to drive up to Marin County for an appointment, which of course happened in the middle of the worst downpour we've had since moving here. Really, all you have to do when you drive in that kind of shit is slow down a little and leave plenty of space between your car and the one in front of you. On 580 people would speed up, then slow to a crawl because OMG PUDDLE, then speed up again and change lanes with rabid glee. In Oregon we used to talk about shitty California drivers, and now I understand it fully. These people cannot hold their rain.

We've lived here for a year and a quarter and I still don't feel like a Californian. I feel like a displaced Oregonian. Try as I might, I can't remember how long it took me to feel like an Oregonian after I moved there from Massachusetts. I never moved around a lot growing up -- I was in the same town from 2nd grade to high school graduation, and only went anywhere new after that. After college I moved to Boston and stayed in various places in MA until I moved to the northwest. I really don't know how long it'll take until I consider myself a Californian. I guess it'll happen when it happens. In the meantime, I pay my exorbitantly high taxes here just like everyone else.

When we moved, it was in the middle of the worst drought in California's history. Circling back to the first thing I talked about: this is a much more normal year as far as rainfall goes. In the space of a few weeks everything around me went from dried-up brown to a vibrant green. It's always springtime around here. The leaves are just now falling from our pear tree but if last year is anything to go by, the tree won't get much in the way of down-time before the new set of leaves starts to bud. My very first trip to the Pacific northwest was in October, and I couldn't believe flowers were still blooming. I loved the longer growing season there, and I love the even longer growing season here. Today I picked a basket full of fruit off my Meyer lemon tree. My fuchsia is still flowering. The roses on my arbor are in flower. My yard is filled with birds of all shapes and sizes, and my hummingbirds are persistent year-round residents. Here's the the rain and to things being more normal.

The downside of living here is that there's so much more crime. We have a neighborhood email group and people report all their suspicious activity to it. That makes me paranoid sometimes. The sounds of car engines idling in the middle of the night sometimes wakes me up, and I have to go check to make sure it's something legit. Oakland itself has the reputation of being the most unsafe city in the nation, which was all I knew about the city when we moved here. Of course it's like any other city. There are safer neighborhoods and ones that are less safe. You watch where you're going. You don't walk around with your brand new shiny big smartphone out, or with earbuds in and the phone in your palm. You have to be a little more aware. I've spent a lot of time this past year reflecting on the way I never locked the doors in my Oregon house when I was home, and about how I never locked my car in our driveway, how I rarely worried about things like road rage or being shot at a stop sign. My biggest worry was that if anything horrible happened, we were more than ten minutes from the nearest fire station/ambulance. Here, it's right down the street but we also have a sign at the entrance to our road that demonstrates today's fire danger. It's a different set of things to worry about.

I was at a party a few weeks ago and one of my husband's coworkers who'd recently moved here from Texas said he really liked California, but it was too expensive to live here for very long. I'm thinking he's right. To end things on a positive note, though, this area of the state is incredibly beautiful. The people are generally lovely (even if they can be aggressive drivers) and we're fortunate to have a house on the edge of a park, so we look out at canyons and wooded areas instead of housing developments. It's absolutely gorgeous and right now, I wouldn't trade it for anything less than... oh, let's say Hawaii.
in_the_blue: (let the dominoes fall)
If you feel like writing a fic, all the prompts for I Need My Fics are available now on AO3 right here. I have my eye on... oh, about 90% of them, but I always say that. The story reveal is on Monday at 9pm EDT, but we leave the prompts up forever. Or for whenever!

In other news, my mother-in-law is getting settled nicely into her new place. I realize I'm probably in the minority in the grand history of daughters-in-law when I say it's great having her five minutes down the street. Am I spending more time with her? Yes, but it's pretty delightful.

We're getting a new garden! This was supposed to happen back in May, but all good things take their time, I guess. The plants arrive today and will be put in tomorrow. When we first moved here the garden was filled with plants that require a heavy amount of water (roses, hydrangea, lawn, and so on). Since we're in a serious drought, we had to redo our sprinkler system to one that uses far less water and change the plants to those that are drought-tolerant. (Sometimes it's expensive being eco-sensitive, but it's so worthwhile.) We have a recirculating source of water for the birds now, and by next week will have a much more viable garden with no grass to mow and no water hogs requiring a lot of maintenance.

Writing... not so much. I had inspiration for a story and wrote the first paragraph, but I'm still letting the plot sort of settle in my mind. I wrote a little thing on characterization on Wordpress if anyone's interested. Also, both Happily Ever Afterlife and Dragonthology are free to borrow on Amazon if you've got a Kindle account and Amazon Prime. (If you don't, they're still both available for purchase.)

I'm thinking hard about NaNo. I might save this new novel idea for November, which isn't so very far away. I can do the necessary research first and maybe come up with an outline. I'll see; it's tempting.
in_the_blue: chibi!nightcrawler (bamf!)
Tonight's the last night to sign up for I Need My Fics (signups close tomorrow night at 9 EDT). Once we get all the assignments out, I promise I'll stop talking about it until stories are posted, then I'll pimp it all over again.

In unrelated news, I've been in California for almost a year! I was thinking about that today. Time sure does fly. In some ways I'm starting to feel like a local, but in most ways, I still feel like a transplanted Oregonian. At least I can get around on my own (without the GPS) mosts of the time. It's been a little bit of a crazy transition.

I've been busy with travel and family stuff, feeling pretty disconnected from everyone here. I hope you all are well and happy and filled with contentment.

12.31.13

Dec. 31st, 2013 03:41 pm
in_the_blue: (greetings from oakland)
It's kind of fun seeing all these end-of-year memes. I'm making up my own as I go along, because I can. This was a year of big changes for me. I moved to another state. I had my fiction published. I quit my job as a massage therapist so I could write instead. I left behind everything that was familiar for everything that was unfamiliar, and it's been fun.

I'm really not one of those people who's averse to change, because I figure change happens whether we want it to or not. So why fear it? Just roll with the punches as much as possible and try to take something positive away from the change, instead of resenting it and being fearful. That's not to say that it doesn't take time getting used to the differences, but that's normal.

Today my sweetheart and I went on a grocery excursion so we could start 2014 out well-stocked (we're going to make fresh cheddar buns tomorrow morning, but I have to make the dough tonight so it has time to rise) and I'm going to make a mushroom tart for tomorrow. While we were out we decided to get some lunch because apparently a trunk full of groceries just wasn't enough, so we found a place to eat and as we were trucking up and down the streets, I realized to my surprise that I really like Oakland. (Take that, Gertrude Stein.)

Let me backtrack just a little. When we first decided to move to the SF Bay area, I didn't want to move to Oakland. I wanted to be by the beach, and I still want to be by the beach but hey, Half Moon Bay is only an hour and a $5 toll bridge away any time I want it. I mean, if I lived at the beach like I wanted I would be out there every single day, but the commute would have been way too much for my International Man of Mystery. We still want to live at the beach, but not right now. Eventually.

It took me a long time to accept the idea that the beach is close on a map but too far for commuting to his job. This is a busy state. Getting anywhere takes time. Going 3 miles down the road to the post office takes 20 minutes. It's just the way it is: nothing's straightforward unless I walk out my front door and into the park. You have to deal with the other drivers and trying to find a place to park (although I have to thank 2013 for being a charmed year as far as finding parking spaces in California goes), and then you have to make your way through the crowds and worry about the pickpockets and all that, and there really are parts of Oakland that I'm happy to stay away from because they're just too dangerous and people get shot just for living and I don't want to be that kind of statistic. But by and large, the city is really a very cool place. There are parts of town that remind me so much of Portland that I get wistful and nostalgic. There are other parts of town that remind me so much of my NYC birthplace that I get jumpy and nervous, and there are even more parts of town that are just kind of... well, it's a city, move along, nothing to see.

But I never wanted to live here. I would've taken San Francisco in a heartbeat, but now that I'm here and my sweetheart's job is on the east side of the bay, I realize what a folly it would be to go back and forth every day. The other side of the bay is like a different world (I'm looking at you, [livejournal.com profile] zahdi and at you, [livejournal.com profile] livii -- how often do you guys make it to the east bay? about as often as I make it into San Francisco, right?) and it's not that it's hard to get to, it's that it's... over there. We all live our lives in our surroundings. We do what we do, and that's as much as we can do. The minutiae of everyday living trumps a lot of other things.

So it goes.

My short story made long gets back to this: it only took me four months or so to realize that despite its bad reputation (and since when has a bad reputation scared me off, go away, Lockup: Oakland), this is kind of a great city in so many ways.

Now I'm looking forward to 2014. Spreading my wings, widening the scope of where I feel comfortable. It's a good thing. I'll even drink to it.
in_the_blue: (we're... friends!)
Hi.

- We made it to our new house. Eleven hours in the car with five cats went extremely smoothly. My vet said "medicate them" so we did, they all got anti-anxiety meds. The slight mewing didn't start until we were about fifteen minutes away from the house.

- The house is great. We've been unpacking and unpacking. Yesterday and today I also spent time in our garden, prettying things up, planting and replanting, trimming, getting the bird feeders placed, putting down bark dust. This morning a hummingbird found the nectar feeder. It's starting to feel like our home.

- It's cooler here this summer than it was in Oregon. Most mornings here are foggy, but the fog burns off around noon or one and then it's beautiful and sunny. I've only seen clouds in the sky a few times (after the fog anyway). Speaking of fog, it's inspiring me to want to write all sorts of horror stories.

- If only I had the time to write. I haven't been able to do much of anything beyond unpacking. Most nights, I haven't even turned on my computer until around 10pm. Maybe all those fog ideas will stick around so I can turn them into stories.

- Oakland is such a bizarre city. On the one hand it's got some of the worst gang & drug violence in California. On the other, parts are being "upscaled" and where we are, on the outskirts, is so beautiful it's amazing. It's a lot more crowded here than I'm used to, and I'm still getting used to everything about it. So far, so good.

- Our neighborhood is super friendly. Every time I'm out in the yard someone stops by to say hello and introduce themselves. We live right near the entrance to a regional park (outstanding for walking!), so there are lots of people coming and going. I already recognize most of them. Lots of dog walkers.

- My cats like to sit at the window and protect us from all those dogs.

- I haven't called anyone or made plans to see anyone yet, but I'll be done unpacking eventually! Then I'll be social again.

- I did watch Hell on Wheels last night and Breaking Bad tonight. (Yeah!, especially to Breaking Bad.)

- Some day my schedule and online habits will revert to normal. I've been reading DW & LJ, but that's it. No twitter, no tumblr, no Wordpress, no anything else. I'm not ignoring you, I just haven't had the time.

That's it for now. Hope everyone's doing well.

Warning: Breaking Bad spoilers in comments.
in_the_blue: (out of the water)
In honor of World Water Day, a post/photospam at Wordpress.

<3

Jan. 16th, 2013 07:53 pm
in_the_blue: (mavericks)
I'll try not to be too obnoxious in my excitement over this, but the Mavericks Invitational is on for this Sunday in Half Moon Bay. This is the first time in 3 years the waves and wind have cooperated to make this big-wave surfing event possible. There's a live webcast at the Mavs competition website starting at 7:30 Sunday morning, with the first heat at 8 and the whole thing over by sunset. I know what I'll be doing. ♥ If anyone else is up and watching Sunday, let me know! We'll find a way to chat.

(I keep thinking, if you lived here, you'd be home by now.)

Sunset at Half Moon Bay:

Finally.

Dec. 2nd, 2012 08:19 pm
in_the_blue: (suit up and go)
For all y'all's viewing pleasure.

Photos of Half Moon Bay & Bolinas in the Bay Area, and some of Disneyland/Disney California Adventure.

Hope you enjoy them.

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in_the_blue: (Default)
mages just love me

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