Saturday, July 14, 2007


I shop at Whole Foods. At least, I did. It's a rocky relationship. My friends and I affectionately call it Whole Paycheck Foods. It's a little pricy, but unfortunately, I have special food needs. I supposedly have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) which, as far as I can tell, means my digestion is screwed up but medical science doesn't know why and can't do anything about it, except encourage me to not eat things that make it worse (duh). For me, that means not eating gluten (wheat), dairy (including cheese), and beef, among other things. It's hard to totally avoid all bread, anything that contains wheat flour, anything with milk or cheese or anything else derived from milk, but the stomach distress that results is much worse. It means I have a limited diet, and I've developed some unusual ideas about what's tasty. For instance, have you ever had gluten-free, dairy-free baked goods? They're hard to make, hard to find, and they taste totally strange. The texture is not right at all. But I miss cookies. I miss them so much that bizarrely-textured fake cookies taste amazing to me. I buy them from Whole Foods, along with gluten-free crackers and pasta and cereal.

So I was a little disappointed when I heard about the online activity of Whole Foods’ founder and CEO. Apparently, for the last 8 years, Mr. Sustainable Business, do-gooder has been anonymously trashing one of Whole Foods' competitors and gushing like a school girl about their management (i.e. himself). Check out his write-up in The Five Dumbest Things On Wall Street This Week. What a peach.

The thing is, I consider Whole Foods to be a rip-off, but it's big and it's loaded with food I can actually eat, as opposed to the frustration I experience at your average grocery store. I always have to read the labels, and it usually results in me putting whatever I want back on the shelf. Thanks, Whole Foods CEO doofus, for making me feel like even more of a sucker for lining your sanctimonious, monopolizing pockets. I miss my local co-op in Seattle.

Speaking of eating, I'm having some issues. This last week I started conducting Sarbanes-Oxley compliance training. There were 5 sessions, once a day, for 2 hours each. On Monday my boss asked me to take out my tongue ring. (He thought it might be distracting.) I took it out, put it back in after training, and then replaced it with a clear piece of tongue jewelry when I got home. Usually, I don't take out my tongue ring without immediately replacing it, and I don't take it out unless I have antiseptic mouthwash on hand, but I've had this piercing for 16 years, and it's never been infected. Until now.

My tongue was so swollen yesterday that I was talking funny and I could only consume liquids. It was pretty lame. My throat hurt from talking for 2 hours straight every day, my tongue was double its normal size and hurt in a big way, and the pain was radiating into my throat and even my ears. Plus, I was dizzy and exhausted from only having juice all day. I feel a little better today. Of course it's totally hot here, and I'm still feeling lightheaded from the all-juice diet. Curses. Next week is 3 hours of internal controls training each day, and the week after that I'm going to Denver and New York to train our offices there. It's going to be pretty hardcore. I'm flying to Denver on a Sunday, training 5 hours on Monday, flying to New York Monday night, 7 hours of training Tuesday and Wednesday, and flying back to Los Angeles Wednesday night. Thursday night I'm flying to Seattle for my friends' wedding, where I'll be doing a reading. I used to have serious anxiety with public speaking, but I think I've gotten over it.

I'm excited to go back to Seattle, for the wedding, and to see my bff (best friend Michelle, above)! I can't wait. Hopefully my tongue will be healed by then, and I'll still have my voice. Onward!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Can we talk about culture shock now?

You can’t really avoid the discombobulation (definition: to throw into a state of confusion) of moving to a new city, a new state, a whole new culture. Los Angeles is very different from Seattle, as you might imagine. I’ve gone from rain to sunshine, passive-aggressive to just plain aggressive, Seattle Metro to the 405, serial killers to freeway shootings, boots to strappy sandals, Timbuk 2 to Coach, batcavers to valley vampires, Hype to The Big Lebowski.

People have been friendly (except on the freeway), and are generally more outgoing than in Seattle. Most people moved here from somewhere else, and are full of advice for how to deal with L.A. life and warnings for how it hardens you. People don't smile at each other as much. I'm not used to that, and give pretty much everyone I come into contact with a big smile. I get some weird looks. You can’t talk about L.A. without mentioning the traffic. It takes me an hour and fifteen minutes to drive to work from the valley, and another hour and fifteen to drive back. In distance, that's about 25 miles, but as a fellow transplant from someplace else told me, it's not about distance, it's about freeways. You know it's bad when you think, "traffic is really moving!" when you can sustain 25 miles an hour for 5 minutes straight, and you're ecstatic when you reach 35 miles an hour. A couple weeks ago, I went to Disneyland with my cousin, and it took 5 freeways to get there. Five!

On the other hand, I'm less than an hour away from Disneyland, and it's so warm. It hasn’t rained the whole time I’ve been here. I’m someplace new! It's exciting. It's like travelling- new neighborhoods to explore, looking for places to eat and things to do, getting lost, tripping out on the local news, stuff like that. It's also like travelling in that I've been living out of a suitcase for 2 months. It’s hard not having my own place, but I’m holding out for something I’m going to be happy with for the next year at least. My salary is higher here, but my taxes went up (no state income tax in Washington) so my take home is the same. It’s more expensive here, but I can afford something decent. I just have to find it.

I’m staying in the valley, i.e. the largest suburbs in the U.S. I like the valley. The valley is, like, so uncool compared to L.A., but it’s hot, there are lots of bowling alleys, you can go to the mall and make fun of valley girls, and my boyfriend is here. We have fun. He keeps me sane. Moving has been stressful, but not nearly as bad as it could have been. I love my job, and I couldn’t have picked better people to work with. My boss is great. I’m on a team of 3 people that’s part of a team of about 20. I love working with a group of people that I enjoy spending time with. We had a social thing at Disneyland a couple Fridays ago, and about 10 of us rode the rides and stayed through the fireworks. We had a blast.

Most of all, I love my boyfriend. He’s been here for me, and the downs don’t feel so bad. I do get down. I get overwhelmed; I miss my friends in Seattle, very intensely at times, and I get upset dealing with all the change. I’m upset today- it’s the 10 year anniversary of the last time I saw my brother alive. Anniversaries are weird- they sneak up on me a lot. I had a couple nightmares in the last few weeks and woke up crying. I miss him a lot when there’s a lot going on in my life. I wish I could talk to him about everything. He was a good friend, and knew me really well. The 10 year anniversary of his death is coming up, the end of August. It makes all the difference, though, dealing with the low points, to have someone I can talk to who is so supportive and good to me. I feel really grateful, lucky, and blessed.

Anyway, I have a lot going for me here- a boyfriend I’m crazy about, my cousin and his fantastic wife and family, kick-ass girlfriends, cool co-workers, Korean spas, fashion, heat, art and music and other writers, palm trees, novelty, and fun. I’m happy, which counts for a lot.