LA Landmarks

I was still slightly sick over the weekend, but I was recovering well enough to still have fun. My best friend from college (the one I psuedo-date) had her birthday on Friday, so we went to a fancy restaurant to celebrate!

We dined at Campanile, a fairly historic LA landmark (it was built for Charlie Chaplin!). We went all out: wine, appetizer, entree, and dessert! I love fine dining, and this place was very fine. We even got dressed up for the occasion! I’m not sure if they even let people in wearing jeans and a T-shirt.

The head chef (and owner) of Campanile is Mark Peel, who was a contestant on Top Chef Masters. He actually came by our table and asked how the food was! I honestly never saw Top Chef Masters and hadn’t heard of Mark Peel until that evening, but my friend was very excited. We were both a little surprised that he showed up, so we didn’t have much to say (beyond that the food was really good), and we were both too afraid to ask him for a picture with us (or at least with just my friend). But meeting Mark Peel still counts as meeting a celebrity in my book!

On Saturday, to continue celebrating my friend’s birthday, we (along with a good number of friends) went to the Hollywood Bowl (another LA landmark) for some Brazilian music and fireworks. The music was quite good, and the fireworks were very impressive. We also went to the Hollywood Bowl for my friend’s birthday last year too, which was the first time I had been. In fact, the only times I’ve ever been to the Hollywood Bowl have been for my friend’s birthday.

It’s interesting that I grew up in LA and love its history (I learn a lot from I Love Lucy) but don’t really visit many of the LA landmarks until out-of-towners moved down and took me to them (my best friend from college is originally from Northern California, practically a different state). I should really get out more.

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Out Of Stock

This week has been quite a struggle. The beginning of the week was rough, and today wasn’t great either. Because I didn’t watch one of my client’s inventory closely enough (I was watching, but I thought things would be resolved today), they’re going to be out of stock on two of our most popular items over the weekend. This is going to be a huge blow to my sales.

As a last-ditch effort to fix the problem, my warehouse, production, and shipping teams all helped me get ready to deliver the items to my client’s warehouse 60 miles away. I left in the early afternoon. Without traffic, it should have taken an hour. Unfortunately, given a Friday afternoon in LA, the traffic was ridiculously bad. It took over two hours to get to the warehouse, at which time the warehouse manager refused to receive our packages (they close their receiving department early). I had no choice but to turn around and go back to the office. It took over an hour and a half to get back.

My delivery attempt ended up being a large waste of energy, time, and money. When I got back to the office, my boss didn’t get mad at me; after all, it wasn’t my fault that the traffic was so bad. I stayed in the office for another two hours before going home (it was around 8pm when I left).

It was only as I was driving home that my boss called and yelled at me for not watching the inventory closely enough. I should have communicated to him that there was an inventory problem earlier so that it wouldn’t have to come to a last minute effort. The fact that we tried to fix the problem is fine, but the fact that there was a problem to fix is my fault.

Anyway. It was a long day and a long week, neither of which ended well.

Friends Filled Weekend

What a busy weekend! I somehow had something planned every day (starting Friday night), each with different groups of friends.

On Friday, I left work a little early to meet up with some college friends for a birthday gathering. To celebrate, we went to the Hollywood Bowl to see Brian Wilson (of The Beach Boys). I’ve heard some Beach Boys songs before, but I don’t know them that well. The concert was okay, mostly an excuse for me to hang out with my friends. I also had never been to the Hollywood Bowl, so it was nice to actually do something distinctly “LA.”

I probably would have thought more of the concert had I not been so tired. I was half-falling asleep the whole concert, only really waking up during intermission and for the fireworks at the end. Oh well, at least I got to see my friends.

Yesterday, one of my college friends took me out shopping to buy me a birthday gift. He insisted that he get me something, I guess because I make it a point to get him something for his birthday every year. After a lot of indecisive wandering, I eventually chose to have him buy me the second season of Ugly Betty on DVD. I stopped watching around when the writer’s strike happened, and I never caught up after that. I can finally catch up! Yay!

After shopping and hanging out with my college friend for the day, he dropped me off at a nearby restaurant because I had a birthday dinner to go to for one of my high school friends. It was fun, and my friend’s (chocolate) birthday cake was really good.

Today, I got up early (earlier than I’d prefer on a Sunday) to visit one of my graduate school friends who was in LA for a wedding. It’s been almost a year since I’d seen anyone from my graduate school crowd, so it was really great to catch up with him, even though we only hung out for a few hours. I had to drive an hour (changing freeways three times) to get to his hotel, but how could I not visit him? It was totally worth it.

All in all, it turned out to be a pretty good weekend. The only downside to having such a full weekend is that I’m exhausted now, perhaps more than on days when I work. Starting the work week tomorrow is going to be especially challenging.

Iron Man

A couple friends and I saw Iron Man tonight. It was quite good; I definitely recommend it. The movie feels more realistic than most superhero movies (probably because Iron Man doesn’t technically have super powers). I think it’s a good start to the “summer blockbusters,” though summer seems to be early this year.

On the way to the theatre, we drove through Santa Monica along the coastline. The ocean was beautiful, and the weather was perfect. I love the views of the ocean (though I hate the beach). Since I live in “the valley,” it’s a long drive to get to LA proper. Sometimes I forget that I live in LA (or at least the LA area), but maybe that means I can appreciate the city more than if I saw it every day.

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Guilty Indulgence

I went out to dinner with some high school friends tonight. We ate at Olive Garden, my favorite Italian chain restaurant. I got my favorite dish, the “Tour of Italy,” which is a sampler platter of chicken parmigiana, lasagna, and fetticune alfredo. Why choose what you want to eat if you can have it all?

It’s been a long time since I’ve had such a large quantity of food. I’ve been trying to lose weight and keep it off, so I haven’t been indulging myself too much. As a result, a meal that was once easy to polish off became pretty intimidating. While I did finish the Tour of Italy, I felt like I shouldn’t have. All the effort I put going to the gym four times a week feels like it’s gone down the drain.

After dinner, we ended up going to Pinkberry, a trendy frozen “yogurt” place that started in LA. It’s technically not yogurt, but it’s still almost healthy, relative to all the other desserts out there. You can get an assortment of toppings on the frozen “yogurt,” including freshly cut fruit (with no added syrups), cereal (like Cap’n Crunch and Cocoa Pebbles), chocolate chips, almonds, and Oreo bits. Trying to stay healthy, I got mango, strawberries, and blueberries on my medium sized frozen “yogurt.” Even still, I felt like I was spoiling myself too much, especially since I had just had a whole Tour of Italy.

At first, I felt guilty for indulging myself so much tonight. But thinking about it, I feel a little strange that I felt guilty. Am I so obsessed with my weight and body image that I can’t enjoy an evening with my friends and eat some of my favorite foods? It’s been months since I’ve had such a calorie-rich evening, and I’m sure there won’t be another one for a while. One night isn’t going to cause irreparable damage to my health, so why am I so worried? I don’t even have scheduled cheat days on my diet like some people (I have a friend who has those every Friday).

No matter what, I already ate all that food. I’m just going to go back to my normal diet and exercise plan. I’m sure I’ll be fine. It’s so rare for me to hang out with my friends these days. If the cost of hanging out with them is a few hundred extra calories, then it’s worth the sacrifice.

Not Worth The Drive

My circle of friends from college is a tight knit bunch. Since living in the dorms together in freshman year, we kept our core group of friends until now (seven years later). Every time I came home to visit from graduate school, the few friends from that group who live in LA would make a point to hang out at least once.

One college friend in particular seems to be the center of our circle. She was out of the country in the Peace Corps for the last two years, rarely visiting home. Around the end of 2005, she came for a visit. Our entire group of friends gathered back to our college town and had a huge New Years reunion party.

That friend recently moved to LA. She has seen some of our friends from around the LA area who I still have not seen, even though I moved back from graduate school a month and a half before her. One reason is that I live in the San Fernando Valley ( “the valley” ) and she lives in LA proper, where more of our friends live. I suppose it’s only natural for them to hang out with her more than with me because of the proximity. But in 2005, the LA group drove six hours to see her. Driving the forty minutes to see me is not worth the drive, even though I had been away from the area and none of my college friends saw me for the last nine months. Even the one friend who does see me is only in the area because his girlfriend lives in the valley too.

You could ask, well why don’t you drive to see them? I’m not a confident driver, and my experience driving on LA freeways is next to nothing. Going to see them is a much bigger ordeal for me than it is for them to see me. And they know that.

It’s probably all in my head. I tend to overreact when I feel like my friends are hanging out without me. I’m sure there are issues of loneliness and neglect that make me react this way, because I know my friends do care about me. I shouldn’t complain. I should be grateful for the time I do get to spend with my friends. When I see them in person, none of this ever enters my mind. It’s only when I hear about what I missed does it really bother me.

Even knowing that, though, doesn’t help the fact that I still feel this way.

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