The Great Autumnal Fall

This is the first time in decades (possibly ever) that I don't despise the onset of fall with a raging passion. It's pretty freaking awesome. 

Those of you who love fall are probably wondering why the mere mention of the word "fall" used to make me groan. I mean, come on, Char! It's a beautiful season! The leaves change into a beautiful array of colors, pumpkin spice everything hits the store shelves, and finally we're not breaking a sweat in a tank top and shorts since the dog days of summer are finally behind us. 

It's that last part that does me in. Until this year, that subtle chill that would start to hit the air in late August mornings would mean one thing: winter is coming. And, as someone who deals with clinical depression and seasonal affective disorder, along with the colder weather meant shorter days and a brain that despised life for nearly six months of the year. 

The lack of heat and sunshine have a paralyzing effect on my mind and body. Physically, the cold turns me into an achy old woman. I imagine this is similar to how I will feel all the time when I am old and my osteoporotic bones will compete with my arthritic joints for which hurt the worst. Mentally, I am just like all the plants that whithered away after the first deep freeze. I am numb, dormant. My thinking is disorganized. I lose interest in doing everything but cocooning myself in front of a TV and staring at it until it's time to fall asleep. It's about as high-function as I get until, several months later, the ground has thawed and I finally spring back to life. 

(Yes, of course I am exaggerating just a bit, but maybe not as much as you might think. Despite my best efforts of taking vitamin D, exercising, and using a full spectrum light whenever possible, winter was still pure hell. Make no mistake.) 

And now I live in a place where fall means that the temperature drops from the 90s and 100s down to the 70s and 80s. Simply going outside without a coat and not freezing to death has been an amazing experience for this time of year. It's downright messing with my mind; as we cruise through November, my mind still thinks it's August based on the temperature outside! 

But it's not. Thanksgiving is next week. The holiday season is nearly upon us. I see businesses decorated in red and green already.

By this time of year, I usually feel like death already. Not this year, not yet. I don't dread waking up in the morning. I don't hurt all over. My mind is clear and I feel semi-productive. Moving to SoCal might be the best gift I've ever gotten.

You Know You Live in LA When...

  1. Unless it's 3 a.m. on a Sunday morning, you might as well assume that the highways on the traffic map are marked red. 

2. Celebrities? Yeah, they live here. So do 10 million other people in Los Angeles County.

3. Your Groupon offers include discounts on lipo and breast implants.


4. You take a photo of your friend taking a photo of a limo for satirical purposes, much like this: 


5. You feel inconvenienced rather than excited by a TV show that's filming on location at a place you frequent. It.happens.all.the.time.

LA Sunsets

Long before I moved to LA, I saw the beauty of the city's sunsets thanks to Wil Wheaton. Occasionally, he posts a message like this on Twitter:

Wil must have been busy today because he didn't post such a message. He should have, though, because when my husband stormed through the front door and told me to grab the camera, I dropped everything I was doing. I knew I was in for something good.

Holy rawr, it was good.

It's not every day the LA skyline looks this clear or beautiful from where we live. I'm so glad we seized the moment and enjoyed it.

Oh, Shit. I'm a Hipster.

It hit me yesterday while conversing with my husband over dinner: I'm a hipster. So many things I do are trademarks of hipster culture. And now that I'm in LA, I fit even more hipster criteria that's especially true for this area. It was a rude realization, but now that the thought's sunk in, there's no doubt about it. For proof, I submit the following.

Exhibit A: I've denied being a hipster. Clearly, this is the case since the news didn't hit me until yesterday. It's not that being a hipster is a bad thing, but I just didn't see myself as one. This is probably true of all hipsters because we think we're too cool to be boxed into a stereotype. WRONG!

Exhibit B: I cohost a podcast. I spent most of my afternoon yesterday recording and doing other work for said podcast. I sink time into it as if it's my job...maybe because I don't have a job right now. Which leads to...

Exhibit C: I'm a trained barista. Like the good hipster I am, I have years of making a mean cup of coffee under my belt. And yes, I'd love to work at a coffee shop again. I enjoy a job where I am on my feet and connecting with people from all walks of life in a place that smells delicious. That's much more stimulating to me than sitting in an office from 9 to 5, which I have done before and just don't want again. I'd rather stare at a computer screen only when I'm working on personal projects, since most of them involve the use of a computer. Which leads to...

Exhibit D: I'm a writer. Yeah, we all are. That's why we're in LA. We're all one step removed from our big break. Someday, a friend of a friend of a friend who's a producer will finally see the genius in that screenplay you've been working on for the last 10 years. 

Granted, I'm not working on a screenplay, but I am developing a short story for the Strange New Worlds writing contest. Which I guess leads to...

Exhibit E: I like geeky shit. I've been a Star Trek fan since age six, way before nerdy was cool. So hipster. Check, check, check.

Exhibit F: I don't watch much TV. When my husband and I moved to LA, we ditched cable and opted for Netflix and Hulu instead. In the age of streaming media, this is part common sense, part hipster. We consume media in little bits across all forms of delivery, ranging from printed books to YouTube. And yes, we do own vinyl records, so I'm checking that off my hipster criteria list, too.

Exhibit G: Photography. Yep, I'm into it. It doesn't matter if I'm shooting with a DSLR or my iPhone — if I frame the perfect scene, I'm snapping a photo. Those portraits with inspirational quotes you see on Facebook don't make themselves.

Exhibit H: I prefer shopping local, organic, etc. You won't find me blowing the monthly grocery budget with one trip to Whole Foods, but you will find me at farmer's markets, craft fairs, and stores like Sprouts Farmer's Market and Trader Joe's. We all vote with our dollars, so I'd rather support local people and smaller businesses whenever possible instead of the big guys.

Exhibit H: I'm a vegetarian. It's better for the environment, better for me, and definitely better for the animals. I don't care if you're judging me right now.

And lastly...

Exhibit J: I'm writing a satirical post on being a hipster. On my blog, no less.

I guess all that's left is a pair of black glasses, some mismatching vintage clothes and I'm set.

Myth #1: It Never Rains in LA

When people think of LA, the stereotypical imagery usually involves a beach with the Hollywood sign lurking in the background on a perfect sunny day. Just like all stereotypes, there's a grain of truth to that, but it's far from a daily reality.

We aren't all beach bums because we live here; that might be the case for those who live really close to a beach, but for the rest of us, it's a special occasion. Also, seeing the Hollywood sign is something that happens when you're in LA proper, but if you're in the endless sprawl of suburbia in the cities surrounding Los Angeles, then your real view consists mostly of strip malls, freeways, and mountains if you're closer to the San Gabriel Mountains than the coast (and I adore living amongst mountains again after a 3.5-year absence).

And yes, while most days are blissfully warm and full of sunshine, it does rain on occasion. Since moving here, I've noticed and been told that it typically rains in short, light spurts — much like this:

When we hit LA's version of winter, AKA "rainy season," we'll see how that goes. That might bring heavier rains, especially due to the extreme El Nino we're expecting this year.

People complain about rain here because even a little bit causes havoc on the already crazy traffic. What happens is that oil buildup on the roads combines with the rain water and essentially creates a car version of a Slip 'N Slide. You can imagine how well that goes, especially on the freeway. 

Yes, I can hear you all laughing. It's a petty complaint compared to monsoons, hurricanes, tornadoes, and especially snow and ice that we don't get here. I know. I've survived winters in Fargo, North Dakota for crying out loud. #NeverForget. I know how lucky we are. Even so, it is an inconvenience just because traffic is so heavy here. One accident on the road and a 30-minute trip easily doubles in time, or worse.

But anyway, back to rain. For a region that's been so starved of moisture, every drop counts. 


Drought? Not for much longer at this rate. :P

Free Your Mind, and the Rest Will Follow

Hi! My name is Char and I am...looking for direction. Focus. A channel for creative energy. Maybe even a project I can't resist. That's why I'm starting this blog.

My husband, cat and I moved to the LA area in August. It's a new adventure/chapter/whatever you want to call it for us, so why not catalogue all of these memories we're making and share them with anyone who cares?

I am starting this blog unrefined and unfocused. It doesn't matter if I write, take photos, make a video, whatever. I just need an outlet where I can flip my creative switch and retrain my brain after years of funneling my creative energy into soul-sucking work for a necessary but unfulfilling salary. Now I am at a crossroads where I can continue on that path or do something else entirely. I'm leaning toward the latter. After 10 years of writing, designing, and otherwise working in creative media, I'd rather earn money outside of this field so I can regain my love and passion for creative pursuits on my own terms. I hope this project will help me open my eyes to the beauty of the new life we're establishing here while also helping me redefine my life, and possibly set me on track for the passionate pursuit I want but don't have just yet.

Let's see what happens. Thanks for tuning in.

©2015 and Charlynn Schmiedt. All rights reserved.