Since my fateful return in April and the initial culture shock that ensued after China, I have found both good and bad to my new life in Los Angeles.
I Miss the Seasons
I returned to America for a myriad of reasons, one of the big ones being:
Pumpkin Spice Flavored Goods
(Note: Asia has no such thing as the American pumpkin)
Oh, how I lamented when I saw my friend’s pumpkin spice latte photos taken in the U.S. I’m having a new craft pumpkin spice beer, my friend from the U.S. would tell me over Skype, gulping it in all its delicious glory as I sat on the other end of the world, completely helpless. We’re having your favorite pumpkin pie, my parents would tell me as I heard them chomp on that delicious, orange morsel with whipped cream on top.
When I saw the Pumpkin Spice Latte sign pop up at Starbucks a few weeks ago, I ran in there like a mad woman. I threw money at the cashier and demanded a pumpkin spice latte, stat. She told me to calm down. I told her to give me pumpkin.
And it was bliss.
Yet as the days went by and I sampled Pumpkin Spice lattes, beers, cookies, and other assorted goods—I realized something felt off. There was something missing to this whole process. For some reason, pumpkin spice didn’t taste as delectable as I remembered.
Then I realized I was drinking a pumpkin spice latte in the blazing sun at 100 F (38C) degree weather, sweating like a pig.
In L.A., it’s always summer.
And then I had an epiphany: I miss the seasons. Pumpkin spice is absolutely delicious when sampled in the crisp, new cold of Autumn. It’s best paired with a light sweater, a scarf, and some mittens.
I never thought I’d say this (and I probably will regret saying it someday)..
While sunshine 365 days a year is great, I really miss having seasons.
Food Here is Amazing
Mmm.. Shinsengumi Ramen
I work in Little Tokyo, so within a 10 minute radius of my office I have access to not one, but two Japanese supermarkets. I have authentic ramen shops, an okonomiyaki restaurant, yakitori stands—hell, even the sushi here tastes legit. Thai, Mexican, Moroccan, Vietnamese, Southern Cuisine, Authentic Dim-Sum—L.A. is the largest melting pot in the USA, and it shows with the awesome cuisine.
Fitness Classes Galore
The combination of trying to save money and being the new girl in town (aka, need some friends) has inevitably led me to the gym.
I did the usual swim, jog, elliptical routine until I noticed the plethora of gym classes offered in Los Angeles.
I was never a huge fan of yoga, but after my stressful return to life in the states it has really been a lifesaver. It’s nice to just zone out, stand in some crazy half moon position for 5 minutes, lie on my yoga mat during shavasana at the end, and forget about life for an hour. Doing yoga also reminds me of my heavenly session of Yoga at the Yoga Barn in Bali, and brings me back to my spiritual and healing trip through Bali.
I also tried a class called insanity, because I thought—hey, I can tell people I went to a class called INSANITY!!
And it is insane. I thought I was going to pass out mid-way. My vision blurred, my fellow participants started dropping like flies around me, the world was becoming dark—but somehow, I made it through the class, although completely drenched in sweat.
Later I found out this is a new, ‘trendy’ workout that has rippled not only throughout the USA, but the world (my cousin in France is even doing it!).
I was sore for an entire week after the first class of Insanity. It’s hard.
Living a short drive from the beach is amazing.
And that’s all there is to it. Being able to drive to jaw-dropping locations at a moment’s notice is a sure-fire plus.
My Brand New Car
I really tried hard to live in Los Angeles without a car. I took the train, the buses, had my boyfriend, friends and family take me to and from places—hell, I even biked 30 minutes one way to the store and lugged everything strapped to my back in 100 (38C) degree weather.
But after 3 months, I knew that I couldn’t keep this up forever.
Basically, for most cities in the U.S., the motto goes:
No Car No Life
Although it went against every fiber of my being (I hate driving), I bought (rather, leased) a brand new PriusC. I have dirt cheap payments and it saves me on gas.
And man, did it suck setting up that lease. Shopping around for a car in the U.S. is worse than haggling in Southeast Asia.
Anyway, just had to have red for the Ruby Ronin!
California in Shanghai
Takada-san confirms that my little piece of California has made it to her safely.
No matter how far away from Shanghai I am, it’s always there with me.