Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The first seven days

Sometimes it's hard to believe that I arrived in Los Angeles just last Thursday, and other times it's difficult to believe that it's already been seven days. I have accomplished so many things in seven days, but I still have so much to do that it feels overwhelming at times.
I landed about 8:30 am on Thursday morning. I took the Avis shuttle to their rental area, rented a car and was at a bank in Redondo Beach by 10:30 am to open a bank account. Opening an account (and having the funds ready right away to pay cash for a car) was more difficult than I thought it would be. It also didn't help that I was so tired I sometimes had trouble seeing straight. I ended up spending about 2.5 hours at the bank on Thursday morning, plus going back briefly on Friday morning to finish things up and Friday afternoon to get the cashier's check. Each time I went back the security guard remembered me an remarked about my being back.
After ensuring that the funds would be transferring from my credit union in Alaska, I went car shopping. I bought a 2013 Ford Focus (picture below) with lots of really cool electronics. It's rather neat to have all these new-fangled gadgets. My newest car before this was a 2003 so I upgraded by 10 years. At the dealer I got my most expensive free meal ever (they have a cool cafe there and they gave me a coupon to eat there).
I couldn't drive two cars at once so I left the rental car at the dealer and drove my new car to the home where I was staying. The lady I was staying with had had to work on Friday (and on Saturday), but I was hoping she'd be able to go back with me to return the rental car. Unfortunately she was out and when she got back she was waiting for a friend to deliver a desk she'd just bought. She offered to squeeze it in anyway, but I told her the dealer wasn't far from the airport so I would just return the car and take the public bus back to the dealer. We ended up having a really fun evening talking with her friend and her friend's son. It was nice to just hang out with people.
Saturday I returned the rental car. I was hoping to get money back because the rental contract was until Monday morning, but I was concerned that I wouldn't get any back because it was already Saturday afternoon (car was due back about 9 am on Monday) and there hadn't been a price difference between a Sunday morning return and a Monday morning return. I was excited that I got a little over 45% of my rental price back!
While I was waiting in line at Avis there was a German family that came in. One of their little boys commented (in German) that the line wasn't long, there was only one woman in front of me. Me being me I couldn't resist playing with the kid, so I turned around and said to the kid (in German), "I'm not one woman, I'm three woman. Don't you see them?"A moment later I turned back and told the kid I was kidding of course. After I finished returning the car I asked the woman at the counter about the best way to get to a bus stop. She spoke to the shuttle driver for me and he told me to sit near the front of the bus and he'd let me off at the city bus station. As I was waiting the German family came on the bus and sat next to me. The mother said (in English), "Are you American?" "Yes." "We thought you were German, but you can speak German?" "Yes." After that she switched to German and said, "So we can speak German?" I had a fun, but brief conversation with the family (it didn't take long to get to the bus station). I do wonder though what changed their mind from thinking I was German to asking if I was American. I guess they probably overheard some of my conversation at the counter...
After I picked my car back up, I went to the beach. I had a nice relaxing time at the beach (if you're going to live only a few miles from the beach you have to go there after all). I put sunscreen on, but unfortunately while I was laying on the beach either my shirt rode up or my pants rode down, but the strip of sunburn on my stomach made it clear I had unknown separation there - oops!
Sunday, I went to the same church I had gone to when I was apartment hunting. I spent half an hour after church speaking with the pastor. I really feel God is leading me to this church.
Sunday afternoon the woman I was staying with and I went to an El Salvadoran street festival in downtown. My new friend's air conditioning wasn't working so I drove. I had thought I would avoid driving into downtown LA (take the metro), but what did I do, but drive in my first weekend! I got to try some tasty food and had a great time. Afterwards we drove out Pallos Verdes Peninsula.
Monday I began my A.P. Chemistry workshop (it runs Monday through Thursday) and signed my lease and "moved" into my new apartment. I put moved in quotation marks because I only have (currently) the things I brought with me on the plane.
I've spent the last few days getting necessary items like soap, shampoo, sponges, paper towels, cleaning equipment etc.
Today I also added Internet. My Internet here is more than 16X the speed of my Internet in Nome with unlimited usage (I got 15 GB per month in Nome) and it costs about 45% less than I paid in Nome. This means that as I've been typing this my iPad has been streaming videos next to me.
Overall, things have gone well so far, but there is still much to learn, do and just get used to (including my new job, which I haven't started yet).

I thought the clouds as we descended into LAX were really cool looking so I took a picture.

My new car!

From the Palos Verdes Peninsula

Me on the cliffs

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