Saturday, March 16, 2013

Movin' On Forward

The time has come to say goodbye...

Not only to Los Angeles, but to this blog [It's Just Me]. Having a tagline like "Single, living alone, and loving every minute of it..." doooesn't really work when you live with 3 other people, a dog and a cat.

That's right, I'm heeeeeere!!! I arrived in San Diego yesterday, and am settling in quite nicely. But we will get into that...


So, follow me to the next chapter, the next set of adventures, and, quite possibly, the most important journey of my life... This entire experience will determine so much for me, my life, my future, and my happiness. Again, I am no longer fearful... although... I've been having a few of those "What the hell am I doing here?" moments... ya' know... when you realize you kiiiind of have no idea what you're doing?!?! And yet... it pushes you and drives you until you're actually doing something?... hmm. Now I see what one means when saying, "Don't fear the fear, use the fear". They may actually have something there! Alright Fear, let's do this...

Let's move on.
Let's not dwell on the ramblings of my mind, which I so easily can do! =)
Let's move on,
Let's get out of here,
Let's blow this popsicle stand,
Let's roll out of this joint,
Let's bounce yo',
Let's... move on forward.

And, hell, while we're at it, move on upward, too. Let's just MOVE! <3

* And by move, I mean onto another blog... I will be starting a new blog, Just Beginning, tomorrow. Stay tuned! <3

Monday, March 4, 2013

LA Love: What's Up?

Alright, LA... I'm not done with you YET! I touched on the effects of the "down" I experienced, but I never shared the ups! And there have been many... so many, that I leave with a heavy heart. Heavy with the weight of the love I have received from all over. I don't consider it "baggage", though. It's a weight I carry with peace and joy. I've never felt more confident, but I have a ways to go... however, the plans are in motion and the excitement is definitely there!!

The one place I will miss the most is, of course, Mocafe. Not only have I made some incredible friends, but I have found people I now call family. A father, a mother... brothers and sisters. A grandma, uncles... even some cousins. An entire family tree I now consider family. I love them with all of my heart, and will carry them with me forever. The love and lessons I've received from them will always light my soul.

And that's just the family that owns the cafe... that's not counting the other employees, some now lifelong friends. Or the customers, who are probably the best customers I've ever had! Or the people I've met because of them... or going to the local bar and making more lifelong friends. Or the connections. Or the experiences. Or the pure joy, just to have a busy cafe and get to mingle with some of my favorite people, while making money. No, that's just a small, yet wonderful part of my year at Mocafe. And the love has only been stronger than ever, as I near the end of my career there...

It's funny, I find myself thinking about how I'm going to miss the little things the most...

Wondering what pastry Uri (the owner) and I will share every morning..
The gossip sessions with Orit, his youngest daughter.. and my adopted sister =)
The closes with Will & Juan, who always make me laugh..
The creativity of our customers, always making their own shit up, when we have an enormous menu... just sayin' guys! ;)
The times I order what they made up... and it's amazing!
The dancing... and the singing... and the dancing...
and the singing.
Even though we're not supposed to...
Every. single. time. the family reminds me I'm always welcome back. Always.

It has truly been an incredible experience, and one I will always take with me. The people I have met, before the cafe, while at the cafe, and outside of the cafe, are some of the best people I know. Some I talk to every day, some I barely see. But they're all there. Or they're on Facebook... Hey, don't judge me, you KNOW it's true!

And honestly, that's a whole other life I love. It really is. Call it cheesy, or lame, or whatever you'd like, but I have so much love and support on Facebook, and I consider it a big part of my life. Why, on this Earth, would I consider Facebook so important?? On Facebook, I get to see my family every day, interact with them, and view pictures of their own adventures. I get to catch up with old friends, most of whom live in other states. I get to share my work, be it music or this blog, and receive support I normally wouldn't. I get an entire channel of love, flowing from state to state, every single day. And I cherish every bit of it... I call it my "Facebook Family". And they really are. All of them.

With all of this love and support, it's a bit difficult to let one little "down" get me... well, down! I not only appreciate every moment, but I look forward to each day as a new opportunity to experience happiness. It comes in all forms, and it's attracted to its own kind. If anything, I've learned that the most. I don't personally know karma, and I'm not inclined to call her a bitch, but the studies have shown... well, that she is. However, she's also quite kind, should you utilise her properly. I've tested it... it works! So I'm sticking to my "gut", meaning my heart and mind. They seem to know a bit about life... and I trust them. The three of us, along with Buster, are off to seeee the wizaard... the wonderful wizard of a-new-life-in-San-Diegoooo!!! <3

Sunday, March 3, 2013

LA Love: Interception!

So, it's pretty obvious, at this point, that my countdown didn't go quite as planned...

I'm sorry Los Angeles! I guess I just don't love you that much! (Oh, snap- yes I DID!)

All poking-fun-at-something-that-can't-defend-itself aside... it's really quite the opposite. The last few days (okay, ELEVEN days... shhhhh) have been full of ups and downs, but luckily, more up than down. However, the down sparked the entire gap in my writing. A seemingly innocent incident occurred, throwing me for a loop. I'm glad it did, though... I think I needed a reality check to really focus on what's going on here...

So, what's going on?

This time, I know.
I know everything's about to change for me.
I know I'm terrified.
I know I've almost not thought about it, going through the motions, in the hopes of not getting freaked. OUT.
... I know that's damaged my perspective.

However, I also finally know what I want. For the most part... the details are still a bit fuzzy, but that's okay. It's alright to not know everything. It's alright to not have all the answers. In fact, it makes it that much more exciting!! For once in my life, I'm going after exactly what I want. The life I always thought I could have. I may not get everything I've always wanted... I don't even want most of the things I used to... want... but now I know what matters to me. I know what's important to me. And I aim to strive for everything I want now.

I've said it before; I may, in fact, fail. I don't repeat it in fear, though. I say it without fear, knowing that whatever outcome I face, I will have travelled this road confident in my choices. I find it incredibly important to do what I love, and love what I do. And I have, for many years. I knew when it was time to move on... My heart always knows. I just don't usually act on it. I wait... stuck in the same routine... afraid to venture out... fearful of change... until I finally can't take anymore. This time, I'm following my heart, whole.... heartedly.

Oh, yes. Still cheesy. =)

... You know what? I take it back. I won't fail. And you know why?
... (this is where you say "Well, why, Shaneil?")...
Well, class, because it's not about the end result. It's about the journey. It's about the experiences. The people I meet, the love I feel, the passions I chase, the care I give, the world I change... for the "world" can be an entire planet, or the small patches of it that you care for with compassion and love. We're like a giant group of quilters... each working together to create a pattern of humanity of which we can be proud. Each contributing the best we can in every moment we face. That's all we're ever doing... the best we could in that moment. It's not always right. It's not always kind. But it's in our control, and it's contagious. How often do you absorb someone else's mood? I bet it's more than you think.

I've always thought I could be better... Now, I'm doing something about it. In many small ways, we can all contribute to our own little patches in considerable ways. A laugh, a smile, a kind word, a loving gesture... it's all contagious. It spreads the threads of love, weaving its way through our giant quilt of life. A continuous cycle that we can build into something to really remember. I want to be proud of my contribution, so I'm stepping forward and doing something about it. I can't wait to embark on this new journey... I have to admit, though, putting this out there makes it a bit more terrifying... so I'm gonna wrap this puppy up! I could go on forever about my feelings about this move... but the most important thing is, I'm happy. I'm ready. And with this needle and thread, I will sew my love, my strength, and my hope into this world. I will always do my best, and always strive for more. For my heart and soul, and those around me. <3

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

LA Love: Scenic Variety

To be honest, I'm quite tired, so this will be a quick post. However, it doesn't take away from how much I love this aspect of LA.

I have never been so close to so many different areas of interest. By that, I mean how close I am to the beach, the mountains, flatlands, crowded cities, small towns, forests, and so on. I can head half an hour in any direction and arrive at any place my heart desires.

I've often visited Santa Monica and Venice, being two of my favorite places down here. However, I have also discovered some lovely little gems by driving up the coast. It's so amazing to live so close to the beach, and I only wish I'd taken more advantage of that fact. Luckily, I hear San Diego is quite close to some beaches, too. =)

Heading North towards the grapevine are beautiful, rolling hills and mountains. You can find the Hollywood Hills, littered with houses in the lush greenery. Driving the grapevine, though terrifying at times, is quite a breathtaking drive, should you be able to gaze out the windows. Oh! And unbeknownst to me for almost 6 years, if you drive up near Altadena into The Los Angeles National Forest, you can be transported to another place. You don't even realize you're in LA anymore, as you hike along creeks, discover hidden waterfalls, and relish in the glory of nature. Just... marvelous.

The main areas of LA can be quite congested, but I'm particularly fond of some "smaller" towns, such as Pasadena. I actually lived in Pasadena for my first 7 months here, and truly enjoyed it. You know... minus living in a tiny hotel room with two other people, surrounded by hookers and drug dealers as neighbors. But hey, we sure have some stories!

Not having a car the last few years has certainly been limiting, so it's difficult to embrace every scene... seen... here. (SEE what I did there??) However, the convenience of having these options within arm's reach has been a true treasure. When... when there's no traffic. Which... there usually is... but okay, let's keep this positive people!!!

This is definitely one of my top picks for why I like... mayyybe even love... Los Angeles. It's funny... I've been so used to griping about LA, I almost forgot everything I appreciate about it. This countdown was probably the best idea I've had in a while. As someone who tries to stay positive in every situation, I suppose I need a reminder to do so here and there. So, here's to you, LA! 3 down, 23 to go!

Wow... 23 days. Creeeeeper!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

LA Love: The People

There were many reasons I was happy to leave Fresno. Though I do miss many people from my hometown, I was craving something more... one of those things was culture. Now, moving to Los Angeles is not exactly like moving to a foreign country or anything, but one cannot deny that it is a melting pot of various backgrounds and walks of life. It's one of the things that makes this city so beautiful. There are few places you can visit where you can meet so many different people.

I know people from all over the world.
I know people who are still learning English.
I know people who don't know it at all.
I know illegal immigrants...
They're some of my closest friends.

I know people who grew up here.
I know people who moved here for their dream.
I know those following it.
I know some making it.
I know some who did...
and I know some who never will.

I know people who live in the Hollywood Hills.
I know people who live on the streets...
and will probably die there.

I have met, known, and loved many different people here. I have been exposed to various cultures, various upbringings, various reasons for even being here... I have learned more about people in my six years here than my entire life. And I have loved every minute of it. It's incredibly refreshing to be able to walk down the street and meet someone new, every day. I may not like everyone I meet, and I may never see them again... but I have also been exposed to some of the most loving people on this planet. I have written before that I really "found myself" here in LA, but the people who have loved and appreciated me for that person is what I will remember most. The journey holds a special place in my heart, but the acceptance and love is what shines bright in my heart. In my soul...

But that's for another post. What I'm really focusing on here is the diversity of people I have had the chance to meet. Take for example, the cafe I work at. The cafe AT WHICH I work... darn prepositions! Anyways. I work in West Hollywood, and a good majority of our customers are the students and staff from the Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute. Many of these students are from other countries, including Germany, Sweden, France, etc. I get to see these people on a regular basis. Also, many of the jobs I have held have been in customer service, where I often serve tourists. So I get to meet people from all over the world, and even chat with them. It's such a wonderful experience, conversing with someone from somewhere you've never been! Especially for me, having never been on a plane or past Colorado. Yes, you heard me right! Don't even start...

I have also worked in Beverly Hills, where I met many tourists, celebrities, big wigs at big wig companies, and so on. I have spoken to some incredible people, who have done projects even you've heard of, and even call a couple of them friends. I have connections I've never used. I guess I care about the relationships more than anything, and I'm okay with that.

In my neighborhood, some of the nicest people, whom I see every day, don't even speak English that well. Two different markets I often visit are owned by two different people from two different countries who BOTH continually make my days. One of my best friends, whom I see almost every day, can just barely communicate with me. He's like a brother to me, and we laugh more than I laugh with most people. And I laugh... a LOT. =)

More than just backgrounds and cultures, I have met fascinating people down here who have opened my mind to many different things. Being exposed to so many different opinions and experiences has created an environment for me where I can really figure out how I feel about certain issues. These issues can be political, environmental, my own health, my own life, all of our lives, anything... I have my own issues with picking a side (on any fence, really), and having a variety of brains to pick provides information from every side, every belief, every... thing. I love having numerous friends who all think a little differently. It keeps me on my toes, and inspires me every day.

As a writer, as a people-lover, as a person: I will always have LA to thank for its marvelous diversity, shaping me into a wiser, more mature, young woman. Yes, I said young! I'm young until I say I'm not anymore!

There are many things I really do love about LA, as you will soon see. The one thing I will always be appreciative of, and eternally grateful for, is the people.

The people I've met.
The people I've lost.
The people I've loved.
The people I've fought.
The people who lived.
The people who died.
Those I made laugh.
Those I made cry... which I'm totally sorry for! <3

Every single person, every single time.
I've loved you all <3

Monday, February 18, 2013

LA Love: The Weather

I think the obvious love of LA to begin with is... the weather! Known for its sunny skies and beautiful days, Los Angeles provides some of the most consistently gorgeous weather throughout the year. And who the heck doesn't love beautiful weather all the damn time?

Apparently... me.

Don't get me wrong, I love a sunshiny day as much as the next person, but all the gosh darn time?? As a writer, and an emotional songwriter at that, I need dreary days and rain to inspire me. Luckily, LA does get those here and there, just maybe not as often as I'd like.

Regardless, Southern California is a beautiful place, with beautiful weather. We also get some of the most breathtaking sunsets. Without giving too much credit to the smog, I have seen some of the most amazing colors in our sunsets. Pinks and purples light up the sky, kissing the city goodnight. If you get a good seat, you can bear witness to a skyline of building tops and towering palm trees, all lit by these brilliant colors.

It's always a little funny to me, though, how everyone freaks out when it rains or drops below 70* here. I guess we're a little spoiled, but if you're used to something, it's difficult to adjust when you get something else. On these days, however, I smile BIG. The first rain we received this last winter was such an exciting day for me! I actually ran out of the cafe and stood in the slight drizzle of an oncoming storm. There's something about rain falling from the sky that makes me feel whole... like the world cries, too. It inspires me to write, enjoying the company of a familiar misery. I enjoy these days to the fullest, lighting candles and incense, and knowing full well they may not last very long. However, as soon as I'm craving a little sunlight, out comes our notoriously friendly sun, warming the land once again.

So, although I may not be a fan of the weather being perfect all the time, we do get a little rainfall and some gray skies here and there. And as if Ms. Nature knows when I've had enough, the sun always shines on a new day. I'm sure San Diego won't be too much different in the weather department, which is fine, but I'll always appreciate the sunny days of LA, and the dreary skies that poke holes in its perfection.

LA Love: The Countdown Begins

Saturday marked the first day of my 1-month countdown to change... in other words, my big move to San Diego and decision to pursue music full-time.

WHOA! One more month?!
Oh yeah... it's sneaking up on me... creeper.

On this beautiful Saturday afternoon, I was in a taxi, heading to work, when a peace washed over me. I felt a calming reassurance that I had made the right decision, and all will fall into place as it should. Gazing out the window, I also realized that Los Angeles isn't so bad. In fact, there are many things I will miss about this eclectic city. In that moment, I decided that I would have a countdown of my own, blogging style. A countdown of all the things I love about LA, segueing into my next blog. You see, I want to conclude this blog on a happy note. Once I move, I will begin a new blog, chronicling my new journey and adventures in music. For now, I want to enjoy this city for all its worth.

Enjoying this city actually screwed up my countdown already! I wanted to start Saturday night, but my good friend Robert "dragged" me to see Dane Cook, front row and center. (Did I mention we met him after the show?!!) Having an early morning on Sunday, I slept instead of blogging. 'What about last night, Shaneil??' Well, my weekly visit to my favorite bar lasted much longer than I expected. I ended up meeting two incredible people from Florida, and spent much of my evening chatting with them about music.

As you can imagine, I'm okay with missing the last two days. I experienced some wonderful... experiences... throughout the weekend. Today, however, the countdown begins! Starting later this evening, I will post every day, detailing something I love about LA. I've grown in some really incredible ways the last six years, and am eternally grateful for every heartache, every adventure, every person, and every lesson I've learned. I'm excited and ready to move, but also aware of the impact Los Angeles has had on me.

I will not leave in anger.
I will not leave with regrets.
I will not leave a bitter "has-been" of Los Angeles.

I will leave with a love in my heart, a skip in my step, lessons learned, and character built. I will leave with an appreciation for everything I've experienced in this great city. So, Los Angeles, these next handful of posts are all for you, and everything you've taught me. Let the countdown... BEGIN!!