Tag Archives: Los Angeles

‘On the Road’, on the road

I’m unsure as to whether I can really call reading On the Road while stationed and working in one place ‘on the road’, but I was away from home so I’m going to claim that it counts.

It was funny; while I was reading it, I didn’t think On the Road had had any effect on me other than providing some enjoyment and making me feel frustrated with Sal (just get away from Dean, for God’s sake Paradise!) But following the end of camp I spent two weeks on a road trip and, bizarrely, I started wanting to experience the thrills Sal Paradise had travelling with Dean Moriarty. I wanted to experience that kind of wild thrill, that electric excitement, that’s possible only when your with someone who’s on another plane of energy and is willing to live life freely, be damned the consequences.

Feeling so American #usbling #ontheroad #usliterature #kerouac

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Dean is a character I loved to hate. In the book he came off as so insincere, for me at least. I didn’t believe in how he could feel life the way he did, feeding off the jazz and the excitement of being selfish; it was a show, a cry for attention. Any time Sal got back together with him I groaned for this naive individual who couldn’t see that his idol was so selfish and unthinking and shallow. However, some time after reading the book – and I’m talking months after – Dean starts to seem like someone you would maybe follow, even if only for a day or two. It could be almost automatic. Because even if his love for life is fake it must be amazing to be around someone who just let’s go and doesn’t care, when usually there is so much to do and think about.

It is a book that lures you out of your everyday life, making you want to travel crazily just as they did. You want to rent a car and do their crazy route across America. When I was doing my two week road trip I felt slightly disgusted and disappointed in myself that I couldn’t drive for 24-hours straight like Dean could.

Maybe that’s the true latch of On the Road. Despite knowing that Dean’s crazy and will leave you dying at the side of the road (or in Mexico) if the circumstances suited, we all want to be a bit crazier, a little more selfish. We want to be able to throw off everything and do stupid stuff just like Dean, in spite of the fact that being an accomplice – Sal’s role – can be so very dangerous.

(Sidenote: A book that I really read while actually on the road was All the President’s Men, which some may know from the screen adaptation starring Robert Redford and Dennis Hoffman. It’s about two journalists journey uncovering the Watergate scandal and coverup and it really is a very good read and highly recommended. I also reread Catch-22. Damn. That book is even better than I remember it.)

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Leaving Los Angeles

So. After almost three months I am saying goodbye to sunny California and heading to Chicago (on the train if anyone’s wondering). It was a bit anti-climatic, especially seeing as I had already technically left – I did a two week road trip through Californian national parks, Las Vegas and to the Grand Canyon. After 3 months though, you do definitely get a feel of a place.

Finally (finally!) went to Hollywood. #hollywood #hollywoodland #hollywoodsign #touristy #USA

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Its safe to say that LA wasn’t my favourite city (congrats Berlin) but nor was it my least loved (hello Krakow). Instead it falls into a category that is definitely… middling. I still don’t quite know how I feel about LA. Thinking hard there aren’t honestly that many things that I could say to people that I liked apart from the weather, though that makes it sound awful. It wasn’t.

Naples. No not Italy, but fancy USA. #longbeach #LA #USA #sunset #nofilter #prettypretty

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Perhaps part of the problem was that so many people from LA seemed to detest LA. I had a variety of people tell me they couldn’t wait to leave, that they hated their own city, with one person remarking that, “So many people want to leave, they just don’t have the means”. Dislike for the place that you live is usually feigned – many people may joke about hating where they live, especially in Britain – but there was some real loathing of LA from some of the residents. If everyone hates where they live it makes it difficult to love the place when you’re merely visiting.

There is also, I felt, a lack of character in LA. I had never been somewhere where all the buildings lacked… something. They missed a special element, whether that is a lack of older buildings – a difficult feat for such a new city to have had accomplished – or unusual buildings. Even artwork – in most cities there is street art that gives a city a definitive feature. I love Birmingham but it isn’t the most character filled place on earth (not in a good way, anyway). But even Birmingham has the Bull Ring bull! LA was just so bare. It was depressing.

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I did, however, adore the weather. It’s so nice to be able to plan something weeks in advance and not having to have a contingency plan for if it rains. And I loved In and Out, which may seem like a strange thing to pick out of all the other things LA has to offer, but In and Out was like a camp ritual, and it represents so much more than simply a fast food joint for me.

Camp treasures #secretpal #calilife #mykidsknowmysenseofstylesowell #mufasa #dreamcatches

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I think that’s what I’ll take away from LA more than anything else – all the great memories I have of this place. Despite not liking where they lived, the people I met were incredible. If it wasn’t such a hassle what with visas and flights (and the pay for internationals was better) I would definitely have returned next year. As it is, instead I will be saying bon voyage to LA and California for the foreseeable future. I will remember you fondly (though not as fondly as Berlin).

My Fourth of July

As you may be aware I am currently in America for the summer, near Los Angeles to be more precise. I’m working at one of the many American summer camps and loving every second – it is an opportunity that has allowed me to see different facets of American life and culture (take note visa moderators) and meet some awesome people. Fourth of July was for me the pinnacle in this experience so far – I got to hang out with great new friends and enjoy the most American of American days.

4th of July carnival with the best firework display I've seen. Fantastic day

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I started the day at camp avoiding going to the beach. There was a mass exodus of staff heading for the ocean and I didn’t want to be dragged along for a day that would consist only of drinking and maybe going into the water. This left approximately 6 people who stayed behind. I actually really appreciate camp when it’s practically empty as it was on the Fourth – it’s so peaceful. It also means you can do things you wouldn’t usually be able (read: allowed) to do. This time, we got to drive the mule.

It is important to understand that only the most important people get to drive the mule. A little Kawasaki, driving this go-cart is a sign of prestige and a position of power. On the Fourth of July it was all ours. We drove around camp hyped up on adrenaline. We took it to the horses and got to feed and play with them. We visited the baby bunnies at ranch (taking many, many selfies). Half the day was spent revelling in our new found power.

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The afternoon brought a trip to Target. I have been in the US for over a month, working for 6 weeks, meaning 6 weekends off. Last weekend was my first in which I didn’t visit Target. I went on the Fourth for my favourite snack America has been able to offer me, Pretzel M&Ms … and to my horror they were no longer being sold! Why am I telling you this? So if you know of somewhere (anywhere) in the Los Angeles area that sells these incredible sweets, please let me know. I’m in withdrawal and I’m getting desperate.

My favourite food in America #m&ms #pretzel #usfood #USA #campfood

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The evening brought my favourite bit of the day. Some friends and I headed to a school carnival paying $5 for admission; it was worth every penny (or cent, whichever. Still struggling with some language issues!) One Brit, one Aussie and 3 Americans: the Yanks helped us foreigners manage some dangerous terrain – what to eat. We eventually chose nachos and it was an inspired choice.

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The admission ticket essentially paid for one of the best firework displays I have seen that hasn’t been televised: seriously, for a primary school it was really very impressive. Half an hour long and always awe-inspiring it was well worth the five bucks. We were also allowed to witness some brave employees of the sheriff department jump out of an aeroplane, one with a gay pride flag and another with (what else?) an American flag trailing behind them. It was awesome.

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Speaking of the American flag, I think the Fourth of July may be one of the reasons America (at least on the surface) is so patriotic. After a day of fireworks, American anthems and classic tunes, and even a visit from a Californian congressman, even I was starting to feel a sense of American pride. There was a great energy and a sensation of national pride generated by the day that I have rarely felt in the UK outside of sports matches and the London Olympics. This is a day solely about America and this day (and the atmosphere) is duplicated every year. Speakers at the carnival repeated that America is the home of the best, the most incredible nation on earth, and you start to believe it. None of this is a criticism, just an observation. Either way, I truly enjoyed my first Fourth of July.

Edit: just a note to apologise about the formatting. I’m not sure how it looks for those with computers but on my phone it looks messy. Yet another reason I miss my laptop at camp – I have no idea how to work the WordPress app on my phone!

My Fear of Flying

A.k.a The post about how I am totally flying to L.A. Yes, the day I have been looking forward to for six months plus has finally arrived, I am going to explore and work in the USA. So. Excited.

Except that I have also been slightly dreading the trip. Why, you ask? I have a fear of heights, and this fear of heights has transformed itself into a fear of flying. So, if you are reading this on Wednesday, just know that I am going to be high up in the sky above you, fearing for my life.

It’s not that I can never enjoy flying. I enjoy the food on some airlines (Emirates being a personal favourite; as I’m flying with Virgin for the first time the verdict there is still pending). I like in-flight entertainment, all the different films. Sometimes I even like talking to fellow passengers. However, these all serve as distractions from the fact that I am thousands of metres in the air, relying on a steel tin to transport me safely.

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Yes, I exaggerate. But that’s how it feels for me, especially during turbulence, the joke of aeroplanes. Seriously, every time you hit turbulence it’s as if the plane is saying, “Ha, hilarious. You thought you were going to die”. It’s flying’s little practical joke. My sister never really understood my fear of flying, and then we had turbulence on the flight into Marrakech. She had never experienced it before. While she is still fine flying she now understands where I’m coming from a bit better. I don’t understand those clearly deranged people who claim to enjoy turbulence. I think either they’re lying, or they have been on too many roller coasters, and they need to raise the stakes of scary thrills. I just don’t understand how feeling like you are going to fall out of the sky and crash is enjoyable, but, hey, each to their own I guess (I still think they’re lunatics).

I am looking forward to L.A. (so much!), but I wish teleportation had been invented already so I could miss out the crazy fun of feeling like I’m about to die every time I want to travel somewhere the least bit interesting. Just for the record, my dislike of this method of transport is why, when I do any big, world-wide travel, I’m going to be using every land-based transport possible. Hello, Eurostar and the Trans-Siberian railway. Oh, you can get the ferry from Osaka to Shanghai? Yes please. When I do (hopefully) go for an extended travel, the Man in Seat Sixty-One is going to be my bible, and air travel will be the Anti-Christ, statistics on safety be damned.

Image credits: Slow Buddy and Rewardingtravels

My sister has a new blog! Called Carr&co, it’s all about film and fashion, and you should definitely check it out.

Also, for those who are interested I’m now on Instagram. Follow me for some photos of sunny L.A.

I’m off to… Los Angeles!

Yes, I’m off to L.A. on Wednesday , and I think it’s safe to say I’m pretty excited. This three month journey ticks off many firsts – my first time working abroad, my first time visiting America, in fact the North American continent. Even the longest direct flight I will have taken.

I’m so excited! (Can you tell I’m excited?) I haven’t been abroad for almost a year and I love visiting new places, taking in the different people and the new culture. And the food. I’m really looking forward to the food! I have dreams about New York sandwiches and bagels. As New York is the last stop I’m making – it’s were I’m flying home from – I’m seriously hoping the rest of the country’s food is just as good. To be honest, I’m hoping New York’s dishes are as good as I’m imagining and have been promised.

I think working abroad will be different to working at home. I’ve visited a few places and volunteered a little here and there overseas, but I think working will be different. Working with people who may have a different work ethic, views on the world or even views on life, will be interesting. I think it will allow for a deeper involvement in a culture than is usually experienced by simply visiting a country. I found staying with a family (like I did in Nepal) delved past all the tourism, but working is a less casual arrangement. Not only do you have to respect the differences, you have to conform to them. Having to reach standards that can be foreign to those you are used to conforming to will need getting used to, but I’m looking forward to it.

I have a goal to visit all seven continents (including Antarctica – I’m hoping to be rich enough one day so that isn’t a truly stupid goal) and visiting North America will mean I’m down four. I’ll have crossed off every continent with countries in the Northern Hemisphere barring South America, all the countries where a ridiculously long trip isn’t required (though neither L.A., nor Sri Lanka are exactly short distances). I now need to get to South America, Oceania and Antartica. Wish me luck!

My sister has a new blog! Called Carr&co, it’s all about film and fashion, and you should definitely check it out.

Also, for those who are interested I’m now on Instagram. Follow me for some photos of sunny L.A.