Monday, January 2, 2012

Day 6 of a Four-Week Pleasure Cruise

We four are standing on a section of sidewalk overlooking part of Ventura Harbor, in front of a large fishing boat that's firmly anchored, yet slowly drifts to the dock and away from it repeatedly. I've got a butter pecan ice cream malt, and Meridith's got a cotton candy/bubble gum ice cream malt (which turns purple, her favorite color, when both flavors are combined), both from Coastal Cone nearby. We're right near the Fisherman's Memorial, which faces the parking lot that's adjacent to Andria's Seafood Restaurant, which was prohibitively expensive for us this time. It's the afternoon of New Year's Eve, also Mom's birthday. Being at Ventura Harbor Village used to feel vivid, exciting in parts, with much to look at in all the shops. It doesn't anymore.

Before this point, we went to Pacific View Mall, which Mom wanted to go to as a farewell before we finally left the Santa Clarita Valley for good (It'll happen soon enough, I hope), and she wanted to see what calendars the Calendar Club store had. I like that mall because most importantly, it's not Valencia Town Center, where you can walk around but feel throughout that you can't touch much, unlike Galleria at Sunset in Henderson where you can go anywhere in that mall and feel like it's yours to explore. Pacific View Mall actually feels like a mall, not just a collection of stores separated by escalators. There's Sears, Macy's, JCPenney and Target as anchors. The second floor is wall-to-wall carpeting. It's not a mall for me to embrace because outside of the Santa Clarita Valley, I always feel like a tourist wherever we go. California has that gift, good or bad.

At Target, I found a Matchbox flatbed dump truck, which I snapped up for my working vehicles collection. That's as far as I go with construction vehicles. Bulldozers, mixers, backhoes and others do a lot of work, but generally in one place. A dump truck has to get from one place to another. You can't drive a backhoe down the 405.

After that was Super Panda Buffet at the corner of the mall property. We've been to it before, and Mom decided to go there because Andria's was far too expensive and at least here, the price for all four for us was a lot more than what we could have gotten at Andria's for the same price. Plus, we could all find something we liked there, and we did, save for the hard-boiled egg I had at the end which was in the fridge in its shell for too long, with a gray color around it.

Back at that section of the harbor, after air hockey with Meridith, two games of Galaga, and two games of Cruis'n USA (I wish it had been Cruis'n Exotica, like at the roller skating rink in Ventura the year before last, because I liked rolling under that landing 747 at that Hong Kong airport), I thought about the entire day, had liked what we did, but it didn't feel like it used to. And I realized what was missing.

The many times before that we were at Ventura Harbor Village, there wasn't as much hope as there is now in moving out of Southern California. So being there, being somewhere completely different from where we exist ("Live" is a word that should be used when you're happy with where you are), we threw ourselves into the experience, which wasn't hard. This time, the pleasure was muted, because we know better things are coming in our lives.

Even so, it's places like Ventura Harbor Village that saved me from feeling insane from where I exist. It's true that in order to do anything interesting in the Santa Clarita Valley, you have to leave. Thank goodness for those options.

Real Reinvention

(I was going to write about my mom's birthday last Friday, which became day 6 of a four-week pleasure cruise, but this comes first.)

On the cover of Fool Me Once: Hustlers, Hookers, Headliners, and How Not to Get Screwed in Vegas by Las Vegas Weekly staff writer Rick Lax, a man looks at a smiling woman standing on a corner of Fremont Street against a brightly-lit casino background, white lights almost blinding. Is the woman smiling at him because she's genuinely interested, or is she thinking of more sinister plans? Is he dazzled by her only or do the lights behind her and the atmosphere around them make him interested and he'll find out that he was only interested in her in that setting?

Las Vegas is full of fantasy of all kinds available to everyone. You can find your pleasure here. But as you either go to Vegas more and more, or you become a resident, the fantasy begins to peel back. You come to a point where you have to separate fantasy from reality. There is reality in Las Vegas, but it's more a matter of adjusting what's to your taste. For example, I love Carnival World Buffet at Rio. I always look around in happy shock, wondering if I died and it's my first day in Heaven. But I can't go there all the time. I'd be right back to what I weighed in 2010 and then about 215% more than that (Outrageous estimates are made up by a professional, so please remember to always estimate with caution).

For people who move to the Las Vegas area, such as yours truly soon enough, you can reinvent yourself. You can keep only what's important to you from past experiences, what will truly benefit you in your new life, and then dump the rest. No one knows who you have been. You're free of what you once were, of insecurities you might have had, of what has bothered you, which, for me, is the Santa Clarita Valley.

For the past few months, as Dad has applied for many jobs in Las Vegas, I've enthusiastically told Meridith over and over that you can reinvent yourself in Vegas. We have so many chances to do what we want. But I didn't listen to myself. I thought being a middle school campus supervisor while reading and writing on the side would be enough.

Dad had a very successful phone interview on Friday for a job that has three positions available, and he was only one of three people interviewed. There's a very good chance that this job, which he'd really like to do, could be our supersonic ticket out of here.

This job combines Dad's decades of experience in teaching and working for Southern Bell/BellSouth. He'll be doing exactly what he wants, and he'll be a lot happier. What about me? A campus supervisor? Is reading and writing after work and on weekends and teacher workdays and holidays enough? No.

If Dad can find the job that completely suits him, so can I. I don't want my reading and writing to be shunted to the side. I want it to be the center of my life every day. I'm not going to get that by being a campus supervisor. It's still an option, as I'm keeping all my options open, but it's not my main hope anymore.

I've decided that I want to be a copywriter or a content developer, and I started by applying to be a content developer for The company matches my love for Las Vegas and their offices are close to our new apartment in Henderson. I read the requirements, and I fit all of them. I have the experience, the computer knowledge, and I know I can do everything they want. They can ask for copy in any style they want and I will work promptly and diligently to match it. Most of all, I want to explore every inch of Las Vegas once I'm a resident and this is one of the best ways to do it.

This is the year to challenge myself and go for what I really want to do, not what I think I should do so I have a chance to do what I want to do. This will keep my writing the center of my life, and make it stronger because of it.

I wrote movie reviews for 11 years, I worked in two newsrooms, and I know Internet media. I'm a little nervous, but I'm ready. Let's do this.