Tuesday, July 12, 2016

SET MY HEART AFLAME / EVERY PART AFLAME /
THIS IS NOT A GAME

(music: Satisfied - Harith/Huda)

"you strike me as a woman who has never been satisfied" /
"I'm sure I don't know what you mean, you forget yourself" /
"you're like me, I'm never satisfied" / "is that right?" / "I have never been satisfied"




What do you get when you put Huda, Harith and Hamilton together? You get me bursting at the seams with excitement, all the way here in LA. As I've mentioned before, I love lepaking with Huda's family because they are so musically inclined and it's always so entertaining and amusing.

When I saw this, I was just so happy. Instead of secondhand embarrassment, I always feel secondhand pride about Huda and her family. Like, hey yo, this my best friend, yaw!

Her rapping was so smooth! I still can't really recite all the rap lyrics really fluently, I keep messing up on some words, but they are so darn cool about it. And this is one of my favourite songs off the soundtrack, with Angelica Badass Schuyler setting the tone for the rest of the badass female characters in Hamilton's life, and Huda carries it off perfectly. I LOVE IT.

(also: Harith and his gestures are ridiculous)

Last Thursday was the longest Thursday of my life, as G and I calculated.

I spent 10 hours in Singapore, then flew off to Beijing, until my connecting flight to LA, which was supposed to leave at 9pm (Singapore/Beijing time) but was delayed until 11pm. So I had 23 hours on SG/Beijing time, afterwhich I had a 12-hour flight to LA. So far 23 hours + 12 hours = 35 hours, and then I landed at 8pm LA time, still Thursday July 7. That left 4 more hours of Thursday.

I had a 39-hour-long Thursday. On the way back, I suppose, if my flight durations and connecting times are about the same, and I lose 16 hours (as Singapore is 16 hours ahead of LA), I may have a 9-hour day. Quite cool, at least I have one less day in Singapore in this year. :P

I arrived at the airport with my family, who were there as they are not used to me being away for long periods of time, I think the longest before this was only two weeks, and this time it's two months. I was quite late in going into the departure gate, 'cos I had excess luggage, and then we went for a leisurely breakfast.


This is from my sister Lyssa's Snapchat.


My name got paged, and I was the last person to board my plane. I can cross it off my bucket list now, and I will never do it again lol.


I took an Air China flight, and it definitely wasn't as comfortable as the EVA Air flight that Han and I took last year. I don't mind hard-as-board seats on short-haul flights, but for a 20-hour-ish journey in a plane (both flights combined), I wouldn't recommend it. :/

I would say EVA Air has more comfortable seats, in that you can really feel some cushion and the couple hundred of bucks' difference may be worth it, so you can actually catch some sleep.


The food wasn't fantastic either, but at least I had a buttered roll. Buttered rolls are my favourite simplest pleasures.



I watched The Lobster on my flight to Beijing. I like some weird movies, like some Wes Andersons, but I don't know whether it was just me being cranky and sleepy, or the movie really doesn't sit right with me, I feel like the movie was just being weird for the sake of being weird. I didn't get it, and I didn't like that I didn't get it. If there was anything to get.


China says "Please lock the door for your convenience", okay sure, definitely very convenient with the door closed.


HAMILTON!!!!!!!!!!!! I have had a few Hamiltons so far.


As the flight was delayed for two hours and we were missing dinner, Air China said they would be distributing complimentary meals to tide us over at the boarding gate, but it turned out to be packets of biscuits. Well, okay... I guess?

I love it when we're close to landing at LAX. You can first see rocky mountainous areas, and then it quickly switches over to city, and it's really just like the variety of landscapes you can find here (I say here because as of now, I've been in LA for four days).



I especially love that sometimes you can see a pink tinge over the horizon. Apparently I heard somewhere that the nicer colours are caused by more pollution, but I haven't fact-checked it and have no idea how accurate or inaccurate that is.



It's still Obama welcoming us!!!!!!!!!!!! I TRULY HOPE THE NEXT TIME WILL BE CLINTON (AT LEAST NOT TRUMP).

The past few days were slightly hazy because my sleep and meal patterns were very disrupted, but I remember things that were really nice and enjoyable anyway.

After some issues with my credit card and Uber, I decided to cab the fuck down to Jesse's place (Jesse was my first couchsurfing host). I was super upset and tired and cranky, so that night and the next day, I think I was quite irritable with Jesse.




He had a cosy place, and he had three other French couchsurfers who were friends and who had arrived a couple hours before I did.

I didn't sleep very well, considering the i) 39-hour-day of travelling and ii) almost completely opposite timezones between Singapore and LA. That night I texted G, because when all else is said and done, sometimes all I ever want to do is text him.



(he was talking about Alexander the Great, not Alexander Hamilton, lol)

I texted him for a few hours before I went rock-climbing with Jesse.


(the guy in the photo is some random guy and not Jesse, I kept trying to get a photo of him but whenever I had my phone, he wouldn't be climbing)

Rock-climbing was actually really fun and I enjoyed it so much. I mean, I didn't do anything at all strenuous but it was a nice workout anyway.

After that, Jesse stopped over at a breakfast place to get himself a burrito before work, and he dropped me off there. The thing is, we left his place at 7.15am, and neither of us had eaten anything, and then after leaving the gym, he placed an advanced order for a burrito to pick-up, and didn't even ask if I wanted anything.

I was like, wtf???? Obviously I am hungry too!!! But I didn't tell him anything, because I was just being a passive-aggressive, angsty, jet-lagged person with no logic in my brain.

Anyway, on the Uber away from the gym, the driver heard Jesse say my name "Sarah Lyana" on a phone call, and the driver was from Sierra Leone, so he thought my name was inspired by Sierra Leone. He began talking about what the name means (mountain lion), and how it represents strength, so I really liked the conversation.

I walked back from Jesse's breakfast burrito place to his place, and I went to a CVS to get a card to solve my Uber credit card issues, but ended up creating even more issues for myself (I now have a $50 Paypal gift card, which I'm unable to use because I can't change my Paypal account to a US one --- it requires social security number and all that jazz, if you're an American and you have a US Paypal account and would like to top-up your balance, please tell me, because I don't know what the hell to do with my gift card lol).

But anywaaaaay, at the CVS, the cashier was very friendly, and she said the lady behind me also had henna tattoos on her hands, because she'd seen mine (mine was for the Eid celebrations). The lady heard us and told me she'd gotten hers done for a wedding, and it reminded me of my conversation with Jesse just a while ago at the gym.

He'd asked whether my henna design had any significance, and I told him no, mine were just for beauty/vanity purposes but some brides from India probably had some cultural meaning in the designs they choose/chosen for them. I thought it was cool that this lady had henna'd hands too, considering it isn't very common over here.


I enjoyed my walk back, because LA is one of those walkable, accessible cities and one of its defining factors are all sorts of interesting characters who make up the population, so you walk down the street and then other people who are jogging or walking their dog or getting their cup of coffee say hi to you, and you say hi back, etc etc. That never happens in Singapore.

G sent me photos of Paris, because he had to walk back home, as his boss held him back and he missed the train.



I like getting photos of Paris, it's almost like I'm on holiday in two different destinations at once.

I went to meet the three French girls (who are au pairs in the US) for lunch at In N Out.


I forgot to order the protein-style burger and animal-style fries, because I was literally half-asleep the entire time I was going around.

The French girls (Gaelle, Amelia and Morgane) were hilarious, they were driving around Hollywood looking for Johnny Depp's house. They loved using expletives and I loved listening to their French accents, and their sound effects. Every few sentences would be "PAF!!" or "BLFT!" or some other such thing, and they played up and made fun of their own accents ("officer! we are from Paris, we don't know what we're doing!") it was ridiculous and adorable.


We went to see the Hollywood sign, because they hadn't seen it before (I did last December with Han). I fell asleep like a baby in the car, and I think I heard them whispering because they didn't wanna wake me up. :/

That evening, we had dinner at a restaurant called Home, afterwhich we drove back up Griffiths to see the sky and the skyline. Gaelle was particularly upset when she found out that the Hollywood sign isn't lit up at night.

I think somebody made a dirty joke about Jesse when he wasn't around, but I don't remember what it was. You can't possibly avoid it if you have four girls and one guy to talk about. ;)

Through the night while driving and later when we got back to Jesse's place, they were sharing their music, and I kept wanting to take down all the French (and non-French) artistes that they were talking about. All the music was very nice, I really liked listening to it.

We walked to Echo Park.


One of the reasons I love LA even more in the summer (I mean I already loved it so much last December but I think now it's even better) is 'cos I love the sun, and it feels super great to just soak it all up, and as sunny as it gets, it still doesn't feel like the sweltering, sticky heat of Singapore because it's not as humid and it's so windy.

I was talking to Jesse, and suddenly it dawned on me that he was reminiscent of Joe. As in the person I have idolised for years, Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I told Jesse this, and he said he'd gotten it before, that he looks like Joe. He then showed me a picture his friend had sent him, and then Jesse agreed it could have been him, and the picture that his friend sent, was the exact same that Viv had printed for me to pin on my vision board, when I wanted to fly to LA to meet him last year.





It was the photo above.

I looked at the photo Jesse showed me, then I looked at him, then my mind was like "get the fuck out" and took a moment, because it felt a little surreal. The funny thing is, he doesn't really look like Joe, I didn't and still don't see it in his Couchsurfing profile pictures. Like, ok, Jesse is hot, but not like, cute-hot, like Joe is.

But then Jesse and I were talking about Joe and his recent endeavours, and Jesse did this whole "performer" thing with his hands, and it hit me again, I could totally see/hear/imagine Joe doing the exact same thing and sounding the same. The resemblance in mannerisms is uncanny. I asked him multiple times if he was related to Joe, lol.

There's just something about Jesse.

I asked Jesse whether he'd seen Joe before, and he's the fourth person from LA to have told me that he has. Maaaan, the people here aren't even bothered!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And I'm flying halfway across the globe to see him, and for what??? I asked Jesse where he's seen Joe, and he told me the name of the restaurant that he's seen him at not once, but multiple times. ???????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm gonna camp there now. :P

Saturday night, two German girls arrived at Jesse's. It was the first time I was actually interacting with Germans, I hadn't met any in school or work, and it's true, they are such nice people! We went out that night, and they were sort of taking care of me while we were out, and involving me in their conversation, and it felt very sincere. I mean, it's not a comparison to anyone else, just an observation on German people (or at least, two German people), and nothing more.

Anyway, Jesse's favourite thing in life is movies. Look at his DVD collection, the shelf is higher than I am (and I'm not short).



Remember when my family had a house, and I had a room, and I had a little bit of a DVD collection of my favourite movies? LOLOL trash I'm so ashamed of it now.






Man, to have half the collection Jesse owns. Or..... to be able to see Joe casually at a restaurant he frequents.


I wrote Jesse an essay to thank him, because if there's one thing I can do, it's write.

Anyway, last night, I moved from Jesse's to my next host's place, further up Glendale. On the drive up, we saw a colourfully lit house that I said reminded me of the aurora borealis (2016 goal!!!!!!) and my Uber driver agreed.

When I got to my host Bill's house, he said the house was The Game's (the rapper). I wonder if Taylor Swift's LA residence is near Bill's place. I wonder if Joe lives near Bill. I will wonder forever.


From Bill's house you get this view. Like what even??????? It is almost as on point as the view from Griffiths. You can see fireworks all across LA from this vantage point. The house also has a pool, which I think I'll swim in either slightly later, or tomorrow.

Bill has a 9-year-old son who is precocious.


He was telling me the names of his classmates in the class photo, and he couldn't remember some, and would have to go through the entire line-up to recall it from his memorisation. Super cute.


This is his toy room.

This morning, I went down from Bill's place, which is really high on a hill.




The American flag above a Union Jack? Happy 4th (+7) of July!

Today I walked from 1500 to 900 Pacific, and I still love love love walking everywhere. I just realised it's the best way to get to know a city.

There's one thing I don't get though. California has all these water-saving signs and initiatives, because they're almost always in a drought, but they're surrounded by water. I wonder if Singapore's NEWater technology could be applied in their case? I mean, I know for sure Singapore doesn't have any resources of its own, but NEWater seemed to be supplementing our water supply pretty well.

But what do I know? I'm no scientist.

I've enjoyed my days here so far. You know how they say you are an average of the five people you spend most time with. I like taking these breaks and meeting new people and mixing it up, because the more people you hang out with, the more perspectives you are exposed to, and you can keep reinventing yourself and your worldview, I guess.

Okay I gotta get back to Bill's place, I might not be able to recognise my way back in the dark, plus I might wanna swim while the sun is still up. I'll keep in touch from LA as best I can, but in the meantime, stay safe wherever you are!

but when I fantasise at night, it's Alexander's eyes
as I romanticise 
what might have been if I hadn't sized ---
him up so quickly /
at least my dear Eliza's his wife
at least I keep his eyes in my life

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