American Shares Unnecessary Opinion About America

Stars & Stripes
Stars & Stripes

I was pretty sick of America for a long time.

I thought, “What a dull place filled with rubes.” I lived in a bubble, riding my commuter bike all within a 3 mile radius in Atlanta, Georgia. My love for California was no secret and Horace Greeley’s quote, “Go west young man, and grow up with the country,” reverberated in my head on a loop. After talking about leaving for over a decade I finally packed my bags and headed west.

My traveling companion and I drove 3,500 miles from Atlanta to Ventura, California. Along the way we visited New Orleans, Fort Worth, Austin, Las Cruces, the Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree and San Diego. During this trip I saw, with my own eyes, what a wonderful place this country is.

You can watch my video of our trip here.

We have so much natural beauty and breathtaking landscapes. So much good food! We have an amazing interstate system making it easy to travel. We also have freedom.

There’s always been a lot of confusion, anger, misdirection and sleight of hand in this country. However the “idea” of America remains solid.

I’ve always loved how Bono describes America as an idea. Our country represents this idea of freedom of expression, that anyone can come here and have a better life.

No America isn’t perfect. 241 years old and we’ve still got issues. We struggle with dysfunction, pride, racism, inequality and fear, but the idea of America is strong. I believe it. I believe this idea will remain for a long time to come.

Without getting too Lee Greenwoody, I’m proud to say I’m an American. I’m not always proud or supportive of the actions of those in our government that represent us, but I know we live in a wonderful place. I implore you to get out of your bubble and see this country for yourself. I think you’ll find what I found, a country that’s imperfect but rich in natural beauty.  You’ll see a country as an idea, which stands for the freedom of self-expression and offers an opportunity to change your life.

Happy Independence Day!!!

June Gloom

Please enjoy this lengthy update from me. I have to tip my hat to the ever-amazing Alison for encouraging me to write. When you’re done reading her blog, please check out my pal Jes too as she travels to Seattle.


Might I interest you in some excuses as to the recent silence over here?I’ve been justifiably preoccupied. Moving and dealing with movers, unpacking and looking for fun government documents, trips to Target, Vons, Trader Joe’s, and the Manhattan Beach Library, and starting a new job, ended my 3 month stint of homelessness and unemployment. I chose to call it a mini-retirement, but let’s not haggle over semantics.

I left Ventura on Saturday, June 4th and moved to Manhattan Beach. Finally the last trip, driving my packed to the gills car, on US interstates. I’d misunderstood the movers’ ambiguous message, thinking they’d arrive on Sunday, June 5th. Nope, they were only loading the truck (my items were stored in Atlanta) which would ultimately deliver the items to me on June 16th. For 12 days a lovely Serta air mattress served as my bunk, and Trader Joe’s frozen food sustained me. I knew when everything arrived this brief interval of discomfort would quickly fade. And it has. The most important thing is that I now have internet.

I looked at a number of places from Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, and El Segundo to eastwards, towards Lawndale. The proximity and convenience of this spot to my job, Trader Joe’s, the beach, and nearby parks, made it an easy decision. For some strange reason not having a refrigerator is a thing out here. Nearly half of the places I perused had no fridge. Yes, you must provide your own fridge if there isn’t one. This spot also has a fridge and a gas stove in its favor. It’s old though. The walls are so thin you might as well say, “Bless you,” when you hear a neighbor sneeze.

Manhattan Beach, and the entire South Bay, flows with money. Every other car cruising by is a Maserati, Tesla, Ferrari, or a Benz or a Beemer. If you want to live near the beach and get a 2 bedroom, it’s $3500 a month. The weather, the food, the beach, the vibe, and the scenery, it’s all beautiful and it will cost you. Some call this cost the “Sunshine Tax.”

Dude it's June Gloom
Dude it’s June Gloom

One thing that is not beautiful is what the locals call June Gloom. There’s also May Gray. In the morning a thick, gray fog spreads out over the city. The clouds don’t leave until early afternoon, sometimes later. Some like it, they enjoy the cooler temperatures the fog brings. Not me, I demand sunny skies and warm temperatures at all times. That’s why I moved here! I won’t have to endure these awful 60 degree temperatures much longer. June Gloom is almost over.

I am learning a lot about marketing, writing, and the semiconductor industry at the new gig. I’m writing press releases again, something I haven’t done since 1999. I’m observing and noting the office rhythms, learning who does what, how do things get done, and which roles the players have.

IMG_9620
My rad 80’s style skateboard from Soul Performance

Skateboarding is something I do now. I even rode into work one day. However I am nowhere experienced enough to ride the deck along these busy streets. One weird move or fall and I could be under a truck. I do ride it around my place and I’m getting better. I’m learning how to stop more fluidly and turn with more control.

This past Thursday, June 23rd, my buds from the rocking Atlanta band, Big Jesus were in Echo Park. I excitedly drove through rush hour Los Angeles traffic to see my pals. They played a very short 30 minute set but those that saw it, saw a tight, rocking band with lots of confidence. To see their growth over the past few years was special. They’ve worked hard and I’ve said they’re the next band to break out of Atlanta. Don’t forget I used to sign bands. I’d definitely sign these guys.

Made it home safe after riding through the rain. Completely soaked.

A post shared by James 🎼MusicianProducerWriter (@jamesstaubes) on

Thank you bike, you served me well :(

While so many great things have happened, unfortunately my bicycle was stolen on June 20th. I locked it outside our office that morning. It was still there during my walking breaks. Around 4:30 I was outside on the phone when I noticed it was gone. I went into the nearby businesses to ask if anyone saw anything. They didn’t and it was gone. It’s a bummer, but I’ll get another bike and this time, a much stronger lock!

I started the Ketogenic way of eating (woe) back in April while I was in Ventura. When I moved without any of my cookware I was in a bind so I broke ketosis and ate carbs. I’m happy to be eating Ketogenic again! My goal is drop my body fat and gain muscle. After I get a bit more settled I find a decently priced gym where I can work out.

Today, June 26th, was a day of firsts. I had a first date. A first Bumble date. It was my first time in Downey (we met there as a halfway point) and it was my first date with a Filipino woman. While it wasn’t a love connection we both agreed to stay in touch. We’d talked on the phone several times previously and we texted almost every day. So I have a new California lady friend!

Before you go here’s what I’ve been digging.

Movies: Devil Wears Prada – This year marks the 10 year anniversary and I’ve always loved that film. Very inspiring.
Eye in the Sky – Excellent film with an excellent cast which asks hard questions about modern warfare.
Brothers Grimsby – I’m a Sacha Baron Cohen fan and this film might be his best yet.
The Martian – Simply an amazing and awesome film.
Embrace of the Serpent – Loved this film about an Amazonian shaman across several decades.

Shows: Maron – I’m a Marc Maron fan and this season may be my favorite so far.
GoT – I have a love/hate relationship with this show. I’ve wanted to quit watching it so many times but then something amazing happens.
Silicon Valley – One of the best comedies out now.

Music: Moz, Chairlift, my rad 80’s playlist, Steely Dan (I stupidly missed their recent show at the Hollywood Bowl)

Books: Spiritual Economics – I’m reading this a second time. This book is packed with gems on every single page.

That’s all for now. Thanks for hanging out with me. I promise to do better about updating. I have no excuses now, except laziness.

Ventura

Just point and shoot.

A post shared by James 🎼MusicianProducerWriter (@jamesstaubes) on

It’s all about pain. Pain is the greatest motivator I know. We’ll repeat the same behaviors over and over, even ones that do not serve us, until we’re in exquisite pain. You won’t quit smoking or drinking, lose weight, change your diet, or quit your job and move across the country, until the pain is too much. Pain is a good thing. The pain of living in Atlanta forced me to make a change and that’s how I ended up in Ventura.

When I set the plan in motion to move to California, the options laid out before me were Laguna Beach or Ventura. My good friend Kelly in Ventura told me I could stay with her while I looked for a job. Option # 1. Option # 2 was a beach house in Laguna Beach. Yes, an amazing option, however the gentleman who owned the house and I played an unbelievably comical game of phone tag. So I chose Ventura and I’m glad I did.

Right off the 101 and the PCH, Ventura is about 55 miles north of Los Angeles. It’s a laid back, easy going town with a population of about 109,000. You can get from the east side to the west side in about 20 minutes, practically any time of day. There’s an active surfing community. I hate to use the word quaint, but that’s how I’d describe downtown Ventura. It’s a nicely manicured, clean and has a decidedly small town vibe.

Driving around Ventura gives spellbinding and breathtaking views. The beauty proves dangerous while driving. I’m tempted to look at the amazing views when I’m driving, but I don’t want to die! At one turn you’re treated to sprawling mountains, and at another, the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean. Leaving town, all sorts of farms line the roads of Ventura. The rows of citrus and strawberries line the hills for miles.

Amazing. Ventura.

A post shared by James 🎼MusicianProducerWriter (@jamesstaubes) on

Kelly once said about Ventura, “If I ever say I’m tired of this scenery please punch me in the face.” You laugh but that happens. Some lifelong Venturans take this beautiful city for granted. The palm trees, the mountains, and the ocean dim from their awareness. Like Kelly, I don’t ever want to grow tired of this beauty.

Until the next chapter begins Ventura is my home, I’m loving it, and I’m not in pain.

April 10th Update – Ventura, Dog Sprints And Interviews

Another beautiful day in Ventura

A post shared by James 🎼MusicianProducerWriter (@jamesstaubes) on

Hey everybody. Greetings from Ventura, California aka “the whitest place on earth.” Sorry I’ve been lax in writing. I’ll do better.

Since I left Atlanta so much has happened.

Our cross-country trip exceeded all expectations. We couldn’t have planned a more beautiful, amazing, once in a lifetime trip. Lowrie and I drove from Atlanta to New Orleans, New Orleans to Fort Worth, Fort Worth to Austin, Austin to Las Cruces, Las Cruces to the Grand Canyon, Grand Canyon to Joshua Tree, Joshua Tree to San Diego, and San Diego to Ventura. We stayed with some phenomenal friends along the way. We drove 3,500 miles.

We saw so many beautiful landscapes and experienced so many unique adventures. I’m going to put together a video of our trip soon.

I’m staying with my friend Kelly in Ventura while I get settled out here. I’ve become friends with Kelly’s two great dogs, Chelsea and Chloe. We go to the park and run sprints together.

Since I arrived on March 11th I’ve hardly been idle. In the mornings I’ve searched for jobs and leveraged my connections for opportunities. I’ve had meetings with some folks in pro audio, advertising, and marketing. It’s going well and I’m hopeful I’ll find a great situation.

After eating all the amazing fat food on the road trip I had to get my exercise discipline back in action. I was getting robust. Thankfully there is a gym and pool at Kelly’s place. Many days I’ll read by the pool, lift some weights, and swim some laps. I’ve found a great $5 yoga class at the Ventura Buddhist Study Center. I’m also focused on giving up sugar. Working on day 3.

That’s it for now. I’ll do better about posting. How are you?