The LA Diaries: ‘Twas the Day before 2015

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014.

Only have a few minutes to down some coffee before leaving? Here are the highlights of my New Years Eve 2014: morning walks, Museum of Making Music, Hollywood Boulevard, Indian food for dinner (delicious) to the backdrop of Bollywood films, driving through extraordinarily wealthy neighborhoods to find the Hollywood sign, seeing LA from above at night, back to Erickson’s packed house, counting down until midnight, staying up late and talking.

After a rousing night of alcohol and conversation (these are a few of my favorite things, especially when combined), the morning still felt fresh and wonderful. Happily free of a hangover, waking up on a different part of the floor than the previous night, my first memory was a group congregating around the kitchen table. The sisters were there, in their blissful Disney princess-esque way, Calvin with his wild dreads and considerate eyes, Erikson with his gentle and giving soul, the Mins (Minsun and Minkyoung) still donned their curious and innocent souls. We decided to go for a walk that morning through the peaceful and slumbering neighborhood, and I remember Minsun wearing my green and black plaid blanket as a skirt, and I swear no one else in the world could make it look as natural as she did.

Not wanting to spend an idle day, we looked up local locales, and one that struck us as interesting was the Museum of Making Music (affectionately abbreviated to MOMM). After getting lost due to a faulty GPS (what did people do before them, though? Navigate by the stars? (Rhetorical question, I know what people did. Simply making fun of myself for complaining about our technology which is so much greater than generations before us had)), we found ourselves in front of the building. Although it looked smaller than imagined, the inside was packed full of instruments of both historic and cultural significance. We took a walk down American history of music, from the proliferation and marketing of pianos to a guitar signed by Gene Simmons. There were many instruments available to be played, which was perfect for patrons from the age of a child to us collegiate types to even the elderly.

Minsun (민선, left) and Minkyoung (민경, right) learning Mandolin

It is simply wonderful to see adults, our lives often stressful as we are faced with college, relationships, the uncertain future, the too far gone past, the weight of pleasing family members, worrying about money, and a thousand other anchors that tug at us, but here at MOMM we were transformed into wide-eyed curious children. Instruments are toys waiting to be used, transporting users into somewhere new and grand, and although the history bit of the museum is nice, the greatest part truly is just being able to play any instrument they offered, regardless of talent level. There was also a small studio for an in store exhibition which took on the question “What does music mean to me?” Philip, my Korean friend (have I talked about him yet? I will have to write something brief, but in truth he deserves a full post just about him and his story), and I tried to record what music means to us, but found the studio worked better to take classy pictures in than to record a message to the world. After having our fun here, our group decided to head to Hollywood.

Hollywood Boulevard, much like many other crowded urban areas, seems alive to me. There is an inherent order to the apparent chaos. Although it is full of tourists like us, it is also full of people who simply live there, and the sights that may astound us are simply a backdrop for the life they lead. The group of us, 9 in total, met up and our eyes strayed from the sidewalk full of red celebrity stars to the growing skyline to the sex shops aside the touristy knicknack shops and the hundreds of cars that drove past. We stumbled along, intoxicated by nothing but the air, and found the stars of stars such as Bob Hope, Edward R. Murrow, Neil Patrick Harris, Lucille Ball, Frank Sinatra, Alfred Hitchcock, and so many more. Kim, whose car I had caught a ride south in, was hoping to find Micheal Jackson’s star, but it proved elusive. We did stop to eat dinner at an Indian restaurant, a charming if expensive place with no other patrons. The dinner proved delicious (although I am no doubt biased because I had been having withdrawals from proper tikka masala curry and naan), and the conversation was lively. After this, the sun had set, and off in the distance the visage of the white ‘Hollywood’ sign was still burned into our memory, and we set off to find it.

Having no directions, good music (Kim has the perfect taste in music to get us through the crazy traffic and socal atmosphere), and full stomachs, I simply drove in the direction of the sign, hoping to stumble across it. We ended up pretty close, but not until after ascending into the hills driving through neighborhoods with narrow streets and extraordinarily nice houses, if they can even be described as houses. Chateaus might be a better description, with their owners no doubt quite wealthy, and who can retire at night above the twinkling southern Californian city lights. We stopped at a viewpoint that overlooked the city, but also was relatively close to the sign. We learned that there are no lights on the sign at night, and so any pictures simply yielded darkness that we would swear is the sign, as bold and inviting as every teenage movie has made it out to be. We took pictures, then headed back to Oceanside. It was the eve of  New Year’s, after all.

Erickson, center, our beloved host

When we got back to Erickson’s house, we found it was full of people. Although it had many people the night before, tonight it was absolutely packed. A table was set as the makeshift bar, and there was more alcohol on that one dining table than I had probably consumed in the entire year of 2014. It was glorious. There seemed to be several distinct groups at the house, and as the night went on they began to mingle more (and, of course, correlated and caused by alcohol consumed) and the house was filled with the conversation of students and friends and strangers and dreamers. Somehow, the countdown was missed (by me, at least, absorbed in who knows what, possibly chatting someone up or trying to create a new drink to rival the success of my first one, dubbed the Rylo Express by someone that quite possibly could have been me. It was the perfect mix of sweet and potent, palatable to those who shied away from the heavy alcohol such as the rum or moonshine, but still wanted to have something good. Expect a patent soon), and all I remember is Calvin yelling out “HAPPY NEW YEAR” in his way. This cheer echoed around the house and onto the streets, like the ripple that ends up causing a tsunami, and the new year was rung in the proper way. Foregoing the awkward kissing (actually kissing is great, but trying to find a romantic partner to kiss can be unpleasant), we just ended up kissing each other on the cheeks and showing our platonic love. In that moment, as in all great moments, there was no walls between us, we were all one, brothers and sisters sharing a simple yet wild joy. A unity was felt that hopefully echoed out to the world, a feeling that I had never felt in any of the New Year’s previous, bliss.

Left to Right: Joseph and Calvin

After, people slowly trickled out, either back to their homes or to find beds to collapse on. I ended up staying up and talking to Calvin, my old friend that I hadn’t really had a chance to catch up with. If I haven’t described him before, he is a kind of seer, a prophet into people’s souls and guardians of their emotions. He is ridiculous, (if he reads this he will probably let out an indignant “harumph” right about now, and pretend to be annoyed), but is truly a great friend, and a man I would be happy to call my brother. Sometime after our conversation, I left the couch and sat at the table, talking to Philip, the Korean whose arms are dappled with several tattoos, each more creative than the last. We weren’t close when we both were in Korea, but I feel as if during our time in LA we became fast friends.

These are just two faces in the epic that is my mini adventures down south. Of course, there are so many more, each deserving a note, Leah, the Canadian obsessed with cats, Dalya, a fellow Redding-ite with a chill and adventurous spirit, Maria, with a fascinating background  and insanely fast driving habits, Iesha, who draws people in with her stories, Dhassie, the wallflower, Sanjina and Joseph, two of the most stylish people in attendance, Herry, the godfather, Totoi, one of my favorite Mexicans, and so many more.

Finally, after an exhausting day (which I would do over again in a heartbeat), I found an open bed in the garage and pulled on some covers and slept a drunken sleep that was satisfying like no other.


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