(This is my cat, Pumpkin, in the car on our cross country drive. She perched on those bags the entire trip.)
Just over a year ago, I moved to California. My company has an office in the East Bay and I moved here to take a new position for my division. I figured that if I didn't move now, I never would and I'd stay in a place I didn't like all that much forever. Forever is a very long time to live in the DC metro area.
I was not prepared to be dropped into an alien world. I consider myself pretty adept at adjusting to new situations and people but I have really struggled with figuring out living here. It's almost like they should give out guides when you cross into the state. Or maybe appoint each person a California buddy who can show you the ropes and answer all of the important and random questions that come up (example: what is with all the double parking? I don't get it at all.)
I genuinely enjoy the East Bay; I just don't understand it. The weather is awesome, there are at least 5 places that I can get exceptional coffee and I live on an island. Alameda is pretty great; we have our own tiki bar and an amazing assortment of Victorian homes. The speed limit is 25 mph. Apparently, I live on the shadier side of the island so I feel a bit gangster when I come from work. The island is both the most normal and oddest place I have ever lived. I think this partially contributes to my inability to figure out living here. It's also possible that I'm trying to hard (I am a bit of an overachiever about a lot of things).
So this will be my attempt to figure it out. Maybe one day the state will take my advice and create a guidebook but until then...