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Costco
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Give me five reasons why I should renew my Costco membership

I’m serious.  This isn’t one of those Top five posts, it’s a serious, legitimate question.  It’s my first-world problem but I’m keen to know if it’s yours too.

It’s that time of the year again where I have to pay $55 to renew my Costco membership. Costco is one of those love-em-or-hate-em kind of places; a necessary evil. But is it (necessary I mean)?

Costco is making its mark around the world. Many of my friends at home swear by it and recently when I was in Australia entertaining a Korean client (OK that didn’t sound good but get your mind back to Costco) he gave up that he has a Costco (not helping I agree): he’s a regular Costco goer, spends hours there and loves it.

Here’s my problem with Costco. You have to pay for the privilege of shopping there. Genius. Whoever approved that business idea really ought to be shot—but lucky it was approved because we buy it and it works. (I’d love to see how much of its revenue is actually generated by the annual membership).

Secondly, it’s like Ikea; you walk in there with a small list of things to buy and you come out with stuff you never imagined yourself buying—or needing. Many people know—or discovered—Costco for its quirky things like hearing aids and tyres, even holiday packages. But did you know you could buy a gun safe from there? I’m not sure I’ve even seen a safe safe but a gun safe you can buy.  I’ve even seen designer handbags. Expensive ones.

(Oh, and by the way, I think Ikea is a necessary evil).

 

Thirdly, it’s a shitfight. Really. No one actually likes going to shop there (except for the converted cult shoppers who have grins all over their faces relishing every minute and every possible bargain there is to be had); like I said it’s a necessary evil.

I go for the catering/bulk size items like giant Nutella (two for the price of one medium-size); meat (very nice); sugar, olive oil and tomato sauce (ketchup) and mineral water.  they also have great battery-operated candles (that smell of vanilla) and Christmas decorations. But with those staples as my list I come out with nuts (they are very good), flavoured extra-virgin olive oil, sweat tops (did I just say that? jumpers), drugs—frankly anything else I don’t need.

I’m not a mathematician by any stretch but I’m thinking if I go to Costco once every six weeks and spend at least $300—$100 of which is on stuff on my shopping list that I actually wanted am I better off? That’s not 100% true if I buy meat then one piece costs me $100 but then my shopping bill climbs to $500.

It’s cost me $55 for the pleasure, plus the extra $200 per visit (let’s say eight visits per year) at $2400 and I saved a couple of hundred dollars through the year buying in bulk.

It doesn’t really add up does it? But am I willing to risk not having a membership?

What do you think? Do you have a Costco membership? Do you think it’s worth it? Are you a Costco lover or a Costco hater? Are you one of those converted cult-like followers? Tell me more, tell me more.

Enjoy your weekend,

xx It Started in LA xx

FOMOphobia
Expat tales, Posts

FOMO

FOMO.  A Fear of Missing Out.  Why is it that I’ve only just learnt this term?  For as long as I’ve been in tune with my inner self I have understood–quite categorically–that I suffer intensely from this condition.  (And yes, you’re right, there’s no such thing as FOMO phobia.  It’s a tautology, you don’t need phobia because you already have fear.  But I guess I just have fear squared and FOMO squared doesn’t have the same ring to it. So FOMOphobia it is).

This week I’m back to feeling like I’m in limbo.  We had a fun weekend with local friends and all of them asked when we were going home.  Or if we were staying.  We’ve been here one year now and in our minds our “LA Stint” was always going to be two-three years.

But niggling at the back of my mind is the fact that we leave LA and Mr H has to find a job back in Australia.  He resigned from his previous role to move–a permanent role not a contract.  So what then?  If he’s happy here do we stay?  Do we want the kids to be educated here or in Australia (hmmm…bit late to be asking that question?).  Do we want to actually live in LA “forever”?  That’s not something I can answer yet.

The intention of this Blog is to share the surreal things that we’ve been exposed to since landing in LA so you know that life for us has been a lot of fun.  But there is a downside to this whole adventure caper.  For me it’s feeling unsettled.

Things going on back home

The minute we arrived home from living in Shanghai for a couple of years I engaged an architect to come up with plans to renovate our Sydney home.  It took two years to agree on plans and get to work on construction drawings so we could start building.  We were supposed to start building this year but then LA happened.  We packed up the house, put the renos on hold and vowed to renovate while we’re here so we could move back into the house all done when we came home.

But who knows what’s going to happen to us?  It’s far too early to decide what to do “with our lives”.  But I want a plan.  We’re paying a lot of money in rent and I’d much rather that money be going towards a house that we own.  We’ve spent a fortune with an architect designing exactly the house we want but that’s the house we wanted this year.  If it takes us another two years to get home (and build) then we’ll have one son just about at Uni and one daughter with only a couple more years in the house.  What of that gorgeous family home with a beautiful outdoor space, granny flat and pool?

Hashtag first-world problems I know but my first-world problems nonetheless.

The unsettling feeling also extends to the kids being at school.  They’re trying and learning etc but at the back of their minds they’re finishing school somewhere other than America so they don’t have to worry about the things American students need to worry about like building a resume to get into College (and we don’t have to worry about paying for it!).

Amazing College campuses

But the other night as my son was at waterpolo training my daughter and I walked through the grounds of UCLA.  What a magnificent campus that is.  There must have been an event on like O Week in Australia because there were students everywhere–many of whom still looked like babies.

Some things made me cringe (I still can’t wrap my head around sororities–sorry I’m sure I’ll come around at some stage but you have to give me longer on that one) and other things made me think that Americans do “College” really well.  (Why don’t they call it Uni given most of the elite Colleges are in fact Universities???)

For example I like that it’s a right of passage–a transition phase–and life is all about “College”.  The kids aren’t grown up yet–they can’t legally drink to start with–but they’re given controlled freedom and are growing into adults.  (Does that make sense?)  The fact that sport and activities are actively encouraged to me is fantastic.  It means they peak at a later stage more in line with their growth and development.

I think at home we’re like, “oh, well done you’ve got your HSC now get to Uni, get a job and by the way you’re an adult; but you’re still studying so you’re not really grown up yet so make sure you do really well because you want to get a good job but by the way you’re still living under my roof and you live by my rules.”  (Or something like that).  It’s so … grey.

That’s where FOMO comes in.  I want it all.  I don’t want to miss out on any of it.  I don’t want to miss out; I don’t want the kids to miss out.

What FOMO means to me

I want to hang out with my friends at home in Sydney and be sitting in my girlfriend’s kitchen on a stool with my name on it as I txt Mr H to come meet me so we can do an impromptu family dinner together and then all walk home because we’ve had “one too many”.  I want my kids to be at school in Australia.  My son should be off on the camp-of-a-lifetime: four weeks studying and doing outdoor ed as they face one of the most challenging years of their young lives (being 14/15).  He’s missing cadets and playing waterpolo for the school and woodwork and Design & Tech.  My daughter is missing so many leadership opportunities including giving her school captain speech as she had to resign from her position because we moved.  Year 6 was a big transition year in her school and she’s missing that special time.  I want them to play Saturday sport.  I want to renovate and live in our beautiful house that we planned meticulously but haven’t hadn’t had the chance to build.

But then I want to be here in LA, getting to know my friends better, making new friends, travelling, experiencing life in an LA private school where the kids are meeting such a fascinating array of people (not least of which extremely famous people we’d never get the opportunity to meet back in Sydney).

I want I want I want

I want to go to the Emmys and Golden Globes and (who knows) maybe even the Oscars.  I want to keep watching movies in Mr H’s amazing sound stage with no one but us there.  I want the kids to experience College life on a campus continuing with sporting commitments even after school has finished continuing to grow rather than be active as a hobby.  I want to buy a house here and feel settled because it’s our own.

I want my Baker’s Delight, Violet Crumbles, coffee shops, local butcher and beach house.

I want my Netflix, million different ice-cream flavours that don’t cost the earth, WeHo restaurants and inexpensive wine.

I don’t want to miss out on what’s going on in Sydney.  And I don’t want to miss out on what’s going on in LA.  Damn you FOMOphobia.

FOMO is real and I suppose is very real for Expats who have left mates at home yet are leading an adventurous life in their host country.

I don’t feel like I really had FOMO while we lived in Shanghai, maybe it’s because we lived in an opulent apartment overlooking the Bund but maybe also it was because I didn’t have a deadline to build my house.  And maybe it’s because the kids were younger so the question mark of uni and where they may call home doesn’t come into question.  Or maybe it’s because I don’t remember, I’ve chosen to forget.

Either way going out on the road can have its challenges.  I guess it’s just a matter of perspective.

xx It Started in LA xx

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