LA: 19 Months of Lessons Learned

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In May 2013, I took a flying leap of faith and moved out here (Round 4) for a job in the Los Angeles area. I left behind a very good, albeit very safe existence in Denver and as difficult as some of the challenges here have been thus far, I have made it my mantra to enjoy my time in this city as much as humanly possible… Otherwise why bother? Being that the year 2014 is quickly coming to an end, I’ve been inspired to jot down some things I’ve learned after spending the last 19 months in the City of Angels. Take it for what it is. Good advice. Entertainment. Delusional rambling. I’m ok with any of the above.
1. I will never get over how f’ed up the traffic is and how COMPLETELY INTENSE and LITERALLY INSANE it is driving here. You have to REALLY pay attention. I mean REALLY PAY ATTENTION. Oh and you will LIVE by your map app Waze, but be prepared to be led through some down right sketchy hoods if you want to avoid the traffic jam du jour. Drivers are completely zoned out or in a totally aggressive/psychotic state but either way, you have to deal with it. Also be aware of the hierarchy of cars out here. In other words, the nicer or bigger the car someone drives, the more rude and obnoxious they think they are allowed to be on the road. Seriously. What the hell is with that reasoning? Choose to be Zen or your blood pressure will sky rocket. Probably worth your time to make a really bitchin playlist for your travels or start listening to Joel Osteen on CD.

2. Dare I even say this? The girl who LOVVVVES the warm sunshine?? But, sometimes, just sometimes I would like it to NOT be 80 degrees and sunny outside, which is why this December weather filled with rain, stormy dark clouds, wind and chilly temperatures has been a pretty cool change of pace. I have gotten to wear REAL LIVE sweaters and….BOOTS without sweating to death!! Kind of fun because I know that I’ll be wearing my sundresses and tank tops again soon enough! And yes, weather is a MAJOR topic of conversation here even if 90% of the time it’s the SAME THING EVERY DAY.

3. I’m pretty sure I could live happily ever after without ever seeing another new Mommy with her Cadillac SUV stroller running full speed down The Strand in Manhattan Beach to keep in shape 3 days after giving birth.

4. I will never fully comprehend how much there is to see & do here. I mean I am a hyperactive go-getter of a girl but My God almighty, even I couldn’t tackle everything here in 10 years. The music, arts, museums, churches, Missions, beaches, wave/whale/dolphin watching, scenery, history, hiking, biking, touring, dining, historic monuments & architecture, ethnic enclaves, the rich, the poor, the vast variety of cultures, religions, window shopping, celeb folklore, unlimited day/weekend road trip options, exploring, discovering…it will never end. These are all very good things. P.S. Not having grown up here I’ve got to tell you, hopping on my bike and riding along the beach with my dog, soaking up the sun, salty air and ocean views is a pretty INCREDIBLY AWESOME thing to do.

5. Don’t count on making new BFFs too quickly, or ever, but do keep your eyes & mind open for really cool random connections with people. I wish I had kept a list of all the interesting one off interactions I’ve had with people here. The man who made my grilled cheese at Chace Burton Park in Marina del Rey. The DJ down at the Buskerfest in Long Beach. The two men who I philosophized with at Redondo Beach. The street musician at the Redondo Pier. The Indian men, women & children who were so fascinated with Elliott in Little India. And on and on and on. Are there scads of self absorbed ass faces here? Yes…Of course! But if you remain open & friendly, every once in a while you will come across a genuine and memorable moment or two.

6. You will never know how OLD 44 is until you live in a truly youth obsessed culture. Living here in my 20’s I never ever would have imagined in my wildest dreams that at 44, you are basically done. Your business world experience means nothing other than you are unhip and out of touch. You can’t possibly impress a (potential) employer with your maturity, wit and know-how when they are seeking a 20-something brainless wrinkle-free bubble head who they want to hire to kiss their ass and fetch their lunch. And socially speaking? Other than being asked history questions such as “what was it like to grow up in the 80’s,” you are more or less invisible in every way. Damn, even with the knowledge that most of the 20-something’s here are completely clueless, shallow and dull, it’s still a hard pill to swallow when you thought you were so cool back in the good old days.
God help us all.

7. I know the names of every dog in my neighborhood yet know nearly none of the names of their parents. Lola and Athena, Teddy and Daisy and baby Teena, Scooter, Preston, Lacey just to name a few. Priorities. Selective memory. 😬

8. If you like your car, you better hide it under a bullet proof blanket every time you leave it somewhere. Brace yourself for a car full of dents, dings, deep scratches and keyings. People here simply have ZERO RESPECT for your car or any others. Painful but true.

9. Flock to the elders and working class folks. They have brilliant and perceptive views as well as fascinating stories of yesteryear. Much more interesting than those who don’t really see or experience anything outside of their own little narrow world. And sadly, there are A LOT of the latter out here.

10. When it comes to rent, get over it. You are paying for location, location, location. Even if you live in a shoebox. A shoebox in a high end beach neighborhood with fresh salty ocean breezes beats out cheaper rent and more space in a shit hole hood.
I prefer cleaner, safer, prettier streets with an 8 minute walk to the ocean versus the gritty, edgy “uber hipster” or plain ghetto factor of so many of the neighborhoods out here. Not to mention the amount of energy and brain power required to find a neighborhood that you like and can even remotely afford that is within a REASONABLE commute time to the place where you earn your paycheck. I for one, am not down with a 90+ minute commute each way. I simply value my time and sanity too much to do so.

11. LA is THE place to try new things. No matter what you dream of, it can be found here somewhere. Horseback riding underneath the Hollywood sign? Wine tasting while on a rare animal safari? Tango lessons with celebrity dance instructors? Movie parties in a cemetery? Playing at the home of the world’s most famous Mouse? Late night drinks with Harry Dean Stanton at Dan Tana’s? Meditating at the otherworldly Self Realization Center’s swan lake complete with windmill? Dinner at a magic castle? Anything and everything imaginable, and then some. It’s all here. Will you pay a hefty price? Yes indeed. But what the hell, you only live once, so go with the flow, catch that big beautiful wave and surf it for as long as you can.

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