Well, kids, this is it. Today officially marks a year since I moved from New York to Los Angeles.
And what a year it’s been!
Since moving to Los Angeles, I’ve lived in seven neighborhoods (Santa Monica, North Hollywood, Van Nuys, Mid-City, El Sereno, North Hills, Los Feliz) and slept on three beds, four couches, one futon, and one mattress on the floor. I still don’t have my own apartment (though I came close that one time), but that will change in October, as my friend and executive producer, Miley, and I will be going in on an apartment together that will become L.A.’s newest artist hub.
Speaking of Miley – the biggest thing I’ve taken on in a year’s worth of Big Things is RETCON. I went from just being a writer on it, to actually invested in producing the dang thing. I’m proud to be a part of it, and I hope our IndieGoGo campaign does well so that I can continue working on it, as I truly believe that it has the potential to be something really special.
Living here has given me a lot of professional opportunities. I’m closer to all the writing fellowships I need to be applying to in television when I’m ready to do that (I didn’t apply to any this year, as a tumultuous living situation isn’t really conducive to writing things for which you’re not getting paid), I’ve had the pleasure of meeting several well-established writers in television to whom I can go with all my silly beginner questions, I’m closer to a lot of entertainment-related stories, which provides excellent paid writing gig fodder, and I’ve had the chance to meet some of my favorite actors/writers/performers in a professional capacity, but outside the context of work (ie: not at a signing/event/photo op). I’m also in an environment where people are always actively making something, so if I ever want to be involved in putting a show together, all I really have to do is ask.
Being in L.A. has also allowed me to be a bigger part of the Geek Community! I’ve gotten to meet popular web creators and go to all these West Coast conventions (SDCC, WonderCon, GeekGirlCon, Gallifrey One) that I’d either never been to before, or that were difficult for me to get to before, and being friends with many of the founding members of the League of Extraordinary Ladies has allowed me to stay looped in to all sorts of fun and geektastic goings-on. L.A. is the epicenter of the geek creative community, and I’m glad to be here, both to be inspired by it and to work within it.
I’ve also been more physically active here than I was in New York. Sure, I did a lot of walking in New York, but here I do the same amount of walking over longer distances. Also, I’ve taken a shine to hiking, as there are so many trails I have easy access to. I’ve lost about 20 lbs since I’ve been here (at least, that’s from when I started counting in January – it might be a bit more), and while I’ve gotten lazy on the hiking in the past couple of weeks, I’ll certainly be getting back to it, as it’s something I really enjoy. I’ve been eating better, too, as it’s so much easier to get fresh produce all year round, and people tend to eat healthily in general.
However, this first year in L.A. has caused me to feel more extreme emotions than I ever have before. It’s funny, I was talking to my friend Emily last night (at a fabulous thing called Ladies Night Out in Burbank, where this strip of shops on Magnolia all have discounts and there are food trucks and snacks and free samples, etc – last Friday of every month!) and was able to articulate for the first time some of my mixed feelings about this city. It shocks me that L.A. is a city that is entirely built on qualities that no one likes. I happen to know some very down to Earth, solid, loyal people out here – and yet there’s this unwritten agreement that L.A. is this superficial, shallow place where how you dress, who you know, what you look like, whether you have a smartphone or a regular cell phone, and what car you drive is more important than your talent, or what kind of person you are…and the answer I hear everywhere, even from people I respect is, “Well, that’s just how L.A. is.” Well, people I know in and around the industry I’ve chosen to get into, anyway.
That’s been the most frustrating thing to deal with this year. That despite everyone I know knowing it’s bullshit, they’re all perfectly content to put up with it because “that’s just how it is.” In my conversation last night, it basically boiled down to me having two options: Play Along To Get Along, or Go Home.
Now here’s the thing. I came out here to do some things, and I’m not leaving until I do them. So in my case, it seems that Play Along To Get Along is the answer. Luckily, I have two things working in my favor in order to make this option more palatable:
1) I Came Out Here at Age 32. Making big life changes in your thirties means you have a better grasp on who you are, what your deal-breakers are, and have more experience in dealing with different types of people. I feel better able to handle what gets thrown my way without being too worried about losing myself in the process, because I came out here with a certain level of maturity.
2) I’m Good At Compartmentalizing. One of the things several friends of mine in New York told me before I got here was that I would do well, because I’m good at “playing the game.” Apparently, I’m good at making nice and hiding my reservations about people. I guess this is a good thing? I suppose it’s the thing that will allow me to survive out here.
But I just want to put this out there. Do not mistake my being nice for naivete or stupidity. It is neither. You have been warned.
And also, I don’t plan on staying silent about all of this unnerving me, either. Just because this is “how it is,” doesn’t mean I have to like it, and I reserve that as the one thing I will not fake.
Oh, L.A. you crazy, beautiful bitch. It’s been a hell of a year. And I’m still standing. I can handle it. You’re not getting rid of me that easily. And I suspect there’s more to you than meets the eye. Usually, when people focus on the superficial, they do it to mask insecurities. I’m sure the same is true of cities. But you know what, L.A? I’m sure you’ll still be beautiful, intelligent, and worthwhile even if you take off your make-up and cry in front of me. In fact, you might be more beautiful to me then. I’m looking forward to getting to know the real you – even if I have to flay layers of plastic surgery off you with a scalpel in order to do it.
Tonight, I’m having a First L.A.versary Party where some of those solid, loyal, down to Earth people I told you about will be joining me for karaoke and drinks. That, above all, is the biggest lesson I’ve learned this year. You can live anywhere as long as you seek out and hold onto quality people. I’ve done that, and that’s been the real thing that’s saved me in this crazy town. Thank you, L.A. friends for showing me the ropes and lending me a hand! I hope that as I continue to make my life out here, I can do the same for you!