9 Years: A Salute to Los Angeles!
The City of Angels. Let's be real. I've had such a love/hate relationship with this ginormous place, and tomorrow is my nine year anniversary. I came here from NYC fleeing a breakup, stars in my eyes, a fresh start on the horizon. What I got were some of the most difficult times in my life. Still, I have much for which to be thankful here. We'll take a trip down memory lane if you'll be so kind to indulge me.
My best friend Jess and I met up in LA for one week a month before we were scheduled to move. She was living in Fargo, ND, and I New York. We had seven days to find and secure an apartment. Armed with a Thomas Guide (look it up), a Garmin navigational device and nothing but our hopes for a new life, we had our first taste of how shitty landlords are out here (trying to take advantage of everyone, all the time). But I WAS impressed by the size of the apartments and their closets. I mean, coming from NYC anything looks huge.
The good 'ol Chateau Fair in the middle of North Hollywood. We lived here for two years.
I honestly just moved out here to be closer to Tom Hanks.
We flew back to our separate states after signing a decent lease and began to prep for the big move! We held a garage sale to get rid of most of our junk and shoved the rest into a Budget truck. They messed up and ended up giving us a bigger vehicle than we needed, so we took more than we should have. Damn you, Budget.
A blurry photo that says it all, I think.
A home in Venice gave me my first taste of what could be...I told you, stars in my eyes!
I was lucky enough to have a job lined up before I moved out here, so the fear of unemployment that my roommate faced was still foreign to me. I started working for $3 less per hour than I was making in NYC and just sucked it up. My commute every day was over an hour one way. I lived in North Hollywood and worked in West LA. Not cool. Anyone who knows how sprawling this place is knows that even a 20-mile commute can kill you. I did that for three years.
I slept on an air mattress and then a futon, for YEARS. I was so beyond poor. Even with a full-time job I constantly had to find extra work to pay the bills. I handed out magazines on the boardwalk in Venice for a day. I attempted to sell my plasma so many times. I was a secret shopper.
I should also mention here that I was severely depressed for my first six months out here. Recovering from my breakup of a four-year relationship was super rough. It got so bad that my mom came out two months after I moved to spend my birthday with me (to I think make sure I was okay...thanks, Mom!--I was.) I was also missing NYC something fierce. Jess and I spent a lot of time playing Super Nintendo and cooking meals at home. We sure knew how to combat the broke-ass depression.
My aunt Terry and I at Pink's.
Over the years we've had so many visitors. We love when our family and friends come to stay. Especially as the years go by, and we don't have to keep doing all of the touristy things! Those things have a place, to be sure, but if I can avoid Hollywood and Highland I'll do it in a heartbeat. From eating at Pink's for giant hotdogs, to hitting up the great museums, the theme parks, to the Observatory (which never gets old, in my opinion), to watching a movie at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, to catching a $10 show at UCB, to dancing all night to '70s tunes at Good Times at Davey Wayne's, there's kinda always something to do--touristy or not. That does come to my big complaint though about the city shutting down so damn early every night. When a Chinese restaurant is closed by 10pm, I don't know how to live my life. Coming from NYC where everything is always open, it was a very hard adjustment period for me. Still is to this day, honestly.
We are huge Conan fans from wayyyyy back in the day, so for the brief time that he hosted the Tonight Show you'd best believe we went a couple times! Seeing live tapings can be a fun treat for people vacationing, but it's not for the faint of heart. Visiting the Ellen Show was one of the more exhausting experiences of my life. You'd better be prepared to dance like little monkeys for four hours.
I have to say that I've met some really amazing folks out here. While it's true that LA has the worst customers I've ever experienced in my whole life, the most entitled and disgusting members of the general public I've deigned to serve, the people with whom I have worked and the ones with whom I have made personal relationships have been so supportive and have become lifelong pals. You know who you are.
Jenna and I shooting at our local Ralphs grocery store.
We started our comedy series out here. After staying in NYC for three years without me Miss Jenna Jones finally moved out to write with me. We have since shot twenty-two episodes, done big screenings of our work, competed in comedy festivals, made two seasons of our podcast, written shorts and pilots and struggled our asses off.
I've shot commercials and print ads. Auditioned in the most embarrassing ways. Gotten THIS CLOSE to booking some really big gigs. Have struggled my ass off.
I've fallen in love and haven't been loved back. I've had nine years of romantic foibles, but am relatively optimistic about that future.
I don't go to the beach nearly as much as I should since I live so near a magnificent body of water called the Pacific Ocean. The really great thing about Los Angeles is the location. You have the ocean, the mountains, the desert, big-city downtown life, quieter suburbia. I have been able to take quite a few day and weekend trips that have been super fun. Over the years I've driven to San Diego a bunch, Phoenix (to visit Jess's brother), Vegas (more times than I should have), the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Palm Springs, San Fransisco. I've gone on hot air balloon rides, ridden the World's Longest Rotating Tram Car, done obstacle mud runs, gone river rafting, dined in rotating restaurants, ridden a slide on the outside of a building 1.000 ft up, visited monster exhibitions at LACMA, attended star-studded screenings, seen home runs at Dodger Stadium, slam dunks at the Staples Center, watched movies on rooftops, sat under the stars with John Williams's music of the movies playing at the Hollywood Bowl. The list goes on and on. THAT'S what I love about Los Angeles. There are so many opportunities for cool things. I've spent $30 and gotten a tattoo in the dark under a disco ball. I've sat knee to knee next to Shia LaBeouf at a bar and gotten spilled on together. I've gotten in a terrible car accident. I almost cut my finger off. I've met some of my personal heroes. I've thrown some epic Oscar parties and then boycotted them ever since. I became a gym person. I've gone from frigid and scheduled and rule-oriented to relaxed and open and more accepting. Those that know me personally might say, really? Trust me, it was bad before. Now, I can't give all the credit to Los Angeles. Most of that has to do with me growing up over the last nine years. I've never lived anywhere besides Home home as long as I lived here, and a lot of growing up was in order. I spent the majority of my 20s here, and now that I'm in my 30s I only hope that I get better. That I soften even more without losing any of my strength. I know how to do that now. It's not one or the other.
These last nine years have been an incredible growing experience for me. Los Angeles has been a big part of that. I truly believe you are vastly influenced by your environment, and as harsh and rich and bitchy as this city can be it's made me find out of what I'm made.