Category Archives: Los Angeles

Reflections on moving out of LA.

After years of threats to myself and others, I’ve signed on the dotted line. I’m moving out of LA next weekend, and I’m going through a variety of emotions.

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Los Angeles from Runyon Canyon

I came here in 2000 to attend college in Malibu, spent time in the valley, Hancock Park, Mid-City West, West LA.

I’m scared and excited. While I’m moving an hour away (rendering this post a little sentimental), there is a sense of loss. I’m giving up Yoga Booty Ballet, the Lady-Gaga-infused highlight of my week. And the apartment I have come to know so intimately, with its holes in the wall where the bedroom door accidentally hits it, and the innocuous (numerous) stains on its cheap beige carpet. And the Israeli woman down the hall who speaks quite badly of her deceased husband (and men in general) while doing laundry for her two forty-something sons who live with her in that corner apartment. I’ll miss the view of the Hollywood Hills from the balcony, the one I rarely took advantage of.

And Runyon Canyon, and celebrity sightings, and my “home” McDonald’s. The people I met – the ones I loved, hated or gave the finger to. And the sheer number of times I didn’t feel like I could get out of bed because the city was too much for me.

LA by night

LA by night

Looking back, we sometimes see only what we missed out on, even whilst doing our best to get through the day or week. I did my best; I don’t think it’s possible to live without regrets.

So…who am I now? After years of calling myself an Angeleno, taking a strange pride in being able to “make it” in a city that devours so many, I’ll be stripped of that pride and identity. The city itself no longer a character in the movie of my life.

More than anything, living here has taught me about the importance of relationships. How I want my life filled with more laughter, passionate fights, Sundays without itineraries, bike rides. It’s crossed my mind that I have, at times, used the city as a beard, one that covered up the deeper insecurities I have about finding someone, whether I’m truly lovable, failure. I’m not sure anything will be different where I’m going. But I’m hopeful.

So thank you, LA – friend, foe, dispassionate observer, stranger and lover to me all these years. Who knows? I may be back, unable to resist living outside the frenzied pulse of your gritty-beautiful heart.

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It’s a Match! Why Tinder is the best thing that’s happened to my love life.

Tinder me this.

Tinder me this.

When I read about Tinder late last year, I sulked. (Admittedly dramatic.) Another app where the hook-up culture finds willing participants in its game. Tinder isn’t made for me, I thought. I projected how I felt about myself as a dater unto the reputation of the app and decided I was, once again, left out of the party.

But after downloading the app and using it for four months, it’s been the best dating tool I’ve used, even in looking for a long-term mate. Here’s why.

Continue reading →

Our Porcelain Moments.

Moby's LA Home by night.

Moby’s LA home by night.

Have you ever had a moment so perfect that, when you realize its perfection, you become terrified you will wreck it? As if being content isn’t part of who we are, but a state we must struggle to maintain?

I had that feeling once. I was on a train leaving Paris, going to some dinky town in France (whether a provincial town in France can be called “dinky” is debatable). It was summer 2003, and I was studying abroad in Florence. We had the weekends to explore the European countryside. That Parisian weekend – which included a seedy Best Western, a surprising number of hair weaves (an Algerian neighborhood, perhaps?) and some memorable moments (the Notre Dame and hot chocolate pair surprisingly well) – we found ourselves back en route to our temporary Italian home. I laid down in the sleeper car, my best friend asleep in the small uncomfortable bunk next to me, and I listened to Moby’s “Porcelain” on my portable CD player.

I took a second to ponder if I should let myself listen to it. It’s too sacred, I thought. What if this time, this listen, ruins the times the song has served as the soundtrack to a beautiful memory, a memory I am so chained to I can’t take a risk ruining it? I took the chance.

Starry night. Yeah, I went there.

Starry night.

The curtains in the cab were open; a curious, mysterious moon looked back at me, reflecting small columns of sun onto the French countryside. I put the track on repeat.

We want so much to believe that some things are above the crumbs we typically accept that it’s terrifying to think we might change, look at something differently, not be able to rely on that “thing” anymore – be it a song, a person, anything.

“tell the truth you never wanted me.”

This line has always hit me. The things we tell ourselves – the loaded hue of the glasses through which we see the world – the way we jump to conclusions to protect ourselves. The narratives we make up to tie life into a neat, perfected bow. Things can be so fragile and breakable. Not with force, but without it. On accident and by our own hand. Porcelain.

Moby’s LA architecture blog is one of my safest Internet places. I’m so glad he’s an LA transplant.

Related: A Castle for the King of Techno

How far are you willing to go (like, geographically go) for love.

ImageWhen I was 26 and on eHarmony, I put my geographical distance for matches at a solid 60 miles from my location. You start to re-think those decisions as you get older. I changed my eHarmony match parameters today – I am matching with anyone located in the 48 contiguous states (plus Hawaii and Alaska), who has also requested those parameters.

As I get older, I find that finding that important person has become, important. I’ve never told myself I wouldn’t relocate for love, but I haven’t been open to it. The thing is – taking a look at why we might not be open to relocating is important to figuring out where to go from there.

Deep, deep, deep (you have to dig really really deeply) down, I love Los Angeles. There is a busyness and hectic feeling to the city I don’t know if I could keep up with as I get older, and certainly money and the want for a house will become problems at some point, but my unwillingness to relocate does beg the question: do I truly believe I’m ready to meet my mate? If I knew 100% that  I would meet the person I will eventually marry in a particular city in the next year, would I move? I *think* so.

I don’t see myself living in LA for the rest of my life. I can work in any city. I would prefer to live in a moderate climate, but I think I could acclimate to one not-so-moderate. So, why stay? Particularly when it feels like time is running out? Is a fairweather lover – in the form of a metropolis – a good enough reason to stay put during years that could become do-or-die?

On the one hand, wherever you go, there you are. Would Portland – a friendly utopia even for conservatives (I think?) – offer a better singles’ scene? Austin? Is it me I need to be working on? Isn’t the happiest version of me going to effortlessly fall into a relationship and maybe I just haven’t finished sculpting myself in that direction yet?

I don’t think we need to know the answers, and I think the answers change for us. A lot. Changing my parameters on eHarmony demonstrated a shift. It means I’m in a new spot, and I have new internal ground to excavate surrounding my perceptions and stigmas around relationships. I’m not the same dater I was at 26. Just looking at areas of improvement allows them to take hold in our minds; we can act/not act in accordance with them when we have further information that will allow us to move in the best direction for each of us.

Maybe, darnit, I’m really not ready.

Downtown Los Angeles is not what you think it is.

"For Tunnel Sake," Zack Herrera

“For Tunnel Sake,” Zack Herrera

Los Angeles is a really interesting place, a megalopolis that exploded before anyone had a chance to think about “urban planning,” let alone coin the term. As a result, it’s a somewhat-random amalgam of a bunch of smaller cities. On the Westside – Santa Monica and Venice. On the East – Silverlake and Echo Park. There’s the valley – Sherman Oaks and Studio City – and the Southside, which houses Compton. And then there’s downtown.

Many major financial-services’ firms and other “professional” firms have offices downtown. Location scouts suggest it for shoots because certain streets look like New York City on-screen. Downtown LA is bustling during the day, part of a proper city. But at night? Crickets.

It’s the weirdest thing.

"Bunker Hill East"

“Bunker Hill East”

There have been efforts to revamp it – notably Tim Leiweke‘s hope to bring a professional football team to the city and his company’s horrifically sad LA Live complex – for which Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ Mauricio Umansky sells luxury condos – but they still haven’t caught on. And downtown is dangerous; it’s home to LA’s Skid Row, a neighborhood which houses one of the nation’s most stable populations of homeless individuals.

So downtown LA is basically bipolar, experiencing mania during the day and depression at night.

Randomly last fall I got an email that featured an interview with Zack Herrera, a photographer who worked with downtown LA’s natural evening light to develop a photo series in which he likened downtown to Frank Baum’s land of Oz. (HERRERA DIDN’T USE A FLASH. I CAN’T FIGURE OUT A BETTER WAY OF SAYING THAT SO, CAPS.) The pictures brought to mind the depiction of downtown LA in the 2011 movie Drive; they captured a different kind of underbelly to downtown LA, with their cool streaks of purples, greens and greys. I love them.

The thing with these pictures is…they make downtown LA at night look – well – warmMagical.  For some of us, downtown LA really is an Emerald City, and now we have proof.

Andrew James Taggart, Practical Philosopher, Ph.D.

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