Tag Archives: los angeles

OKCupid – do we want passion or dedication?

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Photo cred: independent.co.uk

OkCupid. It’s a fine online-dating service. Free. Not sketchy, unless you’re meeting someone “normal” and then he tells you he can’t drive and “hey, can you pick me up?” and “sure” and then you find out he has gangrene in his leg that prevents him from driving. The gangrene is no problem – the sketchy lie and inability to think outside-the-box (Uber much?) are.

One of the questions on OKC – you answer a series of questions to determine how much of a match you are with other daters – has interested me of late.

“What makes for a better relationship: passion or dedication?”

I know enough about lasting relationships to believe dedication is the answer.

Could the issue be that people view passion as an all/nothing thing? Just like gender, passion operates on a sliding scale. Sometimes you will be attracted to your partner. Other times you won’t. It’s in those moments that dedication takes over – and you find the passion again.

Sometimes I wonder if other daters (men) think that “dedication” is an unsexy answer. I’ve never seen a guy answer “dedication.” I get it. It’s scary to think about getting stuck in a sexless relationship/marriage. Even girls don’t got time for dat. Maybe guys are answering based on girls’ perceptions. I guess if I saw a “dedication” answer I might think the guy was a bit feminine too.

ZjvfdN_QIf you believe recent studies – and Kate Hudson – monogamy is not a natural state for human beings. We can talk nation states, institutions and power vehicles that impose monogamy upon us, but that’s not the point. If you want to be in a monogamous relationship, know it will take work. Sometimes it’s ugly. If you’re looking for the happily-ever-after, you have to trudge through the unhappily-forabit-after. But did you know – men who help out around the house are found more desirable by their female mates? A prime example that demonstrates dedication can lead to passion, maybe a hotter passion than before.

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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.

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

My Minimalist journey begins.

Photo credit: Sketch Guy

Photo credit: Sketch Guy

“There’s a consequence for being over-prepared. ”

I remember reading this NY Times’ article awhile back on minimalism and feeling taken aback. I’ve always been good at throwing stuff away (the consequence of obsessively hoarding magazines as a teenager), but I had never taken time to consider the psychological aspects in regards to how I relate to my “stuff.”

I’m currently in the middle of moving my apartment around. And when I say moving around, I really mean that my roommate is moving out, and I find myself with a lot of space. Perhaps too much.

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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.

Remembering Huell Howser.

through kcet

from kcet

Most people outside of California probably haven’t heard of Huell Howser. A fixture in public television in Los Angeles for 25 years, Huell hosted and produced the ubiquitous “California’s Gold” series, in which he traversed the state in search of the cool, amazing and little-known. Much of the time he didn’t run into the cool and amazing (the episode chronicling his trip to In ‘N’ Out’s headquarters potentially the exception), but he did run into the left-behind, tedious and even sad. It was how he reacted to all of it that was remarkable.

He died Monday at the age of 67. The outpouring of sadness in this state has been really beautiful.

As far as I know, Huell had no surviving family members. He wasn’t married, had no children. I think there is a general consensus that he was gay, but I don’t know if that’s relevant.

I first found out about Huell in 2009, a result of a conversation with my then-boyfriend Greg. Greg had just seen Mr. Howser at the grocery store, and Greg called me afterward with an urgent energy I couldn’t understand. Who is this Huell Howser? This guy must be something special, to make a grown man at the grocery store excited.

My relationship with Huell was cemented later that year when Greg got sick and had to take six weeks off of work. I wasn’t working at the time, and Greg and I spent our stolen, lazy days lying on the couch watching public television. (Greg didn’t and still doesn’t have cable.) We made fun of Huell’s Southern drawl – Kaliforneeya’s Gawld – and were constantly in awe of his awe. He was excited by everything – the butterfly that got into the shot, the people who walked by, the Socal woman who furnished a room using only lint! I remember one episode where Huell interviewed the employees and management of a plant that manufactured grass, as in on-the-ground GRASS, for corporate clients. And there was Huell, in his yellow button-down and shades, the epitome of the invisible protagonist in Eckhart Tolle’s Power of Now, grateful for the experience and excited by everything he heard.

Huell stayed with me as my life circumstances changed. As Greg and I started dating other people. As life threw its inevitable wrenches. I kept episodes of the spin-off Visiting with Huell Howser on my DVR, probably just so I could listen to Huell’s voice anytime I wanted to. I made it a goal to meet and interview him one day.

I didn’t know Huell was sick. I don’t think anyone really did. He was such a fixture and larger-than-life figure that it didn’t seem like he would ever be gone. Right now it seems like nothing has happened, with his show, seemingly asynchronous, still airing in re-runs. But over time his absence will seem more profound – especially the absence of his joyful voice, which once upon a time narrated my life.

Gen Y: Must Love Dogs, AND TRAVEL.

this shit sucks. but i love it.

this shit sucks. i clearly love it.

Travel – for business and pleasure – is kind of an unavoidable luxury these days. Part of the fabric of our culture, and certainly a favorite pastime for many a man with an online dating profile. It’s just not cool to admit you don’t like traveling. So…yeah! Of course I love it!

For me, it means a few months of pre-travel panic. Everything must be perfect – legs shaved, eyebrows plucked, pores extracted, hair highlighted and cut, teeth whitened, pounds lost. It’s anxiety. And when you’re away from home, it’s living in the moment, feeling the heartbeat of life and not having enough “familiar” around you to ignore what you’ve been repressing. Travel is a jolt, a way to shock yourself into looking at things as they really are. Scary.

But not liking travel doesn’t mean you don’t see the beauty in it.

My favorite part is getting home. Unpacking. cleaning. Ah, sweet routine. I thought I lost you!

But your eyes are new too. You can’t look at things quite the same way again.

A trip last year to Monaco to visit a dear friend actually turned out to be my saving grace. After a year at a job that I wasn’t sure I was a good fit for, it was an opportunity for me to realize – I can still function in groups! I haven’t lost the ability to laugh so hard it feels like a 9-year-old David Beckham kicked a soccer ball directly into my abdomen! While my daily routine at home was different from what it felt like it should have been, it didn’t mean I had lost who I was. I needed space – apparently a distance as wide as that between Los Angeles and Monte Carlo – to see it.

I do feel grateful I got to go on the cruise last week, but it’s a mindful struggle to remind myself I didn’t fail. It’s a struggle that apparently requires outside assistance: “Dad –  are you sure it wasn’t a failure? I mean, I didn’t have the right amount of fun! It didn’t meet my expectations!”

We are told we have to like to travel, that everyone wants to travel. That we should be grateful. Well, Jeneration Why, travel IS a revelation, but it’s also a crapshoot.  Maybe we don’t always have to go so far from home to cultivate a new perspective. Or to “fit in.”

Dating: We find what we expect to find. That includes what we expect in ourselves.

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actual title “pleasant Buddhist monk”

“You’re a borderline compulsive liar.”

The words I heard last night whilst texting with the person I have been thinking of for months. The first words I thought of when I woke up this morning.

Somewhat out of the blue, the guy I dated over the summer – the one I thought I was in love with, texted me last night, willing to engage in more than the pleasantries we had awkwardly exchanged over the past few months. Somehow (doesn’t this always happen?), we got on the subject of singlehood. And loneliness. I mentioned that married couples could be lonely and bored too.

His response: “You’re married now, eh?”

“Yes! 15 days!” I responded, and I followed-up with a pic of my unadorned left hand indicating I was, in fact, not married.

What I got from his subsequent texts: this, among other similar behavior, makes me somewhat of a liar. It’s not intentional lying – and I’m not trying to hurt anyone, but I am exhausting. He has to decipher everything I say, figuring out if it’s a trick or a joke. Ultimately, he said I operate with “too much sarcasm/opposite/dry humor.”

I was floored. The texts were so jarring I felt like I was talking with a completely different human being. An all-out angry one. This was not the charming, kind person I had met in May. This was not the guy who brought me flowers and a Bluetooth, because he was concerned about me driving without one. What IN THE HECK happened?

I have an index card with an affirmation/inspirational quote on my wall. In my faded handwriting, it reads: “We find what we expect to find, and we receive what we ask for.”

There really is no ultimate answer as to “why” he and I expected what we expected from the other, but we did have expectations, and because of them, we conjured up two completely different people from the ones we actually are. Perhaps because of his past and nature, he expected that I would let him down. That I would act erratically. He reacted accordingly, viewing my texts through those filtered glasses. I did the same – putting on my he-is-charming glasses, assuming I did something wrong when he said things contrary to his always-charming nature. And I assumed or even expected that I wasn’t enough.

I don’t believe I am a compulsive liar, and I’m not sure there is anything I can say or do that will change his mind. I don’t think he is a bad person – he’s an individual, like the rest of us, doing the best with what he has. But I am too, and what I do with the knowledge of how I expect I am (wrong, good, bad, doing my best) and how I treat myself from here on out, is up to me.

Banksy? Is that you? Street art in LA take three.

kid and his teddy bear

I was getting gas near West Hollywood today, and LO AND BEHOLD, a Banksy blast. At least I think. Another pissing animal. And another statement on the complacency of modern-day human beings in first-world countries. Fittingly, I purchased a number of bottled coffees, a Squirt and a tub of butter from the gas station after taking this picture. Banksy = spot-on.

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