The Teresa Jusino Experience

Create Like An Activist

Tag: Los Angeles (Page 2 of 2)

L.A. Year One: SIX MONTHS IN

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That’s right, kids. I’ve been an L.A. resident for half a year TODAY. As in, my “L.A. Year One” is half OVER.

Holy crap. Where DOES the time go?

Time passes a bit differently here, I’ve noticed. It’s a bit Twilight Zone. I feel as though I just got here, and I feel like I’ve been here my whole life. It’s a strange thing having relatively consistent weather.

The past six months have been wonderful, and tumultuous, and exhilarating, and strange. They’ve been busy and boring. Mostly, they’ve been eye-opening. I’ve learned more about myself in the past six months than I have in the past several years. What I’m willing to do and not do. What I’m willing to work on, and what I’m willing to let go. That’s one of the benefits of being in an entirely new city away from your solid base of family and friends – you get to see yourself in full and figure out what you want to keep or discard without the people who know you best commenting on how “that’s not like you.”

At the same time, I’ve missed New York terribly. I see my friends back home making plans with each other over Facebook, and I wish I could join them. I see my friends and family going through hard times and wish I could be there in person to hug them. I have friends having babies and buying houses and I won’t be there either for the births or the housewarmings. It’s hard. It’s all the harder going through this in my early 30s rather than in my 20s.

And yet, when I think about how stifled I felt in New York toward the end of my time there, I realize I wouldn’t change a thing. As difficult as certain things have been, or as uncertain, I realize that this is actually the happiest I’ve ever been. For the first time, I’m dealing with my life as it is, not lamenting what could be, because I’m making the life that could be actually happen. I’m living that life. When I wake up every day, my life might not be perfect, but it’s exactly what I want, and it’s concrete, and it’s real, and it’s mine.

There’s a lot that’s wrong with L.A. (don’t even get me started on their backwards public transportation system), but the thing that’s most right is the way the city allows you to create your life out of thin air. New York may be the “concrete jungle where dreams are made of” (look into correct use of prepositions, Alicia Keys), but Los Angeles gives you the permission and resources to build your own dreams. Right now, that’s exactly what I need.

Thank you, Los Angeles! And thank you to all of my West Coast friends! 🙂

GEEK GIRL TRAVELER: “Nobody” Walks in L.A. [REPRINT]

Do I look like “nobody” to YOU?

Traveling to Los Angeles? Worried about getting around without a car? Not looking forward to spending the cash to rent one? Fret not. Geek Girl Traveler offers weary wanderers words of hope (while providing a PSA to folks who live in Los Angeles)! Check out this video (notes and photos below):

Notes:

  • A downfall I forgot to mention in the video is that you have to pay every single time you ride a bus or train. There aren’t any free transfers (you might wanna take a cue from NYC on this one, L.A.). So, each ride is $1.00/$1.50, but you’ll have to pay that 2-3 times depending on where you’re going. Metro buses/trains are $1.50, DASH buses are 50 cents, The Big Blue Bus is $1.00, and the Culver City Bus is $1.00
  • Info on Metro/Metrolink.
  • Info on LADOT/DASH.
  • Info on The Big Blue Bus (Santa Monica).
  • Info on Culver City Bus.
  • To plan your trips, visit HopStop. You can also plan trips through Google Maps, obviously, but since HopStop’s specifically designed for public transportation, I find it works better and is easier to navigate/read. Just my humble Geek Girl Traveler opinion.

Entrance to the North Hollywood Red Line subway station.

Clearly, SOMEBODY Walks In L.A.

Woodman Bus Station, Van Nuys.

Metro Red Line.

Metro Red Line/Purple Line platform, Union Station.

Metro Red Line/Purple Line platform.

Union Station tunnel.

Metro Red Line, Union Station.

Union Station

Union Station

People exiting the North Hollywood Red Line Station.

**NOTE (10/14/12): The Geek Girl Traveler Twitter and Facebook page are no longer active. The ONLY place to find my Geek Girl Traveler articles now is here at the Teresa Jusino Experience, at my personal Twitter (@teresajusino), or at my Facebook page (facebook.com/TeresaJusinoExperience)! The email address for tips, however, IS STILL ACTIVE (geekgirltraveler[at]gmail[dot]com)! So, email away!**

GEEK GIRL TRAVELCAM: The Magic Castle [REPRINT]

Rough and tumble guerrilla travel videos are where it’s at! Though if I really wanted to be guerrilla about it, I would’ve sneaked a camera into The Magic Castle and gotten some footage. But that would have been wrong.

Besides, I respect the places I visit. While I do, in part, travel for you, to inform you of some fabulous geeky places to visit (and help you steer clear of the not-so-fabulous ones), I – more importantly – travel for me, and I’m not about to get kicked out of somewhere fun just to get you some video footage. So there.

******

Magic must to be a West Coast thing. I remember when I used to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer when it was on television back when I was living in New York, and one of the major locations for the Scoobies was, of course, Sunnydale’s The Magic Box, the magic shop eventually owned by Giles where the gang would meet up in Seasons 5 and 6. I remember watching and thinking, “Um, do magic shops actually exist anymore?” It seemed so old-timey. Then I became a fan of Neil Patrick Harris, and as I started reading interviews with him, he would talk about magic and magic shows and being a magician all the time. I was all, “Wha?” Magic certainly isn’t a New York thing at all. I mean, obviously big-name magicians play New York all the time. And, of course, there are children’s parties. Aaand, that’s it. It’s not a particularly popular hobby. Then I moved to California, and it seems like you can’t swing a cat without hitting a magic shop, or some kind of magic performance establishment. When I lived in Santa Monica for the first three weeks I was here, I would always pass by Magicopolis whenever I was walking around near the 3rd Street Promenade. I remember passing it and thinking, “Wait, so people actually do magic seriously here?”

Weird. 🙂

Well, last night, I had the opportunity to visit the Los Angeles mecca for the magical arts, The Magic Castle. It’s an exclusive, members-only club, and in order to get in you need to either be a member magician, or attend as the guest of a member magician. (In my case, I was the guest of a guest of a member magician) The dress code is strictly swank, and upon entering the Castle, it feels a bit like stepping back in time. Though it opened in 1963, The Magic Castle feels much older, seeming more like a Victorian-era social club than a modern magic school. Yet, that’s exactly what it is. In addition to being a world-renowned clubhouse for 5,000 member magicians, it’s also the home of the Academy of Magical Arts, a non-profit organization devoted to teaching and furthering the art of magic.

As I walked around the jovially jumbled Castle, photos and caricatures of magicians past and present graced the walls. Magical memorabilia (ventriloquist dummies, various magical props, a pool table used by W.C. Fields, etc) sat in glass cases, and dapper gentlemen at tables scattered throughout the establishment entertained those waiting for magic acts in one of the Castle’s four performance spaces with slights of hand. There’s a feeling of history there; a history I had never thought to explore before, but was fascinating once I was immersed in it.

Sadly, due to a fire at the Castle this past Halloween, most of the Castle was closed for renovations, so I only got to see a small portion of the place. While I didn’t get to see the large dining room, the library, the ballroom, or Irma, the Castle’s resident ghost who plays any song you request on piano, I did get to see a show in the intimate Parlour of Prestidigitation (where I also enjoyed a drink, thanks to waitress service!), enjoy a drink at the bar, and get scared by a skeleton in a phone booth. Yeah, that happened.

My group and I were there to see Dave Cox, who is not only an excellent magician, but a funny one! He’s so good, he can have random people do his magic for him with nothing but the help of an Evil Hypnotist (Stuffed) Monkey. Seriously, he threw his deck to a random person in the audience, chose another random person from the audience to come up on stage, and had the woman on stage guess the card that the guy in the audience randomly selected from the deck. No, they weren’t audience plants. I mean, obviously there’s a trick to it, but that wasn’t it. That would be too easy… 🙂 His whole act was pretty damned incredible.

So it was a treat for my group and I to sit with him at one of the tables out in the lobby and have him do card tricks just for us. For one, he had one of my party holding her hand over what she thought was the 6 of hearts through another trick entirely, only to come back to her and reveal that someone else’s card had found its way under her hand and it was now the 7 of diamonds. That one kind of blew our minds a little. The other was when he and my friend, Alex, split the deck and shuffled, shuffled, shuffled them only to have the cards Dave dealt come up all Kings and the cards Alex dealt come up all Aces. WHAT?! But….HUH?! 🙂

I can’t really do the tricks justice in print, so you’ll just have to go to Dave’s website for some quality video of his work.

If you find yourself in Los Angeles, and have any sort of an in to The Magic Castle, I highly recommend you take it. It’s an excuse to get gussied up, and it’s a truly unique, fun night out. I plan on trying to go back in January once the Castle is fully renovated. If I see Irma, I’ll tell her you say hello!

**NOTE (10/14/12): The Geek Girl Traveler Twitter and Facebook page are no longer active. The ONLY place to find my Geek Girl Traveler articles now is here at the Teresa Jusino Experience, at my personal Twitter (@teresajusino), or at my Facebook page (facebook.com/TeresaJusinoExperience)! The email address for tips, however, IS STILL ACTIVE (geekgirltraveler[at]gmail[dot]com)! So, email away!**

Occupy L.A. Day 2: Teresa’s First Revolutionary Sleepover

 

My first time in a tent. Also, my first time sleeping on the street.

I’ve never been camping before. Crazy, then, that the first time I’m camping out, I’m doing it on a sidewalk in Los Angeles. The things I do for a cause I believe in.

I participated in Day 2/Day 3 of Occupy L.A. spending the night on the sidewalk in front of City Hall on Sunday night. Got there just in time to catch the middle of the daily General Assembly meeting where everyone discusses the issues that matter to them and decide how the group is going to move forward. It was my first experience with Collective Thinking and People’s Assemblies, and it was really interesting. There are different committees that have formed based on things that need to be taken care of – Logistics, Action, Media, Print, etc – and each committee chooses representatives to report to the collective and takes turns making announcements. There’s an Open Mic for anyone who wants to to make proposals to the group. And everything is voted on by the entire group. Time consuming? Sure. Fraught with tension? No doubt – but so’s any decision-making process that involves, you know, human beings with different personalities. However, I was impressed by how well it actually works. Kinks are still being worked out – it was only Day 2 when I arrived, after all – but this is a decision making process that can and is working. Proceedings are run, and votes are taken, using hand signals: Agree/Support (jazz hands in the air!), Disagree (hand waved in front of your face), Hard Block (not only disagree, but this is funamentally antithetical to solidarity and the good of the occupation), You’re Repeating Yourself (move your index fingers in circles around each other), and We’ve Gotta Move On (waving arms in the air). It’s highly visual, and whenever there are Hard Blocks, the issue is tabled for another time. This way, no decision is made that any member of the group is totally against. Minor disagreements are worked through. More people are heard, and everything is done in the open, so there’s transparency. People have been skeptical about the lack of leadership in the occupation, but when everyone’s head is in the same place, there’s no need for one leader.

Los Angeles City Hall at night.

My first glimpse of the crowd on the City Hall lawn.

General Assembly

I'm not a fan of people wearing masks. We have nothing to hide, and masks make us look like criminals. But I'm down with the sentiment of the sign.

This girl was crying, caught up in the spirit of the moment. She was a great speaker who reminded the group that in-fighting is exactly the thing that will tear a movement like this apart. She successfully diffused a tense moment. Love her.

There are people that have taken the lead on certain things, as is natural when certain people are better at certain things. Someone has to start the actions off, right? But it’s all done in the spirit of “We’re not leading, we’re doing what needs doing without waiting for someone else to start.” And there is a difference. I’ll admit, when I first signed up for the Media Team, I got annoyed at first, because every time I offered my help, and things seemed to already “be covered”, it felt like I was being slighted or left out. What it took me a minute to realize was that everyone was just doing things they needed to do, and doing the stuff they knew they could do, without needing direction. There is such a sense of trust. Once I realized I could do that – once I realized all I had was freedom to help in any way I liked – I just started moving tables and chairs, being a liason between the mainstream press that came to cover us and the rest of the media team, cleaning up, whatever needed doing. As people saw me doing stuff, they asked me to do other stuff. Everyone trusts everyone to know what they’re doing – all you have to do is show that you trust yourself to know what you’re doing. It’s the kind of work environment that everyone wishes they had, but most people don’t.

Banner/Print Central.

Food Not Bombs is an organization that provides free, vegan meals for people in cities all over the country! Check them out at http://www.foodnotbombs.net

Food area at Occupy L.A. Garbage area even includes a composting can. Of course. 🙂

Random people just drove up and donated cases of water!

Wanna send a donation of food, camping stuff, clothes to layer? There IS an Occupy L.A. address! See the bottom of this flyer.

And, of course, all of this is happening in the shadow of myriad financial institutions, including Wells Fargo.

Once the General Assembly was over, the tensions of taking care of biddness gave way to a more celebratory atmosphere. A Latin-influenced drum circle formed in the middle of the park, and a whole bunch of people started dancing. Across the way, another group of Mexican musicians, with guitars, mostly, were playing different – but equally celebratory – music. There was socializing and commiserating.

Drums and dancing!

Guitars and dancing!

Saw this on a tree. People had been adding things to it all night.

This was my favorite, and the most in line with why I'm participating in Occupy L.A. at all.

Then, at 10:00PM, we had to start moving off the lawn and onto the sidewalk. Legally, we can be in City Hall park until 10:30PM. Then we have until 6AM to be on the sidewalk, when it is illegal for us to be there. So, nightly, there’s this dance from the lawn to the sidewalk and back again. Yeah, it’s a pain – but the occupation isn’t about breaking the law for the sake of breaking the law. All of the occupations all over the country are about non-violence, and excersising our LEGAL right to protest. The arrests in NYC are questionable, the macings unacceptable. Most of those arrested were arrested for no real reason, and most people participating in these occupations are doing so peacefully and legally. In fact, over at Occupy L.A. we conceded the front lawn on Day 3 and moved camp to the opposite side of the park, because a film shoot had a legal permit for the front that day long before Occupy L.A. was even a thing. There were one or two people who advocated staying on the front lawn anyway, but they were quickly outvoted. There is a time and a place for civil disobedience. This wasn’t it. To call every time you break a law “civil disobedience” is to remove power from the act.

Evening location of the Media Tent.

Campers near me busted out guitars and started singing songs. Which was nice - to a point. Note: if you actually want to get SLEEP as you're occupying, invest in ear plugs. Because people will be up all. Night. Long.

I was camping out with my friend, Mike, and he laughed and took pictures as I attempted to start putting together his tent. I’d never put up a tent before. Clearly, I’m not much of an outdoor girl, but I’m learning! 🙂 Concrete isn’t the most comfy sleeping surface ever, but I was so exhausted it didn’t even matter. Once we set up camp, I started talking to the folks around our tent. I spoke to a female high school student named Kim, who was occupying with her friends. She goes to a charter school where she does independent study and is only required to report to school an hour a day, and she chose to spend the rest of her free time occupying! Anyone who says that teenagers are apathetic needs to check this girl out! 🙂 Her parents fully support her decision (respecting her ideals – huh, must be how they raised such a smart, free-thinking daughter!), and she was sitting on the concrete next to my tent doing her homework! I spoke to a young man named Colin, who’d spent some time in the Army, but is now headed to UConn to study journalism next year. We talked baseball and the military, and about the fact that not everyone in the military is a mindless drone. I spoke to a couple, Adam and Heidi, who brought up the interesting point that this is the first time since Teddy Roosevelt and the progressive movement then that a revolution has used economic language. Really cool folks. Some might think that sleeping out on a sidewalk would be scary, but I felt nothing but safe.

"I'm gonna put together a tent!"

"OK, so there are these sticks....and, um...this tent thing....and, um...."

Also, I need to shout-out the LAPD. They were there to protect us. They were on our side. There was a minimal presence, and those that were there were there to keep us safe. There was this one crazy-looking homeless dude who wasn’t part of our group, and the cops gently escorted him away to keep him from taking (or peeing on) our stuff. Some of us talked to the officers and they totally believe in everything we stand for.

I never thought I’d say this, but apparently the NYPD could learn a thing or two from the LAPD. I’m sure there are wonderful cops who get it in NYC, too. But the bad ones are getting all the press.

Not everyone had a tent. Some were perfectly happy to sleep out in the open.

Thank goodness for the weather out here! But don't worry, Occupy Wall Street! We're getting together donations of warm clothes, blankets, etc to send your way!

5AM violin wake-up call.

The next morning, mainstream press finally decided to show up. KTLA – Channel 5 was the first on the scene, and they started doing live breaks from our site as early as 6:30AM. Other news outlets followed. I got to talking to Jennifer, the reporter from KTLA, and her camera woman (whose name I sadly forget – she was really cool), as well as Peter, the reporter from KNX1070 Talk Radio (a really smart older man who wanted nothing more than to school the young whippersnappers about what revolution really is!). I also talked to a reporter from Fox local news, a guy named Ramon, who was really sweet. They all seemed to be in our corner, and wanted to give us coverage. What’s interesting – and I’m going to write a separate piece about media – was that they, too, seemed like victims of their coprprate bosses. They’re not the enemy. They, too, are the 99%.

KTLA was first on the scene!

Mainstream Media and Occupation Media: Can they work together?

ABC 7 joined later!

 

Then KNX1070 Talk Radio showed up! I think Univision was there, too, but I didn't see where they parked their truck. Just saw the reporter and the camera guy.

 

Mike and I ended up giving short interviews to KTLA before we had to leave. He had work that morning, and I had no way of getting back home as he was my ride. Plus, I wasn’t really prepared to camp out that night. It was all very impromptu. But I will be back! I’m also hoping to check out Occupy Seattle when I’m there next week. Once I realized that so few of my friends know that this is going on because much of mainstream media isn’t covering it, I realized that one of the best ways I could help the cause was to use my skills to write about what’s going on. I will continue to do just that. Until next time, everyone! Become aware, educate yourself, and join the occupation any way you can! It isn’t just you – it’s the whole world.

Members of the Media Team being interviewed by KTLA.

Mike and I being interviewed by KTLA. Photo by Dustin Downing.

 

Morning Over Occupation. The view from the City Hall lawn at Main Street and Temple. Across from the Court House.

Why Bother?: Why I’m Occupying L.A.

When I first heard about Occupy Wall Street, I hemmed and hawed for days about whether I should get involved. While I might seem like a bleeding-heart lefty crazy to some people, I’m mostly pretty moderate. Liberal, for sure (very liberal, depending on the issue), but I generally don’t give opinions on any issue based on one platform or another. Whenever I’ve seen globalization protests before, I was always all “Great. Everything is wrong. What’s this going to do about it?”

A lot of you haven’t even heard about Occupy Wall Street. I was surprised to find out today that a friend didn’t really know about what OWS or Occupy L.A. was save for my posts on Facebook. Mainstream media is doing a great job of either not giving the occupation attention at all, or making it look like it’s just a fringe thing run by dirty hippies. The truth is, it’s not a fringe movement. As you can see over at Occupy Together, it’s everywhere, and people from all walks of life, in all sorts of financial circumstances all over the world are involved. You may have heard about the revolutions in Tunisia, in Egypt, the protests in the UK…this is a natural progression and extension of those things. Average, normal, hard-working people the world over are pissed. And for the first time in a long time, they’re voicing that anger en masse.

Why bother?

The biggest criticism of the occupation so far – in addition to the fact that protesters could stand to present themselves a bit better – is that there’s been no clear “goal.” What’s the goal of this protest? What’s the desired effect of the occupation? When will it be over? (because everyone would like to get back to their regularly scheduled apathy, thankyouverymuch) Today, OWS released an agreed-upon statement of goals. All of which are valid and worthwhile. Still, it had the feeling of trying to appease detractors.

The thing is, to ask “what’s the goal?”; to withhold your involvement until you hear a specific goal that would solve all the problems caused by our government and the corporations who run it is to miss the real goal of the occupation entirely.

Today, a photo is going around FB, a screencap of the New York Times website where you see two different versions – 20 mins apart – of their post about the recent arrest of 700-800 people at the Brooklyn Bridge. The first version reports that protesters were allowed onto the bridge by police only to be penned in and arrested. 20 mins later, the wording of the article changed, making it sound like the people weren’t allowed on the bridge in the first place, and calling it a “tense showdown” between the people and police. Now, I wasn’t there, but the reports I’m getting from people who were there is that there was no “tense showdown.” First, the people thought they were able to protest there, then they were getting arrested.

I bring this up, because it’s the kind of thing that happens all the time. Media, kowtowing to corporate pressure, alters things just slightly enough so that, if you’re not paying attention, you don’t notice. Corporate America’s hold on us is so insidious, that things that are truly protected by the Constitution – like freedom of the press – are compromised. And no one questions it. And regardless of where you stand on the political spectrum, these are things that should always be questioned.

What’s the goal of the occupation? To make average people care – not just the intellectual elite, not just the rich. Everyone –  to make them aware, and make them act. Occupation is just the first of a million steps that needs to be taken to solve the problems we face. But this is the first time in a long time that the whole world is awake and complaining. Now is the time to take advantage of the momentum by adding your voice. How long will the occupation go on?

As long as it takes for you, and you, and YOU, and especially you, to care enough to join in and do something.

The way I see it, this occupation is about making the average person see things the way they are, and not simply swallow the things they’ve been told. It’s about lifting us all out of apathy. It’s about shaking us awake enough to ask questions and not just accept that the 9-5 cubicle grind, credit scores, and massive interest is the way it is. Asking us for specific solutions to these complex problems is a diversionary tactic. It’s not our job to come up with these solutions. We vote for people to do this work for us. To represent us. We vote for people supposedly better-suited to solve these problems to do that, and protect us. Asking us to solve these problems is silly, because what we’re asking for is for our government to do their job! It is their job to protect us from corporate interests. We should not be forced to protect ourselves individually. If that were the case, there’s no point to government at all.  They have not been doing their job. Governments the world over have stopped doing their job, and this occupation is about reminding them what their job is, and to whom they are truly beholden. This is why, right now, numbers are important. Noise is important. That is the goal. To inspire our other to learn and act and get involved, and to use one strong voice to remind goverment of their job.

So, this occupation will end when YOU’RE involved.

Tonight, I’m going to camp out with some friends at Occupy L.A. I don’t camp out lightly. 🙂 If you want to look into the movement, check out the following websites:

Occupy Wall Street

Occupy Los Angeles

Occupy Together (a central hub for all the cities involved worldwide)

Look into it. Even if you can’t be a physical presence, you can make your support known in other ways. Send necessary supplies to those camping out. Write about it. Talk about it with your friends. Attack your social media platforms with information, links, pictures and posts. The media isn’t reporting the whole story. It’s up to us to spread the message.

And it’s worth it. Because I’m tired of hearing, Well, that’s just the way it is. That answer just isn’t good enough anymore.

Why am I Occupying L.A? Because it isn’t just me. It isn’t just L.A. It isn’t even just the United States. It’s the whole world. If you believe the world can and should be better – you’re not alone! It’s not about politics. It’s about people like us.

L.A. Year One: One Month In

The cast/crew of Husbands (husbandstheseries.com): Jane Espenson, Cheeks, Jeff Greenstein, Sean Hemeon, and Alessandra Torresani at the sneak peek of Husbands at Meltdown Comics 9/12

Husbands director, Jeff Greenstein, and Exec. Producer, Jane Espenson

I have officially been in L.A. for a month! Here are some observations I’ve made in that time:

– If I could move Santa Monica to the Valley, where all of my friends are, I would. Alternately, if I could get all of my friends to move to Santa Monica with me, that would also be acceptable.

– I used to live in Jew York, yet I’ve met more Jews in one month in L.A. than I’ve met in 32 years on the East Coast. Weird.

– “Taking a walk” in The Valley is difficult when there’s a mile between traffic lights.

– I have game at geeky singles events. Said game has yet to pan out into any dates, mind you, but it also keeps me from being a blithering idiot around cute boys. I call that progress. 🙂

– The Paramount lot is purdy. It looks all old-timey and 30s-ish. The screening room has squishy armchair seating. One day, I’ll be working on a show that shoots on that lot…

– “Good, kind people” and “People who are good for your career” are not as mutually exclusive as L.A’s bad press might have you believe. Maybe I’ve just lucked out and met all of the awesome ones first.

– Everything is so low to the ground! I’m used to buildings going up, not out. It’s as if someone flattened New York with a rolling pin.

– Do NOT jaywalk in The Valley/Downtown L.A. In NYC, jaywalking is a sport. In L.A, it’s a death sentence. Seriously, the other night I almost died crossing the street the way I would have in NYC. The major streets are just too wide to jaywalk. You think you can make it across in time – but you can’t. The sooner you admit defeat on that score, the better off you will be.

– It’s strange when you notice the subtle (or not so subtle) differences in plant/animal life across the country this large. First of all, CROWS. They’re everywhere. I’d never seen a crow up close and personal before. Now, they land in my backyard and are on every street. Also, the plants are weird. The trees are all gnarled and twisty, or growing straight up, or full of strange, poofy blossoms.

 

 

I feel like I’m living in Whoville.

– I’ve never been invited to this many dinner parties/pool parties/events in my life! Since everyone’s so spread out, going to visit individual friends is often impractical, so people look for excuses to have parties/get-togethers at the drop of a hat, and you have to go to all these group functions, otherwise you’d never see anyone. It’s strange. I mean, I’m a pretty social person, and I love meeting new people and hanging out. But there is a pressure here to be social that doesn’t exist in New York.

– Hi De Ho Comics is good, but House of Secrets is better. (particularly if you’re a woman)

– The possibilities for geekery in this town are ENDLESS.

– The people here get me amped and excited to create something. They might be cynical about lots of other things, but never about one’s ability to create something of value. I like that.

I am so lucky, and I know that. I’m lucky to have a network of people here who are willing to take care of me, even if they haven’t known me that long. I’ve moved again. Sadly, I wasn’t able to stay in Santa Monica for as long as I would’ve liked due to circumstances that completely blindsided my generous hosts. However, I put a call out to the rest of my L.A. peeps, and I’m now staying in the guest room of Theresa and Alan. It’s the same place where I was thrown a welcome pool party! Yes, you guessed it, I also get to live with HER:

Diamond. The cutest and sweetest dog EVAR.

Also, I get to live with her:

This is Bella. Also very cute and sweet, but a little more standoffish. Reminds me of my Scarlett. 🙁

I anticipate I’ll be here until the end of the year, when I will move in with one of two friends who might have a room going for rent then. Either way, I’ll be paying $500. See what I meant about lucky?

L.A. is definitely growing on me. I’m still getting to know it, still getting used to it, but it’s not a bad place to be! Except I can’t deal with all the Halloween decorations in stores (the orange and yellow leaves!) or the pumpkin lattes in the coffee places. I kinda wanna be like “You’re not fooling anybody, California! We’re not going to HAVE leaves that change colors!” 🙂

But you know what? I’ll live. And I’ll be able to talk about how “chilly” I am as my friends back home are digging their cars out of the snow. Heh.

Countdown to L.A. – City As Identity

Days to L.A. – 11

I know I said I was going to to be writing all sorts of insightful things about New York. But I’ve been working full babysitting days all week and trying to catch up with people before I go. I’ve also been letting the fact that I’m actually, truly leaving sink in for the first time, and it’s sort of paralyzed me. I haven’t wanted to do much of anything, because everything I have to do right now brings me one step closer to leaving the only home I’ve ever known, and it scares the living bejeezus out of me.

I bought my plane ticket a few days ago. One-way. LGA to LAX departing August 31st at 6:39PM arriving in L.A. at 11:03PM. I stared at the computer screen for about an hour before I was able to click “Submit” to make the purchase.

Today, I talked to my BFF, at whose apartment I’ve been staying while she and her new hubby have been on their Hawaiian honeymoon. She’s now in L.A. for a friend’s wedding, and when I spoke to her, she was on the Santa Monica pier. I said, “So, you’re in my future home! You’re getting to see it before I am!” To which she replied, “Eh. It’s not anything special,” then proceeded to list off the reasons why L.A. isn’t that special. A part of it is because she’s just not an L.A. person. She’s a dyed in the wool New Yorker, and ain’t nothing changing that. But another part felt like she was saying those things because she was trying to make it sound less appealing for my benefit, as if to convince me to stay home. Meanwhile, I felt myself getting a bit insulted, because as she talked about the people who do nothing but “talk to their agents on the phone” and talk about how “New York has seasons” and how the only difference between L.A. beaches and New York beaches is that “they have palm trees,” I was thinking to my self But, I want to BE one of those people talking to my agent on the phone. And I’d LIKE to live in a place where I don’t sweat like a piglet when it’s hot out or commute in a blizzard. And I like palm trees.

Which is funny, because not too long ago another of my close friends – a transplant to NYC from the Midwest – was talking about needing to get out of here, because it was too loud and busy and overwhelming, and I was defiending it with every cell in my body, feeling the way my BFF must have – insulted by the very idea that someone would want to leave this amazing city.

But it’s more than that. Because it feels like a personal insult. When my friend was talking about leaving New York, his talking about how much he hated it and needed to be somewhere other than this place I loved felt like a slight against me. New York is such a part of me, it felt like by insulting my city, he was insulting me. I hope that my BFF doesn’t feel that way – she must know how much I love her, AND this place. But I find it interesting that the cities in which we live are more than just cities. They’re extensions of ourselves. We are so emotionally invested in them, and allow them to become such a part of our identities that we defend their honors as we would our own.

And so choosing to move to L.A. sometimes makes me feel like I’m betraying that honor. It feels like I’m betraying myself, like I’m changing to become this other thing who isn’t me. It scares me to think that my friends and family think that this move will change me. Or perhaps, what scares me is knowing it will.

Then again, change isn’t always bad. If I didn’t think I needed a change, I wouldn’t be going in the first place. I don’t see it as change even, so much as becoming more myself. One of the best ways to get to the core of who you are is to put yourself in a new situation where no one really knows you; where you can’t fall back on old habits or fall prey to old routines. Where you have to deal with brand new situations as they come and decide in each moment the kind of person you want to be. Of course, this is possible staying in one place, but you have to work harder, and not everyone is capable of doing it. Most of us need a huge kick in the pants to test ourselves. L.A. is my kick in the pants now, much like Dublin was eleven years ago.

I’m excited and happy about the move. I’m sad because I’m going to miss my friends and family. I’m thrilled at the prospect of new opportunities. I’m disappointed in myself for “selling out” my New York-ness. And I’m scared of the unknown, and have the irrational fear that my new city will laugh in my face and lift its leg to piss all over me. This has been my emotional rollercoaster lately. Enjoy that. 🙂

Incidentally, the friend I mentioned above was supposed to be moving out West around the same time I am, and has instead decided to stay in New York and has just leased a new apartment. So, a part of me feels that, even though I’m leaving, I’ve had a part in making a convert. At least that’s something.

This moment of introspection has been brought to you by Altoona Hills kosher Australian wine, and Mr. and Mrs. Golub. 🙂

Countdown to L.A. – Friends With Benefits

First of all, there should probably be an actual countdown going, right? OK…

Days to L.A. – 24

Whoa. That’s not a lot of days, is it? No, I haven’t bought my ticket yet. Is it freaking me out? Maybe. Shut up.

So, I saw Friends With Benefits with Robin a couple of days ago, and I really loved it! Not just because it was sweet in the snarky-sarcastic way I adore, and not just because Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis are wonderful (and ridiculously hot), but because this was one of those times when a movie came into my life exactly when I needed it to.

Mila Kunis’ character, Jamie, is from New York. Dylan, played by JT, is from L.A. And from the very beginning, their relationship is, in part, based on selling the best of their cities to each other. Jamie showing Dylan “her” New York almost made me cry, because she focused on the very things a native would focus on. Watching her experience L.A. with Dylan for the first time made me hopeful, and reminded me of how I felt when I visited earlier this year – that L.A. is a lot less shallow than reported and the kind of place where you can heal and be more yourself. It made both cities look really good, and perfectly captured both my nostalgia for the home I’m about to leave, and hope/excitement for the home I’m about to create.

There’s also the issue of Dylan, the character who makes the big cross-country move away from his family, also having a father who is suffering from dementia. Wasn’t expecting that, and that touched a pretty sensitive nerve. Probably the most difficult part of moving is leaving my dad. But when I think about it, he’s the person who would’ve understood this move the most, if he were in his right mind.

So, thanks Will Gluck, for writing a film that was both enjoyable and helped me process my feelings about moving to the Left Coast.

Los Angeles, Here I Come!

So, remember the time when I told you that I was moving to Plano, TX and saving up to move to L.A. next year?

What A Difference A Day Makes, indeed.

So, another awesome friend of mine (someone must’ve bought me a case of Awesome Friends at Costco), Maritza, who lives in L.A. with her husband and 2 yr old daughter, randomly called me yesterday to ask if I was interested in cutting out the middleman between me and L.A. and living with her and her family rent-free in exchange for babysitting her daughter. PS – I have a queen-sized bed waiting for me when I get there, and they live 3 blocks from the beach.

I said yes. 🙂

So, now I’ll be living in SANTA MONICA as of September! Which I’m very excited about, as I hear nothing but how beautiful it is there. I’ll get to spend the same amount of time saving up a lil’ nest egg (about a year) while already being in the city of my choice, and I’ll get to hang out with all my wonderful friends out there that much sooner! I’m already daydreaming about working on my novel on the beach… *sighs*

I want to send a special shout-out to Angela in Plano, who made the original, generous offer that needed to be one-upped. Thank you for being so kind to me, and for starting a wave of Give Teresa Awesome Opportunities all across the country.

I’m wondering if I should hold out for the person who will PAY me to live with them… 🙂 Nah. I’ll quit while I’m ahead.

Get ready, Los Angeles! I’m coming for you…

Teresa Does Dallas: The Announcement

I know, I know! I’ve been slacking. 🙂 But for the record, I only promised you 30 Days of Doctor Who. I never said they’d be consecutive.

I DO plan on getting back to that, but there’s a reason why I haven’t been on the blog too much lately. I’ve been making some pretty big life decisions and figuring stuff out, and all that decision-making and planning and figuring takes up a lot of brain space and doesn’t leave much room for blogging. And now, an announcement:

Now that I’ve told everyone who’s important in my life – family, friends, employers – I can tell you. I’m moving out of New York…and moving to Texas.

I KNOW, RIGHT?! WEIRD! Lemme ‘splain.

I’ve been thinking about moving out of NYC for a long time now. It seems strange since I am, in many ways, SO MUCH a New Yorker. I grew up here. My entire base is here. And what’s most important, I LOVE New York. And not just in a cheesy, T-shirt kind of a way. I really love it, in that I love its many, many flaws as much as I love everything that’s beautiful, and vibrant, and exciting about it. I don’t think it will ever stop being Home to me.

I will never regret making the decision to devote myself to freelance writing, but having made that decision, I’ve realized that New York City is probably the least affordable place in which to live that way. I’ve been struggling and living in a shoebox in Brooklyn. I don’t need to make more money, but it would be nice to live somewhere where the dollars I make can stretch a bit further. I don’t need a whole lot, but I know that pretty much anywhere else in the country can offer me more for my money than New York City can. As much as it pains me to say it, I’ve been priced out of my home.

But this move isn’t just financially motivated. I needed a change. I’ve lived here my whole life, and as much as I’ve accomplished, I feel like I’m in a rut. All of my close friends are either married (with children), or in serious relationships, and they’ve all settled into chosen jobs with easily definable descriptions and career paths. Meanwhile, I feel like my entire life has been moving laterally rather than progressing forward, and that in order to take my life to the next level, I need to be elsewhere. New people, new inspirations, new job opportunities…

Why Texas? Well, my lovely friend Angela lives in Plano, TX (she often comments at this very blog!), which is about half an hour outside of Dallas, and she has been such an amazing champion of my writing and my decision to devote myself to it. She’s made me the generous offer of allowing me to live with her pretty much rent-free for as long as I need to in order to experience another city and save up money. Save up for what, you ask?

Texas is just the midpoint of a journey that I hope will end with me living in LOS ANGELES.

When I went there for Gally, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it, considering how much I didn’t enjoy it the first time I went. But I have a lot of friends there now, and you know what? I sort of understand the appeal of the sunshine. 🙂 Many of the Geek Girls I associate with online are out there taking over the world, and I want to be a part of that. And if I want to dabble in this screenwriting thing, I absolutely have to be out there, according to screenwriters I know whose opinions I respect.

So, here is The Plan:

** live in Plano, TX with Angela from September 2011 through the Summer of 2012. Save money doing the same stuff I do now (writing, babysitting, etc). Ideally, I’d like to have a nest egg of a couple of thousand dollars. Enough for a security/first/last month’s rent on a new apartment and a cheap, used car.

** move to Los Angeles at the end of Summer/beginning of Fall 2012. Stay with Heather (who’s probably more excited about my impending move than even me!) until I find a place of my own. Rent an apartment. Drive the freeways. Write my face off. Live the dream. (Try not to be too afraid of earthquakes)

Is Los Angeles cheap? No. I mean, it’s a Big City. But is it cheaper than New York…? Let’s just say I was pricing apartments, and for only a little more than what I’m paying now for my shoebox of a bedroom in a three bedroom apartment (that isn’t really a 3BR apartment), I could find myself an entire studio or 1BR apartment (depending on the neighborhood). It’s more bang for my buck, yo.

There’s also the issue of ambition and “being fake.” There’s a lot of “fake” in Los Angeles, and that turns off New Yorkers, because we’re used to being very in-your-face about our honest opinions. Here’s what I have to say about that. I know a lot of cool people in L.A. People who, even though they’re in The Industry are genuinely cool, caring people who are kind to others and don’t give a crap about labels or brands or status. I figure, as long as you know (or seek out) good people, you can live anywhere.

As for ambition and The Industry – yes, L.A. is an industry town. There’s a lot of networking going on and a lot of talk about entertainment. The thing is, New York is a really ambitious, media-driven town, too. The difference I notice is that, in L.A., people network in a way that I’m good at. New York expects you to be a powerhouse all by yourself. It can be very isolating. Not to mention exhausting. Whereas in L.A., everyone you know could be someone you work with either now, or in the future. It’s expected that you’ll join forces with any number of people to create something great. And while there is an element of bullshit, and that thing where people only associate with you if they think you have something to offer them – well, that happens in NYC, too – and for the most part, people seem to see the value in helping each other out to get themselves ahead. It’s ambition in a language I speak and understand.

I feel like I’m rambling right now, and that none of this makes any sense, but there you have it.

For all I know, this is an experiment that will fail horribly, and I’ll come back to New York with my tail between my legs. But I have to try. If not now, when I have no hubby/kids/job holding me here, then when? I’m a writer, and I can write from anywhere. Why not move to a place that will be more financially beneficial and more conducive to the kind of working life I’d like to have?

So, this will be my last summer as a New York resident. It made me really sad to type that, and while I made the decision to make this move a couple of weeks ago, I haven’t written this blog post until now, because I was afraid. Writing this online for the world to see makes it REAL. And it’s a scary thing to leave your home for the unknown. It’s also a bittersweet thing, because as good as I think this move will be for me, I wish I could take everyone I know and love with me.

Then again, technology is a wonderful thing, so we can keep in touch on several platforms. And as it is, we’re all so busy with our own lives, we don’t see each other much anyway. My being in another state wouldn’t change all THAT much, except that the commute home for Christmas will be WAY more now. 🙂

Also, my friends will have an excuse to travel so they can come and visit me! Check out the layout of my new digs in Plano:

The “den” would be my room. Yes, it’s a closed off space. Yes, I have a closet. Yes, that DOES say Patio/Balcony. Oh, and there’s a pool. And Angela’s paying  only $100 more than what I’m paying for a tiny room in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn.

Yeeeah. This idea’s looking better all the time.

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