Life Skills

LAAnniversary

Yesterday marks one month since I arrived in LA. You might be wondering off of which fantastic, far off cliff I fell, since I haven’t touched this blog, or any other writing, for most of that entire time.

I don’t know what happened. I was on a roll – writing every day, on a fantastic road trip, reuniting with the cutest dog on the planet (who has now started agility training, and gotten even cuter). I was in love, again, with the world out of which I had temporarily removed myself while chillaxing on Orcas in September. It felt fantastic. And then I got to LA.

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My goal, when I got here, was to spend these couple months doing absolutely everything and anything I could get my hands on, before a normal work schedule started again, and I had to restrict my museums and bookstores and flea markets to normal work people hours. I would spend this time transitioning to Los Angeles. But the truth is, I’ve done almost nothing.

I haven’t been to LACMA, or the Tar Pits, though I drove by them the other day while looking at apartments. I haven’t been to MOCA, or the beach, or on a Universal Studio Tour. I haven’t been to any of the fabulous bookstores I so looked forward to patronizing. I haven’t gone to see a live show be taped, or hit Disneyland, or the Santa Monica Pier. I’ve yet to make it to the Hello Kitty exhibit at the Japanese American Heritage Museum; I haven’t gone to the Chinese Theater, the bar at the Standard, or a black-tie movie premier. And I’m not best friends with Chelsea Handler…yet.

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I am living, temporarily, right smack dab in Hollywood, a block off Hollywood and Highland. It’s insane. It’s overstimulating. It’s fantastic, partly because I know it’s short term. I can walk to Runyon Canyon in ten minutes, but it takes 20 because Spanky has to stop and pee on every tree, light post, or meter box between here and there. On the way, we walk by the Magic Castle. Actually, everywhere we go except Starbucks, we walk by the Magic Castle.

From the top of the Canyon, which I hike to in my boots to support my old-lady ankles and with a backpack so I have water for me, water and a bowl for the dog, an inhaler, a phone, my keys, and a headlamp and an extra layer and whatever other paraphernalia one may need should an earthquake strike and strand me, I can see downtown, and Century City, and the Hollywood sign across the freeway in Griffith Park. I mention the paraphernalia because in Runyon, one is surrounded by people skipping uphill in tennis shoes, carrying a water bottle in one hand and a script in the other. I’m not one of them.

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On mornings when I go to work at a café, I usually walk to Tiago, which I found online. It’s right on Hollywood Boulevard, set back from the street and sporting a large, dog-friendly patio. To get there, Spanky and I walk by the Magic Castle; by the ASC Clubhouse; by Author Services, which always has an ear-pieced, Secret-Service-esque security guard by the parking entrance, as much to keep people in as to keep them out, and the ABLE (Association for a Better Living and Education) building (Hollywood is rife with Scientology buildings – if I disappear, it will likely be because they’ve taken me); and down a block or two on the Walk of Fame. I try not to let Spanky pee on any stars of people I like, and he has mostly complied.

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Every weekend that I’ve been here, someone has been in from out of town. The first weekend, it was a friend of my older sister’s, and we met for dinner at a tapas restaurant on Melrose. The following weekend, it was a former roommate in town for a conference. We went to a Thai restaurant, called Jitlada, that some locals had recommended to her in the past, and it turns out to be very well known, and more importantly, delicious. The next morning, we had breakfast at Huckleberry in Santa Monica. I joked about how I was going to have to learn to keep myself together when seeing famous people. I was mimicking what potential ridiculousness may befall me if I failed while I untied Spanky from outside the back door, where he had been patiently waiting for us, and when we got back to the car, my friend turned to me and said, “while you were telling me that story, Don Cheadle got into his car right behind you.”

A week later, a friend from Dallas was on a pre-planned trip to visit friends who live in Burbank. We went for a hike up to the observatory in Griffith Park before going to lunch at the Alcove in Los Feliz, which I have trouble pronouncing, because I speak even bad Spanish. An actress I recognized but can’t place by name came over to pet Spanky and tell me how well behaved he was. I confessed he was actually just exhausted. Sunday morning, I met my friend for brunch at the Commissary, a rooftop greenhouse restaurant in the Line Hotel referred to as Roy Choi’s latest installment. Apparently, he’s the bomb, as was this place.

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For Thanksgiving, I had the joy of being reunited with the OG Travel Companion, whose sister lives in Sherman Oaks. They went on and amazing cheese-shop trip that became a picnic for us at the Getty.  Note to readers: you won’t last long in the exhibits if you have a lunch of wine and cheese. But your stomach will be joyful. Prioritize accordingly.

Between these things, I’ve gone to a Moth Story Slam, and to hear Noah Gunderson at El Rey. I’ve hiked in Franklin Canyon with the dog, and had lunch at the Larchmont – thrilling in part because a famous person was there, but more so because I was dining with a friend whom I adore and haven’t had the joy of a solid lunch with in almost twenty years. Come to think of it, that’s the third or fourth time in a month I’ve had that pleasure: sharing a meal with someone who’s known me almost as long as I’ve known myself, and sometimes better. Maybe I have been doing something after all.

Transition is an amazing thing. An amazing, exhausting, thing. It isn’t a hibernation. It isn’t a caterpillar-to-butterfly transformation. You don’t go into a cocoon and emerge beautiful, powerful, and able to fly. It is a piece-meal business, changing your life. It happens bit by bit, in unnoticeable ways. You dig in. That’s it. You just dig in.

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