Sunday, December 6, 2015

Living in the City of Angels: Observations from a Midwestern Transplant

At home in Hollywood on a typical autumn day
I'd always dreamed of moving to New York City one day. While I’d wanted to attend college there, my parents were terrified by the idea of me being in New York alone. However they told me that they felt there would be too many distractions in New York. In retrospect, they were probably right.

I attended Emerson College in Boston, MA. As my graduation date approached, I was making a plan that would get me to New York to begin my acting career. Instead, fate intervened in the form of a contract with a Chicago theatre company. I stayed in Chicago for three years where I joined the actors unions, did theatre, a few film and television projects, several industrial films and television commercials. In Chicago, I concentrated on learning the business of the business-in preparation for my move to New York.

But again, fate intervened. As I was starting to do my preliminary New York relocation research, an opportunity in Los Angeles dropped in my lap. I’d never thought about  Los Angeles. I knew nothing about LA and certainly never thought of living or working on the west coast. But for some reason, I booked a flight with the intention of staying for a few weeks. Chicago was having a bad winter and I wanted a break from the cold and the snow.

Long story short, I never returned to Chicago. I can’t explain what happened, but upon my arrival at LAX, I felt like I’d come home. I eventually settled in, had some wonderful professional opportunities, and three years after moving west, I met the man who would become my husband.

I was born in Ohio, went to school in New England, and spent three years in Chicago. I’ve travelled quite a bit and cannot imagine living anywhere else other than here in the City of Angels, Los Angeles. I often find myself feeling protective of my adopted city which is often maligned by people living in other parts of the country. Their assumptions are often based on broad stereotypes seen in films and on television. If anything, we know how to make fun of ourselves. Los Angeles is really just  like any other American city, full of neighborhoods, families and hard working people. LA just happens to be the entertainment capitol of the world ,which gives the city it's unique mystic.

Here are a few things I've learned about living in the City of Angels, Los Angeles, CA.

10. One day, you realize that you speak and understand Spanish though you’ve had no formal training. Es bueno.

9. Usually, earthquakes are nothing more than annoying occurrences. This is especially true if the ground starts shaking before your alarm goes off which causes you to lose those last few minutes of precious sleep.

8. You can network anywhere; at corporate events, at Starbucks, at your kid’s soccer game, and at weddings and funerals. It’s not strange or rude. In fact, I believe it’s expected.

7. Visitors from other parts of the country are surprised at how friendly everybody is here.

6. Everybody has an entertainment connection. My mother in-laws surgeon was a consultant on the NBC show ER.  He was also George Clooney’s surgical hand double. (And yes, his hands were gorgeous!)

5. You do not have to go to the trendy boutique or hot new restaurants to see celebrities. Many do their own grocery shopping, go to the neighbourhood coffee place, or get their nails done at the same salon you do. Most of us locals are not fazed by these people (because they’re only people). They just happen to work in front of the camera.

4. The camera really does add ten pounds…and I’m speaking from experience.

3. You can find anything at virtually any time in this town. (Vegan soul food, anyone?) I once went to Home Depot at 3AM…because I could. My husband was out of town. I couldn’t sleep, and Home Depot was open 24/7. I easily found someone to mix my paint and was back home within an hour. I was able to start my weekend project of painting my bathroom earlier than expected.

2. Yes. The traffic is bad. Horrible even. But you learn to live with it. I recently returned from San Francisco via LAX. My trip from the airport to my home in Hollywood was twice as long as my flight.  But there’s a trade-off…

1. THE WEATHER IS FANTASTIC! It’s true. However, we’re spoiled. If it’s not sunny, seventy-five degrees with a mild breeze coming off the ocean, we complain. Right now it’s currently sixty-eight degrees, and I’m freezing.

If you ever have the chance to visit LA, be careful. You too might be seduced by this town and never want to leave. I’m speaking from experience. Several years ago I began a love affair with the city I am proud to come home. I love LA!

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