Los Angeles IS a Nice Place to Be; A Cautionary Tale of Moving Back East

A buoyant 21-year-old dove of a girl packed up a couple boxes of beloved effects. She strapped her well hugged terrier into the passenger seat and drove 2,249 miles to a new life in Los Angeles. Nine years later the classic LA Burnout hit hard like a train racing over Lincoln’s face on a rail. Hastily she decided to reinvent herself in a smaller Midwestern city. She stayed for two arduous years; perspective was gained and whining ceased.

She returned to Los Angeles, proud of her ballsy adventure yet weary and wiser. Los Angeles is the greatest city in the United States. There’s nothing on the east coast or in the Midwest that can top it, not even New York and here’s why:

Winter Sucks

Occasionally LA transplants romanticize about their childhood Christmases back east where they tobogganed and had snowball fights. Stop now. It’s not charming. It’s not fun. It’s downright dreadful. Winter gets old fast once you’re acclamated to LA’s heavenly climate. Let’s break it down:

  • It’s fucking cold: You probably have magical snowflake visions of the characters in Little Women skating on a frozen pond. It ain’t like that. It’s REALLY fucking cold, a PUNISHING cold that haunts you for 3+ months. So cold, you’ll want to wear fur even though you think it’s cruel. Former California vegans will be like, “fuck animals, give me their skiiins!” It’s so cold, that if you peed your pants, it would form an icicle and stab you in the crotch.
  • Snow/Ice Is a Royal Pain in the Ass: Imagine, just about every time you want to go anywhere you have to first take a half hour to DIG YOUR CAR OUT OF THE SNOW. Then, you have to SCRAPE away a thick layer of ICE that has formed under the snow. This causes your hands to go numb and feel like phantom hands. Imagine, trying to change lanes in traffic when your back window and mirrors are COVERED IN SNOW. Imagine trying to stop your car while driving on a SHEET OF ICE. Imagine, driving downa freeway that is ICE MIXED WITH MOTOR OIL. Imagine, returning to your car but you can’t open the door because IT’S FROZEN SHUT. You’re stranded at your destination and must wait for AAA to de-ice your lock. Imagine not being able to go out because it’s simply, TOO DANGEROUS. This predicament happens ALL THE TIME, foiling your plans.
  • It’s fucking DARK: You see those warm, glimmering rays streaming through your window? Well, you better get used to days and days of overcast gloom at Skeletor’s castle. Sure, the sun may pop out from time to time but it’s too cold to actually get out and enjoy it. You might be thinking, “Well, what’s the big deal? I’ll just turn on some lights.” No. Real sun is food for the body & soul. All living things REQUIRE sunlight to survive as much as water or air. Yes, too much sun will give you cancer just like too much water and oxygen can kill you. However, if you don’t get enough light you’ll get this thing called, “Seasonal Affective Disorder” or “SAAD.” This isn’t just “hippie shit” people, it’s real. You’ll get depressed & you won’t know why. In fact, everyone around you will also be depressed and cranky. Sound fun? No.

It’s hard to make friends.

Once you reveal that you’re from Los Angeles people will suddenly get weird, “Oh, well that’s interesting.” They’ll assume you’re some stuck up Hollywood phony. They’ll assume that you’re used to hobnobbing with celebrities (which, you very well might be) and that you’re going to find drinking Coors Light with them at “The Bloated Goat Saloon” quite dull. They don’t know you’re cool as hell with the ability to have just as much fun in a boxcar as wading in the Neptune pool. They won’t give you a chance.

If you’re out of school and not moving for employment at large corporation, it’s going to be really tough. In Los Angeles people are happy campers with double rainbows in their bellies. When loners go out in LA, they find instant buddies because people here are FUN and OPEN. It’s a harsh reality to discover folks in the Midwest and out east can be pretty curmudgeonly in comparison. You’re going to have to chip away at them for a long time before they really let you in. You might be pretty lonely for a couple years.

You may believe you can return to the Midwestern town you came from and all your old friends will be waiting. Think again, those people have been adults much longer than you. They’re more traditional over there, they like “get married in their 20s.” They’re busy raising families, being lawyers, working at Costco and being nurses (mostly really “practical” shit). No one is laboring over their screenplay or working their way through The Groundlings. You will seldom fit into their rigid East Coast/Midwestern time schedule where they rise at 6 and go to bed by 10pm.

Another reason it will be hard is the fact they’ll think you’re weird. They think you’re weird because you ARE weird. Look at me, you’ve been to Venice beach at sunset for the drum circles. You saw the guy atop the ladder chanting with yellow snakes slithering in his hands & dwarves dancing around a maypole in the distance. James Franco smoked you out once and Charlie Sheen has offered you cocaine, though you politely declined. You’ve gone to freak shows where guys pounded nails into their faces and burlesque dancers rolled around in stage blood while wearing masks of dead presidents’ faces. It was just normal. They’re not going to understand you on the outside. Child, you’ve seen too much but you might be ready for New York if you’re into that sort of thing.

The worst thing is, they’re not even going to think you’re odd because you mentioned the snakes or “what happened at Joshua.” You won’t get to that. It’s going to be for stupid shit like “recycling” and cleaning up your dog’s poop with biodegradable baggies. It will be all about the most mundane details, like the fact you “eat vegetables.”

There won’t be enough shit to do and you’ll be bored as hell.

Los Angeles is a place where you can do anything year round. You want to get dressed up and go out dancing? What do you want? Swing dancing? Ballroom? Salsa? Tango? Heck, how about an Edwardian tea dance? We got that shit too, served up with quail pudding.

In LA you can dine on an exclusive five star meal at places with names like, “Wolvesmouth at the Wolvesden.” At 2:15am you can stumble from the bar and eat breakfast at “The Pantry.” What international delicacies appeal to your buds today? Delicious Mexican tamales? Maybe some fresh ceviche? Parisian Coq Au Vin? Greek Souvlaki? Polish schnitzel? Ethiopian Kik Alicha? Japanese Shabu Shabu? Cheap sushi? Ridiculously overpriced sushi? Salvadorian pupisas?? Indian vindaloo?? We have flavors from every nook of the earth.

We also have world class entertainment options, it’s our business! Whatever your bag is we have it: theaters, bars, museums, galleries, comedy clubs and sporting events. You can do the most unlikely activities for fun here. Let’s say you wanted to learn the lost art of letterpress or fire dancing? Somebody in Silverlake is teaching that shit.

Outdoorsy folks need not forget our PHENOMENAL HIKING OPPORTUNITIES. Griffith park is over FIVE AND A HALF TIMES bigger than your piddly Central park that has no mountains. A myriad of natural wonders like Malibu Canyon, Franklin Canyon and Runyon Canyon await your footprints. Don’t like hiking? How about swimming or boating in the ocean? Southern Californians have outdoor fun year round. No wonder we’re in such great shape!

WE HAVE DISNEYLAND. Granted, it’s probably not as cool as it was in the ’50s and ’60s but it’s still here.

If the itch is for snow and winter sports all you have to do is drive a couple hours to Big Bear, rent a Swiss a-frame ski chalet and you’re in business. Big Bear during the summer is wonderful too, no snow but plenty of hiking, horseback riding and all the rentals are half off.

Can you find all these delights in one place out east or in the Midwest? Certainly not. New York City is our only real rival in terms of entertainment. Other places like in Detroit or Philly, you’re mainly going to find a whole hell of a lot of dive bars. Dive bars are fun but baby can’t eat White Castle for every meal.

You’ll miss the diversity

Not only are you going to miss the soaring mountains and ocean breeze but you’re going to miss the diversity. The agony will begin with not being able to find any good Mexican food. Then you’re going to start missing overhearing people speak Russian, Japanese, French, German and Spanish (among other tongues) everywhere you go. You’ll be pissed because you can’t find a decent Korean market that has that tea you like. You’ll be craving Mashti Malone’s rosewater & saffron ice cream. Mostly, you’re going to miss all your Mexican friends and everything is going to seem odd and “too white.” When Dia De Los Muertos comes it will feel like a stab in the heart to not see Hollywood Forever Cemetery dressed up to welcome the dead. In the end, you’re going to have a breakdown in a parking lot of a strip mall when you see a truck with some Spanish writing on it. That truck will be the first time you’ve seen Spanish writing in months. You’ll just be sitting there in front of the UPS store with your Jimmy John’s sub in hand, tears streaming down your cheeks, “Te echo de menos, Los Angeles. Eres mi alma.”

It probably won’t be less expensive in the long run

Of course if you move to New York City it’s DEFINITELY not going to be less expensive to live. You might think a smaller midwestern or coastal city will have cheaper rent. Yeah, it will be cheaper but when you factor in the cost of heating and cooling your new (larger) pad it’s going to end up being about the same. There’s going to be other hidden costs too like buying a new winter wardrobe and your car turning to shit from the road salt. To compound it all you probably won’t be making as much money.

L.A.’s problems and how to hack them:

  • Traffic: In Los Angeles, you’re going to be spending a long time in your car. The key is making the best of the time. You need to enjoy this quiet time alone. You have to learn that the car is a place to get shit done and LEARN. You can do a multitude of things like practice a foreign language, practice karaoke, listen to audio books, podcasts or take courses through itunes U. The real key is getting a job where you don’t have to leave your home. The future is all about working remotely. Many corporations don’t want the overhead of an office building. If you order your food using Amazon Fresh or restaurant delivery you’ll never need to leave the house!
  • No Parking: The key is not trying to go anywhere in Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood or the Hollywood Strip. These places are the worst for parking and there are few reasons to actually go. If you do go to these places, Uber it.
  • Hippies: Oh c’mon, just have a ginger shot and stretch out with us. Let the soothing sounds of the didgeridoo and the sitar take you away. Feel the stress just melt from your bones. Don’t mind the Papyrus font everywhere, we never said hippies could design. Go ahead, indulge in a vegan cupcake, you might like it. You can still keep washing your hair and you don’t need wear kaftans. Peace. Om.
  • Fake People: There are fake, flakey people all over America. It’s naive to think Los Angeles has more. It’s only about 10% of the population. The key is avoiding parties where the main transport is by SUV limousine and you’ll be fine. Those parties generally take place up in the hills and they’re very “exclusive” yet you’ll be invited several times. There are plenty of cool people to hang out with. Keep your mind open, the best party tonight is probably happening in someone’s living room in Alhambra. There’ll be 3 people, you’ll order some Thai food, drink some homemade sangria and yuck it up till dawn.
  • Earthquakes: You get used to feeling like you’re living on a houseboat. What you want to do is be prepared for disaster. Get your bug out bag in order and have a plan. Chose a dwelling that is sturdy and withstood the years. The gorgeous weather 90% of the year is well worth the fear of an earthquake. In over 12 years I have not experienced a “big one.”
  • LA the place where dreams go to die.

Fool, Los Angeles IS the dream.

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