Yesterday marked my 6th month anniversary in Los Angeles… already? That was fast…
I woke today with a familiar energy; eyes popping wide open. I’ve been logging deep sleep but not long hours. Too much buzz coursing through my body. In fact, the past three mornings have been the same. Getting to bed around 1 a.m. Flashing awake by 7 a.m.
The last time I felt so much energy was while I was living in Playa del Carmen, MX…
Huh. A good sign, I mused to myself… noting the new boost. Exited, I thought: Okay, perhaps LA is really going to come together for me. Perhaps this IS where I’m supposed to be.
Okay. Prepare yourself now. I’ll be pouring the “wine” for the next few paragraphs. So do yourself a favor and go grab some cheese.
I’ve already mentioned my dissatisfaction with L.A. My nickname for the “city of angels” is “the slum of smoke and mirrors.” In all honesty, there are gems here. But you really have to dig to find them. At least, that’s my experience. And, I certainly love digging up the treasure buried amidst the trash, but the absolute truth is… I’m negligibly inspired here. That’s a far cry from my norm. Usually, I’m brimming over with inspiration, adventure, discovery, joy, love… the list of sappy, fairytale wonderland adjectives goes on. But here? There’s something here… beyond the surface even… that, more alarming than leaving me uninspired, downright disturbs me. I can’t quite put into words what it is, but if I did I would have to borrow the lyrics from the Big Yellow Taxi from the Counting Crow Hard Candy album (and really they borrowed the lyrics from Joni Mitchell):
“They paved paradise and put up a parking lot. With a pink hotel, a boutique and a swinging hot spot… They paved paradise and put up a parking lot. They took all the trees and put em up in a tree museum. And they charged the people a dollar and a half just to see them.”
What’s worse… it seems like everyone believes it’s paradise. The black top of tar is what everyone exclaims is paradise. “They” all squabble over the slightest centimeter of it… charging a millionaire’s salary for one little sq cm. You, ahem, may think I’m exaggerating… I’m not. I just passed a complex on my walk home from the semi-ritzy neighborhood of Brentwood to the partially-ritzy, partially student, partially Asian neighborhood of Westwood, where I now “live” (getting to why I was walking not biking in a minute). A two-bedroom loft in an ‘eh decent enough’ building choked by cement blocks on all sides goes for… drum roll please… not $300,000, not $400,000… can we get a $550,000 dollars please!! Oh yes, centimeters here are damn expensive. Please, pardon my French…
The song continues:
“Hey farmer farmer, put away that DDT now. Gimme spots on my apples but leave me the birds and the bees.”
Since day one, I’ve kept asking, where is the nature?? So there is nature here. But you really really have to seek it out in this city. Unlike New York City even, there is no Central Park. Ah! There is Runyon Canyon: a big hill of dry brush infused with dog doo every two steps. At the top you feel good from a nice, strenuous workout and you’re rewarded with an unbeatable view of the layer of smog that veils the valley.
Now, I’m sounding like a hippie. Truth is the pendulum probably swings more “hippie” with me than not, but I do like the a fore mentioned boutiques. Even Playa del Carmen has lots of boutiques. I loved them. The difference is… Play’s infamous, boutique-lined 5th Avenue is more in harmony with the natural beauty of its surroundings. People walk and enjoy the sea breeze, listening to the mariachi along the way instead of unnecessarily rolling around in their luxury rides that cost more than the two-story house I grew up in back in the Midwest (oh yeah, my parent’s quarter of a million dollar home there would be worth a few million here in L.A… location, location, location!) I’m not gonna lie… it is fun riding around in a vehicle that boasts that you eat dollar bills for breakfast. But if it’s that or an urban space in harmony with nature, I take the latter. In a perfect world it’s both! Ha!
Anyway, my point is… it’s all about balance. Here, I feel there’s no balance. Most of the beauty has just been drowned in tar. I mean, maybe I’d feel differently if you had to keep those oh so seductive luxury cars on the big boulevards and leave the quintessential Rodeo Drive just to pedestrian traffic. I dunno.
Speaking of Playa, I’m going to “go there” and… compare:
Let’s see… here I pay $800 a month for a bare basics furnished room in an apartment cutely furnished with mostly fake display home furnishings. I share the small apartment with two other girls. There is mold above the shower and the kitchen sink. Though there is a fireplace, the flat screen with Direct TV hangs above it so it never gets used. I’m in the middle of the concrete jungle, still choked by chaotic city. This neighborhood does boost some Asian and Persian character. Though I’m just 5 miles from the Santa Monica Pier, it usually takes anywhere from a half hour to 45 minutes to get from here to there by car. Running amidst all the car fumes and noise pollution to get to the beach isn’t a day at the beach either, ironically enough. The $800 I pay is almost considered a steal. All in all, I do like where I currently reside. Really no complaints though I do sneeze from the mold and still can’t believe how much I’m paying for a room. Ah! I musn’t forget the in apt washer and dryer. That does feel like a luxury…
In Playa, on the other hand, I paid $150 for a slightly smaller also bare basics furnished room. The apartment was also cutely furnished, if not oddly shaped. Again, I had two roommates. Overall, a little bit less space. No fireplace, but no Direct TV either (for me that’s a plus). No washer and dryer on the premises. BUT, the sea of gems (aka the Caribbean of the Riviera Maya) just two blocks away. I was quite happy. Now, if I doubled my rent and opted to pay $300, maybe $400, I would have had a nicely furnished, larger apt with a fireplace and washer and dryer on the beach. Perfect.
Geez, even I’m sick of the “wine” now, but a quick blitz to go.
So back to today. After my second visit to the home of a recent photography client I finally got to deliver the photos from her baby shower. I stopped by the night before but several things went awry. First, my computer that burns CDs and DVDs refused to burn DVD after DVD. Then, her PC wouldn’t read the one folder that contained her photos on the small external hard drive which I had brought as “plan B.” Went home at 9:30 p.m. on my bike cruising along bike-hating roads, researched the problem and discovered a drive cleaning disc might do the trick. Woke up with the mentioned energy, ran to Staples down the road (the one thing that is close!), bought the special disc… it did the trick! Woo hoo!! Bike back to the client’s house. Discover her computer won’t read the disc. But, brought my computer this time anticipating such a dilemma. “Plan C” was to hook her external hard drive to my Mac. Nope. My Mac wouldn’t read her PC-synced drive. Oh why oh why are Mac and PC’s eternally at war??!! Last trick I could think of… since her PC would read my hard drive, just not the one “photos” folder her photos were in, I moved her photos out of that folder. Connecting the drive back to her computer and… yes! It worked… her computer read the photos!! Whew!! But, seriously… ridiculous. There is no rhyme or reason as to why.
Biking back home… ahp! That’s a NEGATIVE. The tire of my brand new, barely used $400 city commuter bike just went flat for the 3RD time in its last 8 rides. Yes, I did mention that the roads, which resemble swiss cheese thanks to all their potholes, hate bikes. But, again, this was ridiculous. And each time, I happened to be caught in a whirlpool of zooming traffic, completely non-pedestrian zones when it happened.
Eh… It was a beautiful day. I had just two miles to walk, so I wasn’t upset… just disappointed. That eternal word I use to describe how I feel in this city… disappointed. Then the why? creeping back into forefront of my mind. I can honestly say I’ve asked myself Why? Why am I here? EVERY DAY during the six months that I’ve been here. And then my legs switched to autopilot as my mind whisked me away in its daydream of “going back,” back to my crazy nomadic wanderings.
Schrrrrrrr… daydreaming Laura??! You don’t daydream… you DO!!
So then I started plotting… my escape! Look this city is fine. Plenty of people find their own dreams here. It’s just not meant for me. Visiting every now and again would be fun and glamorous. Living here just ain’t my thang. I’m a fighter… but here I always feel at a loss of what it is I’m fighting for… I don’t want to end up here. I don’t really want to be here now. I like the art. I had art before. I like the film industry. I was actually in two films in Guatemala (one of which played at the infamous Grauman’s Chinese Theatre here!!).
Okay. So enough “wine” already… just as I finish up snacking on my, would you have it, wine-infused cheese from the Beverly Hills Farmer’s Market. Yet, another gem. (Seriously… wine-infused cheese! Who wouldn’t love that??!)
My heart leaps at the thought of going back to my beloved Latin America…
I mean, I came for love and now that love is gone. What I came here for doesn’t even exist anymore.
Smoke and mirrors…
When I think of the first words out of my Guatemalan friends’ mouth when he visited me in LA it only reaffirms my decision:
“Where is my Laurita?” he asked.
“What do you mean?!” I responded, surprised.
“I mean you’re always Laura, but this is not the Laura I saw in the pictures from Playa. This isn’t the Laura I knew in La Antigua…”
When I spoke to Nubia on the phone yesterday, my heart began to race just at the thought of it skipping back to Mexico in time for the Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon… would LOVE to return.
I just want to feel that I Dance Like No One is Watching again… I want to be the most colorful thing that anyone has seen!!
I haven’t been feeling that…
I long to go… but there is still this twinge of doubt… I’m not so familiar with it. Quickly I have gained traction here. There are opportunities here that are unrivaled anywhere else for the sole reason of who is here. The gigantic mass of whos actually.
Mother tells me,
the immortal goddess Thetis with her glistening feet,
that two fates bear me on to the day of death.
If I hold out here and I lay siege to Troy,
my journey home is gone, but my glory never dies.
If I voyage back to the fatherland I love,
my pride, my glory dies…
Oh the epic drama… forever I am imagining that I am some wayward voyageur of some grand odyssey. It’s okay. Laugh. I’m laughing too.
The only person I let privy to this inner battle is my friend Dustin… through texts. He just called as he was running out the door. Here are some snippets:
There remains some kind of friction… No, you are not one to wish you weren’t where you are. That’s not you. But, that does seem to be a constant theme for you here.
But don’t over romanticize Playa. You’ll leave Playa and you’ll get yourself into a whole new set of troubles and crazy circumstances. Playa is not a permanent paradise…
I chuckle. SO true…
If you have an honest to goodness feeling that a true opportunity could arise here… well, if it feels fertile now – and it’s just February, the year has just begun! – then I say plant some seeds and harvest. Give yourself a good two or three months. Unless, that seems totally unbearable…
Well, unbearable? Rodeo Drive unbearable? Not exactly…
Wait. Why don’t I just dream BIGGER?
Oh waiter… waiter!
I’ll have a nice platter of rampant success and happiness for a glamorous stint here in LA with an upfront bonus of a wonderful little two-week getaway to go back and visit what I sorely miss! Oh, and I’ll be needing that getaway bonus to kick in every three months or so. And we’ll have a Dom Pérignon with that… Thank you!!
Uh oh… have I gone cynically couture??!
Who am I kidding? I’m just as crazy as the rest of them here.
Now the next couple of blogs about more of the MAGIC I have discovered here…