(I've always loved that line from Bukowski) I have 8 days left in Los Angeles. Most of it will be spent working, and the rest of it will be spent packing and cleaning. I'm dedicating a few moments to this blog post, which is the first thing I've done solely for myself in ages. I won't miss Los Angeles very much. It's just like any other part of my past; once I recognize that I've grown and once I understand what's good for me, I don't need the past to lean on anymore. That growth is pretty obvious:
My 1st move to LA in 2008 was for a man. I moved home 8 months later because I was heartbroken over that man. I spent 1 year in
hell Olean, NY before moving back to Los Angeles for another man. That one ended much better, but it still ended. Neither of these people were good for me; in fact, they were fucking terrible for me. By the time those messes had fully ended, 5 years had passed. 2013 left me constantly drunk full of amazing experiences, but wondering if I'd ever learn from my mistakes, if I'd ever know myself well enough to understand why I couldn't make it work with certain types of people no matter how much I loved them. While falling for Pepijn in late 2013/early 2014, I did get hurt initially (dating is hard. dating someone who is in the middle of a breakup is harder. oops), but I handled that hurt differently than all the others. I felt healthier, like I had finally shown myself a little bit more respect. It helps that he's always on my level no matter what, but this relationship still came with a new knowledge of what I needed that wouldn't have risen up if it hadn't been for all that past hurt.
Career It's easy for me to be my own harshest critic. That's pretty standard for anyone in a creative field; but, at my last job those tables were turned. I thought I was doing a good job. I researched constantly. When we tested, my designs always fared well. I thought about everything, but I was still constantly made to feel like my knowledge was a joke compared to the opinions of upper management (none of whom came from creative backgrounds of any kind). Their often conflicting and impulsive opinions became an ironclad rulebook, while I would simultaneously be punished for not having more ideas. When I tried to explain why things should be done differently, I was told I had an ego and that I was difficult. So I questioned myself, naturally. By the time I left, I felt totally incapable. Wanna know the best conversion rate my designs ever got at that job (After taking feedback from multiple managers into consideration and making several changes from testing that gave us an extra percent here or there)? ~40%. That means about 40% of users did what we wanted them to do. Recently I designed a website in the same vertical for my fiancé with no real guidance, no one's opinions, no feedback. He asked me to do whatever I thought would work. Wanna know how that design converts? 65%, and it's not finished yet. There are improvements being made that will easily make that site more successful.
In conclusion, go fuck yourself for never taking me seriously, but that's probably just my huge ego talking amirite?!
My boss at my new job trusts me and gives me endless creative freedom. She loves new ideas and isn't afraid to take risks. She is comfortable leaving tasks to people who prove that they know how to do them. When she asks for opinions or next steps, I sometimes surprise myself by having a clear answer and feeling confident about it. It's only surprising because my last job made me feel like I knew nothing, so I never felt equipped to speak up. Now that I know how good it can be, I'll never accept less, and that is a huge deal.
Self I remember a night in late 2010 or early 2011 when my ex-boyfriend and I were talking about driving—he asked why I didn't, and I instantly cried because I didn't know and was so embarrassed by it that I thought he'd love me less. I didn't even know how to figure out why, and was so frustrated that all I could do in response was cry. I didn't know why I did or didn't do anything. I had never given it real thought, I was on autopilot constantly. I am not that person anymore, and that is no small feat. To do the real, sometimes painful work associated with analyzing and understanding the reasons why we are who we are is one of the hardest (but most rewarding!) things we can ever do, and that work is never truly finished. But you know what? Now I don't question what I like. Now I don't give a fuck what anyone thinks. Now I do things with the reassurance and peace of mind that they are better for my soul. I stopped drinking so much, I stopped chasing the wrong people, I stopped doing stupid things and then getting mad at myself for doing them, I stopped letting other people influence who I was. I listen more, I am more respectful, I am nicer, I am smarter. That growth could have happened anywhere, but I'm thankful it happened in LA.
I'll leave you with a list.
- Food and drink. I've learned that I get a lot of enjoyment from trying new food and eating good meals. I will miss the gołabki at Warszawa. I will miss the clam chowder at Neptune's Net. I will miss the Ethiopian vegan feast at Rahel. I will miss the ponzu duck at Musha. I will miss the executive lunch at Cafe Brasil, I will miss the squash ravioli at Pace. I will miss the fries at Sonny McLeans, I will miss the picklebacks at Casey's and the banana cream pie at Cole's, but above all, I will miss the margaritas, pork nachos, and Cahuenga cucumber salad at Mercado.
- Bijan Cohenmehr. I know it's weird to put my optometrist on this list, but that man saved my eyes. If you're on the west side, make an appointment immediately, and then never go to any eye doctor ever again. I'm considering flying back once a year just to see him and pay out-of-network costs, because yes he is that good, and no I am not kidding.
- The Troubadour. I've gone to a lot of concerts in LA, but all of the shows that have lit my heart on fire have been at the Troubadour, starting with Sam Roberts Band in 2009 and ending with 3 nights of sitting 5 feet away from David Crosby in 2014 (I only went back once after that because HOW CAN YOU FUCKING TOP THAT?) I will never forget how it feels to walk into that place.
- Laurel Canyon. Home in the late 60s to Crosby, Joni Mitchell, Jim Morrison, Cass Elliott, Frank Zappa, Neil Young, etc etc etc. They all lived here, and almost all of them were candidly photographed by Henry Diltz, giving most of the photos from this era/area a familiar vibe, and we know how affected I am by sound and imagery coming together. It was where some of my biggest creative heroes wrote songs that changed my life forever, and I can just go there and wander.
- Colors. Exhibit A, Exhibit B, Exhibit C, Exhibit D, Exhibit E, Exhibit F.
- Weird shit. I will miss learning about secret concerts in parking garages that coincide with each full moon, I will miss unexpectedly ending up watching weird illegitimate wrestling matches in a venue that's not actually a venue as much as it is just someone's huge, dirty apartment. I will miss waking up with signed books of poetry in my bag after crazy nights at Rainbow on Sunset (That last link's blog post is about Pepijn, ha! I sure don't miss early 2014/early stages of dating).
- Wondering, every single day, if I'll die from some asshole driving a car.
- PoSiTive ViBeS. Oh. My. God. Pls take every last one of your positive affirmations and shove them forcefully up your ass in the bathroom of Cafe Gratitude, Los Angeles. Reality is not always positive. It's just not.
- USC bros in BMWs. Actually I suspect there's just a generator somewhere underground in LA, pushing out a steady stream of douchebag drones. How is it possible that they're all so similar in such a diverse city?
- Wildfires, earthquakes, smog, drought, heat, etc etc etcetc ecte etctet cctctecc ee t c
Love you, LA, but I won't miss you very much. I don't have to. We'll see each other again someday, I'm sure.