Wednesday, September 29, 2010

If there were social rules governing The Facebook, this is what I'd want them to be

I was among the earliest people (outside of Harvard people) to start using The Facebook - so early that it was still called The Facebook when I joined.

It was 2004 - my junior year at Boston College - and I was studying abroad in Florence. I remember getting an IM (because that was still happening) from a friend who didn't go abroad about this new version of Stalker Net (what we called the BC internal Facebook system) for Boston-area college students. In those days (ohmygodI'mold) you had to select your school from a pull-down menu of, I think, five options? Harvard, MIT, Brandeis, Boston College, and something else.... I was at an Internet cafe booking a RyanAir flight from random-town-outside-Rome to random-town-outside-Barcelona for 3 pounds on the afternoon that I joined.

The Facebook is nothing like it was back then. Like, when I joined you couldn't upload pictures and there was no Newsfeed. It was pretty much just stock-piling friends and then poking them. If you asked me then if it would become the most ubiquitous element of our on and sometimes offline social lives, I'd have said no. But I also thought Twitter had a shelf life of a month.

We have come a very long way - too far, I'd argue. And so in honor of the release of the The Facebook movie (if you're going to use the font, just call it that) I'd like to share my set of rules for engagement on the site - a list of behavior and activity parameters I think we should all be following because they make moral, logical, and social sense.

  • Rules #1 - if you friend someone who, when they see your name in the subject-line of the ________ has-requested-to-be-your-friend-on-Facebook e-mail will go who is that?? - you are required to send a message with your request. Anything from, "Hey Jessie, it's been AGES, hope you're well" - if I haven't spoken to you since 3rd grade. Or, "Hey Jessie, I'm ________ a friend of _________" if I will otherwise have no idea who you are. I have been trying to think of a real-life-scenario metaphor to explain how weird this would be if you did it to someone live, but there is no comparison. Just, if you think there's a chance my reaction is going to be, "ummmm?what?" - try to prevent that with a sensible, personal touch.
  • Rule #2 - If you wouldn't say it at full volume across a crowded room of everyone the person knows and cares about, don't write it on their wall. Examples include: "Did I hear you broke up with _______?" Or "Whaatt? Quitting your job next month and moving to LA??" Or "Do you remember anything about last night?" The wall is a place that everyone can see.
  • Rule #3 - If you are of the level friendship/relationship/marriage where you could text whatever it is you've decided to post on their wall directly to them, please do so. I think it's wonderful that you want your baby to have an amazing first day of work. I'm (pretty) sure your baby thinks it's wonderful to. I'm just not sure why we all have to be a part of that personal display of your private love. Same goes for, "what you up to tonight dog?" We have gchat/bbm/texting for a reason.
  • Rule #4 - If you look at a picture you've taken of another person and think anything less than, "this is a fair representation of this person's face and body" - don't tag them in it. That's mean.
  • Rule #5 - Status update should be updates on your status: short descriptions, messages, thoughts, links or the like. 250-word paragraphs (fine, 200 if we're not counting exclamation points and emoticons), three-times a day recounting your every move are overkill. Start a blog.
  • Rule #6 -"It feels like angels are dancing on my soul when you hug me" is not a group nor is "long text messages about how someone feels about me makes my day :)" - yes, the joining of a group is now "liking" and you can technically "like" the concept of those things, but - just - stop. Alex, this means you.
  • Rule #7 - Any status messages or wall postings relative to a TV show that any percentage of the viewing public might not yet have seen should be avoided at all cost. I live in LA now so this is even more of a problem, but no one watches TV the night it's on anyway, so don't ruin it.
  • And finally - Rule #8 - Just use your actual name as your profile name. Anything else is bizarre. Anything with hearts, stars or like shapes in it is criminal.
That's my piece (or the parts of it I'm willing to share with the Internet). What would your rules be?

Monday, September 27, 2010

What people really mean when they say L.A. is an industry town

I had a strong amount of working knowledge about Los Angeles prior to moving here (4 Ikea and 7 Target trips ago), so the fact that this is an "industry town" is no surprise to me. It's precisely why I left the comforts of a 20-block commute and brunches that start at the proper brunch hour (in New York, Sunday at 9:30am is the middle of the night). But conceptually understanding the meaning of "industry town" is different than practically experiencing that phrase in everyday action. In my pre-moved mind, the presence of the entertainment industry in L.A. was akin to presence of politics in D.C. Then I remembered that I've never lived in D.C.

While I haven't lived in L.A. for much longer than never, I can say after one complete pay-period as a member of "the industry," now I get it. It's not about what percentage of people you know work in entertainment - it's about how that percentage affects life in general and specific. Here's what I mean:

  • I have a dozen friends here who are actually my friends and not friends-of-friends who I would count if, say, my Mom asked how many friends I have so far. Of that dozen, two do not work in some form of entertainment. That's two twelfths (which may or may not also be 1/6th?). Now to an outsider (me two weeks ago) that's "everyone works in the industry" but once you're here you realize that because "everyone works in the industry" the specific areas of that industry within which you work become like totally different industries. So Peter who works as a reality television producer and Robby who develops scripted comedy shows are akin to a lawyer and an ophthalmologist. There's a good deal of cross-over in areas like development (the finding of ideas and turning them into film/television) but in general the lines are clearly divided so, "I work in television" is really, "I work in reality development, network side, for Bravo."
  • Because of the sheer percentage of people who work in the industry, you really, truly are two-to-three degrees of separation from almost, absolutely anyone - and - much like the college name-game ("Oh, BC? Did you know Megan Mc-something?") you are constantly testing those degrees of separation to determine, I assume, how you can get from point A to point Leonardo DiCaprio. So the college name-game becomes, "Oh you work for Brian at Full Picture? I work for Sharon at 20th but she came from Mirimax when Pam was there and Pam and Brian were both Stark kids so...." and then both people silently compute how what that means relative to either of them getting their script to Leonardo DiCaprio.
  • Which brings us to the percentage of people who have a script they're trying to get to Leonardo DiCaprio (or [insert big name]). In general this will be referred to as either a script, treatment or project - as in "I have a script I'm trying to get to Joseph Gordon Levitt" or "I'm shopping a reality treatment at Fox" or "I want to get this Jessie Rosen project off the ground." No, people aren't obnoxiously schlocking their would-be wares at every bar slash party, but if the appropriate moment arises you'll hear an elevator pitch weaved into the conversation. The reason this is accepted and not eye-rolled-at is because many people at many bars slash parties really can help you move that project along. There is no networking like L.A. networking - expect for perhaps D.C. networking, but I've still never lived there.
  • What sounds-bad-but-is-actually-excellent about this is that the percentage of people who have actually completed work on whatever project they're pitching is - from what I've heard - very low. So it goes, "Wow, you have an autistic father role for Leonardio DiCaprio? I'd love to read that" then, "yeah, well, I'm still trying to break story on it, but I'll get it over to you soon." The reason this is actually excellent is that if you really do have completed work to share you're one giant step ahead of 75% of people at the party.
  • Unfortunately, 85% of the people you send that work to will not read it. This is a generalization, but a fair one. There is a type of meeting around this town called a "general." It's sort of like an informational interview except you're interviewing for the chance to have this person read your shit. Prior to a general the given producer/agent/development exec will receive your stuff from whomever was kind enough to send it on your behalf (your manager, your cousin, the guy you're dating). They may read some of it prior to your meeting (this depends on how much they like your manager, cousin, guy-you're-dating), but will likely use the general to decide if they're ever going to read it or, depending on how important they are, ever going to ask their assistant to read it.
  • What makes all this networking, pitching, and project developing challenging to an outsider is the language barrier. Every industry has its jargon, but in L.A. it's foreign language-level. And included in the lexicon are the names of industry players that you must know to translate what anyone is saying. Industry heads, power producers, development execs. This is probably because I don't know anyone, but it would appear a though everyone else knows everyone else. As such sentences like, "Wait, Schwartz has an overall at 20th? But I just read on my message board that ABC bought his 1/2 hour in the room?" make sense to everyone. I'm developing a Lexicon, most of which will probably be wrong. Stay-tuned.
  • There seems to be a hierarchy slash value system regarding the various industry job (i.e. director, writer, producer), but it's complicated by the fact that everyone thinks their given selection is the most important. Unless you're an actor, in which case everyone is in agreement that it's the worst - until they're dating one.
  • And finally - after a certain amount of time in "the industry" you really will meet a porn director at a dinner party. In my case, it took 3 weeks, to the day.
If any of this sounds like I'm frustrated by the up-hill battle that is anyone's L.A. learning curve that's because I've already mastered the most important element of all. Pretending like this is the craziest, most miserably stressful and asinine industry in the world to mask the fact that most of what goes on here really is as insanely cool as it looks.

Then again, most of that is because I wear a headset at work now....

Friday, September 24, 2010

Would you rather be the mean one or the nice one?

I'd be in trouble if I said all but let's say many-if-not most couples are comprised of two parts: a nice one and a not as nice one.

It's not quite a good cop/bad cop scenario (though some couples are that, which is interesting in and of itself). I'm saying one person in every couple is going to have slightly more edge, slightly more bite, a slightly greater tendency to do the less nice thing. Like, if the couple is confronted with a scenario in which something mean could/should be said/done - one of them will say/do it first.

The degree can be incredibly slight, but I'd argue that in most cases it's there, and in all cases, it's uncontrollable. You either are the innately edgier half or you're not. And if you're not sure, you're the nicer one.

I thought I had a solid answer, and I thought it was, "I'd rather be the nicer one." I have a fair amount of edge. I like a fair amount more, and so I've tended to pair myself with guys with an incredibly effective devil-on-the-shoulder. Not "bad boys" in the Jordan Catalano sense, but not dudes who are constantly calling, "too far..." on me. If you'd have said, "so you're saying you went for assholes" I'd have said, "no, no, no - not assholes, just really edgy guys." Then, apparently, you would have thought, "right, assholes," but said, "mmhhmm..."

Turns out the opposite scenario is actually quite...nice. Apparently there is a correlation between edge and asshole. And, though I can't point to solid results at this point, it appears that dating someone even slightly nicer than oneself inspires oneself to be slightly nicer.

It's tricky stuff. I'm working on some form of line graph.

So naturally this begs a little Friday which-would-you-rather question. Or maybe just a which-one-are-you?

Or maybe better yet - which-one-are-you-more-comfortable being? And why?...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

California culture shock

I have lived in LA for 2.5 weeks, but it still feels like I'm on some weird vacation - like my car is a rental car that I don't really have to worry about, like I should do as much as humanely possible in a given day because I only have so many left, like I can wear white jeans even though it's essentially October...

I can't quite explain the all-consuming feeling of being totally off-kilter after the transition from New York City to the suburb that is Los Angeles (sorry, but...) but like I told Zac yesterday on gchat, it's as if I'm a goldfish whose water's just been changed so I'm all swimming around seizure-style in no particular direction, forgetting things after two minutes and mistaking tiny pieces of grain for food (dramatic, yes, but people do eat less here). Also my jewelry is all still in boxes and my hanging clothes are out of color/style order (ROYGBIV, shirts/skirts/dresses/pants, obvs), so I can't focus on a damn thing. You know how it is.

Still - in vacation slash gold fish interrupted mode, my perception of all that is new/different/oh-so-LA is razor sharp. Here's what I've got after 2.5 weeks:

-There is a food truck here called the NomNom truck. I don't know what they sell out of said truck, but I don't care. I will eat it as soon as possible and report back. If this pertains to you specifically, you get it.

-Every day I learn a new industry phrase/jargon/term. My favorite so far is "to give good meeting" as in, "her ideas are meh, but she gives really good meeting." Yeah, I know it does...

-I am more dressed up than anyone I encounter at any place I go. Like, today someone at my office literally said to me, "wow, that's an actual outfit," I responded, "yep, I like clothes" (gold-fish-brain mode), but I thought, "um, no it's not. I'm clearly not accessorizing to my full potential because my necklaces are still in boxes. How could you not SEE that?!!"

-People in LA are completely immune to several of the things I find most shocking about this town: traffic, the weather, the cost of valet parking. I believe it's a learned defense mechanism, like how when you bring up how bad New York smells in the Summer and people pretend they don't notice.

-A surprising number of people I'm meeting went to Ivy League schools, which is great cause it's always good to have very smart people around, but it's kind of like, shouldn't you all be curing cancer and solving whatever goes down in the Middle East instead of coming up with phrases like "gives good meeting"???

-It is AMAZING the kind of things you see people do alone in their cars. Today I passed a girl who appeared to be applying fake eye lashes at a stoplight on Olympic and Dohaney (those are two palm-tree-lined streets where very famous things happens, obvs). Also because everyone has blue tooth in their cars you constantly see people carrying on full conversations with no one, windows wiiiide open. Yesterday I heard a woman say, "you can $!*#@ me seven ways 'til Sunday if you just replace the god-damned light bulb in the nanny's room. She can't READ at night. And if she can't READ at night she's in a piss poor mood all day. And I won't have our kids raised by a moody nanny." I'm not paraphrasing.

-The breakfast burrito is to Los Angeles what the bagel with cream cheese and lox is to New York. As such I'm on a campaign to eat every single one available. So far I'm six in, and I've only been here for four brunches.

-A pool party is to Los Angeles what a roof party in to New York. This is great because pools are fun and a lot cooler than roofs (rooves?). This is bad because you wear significantly less clothing to a pool.

-I've learned that it's not technically name dropping if you really do know the person and hang out with them. Name dropping would be me being like, "I was at this Newline thing with Leonardo DiCaprio the other night. Party was lame, but they had it catered by the NomNom food truck." Whereas completely legitimate LA conversation would be like, "Leo was in the office last Thursday for a pitch around this new concept for HBO. We ordered in from the NomNom truck because that's his favorite."

-If you were an assistant or currently are an assistant in any other city in the world and you think you worked really, really hard and controlled an insane about of stuff and had to do things that were absolutely ridiculous, you're wrong. The Los Angeles assistant is second to nothing. They make things happen with two blackberries, a land line and Microsoft Outlook that would wow that guy who built the Iron Man suit. Because of this I am very seriously considering changing my selection for stranded on a desert island companion. I just need to find an assistant who can do a good Barak impression...

-People don't know about silly bands here. As such I am personally enculturating (sp?) the entire Los Angeles 20-something population (co-ed!) on the phenomenon. In this way I'm sort of like the man who brought Crispy Kreme's to NYC except I'm reaping zero monetary benefits, and some people think I'm kidding.

Monday, September 20, 2010

There are boys, there are guys, and there are men

As I see and have experienced it, there are three and only three distinct classifications of male - boys, guys, and men.

They have no bearing on age (you can be a boy at 45 and a man at 24), don't follow a specific progression (you can get to man if you never hit boy), and won't necessarily stick once they're hit (you could spend some time as a man but then regress to being a guy again). But as (straight) beings possessing of an X and Y chromosome pass out of college (where nothing counts) and into adulthood (where I'm working on getting a few less things to count, stay tuned), they fall into patterns of being that slot them into one of these three groups.

To be clear - these are my classifications, and I haven't run them by a healthy survey size of people (unless five is healthy, in which case 100% of the survey set agrees with me). And to be clearer, for the purposes of this post these classifications pertain to the way a given male treats women, meaning you can be a man at the office and a boy in the bedroom. (There was potential for a genius rap line there, but I couldn't figure it out.)

Here's my rationale:

Boys are boys. Regardless of how much experience they have with women, they function as if they have little to none. When it comes to decision-making around the female set, they make them with the thinking unit below and not above the belt. They're more sexual than emotional and more emotional than rational but more rational than compassionate or empathetic. They have the EQ of an eight grader. They get wasted and do dumb shit. They get excited and do dumb shit. They get scared and do the dumbest shit of all.

Boys are usually unfocused and misguided. They may have jobs and passions but they're not on any logical or mature course relative to either. Ask a boy where he sees himself five years from now, and he'll laugh in your face. Ask a boy what he thinks about getting married and he'll ask you if you're serious with that question.

This doesn't mean that boys are immature assholes with no sense of past, present or future. They can be sweet and loving. They can be spontaneous and adventurous. They can be responsible and thoughtful. They just can't be those things unless it's exactly what they want to be exactly when they want to be it. A boy's life resolves around himself and whatever he's planted within arm's reach from that self. Sometimes that's because he doesn't know any better, but as I've said to more than one boy in my past life, "you should have watched enough television at this point to know what to do here." Boys get scared, insecure, or confused and shut down.

Of course none of this means we'll be any less attracted to a textbook boy.

The first problem is that they don't always present as boys, which begins to explain why we can fall for them time and time (and time) again. The second problem is that whole inexplicable female attraction to clueless, carefree dudes, especially hot ones. It hearkens back to the if-you-tease-me-I'll-like-you-more holdover from middle school. We're not proud of it, but we don't appear to be evolving out of it.

Guys are a step up in the maturity, responsibility, and consistency department.

Unlike boys, they get it - "it" being the general rules around being in a relationship or at least being good to a woman, they just don't always want to follow those rules all the time.

The life of a guy exists in waves. One week/month/fiscal quarter he's going to the gym, saving money, not taking home random bitties at Murray Hill bars (sorry, I don't know the L.A. equivalent yet) the next he's black-out texting his frat brother's 21-year-old sister. Guys have direction, but their attitude about that direction is laissez faire - it's like they know right from wrong - no matter the category - but they'd choose wrong 75% of the time if they could.

The crux of it is that guys can be lame - that catch-all word that means you either decided to or only know how to give 60-75% - to work, to relationships, whatever. It's like guys have it in them to be incredible men (description to follow), they just can't get over that hill. Sometimes it's a condition, sometimes it's a choice.

Ask a guy where he sees himself in five years and he'll have a legit answer. Ask him what he thinks about being married and he'll say something about it meaning his life will be over. Guys get scared, insecure, or confused and do whatever it is that makes that feeling go away as quickly as possible.

You know Paul Rudd's character in Knocked Up? Got the job and the kids and the really nice house but still goes through that weird and elaborate lie process so he can go do his fantasy football thing? Guy.

Now - the problem with guys is that they represent a major major percentage of the male set. More often than not, a dude is a guy. So by sheer percentage, you're going to end up with one.

Also, guys maintain enough of that boy thing to be that version of sexy that we're not proud we think is sexy but enough of that man thing that we all want once we turn 27,8,9?

The line between guy and man is difficult to explain, but you know it when you see it. Men are not lame. With a man you'll find yourself saying, "wow, I cannot believe how consistently this man does the thing I hope he'll do."

He will have direction and focus. He will have a savings account. He will call his parents, even if he doesn't want to. Men are planners. Ask them where they see themselves in five years and they'll tell you - even if it's just a loose idea. Ask them if that includes being married and they'll say something like - sure, if I meet the right girl.

Men do the wrong thing sometimes. They make mistakes, they get scared, they do dumb shit, they function by desire and not logic. The difference between a man and a guy is 1. the consistency with which he does the wrong thing (that being less) and 2. what he does afterwards (the being the right thing to fix it). Men get scared, confused or insecure and handle it head on - even if their first try at handling it is wrong. Men say, "I was wrong" and "I'm sorry" and "what can I do to make it better?"

Men take care of themselves, first and foremost, but they also take care of you, not because they know they have to (that's the guy mentality) - they do it because they actually want to. It makes them feel, well, like a man.

Remember when Aiden goes to help Miranda get up off the bathroom floor after she threw her back out and he has to deal with that whole she's-naked awkwardness? Man move. Aiden was a total man.

Now the point of this whole three tier system isn't to suggest that you should all be with men and are fools for settling for either of the other two varieties. People compliment other people in different ways. And because of the fifty classifications for the kind of female one can be, it's entirely possible that the right kind of XY for you is actually a boy. We have different needs. We have different attractions. I have dated boys and really enjoyed all their boy qualities. Sometimes that's just what you're looking for at a given time.

But - if the question in your relationship is, "I don't understand why this man I'm dating keeps doing X, Y, and Z" the answer is, he's not a man. And if the follow up is, "well by your standards, I don't think real men exist," you're wrong.

Friday, September 17, 2010

My dog ate my homework

At 6:30am my alarm went off. I crawled out from under the covers (I sleep fully submerged in a sort of heat cocoon fashioned by my new down-alternative comforter and the bizarre natural heat produced by my sleeping body), reached for my glasses (I'm dangerously close to legally blind), and slumped over to my deep purple desk (positioned against my yellow focal wall. Brian: "You gonna hang a Kobe jersey above that? Me: "Shit.") to begin "penning" today's blog entry.

It was about the differences I've perceived between men in New York and men in LA over the short period since I moved. I haven't met any men in LA over the short period since I moved and, in fact, have spent 80% of my time with men-who-like-men, so the post was really a smattering of assumptions I've made based on things I've seen from my car (where I spend all time not spent with gay men or behind a high-walled cubicle).

It was a great post. Lots of, "based on their clothes it seems that," and, "if the way they drive is any indication of the way they date then..." - real, meaty stuff. Bullet after bullet of it.

I finished the post. Opened a new Firefox window, and started a google image search for the male cast of The Hills (seemed appropriate). And scene.

Except that at 7:10am I actually woke up, turned over to see that I'd dismissed my alarm at 6:30, and realized I forgot to pick out an outfit last night (been doin' it since kindergarten and it's never failed me).

So, here we are with one fairly good idea stuck in my half-sleep-state and one sad-excuse-for-a-blog-post on the actual Internet.

I decided the picture may as well stay...

Actual post tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Attention potential movers, people who know people moving, and people who generally support justice

There will be no formal post today on account of I spent from 7pm to 1am unpacking my life's belongings after they finally arrived from New Jersey, 14 days and 9 hours after having left.

According to google maps, that 3K distance can be traversed in under three days. Over a year ago Geanna did it in 3 days with a similarly sized 18-wheeler (note: she was passenger on a courier trip of some antique art for the MET, because that happens). A few weeks ago my friend Brian did it in 5 days with significant stopping. So you could presumably go from NJ to LA and back THREE TIMES in the amount of time it took my movers to go once.

My contract with ALL INCLUSIVE MOVING AND STORAGE specifies that the move could take up to 14 days. "But it never takes that long," they told me when I signed the contract. "And, if it's over 14 days, you get a 50% refund."

Hhmm, so what if it's 14 days and 22 hours? As in, you receive your stuff on the 14th day at 10:00pm? Then what?

And what if over the course of those 14 days, this happens:

  • Last Tuesday: "It's in southern California. You should have it any day now!"
  • Last Thursday: "Oh, when we spoke Tuesday I meant northern California. But now it's in southern, so you should have it any day now, still."
  • Last Friday: "Oh, it seems your drivers are very religious Jews and needed to take off for Rosh Shanana. Also, they don't work on Saturdays."
  • Last Sunday: "HHmm, I don't know - that is strange. You should have it soon though."
  • This Monday: "Well, they'll call you the day before, so if you haven't heard yet today then you probably won't get it tomorrow."
  • Yesterday, 8am: "Hi, Jennifer? This is John, your mover. We'll be there in a little bit."
  • Me: It's Jessie, and weren't you supposed to call me the day prior to arrival?
  • John: Oh, didn't I call you?
  • Me: No.
  • John: Oh, well we'll be there soon.
  • Yesterday, 12pm, Me: Hi John, are you guys on your way because I had my roommate wait home when you said you'd be there soon.
  • John: Oh, yeah, it's going to be awhile.
  • Me: How long?
  • John: 2pm?
  • Yesterday, 3pm, Me: John, Jessie. What's the status because my roommate is still waiting.
  • John: Oh, yeah, we got caught up.
  • Me: Well I can't have him wait any longer. You now need to come after 7:30, when I get home from work.
  • John: Yeah, great, fine, we do that.
  • Yesterday, 7:00pm, Me: Hi John, it's me. I'm almost home, so I'll see you guys shortly.
  • John: Oh, Jessie, hm. We're going to be awhile. Got caught up. Can we come tomorrow?
  • Me: WHAT?! TOMORROW?! AbsoLUTELY not. It has been 14 days, and if you come tomorrow I expect a 50% refund.
  • John: Fine. How late can we come.
  • Me: "I don't care if you come at 2:00 in the god-damed morning. I want my shit, and I want it tonight.
  • Yesterday, 9:40pm, John: Jessie? We're here at the corner of La Brea and Romaine.
  • Me: It's La Jolla and Romaine
  • John: It says La Brea here on the papers.
  • Me: Well it's La Jolla
  • John: I don't understand
  • Me: I don't care. It's La Jolla. I have the same papers, and they say La Jolla.
  • John: Okay, well, see you soon I guess.
Seriously, how is this possible?! What goes on?! Do the movers drive around Los Angeles finding random people who need to move that minute throwing off their entire truck route and plan? Do they gravely underestimate the amount of time it takes to make each move? Do they break for 9 meals a day? And WHY, whywhy, WHY would you assign religious Jews to handle cross-country moves during the high holidays!??!!

And so, it is with the best reason I've ever had that I ask you to please never, ever use All Inclusive Moving and Storage. And tell your family and friends never to use them. And tell random passers by on the street whom you overhear discussing moving/movers/trucking/storage or the like to never, ever use them.

Thank you.

I'll be back tomorrow as the calmer, more patient version of myself. Unless I find one more framed thing broken...

Monday, September 13, 2010

The only person who got more up-tight in LA.

I would not consider myself an anxious person. Excitable, yes. Animated, very yes. But a Nervous Nelly I have never been (nor a Debbie Downer, but I did go through a fairly Prudence McPrude stage, if we're going through the alliteratives).

On the whole, I'm even keel, calm under pressure, cool as a cucumber. One time this nun and I got stuck underground for 45 minutes on an uptown F Train and I was the one who talked her off a ledge.

So I assumed what little anxiety I did have would vanish once I arrived on the calm coast. California cool, right? Live the good life and hang ten and talk with a slightly slower cadence than the rest of the country. This is the place where I was supposed to practice yoga in the canyons and buy a juicer because I'm finally relaxed enough to waste 25 minutes making juice I could buy in a carton for $2.99.

So far, no dice. I am more anxious here than I've been in my entire life, and I spent six days in Sicily with zero hotel reservations and rudimentary Italian skills.

The full catalog of my LA anxieties has yet to be written (because I don't have anything to write it on, because my entire life's belongings still aren't here, because they're being driven across the country by a team of Hasidic jews, and it was just Rosh Shahana...) but here, after exactly eight days in the land where people start work at 10am, is my list of top five issues:

  • Parking - where to do it, when to do it, how to do it without getting a ticket, how to do it, in general... To use or not to use the emergency break? Roll up or not roll up the windows? Close or not close the moon roof? Pull in the mirrors or leave them out? Is this corner spot likely to get side-swiped by a parking garage menace? If I valet should I actually use the valet key? Or - my greatest fear - what if I arrive at my destination and there simply is no parking. Do I leave? Do people here do that? Try to go to a party in the hills, find there's absolutely no parking what-so-ever, and just abort mission?? You see.
  • Uknown traffic rules - there was a time in my late teens where I was generally familiar with traffic rules but then I spent 9 years living in one of two cities, so it has been roughly a decade since who-goes-first-at-a-four way-stop mattered to me. On foot in Manhattan the answer was always me. Now I'm in a state where I've never driven let alone read a book recapping the rules of how it's to be done sos not to receive a ticket. Also, I drive a red car. Like, look-over-here-at-me-incorrectly-going-first-at-a-four-way-stop red. Luckily I'm going to get a nice refresher on those rules when I take the California driver's test required to get my new license. That could be another bullet, but we'll just group it under this one.
  • Being late - at the top of the short list of my pre-existence anxieties was being late. There is nothing that frustrates me more. I hate to keep people waiting. I hate to personally be kept waiting. And I generally think the inability to allow for an appropriate amount of transit time is a sign of weakness. I now live in a city where there is no sure-fire way to guarantee how long it is going to take to get from one place to any other place. I asked one friend how long I should allow to commute to work, and he said 20 minutes. I asked another and she said an hour. "Do people just constantly keep people waiting in this town?" I asked Mike. "Yes," he said.
  • Being over-dressed - I own one pair of sweatpants and seven gold belts. When I asked Nora what I should wear on my first day in the LA-working world and she said, "jeans and I cute top," I almost slapped her across the face. This is going to be an issue. Not because I can't adjust my scale of dress to meet a more casual look but because I absolutely cannot afford what it's going to cost to do so.
  • Remaining calm if/when I see a given list of celebrities - I'm not generally a star-struck person. I had the training of several years at the Tribeca Film Festival and lived in the West Village, so I can - say - pick up a CVS prescription next to Andy Sandberg and not lose my cool. That said, I cannot predict how I will react if I encounter a given small list of my personal entertainment industry idols (sounds like Don Coward...). My hope is that I will smile to myself and wait until said celebrity rounds the corner before texting my entire family, but I could just as easily gawk like a five-year-old at the circus, snap a cell phone picture, and place a phone call home while they're still within ear distance. It might just be better if I never see them.
The list is slightly longer and includes issues like, "what will happen to my body if I consume avocado for three meals a day, every single day?" and "how am I ever going to handle Barry's Boot Camp?" but those are back-burner anxieties for the time (because so far my digestive system remains in tact and all my sneakers packed are on the god damned truck...).

Maybe these are just "welcome to LA" anxieties - maybe after a few more weeks I'll remember how to drive, learn how to park, figure out all the short cuts to work, find this Kitson outlet people speak of, and cross all the freak-out celebs off my list.

Or maybe it's going to take longer than eight days to adjust to an entire new life.

Unfortunately, patient is something I will never be in any city, on any coast.

Friday, September 10, 2010

It isn't you, Armin, it's my brand new overwhelming life.

This morning I lied over the phone to a man I've never met at the Volkswagen dealership in Van Nuys, California. His name was Armin. Well - is Armin but I've never met him and never will, so to me he's past tensed.

Armin and I met over my e-negotiations for a Jetta lease. Per Greg's advice I spent the days since my arrival in LA contacting various VW dealerships for Jetta quotes, pitting those quotes against each other and negotiating my price down from one number with zero relevance what-so-ever to me to one considerably smaller number with slightly more relevance now that an installment of it has been removed from my bank account.

Armin had been the front runner early on. He came in low, piled on the extras, and told me moving to LA was the best decision I've ever made. He validated my want to go salsa red vs. black, and when I said, "I know it's frivolous, but I really a moon roof he said, "You're in LA. You need it, and it's sun roof." Armin was the angel at the gate between me and SoCal heaven. As such, I had every intention of finalizing my deal in Van Nuys so I could finally return the terrifying Jeep Grand Cherokee I'm borrowing from family friends and get on with my new, red-themed life.

Until I got an email from Michael at Volkswagen of Santa Monica that beat Armin's offer and promised a blue tooth hook-up.

"But Armin was so nice!" I said to Mike.

"Are you aware of how far Van Nuys is?" he said back.

And so I closed the deal in Santa Monica and started screening Armin's calls. Making the right decision was hard enough. Explaining that decision to a lovely man who had been among the nicest of my LA life thus far was too much. Maybe because disappointing people is my most hated emotion? Do you remember how much it stung when Mom or Dad said, "I'm not mad...I'm...disappointed..." Or maybe just because this week has been so filled with emotional decision after emotional decision that I'm emotionally decisionally tapped out.

I told Armin I went with a Honda Civic from the dealership of a family friend.

Yep. That lame. The car-lease equivalent of "it's not you, it's me" or "I've actually started talking to my ex-boyfriend back home again." A bold-faced lie (over the phone...).

The logical, no emotional-strings-attached response would have been, I got a better offer, and I want to buy a car in Santa Monica. Simple. Honest. True.

Just as simple as, "I'm sorry, but it just isn't working out between us" or "I met someone else" or even, "I don't think we make compatible friends" or "I've found a different job and will be leaving the company" or "I can't come to your birthday party because one of my better friends is having one that same night."

Stripped of all the feelings, the simple facts are facts - and they hold up just as well, if not better, than the lie.

But when we get wrapped up and connected in the people on the other end of those statements, it isn't cut and dry.

After the car purchase I think I'm officially done making major, emotional life purchases. But, just in case, I've decided to secure the remainder of my bedroom decor items online. Fedex/Kinkos employees don't care that the grey satin comforter was just a little too satin-y, but you're really sorry because it's such a lovely comforter and you fully intend to purchase a different Anthropologie comforter instead.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

LA Observations, 4 days in

I have lived in Los Angeles for four days. I arrived on Saturday at 2:30pm but spent the remainder of that day shopping 90 mph then enjoyed celebratory libations until 1am, so it counts.

Four days is not a lot of time to make a full call on this city, but it's plenty of time for snap judgments and the confirmation of given existing prejudices. Here, so far, are mine:

  • None of the Urban Outfitters in a 25-mile-radius have a proper housewares section. That's four locations in four cities (Burbank, Studio City, West Hollywood, and Santa Monica). No selection of tapestries, no ridiculous-colored shag carpets, not nearly enough of those tree-looking-things you hang necklaces on. This is ironic because the Urban Outfitters in Manhattan have items that cannot fit in 75% of the apartments in Manhattan and yet here where people live in houses the size of my parents' - nothing. I have places an order online, but I'm not pleased.
  • Additional branches of given stores are far from one another, case-in-point, the Urban Outfitters. Like, there isn't one in West Hollywood and then another in West Hollywood just 20 blocks away. This is a general theme I'm finding. For example, I have yet to find a Starbucks location from which you can see another Starbucks location. Shocking, I know.
  • There is no Dunkin Donuts. Not, there are no Dunkin Donuts locations - that would imply that there once was or is talk of there someday being. There is simply no concept of the Dunkin here.
  • Regardless of the weather at high noon, it is cool in the mornings and in the evenings. I'm told this has something to do with the desert. Frankly, all I care about is what it has to do to the quality of my frizzy hair in the morning when I leave for work and at night when I arrive at the bar. Major plus column item.
  • People say there is no good Chinese food but then everyone seems to have a secret place where they get great Chinese food. So, first - we are way closer to China here in LA than I ever was in New York, so this no-Chinese-food is completely illogical. And, the "I've got a great" situation out here is another trend I'm observing. So far I've also seen it applied with fervor to bagel shops and furniture stores.
  • You can pretty much drive any way you want and nobody cares. I did not go over 20 for a solid mile on La Brea the other day looking for this antique store and not one person honked at me. This is great because being honked at really stresses me out, but it probably also implies that everyone is just as bad a driver.
  • I live within walking distance from some of LA's best vintage clothing stores. This is not an observation, it's a blessing.
  • Parking garages are the greatest and worst thing about this city (I'd say "so far" but I think that might be it). Worst because there is this whhoollle rigmarole you've got to go through with the getting into the garage and worrying your car is going to scrape the ceiling even though the garage is sized to fit every model of car and then getting close enough to the ticket machine to get the ticket without having to put your car in park and open the damn door and then not hitting other cars as you drive around those sharp corner and then finding a spot and not hitting other cars as you pull into it and then not losing your ticket and then doing then not forgetting to do the whole pay-station thing when you leave and then the worst part of all - remembering where you parked. BUT, get this - you can get as much shit as you want at any store you go and you never have to worry about walking it home.
  • And - though I don't know how this could be possible - everyone is from New York. I have heard more "when I moved here from New York" stories this week than I've heard moving stories in my entire life. This is good because everyone can relate to all the insanity that is moving clear across the country (and living here for 4 days without your life belongings having arrived...) But it's also bad, because in a few weeks they're going to know it's time to buck up and stop complaining about how hard it is to remember to fill the car with gas...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

An open letter to New York City

...on the event of my move to L.A.

Dear New York:

This is an incredibly difficult letter for me to write.

Not because I’m writing from the center seat, coach, of my one-way flight to Los Angeles. Not because I’m two complimentary bottles of champagne into said flight (note to world: if you tell the flight attendants that this is the flight that moves you from the east to west Coast, they’ll give you a free bottle of champagne. If you cry when you tell them, they’ll give you two). And not because I’m a girl woman girl, and you’re a city.

It’s difficult because it marks a moment in time – my departure – that makes me reflect back on so many moments in our time – our five years together - that make me need to somehow say, “thank you, it was _______________.”

Just so we’re clear – I never wanted to leave. If it was up to me Hollywood would be in Manhattan and the financial capital of the world would be Los Angeles. Or worst case scenario Boston would be Los Angeles so I could Bolt Bus back for Sunday brunch at CafĂ© Cluny. But unfortunately what I need to do right now is 3K miles away. That doesn’t change how I feel about you, of course. I used to tell people that I was most myself in Manhattan - that you were the place I felt most energized, most grounded, most challenged, most appropriately dressed... But for right now, we have to take a pause.

Someone recently asked me why I didn’t make the move to LA right after college if the entertainment industry was always such a passion. I told them that I knew I wanted to spend my early 20’s in Manhattan. “Why?” they said. “If you have to ask,” I explained, “then you wouldn’t understand.”

Five years is not a long time in the grand scheme of things, but the five years from 21 to 26 are like dog years. My first apartment with my first random Craiglist roommate. My first job, then my first second job, then my first third job. My first overdraw of a bank account. My first opening of an IRA. My first all-nighter that didn’t involve a double-spaced paper.

I don’t consider myself a grown-up, but I do believe I grew up in New York, and not in the sense that ever other girl from Jersey does. I realized who and what it was I wanted to be during my time in Manhattan, and much of that I realized because of my time in Manhattan. You’re not one for wishy-washy, uncertain wallflowers, and so you brought out the gut-going, certain, center-of-the-dance floor in me.

For now, I have to say goodbye, but that’s the least important thing of all the things I need to say. I need you to know that you were the place that I became the version of myself that’s lead to the exciting things to come. Ironic, I know, because it’s that version that’s decided she has to leave, but it’s like I told my Mom, as much as you made me this girl who has to embark on this journey, you’ve also made me the girl who knows she'll come back.

Back for the energy and the inspiration and the grit. Back for the way-too-high rent for the way-too-small apartments, way too many flights up. Back to run in heels along cobble-stoned streets in sub-zero weather. Back to sweat it out in Central Park on a blanket as close to the softball diamond as possible. And back to afirm that it’s not about that “if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere,” claim – it’s about choosing to make it there – whatever it is you decide you want to make.

I couldn’t have done it without you, New York. And even if I could, I wouldn’t have wanted to.

So – because I’ll never be able to say everything I want to say, I’ll leave at this:

Thank you, New York, it was perfect.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Our sad, strange relationship with the telephone

The other day I grabbed my phone to call one of my very best friends. It was, I don't know, maybe 7pm? There was a chance she was home, but she's been pulling insane hours at the office, so probably not.

I grabbed the phone, pulled up her cell number, and then stopped.

...maybe I should just text her that I need to talk to her and she can call me? Because if I leave a message she's probably not going to check it because nobody checks messages anymore, so that would be a waste. I could text her the whole message, but it would probably be longer than just one message and if she sees part one of the text without part two she'll be really confused. Plus am I really going to invite her to dinner at my parents' house via text? Seems rude...or lame...or both.

...I guess I'll just call her, and if she's around we'll talk, but if she's not I'll just hang up and she'll see that I called, and she'll call me back, and we'll have a conversation. But, shit, I have to help Mom finish dinner, and then we have to eat dinner, so I don't really have time to place or make this call right now or later...

15 minutes later, I sent an email.


The ridiculousness of the situation didn't dawn on me until I was going through old blog postings from last year.

Confession: when I have absolutely no idea what to write I go to the exact same date one year prior, see what I was thinking, doing, worrying about, and take it from there. This morning was one of those mornings, not but because I had absolutely no idea what to write, but because if I write another post about either the fact that I'm moving to LA or how we as 20-something are feeling at our given age you and I are going to lose it. Fair?

So, very sadly, last year on almost this exact date, Senator Ted Kennedy passed away. I remember it like it was not one full year ago, and I remember exactly what I wrote on the unfortunate occasion.

Ted Kennedy's Telephone

It was a piece about the fact that Ted Kennedy wasn't afraid to use the telephone. In fact, you could say his use of the telephone was a critical part of his governing style. He called so you knew him - his voice, the tenor of his different moods, the fact that he cared. I suspect it was 75% the fact that Ted Kennedy didn't grow up with e-mail (or text message, for that matter) and 25% the fact that he knew the power of a personal connection.

We don't. Well, I have moments were I absolutely don't. Case in point, see above.

We have become awkward with the phone. We feel weird calling people. We think they think it's weird when we call. We text things that should be handled with a polite, 3-minute convo. We email things that really require a more detailed conversation.

I'm as guilty as the next person.

But I think what we've become conditioned to forget in this modernization of communication systems is that communication isn't all about efficiency - it's about communication. What you gain from calling your friend to invite her to dinner at your house isn't just a confirmation on whether or not she'll attend. It's the sound of appreciation in her voice for the invite, excitement in your own mind based on the excitement in her voice, a quick chat about how you're feeling about the whole dinner event, a quick chat about her date, and an undefinable moment in a friendship where two people re-realize that they are lucky to have each other.

All that from a 5-minute phone call?

Yes. Absolutely. If not more.

And, in my case, an important lesson to be reminded of am I'm moving 3K miles from most of the immediate people in my life as I embark on a 20-something adventure.

Sorry. That was unavoidable.