Tag Archives: California

(ON TOPIC) How to Survive a Move

I was already halfway through Beyoncé’s latest album when my phone started flashing. A series of signals were triggered in my brain that in turn started some neurological process involving chemical neurotransmitters and synapses and yada yada yada. In short, my phone was trying to tell me something: I had eight new texts and six new podcasts to listen to. Add this to the two movies I’d downloaded on iTunes, the new Hello Mr. issue, three new books, and 47 new emails. It was enough to send me under the covers of my air mattress with a pillow locked tightly over my head, temporarily paralyzed by the media hurricane that wouldn’t let me sleep. (How does Queen Bey do it all?)

It was the night before I moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles, and I was trying to distract myself from figuring out how all my personal possessions, now sitting before me in an organized pile of boxes and bags, would ultimately fit in my newly acquired 2000 Toyota Camry. As I welcomed the angelic sounds of Beyoncé into my ears–driver roll up the partition, pleaseee–I wondered whether if what you own, the stuff of your life, signifies the stage of life you’re in. What does it mean that I don’t own pots and plates but have purchased, assembled, and disassembled IKEA furniture since freshman year of college? (Learning about sites like TRNK makes me want to be grown up and living in my dream flat in London, populated by “pieces” that each have a story. Can ya feel the pretension, y’all?!) But before I had an answer, I was in Los Angeles after a six-hour drive full of Beyoncé tracks and tears.

Here’s what moving feels like to me:

Hey! Hi! Hello, friends with which I’ve spent years cultivating a meaningful bond! Hello, city that is the most geographically interesting place I’ve been in years and whose streets make me feel like Dorothy in Kansas, ruby red slippers and all! Hello, apartment that has the most beautiful natural light I’ve ever seen and roommates who don’t annoy me and a perfect puppy who licks me and then falls asleep next to me and subsequently becomes the model for my future boyfriend! Hello, you all! Okay goodbye.”

BOOM.

Moving, in that respect, seems so unnatural. But my most recent move from San Francisco to Los Angeles felt a bit different. My post-move slump was a lot shorter than usual and, in truth, I’ve found myself in many moments of, well, joy. And I think I’ve figured out why.

1) Entertainment

In the opening of Pixar’s Up, an eight-year-old Carl Fredericksen sits in a movie theater, mouth agape and goggles on head as he stares at his idol on the silver screen in front of him. To me, that single image best encapsulates what moviegoing feels like. With very few exceptions, there’s nothing I’d rather do on any given day than sit in a movie theater and watch a movie. Since moving to LA seven weeks ago, I’ve seen nine movies: Very Good Girls, Begin Again, Free Fall, Test, Obvious Child, How To Train Your Dragon 2, The Fault in Our Stars, The Normal Heart, and Stranger by the Lake. I also went to the LA Film Festival and attended a program called I See Music, during which they screened Beyoncé’s entire visual album followed by a Q+A with some of the people who know her best. (I talked to her cousin afterward and somehow managed to keep my fanaticism at rest.) The list would be longer if I had more time, money, and the ability to accept the fact that I’d be compromising my physical and social well-being.

I often go to the movies by myself, which, for me, creates a significantly different moviegoing experience than if I bring a friend along. I like processing a movie on my own after I walk out of the theater, so sometimes it’s nice to exit without a friend asking, “So what’d ya think?!” Bringing a friend also excuses you from the remarks of snickering teenagers who think it’s funny you’re seeing a movie alone, as was the case when I saw The Fault in Our Stars by myself on a Saturday afternoon. In any case, there’s something that feels different about seeing a movie in LA. Maybe it’s the history of this town, where the movie studios born in the early 1900s have since given way to the industry of which I’m now a part. I go into the theater to watch a movie, and then I leave and could very well be walking in the neighborhood where the director or writer or actors live. I watch 500 Days of Summer and then take the Metro downtown to Bunker Hill where Tom convinced Summer that, in spite of popular cultural belief, LA is kinda sorta beautiful. Everything feels just a bit closer to home.

"500 Days of Summer" - Tom & Summer's Bench

But there’s more to Entertainment than just movies. For one, I just finished Season 2 of Orange is the New Black. Did you know that TV is getting good? Because it is. I read an article this month called “Queer as Friends” by Max Mosher and was reminded of how much we truly believe in TV. I’ve had particularly memorable experiences losing myself while watching Sex and the City and Six Feet Under. I came out to my parents the night after the fictional David Fisher came out to his mom and listened as she expressed her frustration over the fact that she was the last to know. Most recently, I finished watching Sex and the City in its entirety because I was too self-conscious as a “straight boy” to watch it when my mom did during its original run from 1998 through 2004. I couldn’t always connect with Carrie Bradshaw’s shopping habits or interior monologues, but there were moments when I truly believed that she lived in that beautiful brownstone–that I, as a NYU student living in Manhattan, could’ve spotted her gracefully exiting her apartment one evening to catch a black car with Mr. Big. “We believe because it makes life easier,” Mosher writes.

2) People

I promise I’ve done more than just consume movies and TV by myself since moving. (It was really hard to write that sentence.) There are people out in the world, too! (It was even harder to write that one.) One of the first social events I attended was a cocktail reception hosted by the NYU in LA Alumni group. I was pleasantly surprised to see a few familiar faces and was quickly reminded of how special it is to be a part of a bicoastal creative community.

I’ve also found myself on a handful of “friend dates.” I have friends from my previous homes in New York and San Francisco who have good friends living in LA, so I asked them to set me up with them. At least once a week since I moved here, I’ve been meeting these friends of friends for dinner and/or drinks.

A few weeks ago I found myself with four new friends, all women. (Not the first time this has happened.) Two were gay, and two were straight, and conversation consisted mostly of their LA horror stories. We spent two hours talking about dating. Whether the date was with a man or a woman, from Tinder or from OKCupid, they all echoed the same sentiment: dating in LA is depressing. In the age of dating apps, everyone is seemingly shopping around for the next best thing. One woman mentioned that she quickly grew tired of women who were on their Tinder app during their date. Others expressed frustration over their ostensible requirement to withhold emotion while dating–over receiving a, “Woah woah. We’re just hanging out,” if they, by some miracle, reached a third or fourth or even fifth date. I couldn’t help but wonder (said Carrie in voiceover)…are we growing increasingly resistant to commitment? Do we even know how to date anymore, or is a fundamental rift forming in this Digital Age of romance? All of these dating apps may not necessarily be working against us, but they’re certainly changing the conversation. The “Don’t ask how we met because you know we met on Grindr” face is my personal favorite manifestation of this evolution.

We noted how Sex and the City our conversation was, but quickly laughed and pointed out how terribly unrealistic that show was and how our lives were thankfully a bit more grounded in reality. As we paid our bill and exited the restaurant, one woman said she’d like to see a show called No Sex and the City, which would feature all the men and women–the heroes–behind the lives of Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte who made their lives look oh so slick and shiny. Who cleaned their apartments, for example, and what were their lives like when they went home to a land that was assuredly void of Versace couture dresses and blue satin Manolos?

As I fell on my bed at the end of the night, I couldn’t help but think about how the Entertainment in my life had become inextricably tied to the People–that these two separate things had joined to become the tunnel through which I’d make a smooth transition into life in sunny LA. More important, though, I thought about what would happen if we paid just a little more attention to each other. If we sat down across from someone, silent, ears open, and ready to listen.

I haven’t written a blog post since 2013. As tough and periodically sad as moving can be, it’s got me writing. And for that, LA, I am grateful. May the creative juices continue to flow. For now, I gotta go make a spreadsheet before I fall asleep to figure out which piece of media I’m going to consume next. G’night.

zZz…I sneezed on the beat and the beat got sicker…zZz….

 

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Mark Zuckerberg and James Bond Do Brunch

EXT. PALO ALTO CAFÉ – DAY

Young people in sunglasses and heels fill the small outdoor patio. They’re California Cool.

A YOUNG MAN in a hooded sweatshirt and Birkenstocks sits alone with a glass of water in front of him. He takes a sip.

As if out of thin air, a MAN in a slick gray suit rushes toward the table. He can’t be over 30, and his blue-gray eyes seem to twinkle in the sunlight, even if they really don’t.

The young man quickly stands up as the man takes the seat across from him.

MAN: Bond, James Bond. Sorry I’m late.

The young man sits down.

YOUNG MAN: Mark. I know who you are. Thanks for meeting me.

JAMES BOND: What are you drinking?

MARK ZUCKERBERG: Oh. This. Just water.

JAMES BOND flags a waiter.

JAMES BOND: Vodka martini. Shaken, not stirred.

WAITER: Sorry, sir. We don’t have that.

JAMES BOND: Espresso with vodka. On the rocks.

WAITER: We actually don’t serve alcohol here.

JAMES BOND: Water then. Side of eggs. Scrambled.

The waiter shuffles off. Bond turns to Mark.

JAMES BOND: I’ve heard about you overseas.

MARK ZUCKERBERG: If you type “Mark” into Google I’m the first person to come up. Web credence, I guess.

JAMES BOND: Impressive. So how can I help you. I’ve worked with high-tech equipment before, but I’m not sure how much intelligence I can offer here.

MARK ZUCKERBERG: Well, first of all, I hacked into the dorms databases when I attended Harvard and downloaded the names and pictures of all the female students. In a couple hours, I designed a site called “Facemash” using an algorithm for ranking chess players that let students choose which of two girls was more attractive.

JAMES BOND: Brilliant.

MARK ZUCKERBERG: And ever since Facebook happened, girls seem to think I’m an asshole. At least that’s what my first girlfriend told me.

Mark takes another sip of water.

MARK ZUCKERBERG: You can predict daily fluctuations in gas prices or the stock market, but you can’t predict what’s going on in the female psyche. How do you distinguish yourself between thousands of guys who have six percent body fat and who do crew.

JAMES BOND: It’s not science, Mark. The secret is to go for the married ones.

MARK ZUCKERBERG: Hm. Right. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that.

JAMES BOND: Keep it simple. And short. That’s how I do it. You have a cigarette?

MARK ZUCKERBERG: No. Sorry.

In a flash, Bond gets a cigarette from a beautiful girl at the table next to them.

JAMES BOND: All girls want to secretly cheat on their husbands with a bad guy. They like to be bad.

MARK ZUCKERBERG: What do you mean? I’m just wondering if for all the women you sleep with, is it really worth the slaps, tears, and fear that you’re being repeatedly manipulated by dozens of these femme fatales?

JAMES BOND: Hundreds. No.

MARK ZUCKERBERG: But here’s my question: What about settling down? Are you afraid you’ll have fewer sexual opportunities? You’ve travelled to at least half of the world’s 196 countries, so assuming you’ve slept with at least three women in each country at least two times, you’ve had sex nearly 600 times. By settling down you can actually increase efficiency by maintaining one woman at home who you can sleep with every night, thereby more than doubling that number in less than two years.

JAMES BOND: When you get older, kid, you’ll learn that settling down might not be the shiniest option.

MARK ZUCKERBERG: But you’re happier if you have long-lasting happy relationships. It’s proven.

JAMES BOND: Hm.

MARK ZUCKERBERG: You can’t just do this forever.

JAMES BOND: Guess I’ve never really thought about it.

Bond puts out his cigarette. He shifts uncomfortably in his chair.

JAMES BOND: What should I do then?

MARK ZUCKERBERG: I know everything there is to know about you. Just cut the act out, and you’ll be married within the year. You could even increase your productivity tenfold as a CMG and RNVR by keeping your pants on. Productivity is the most reliable engine of success.

JAMES BOND: Well I just joined Facebook because this girl told me to. Should I wait for the girl to friend me or should I friend her first?

MARK ZUCKERBERG: We’re going to need alcohol for this talk. We should go.

They stand up. Mark leaves a one hundred dollar bill on the table as he downs the remainder of his water.

MARK ZUCKERBERG (holding his hand out): Ladies first.

Bond nods. They exit.

(ON TOPIC) Dear Carrie Bradshaw…

February Whatever, 2012

Dear Carrie,

Hey girl! I need your help.

After leaving your beloved New York for California (Please find a place in your Tiffany-studded heart to forgive me.), I learned that the stress of living in a city can make your mental health turn screwy. It’s scientifically proven! German researchers found that volunteers living in urban areas had more active amygdalas—the region that processes anxiety—when receiving negative comments while solving math problems.

Still with me?

Sparkles! Rainbows! Manolo Blahnik pink suede strappy sandals! Yay. Glad to have you back, sister.

But, like, I’m unconvinced that the stress of living in a city is really all that bad. This was my Bookface status after returning from California last summer: “10 days in cheery California has taught me that New Yorkers sorta function under this weird self-inflicted misery. LA, I like you.” And taking all the “Likes” and comments in consideration, many of my friends—New Yorkers included—agreed that happiness is a myth in the Big Apple. But how can this be when the city is filled with labels and love, the only label that never goes out of style? Right, Carrie, right?!

Sigh.

I remember you dealt with this whole bicoastal thang in Season 3’s episode “Sex and Another City,” the other city being…

[Brief intermission to allow you to locate the nearest trash receptacle]

LA.

[Another brief intermission to allow you to use said receptacle.]

Anywho, you met a publicity agent who exposed you to the perks of the rich and famous, while Miranda met an old friend from New York who lost his East-Coast edge. And how can we forget about Samantha? Laugh out loud! She met her idol, Hugh Hefner, right before you all rushed back to the safety of Manhattan—rejected and dejected. Great episode.

So basically, since your show is so so true to real life, I’ve turned to primetime HBO fictional programming—a.k.a your life—for a verdict on this city life debate: I have to move back to New York.

But here’s the thing, Carrie—and this is why I’m actually writing to you, I think—I don’t know if I want to!!! Ugh. Northern California is really, really cool. It’s February and you don’t have to wear a coat. And you can get in your car and see things like this:

"This looks like a dream." - Caroline Rafferty

I just don’t think I care anymore that, year after year, twenty-somethings flock to the Big Apple seeking love because it’s the best city in the world, or that Manhattan men are like “The New York Times Sunday” crossword puzzle because they’re tricky and complicated until you figure them out. Because…because Carrie…well because you’re like Santa Clause or a good episode of “Glee.” You…you don’t exist.

I’m sorry.

This was the main purpose for my letter. To tell you that I’m staying in California because I’ve officially loosened myself from your invisible albeit powerful, diamond-studded grip.

I can feel myself losing my edge already. K. Gotta go change into my bathing suit and lay out by the pool. <–Something I’ve never ever said before.

Eff you Carrie Bradshaw. I’m sorry, but I’m sincerely over you.

No longer yours,

Jonathan

P.S. I sent you some sand in a bottle a couple of days before I wrote this letter. Clearly my feelings toward you have changed since gifting you my favorite piece of West Coast beach, so just throw it away or whatever when you get it. I don’t care. 🙂

 

(LISTS) Reasons I’m Leaving New York (That Could Also Be Used to Break Up with Someone)

I should be a politician because I’m a fantastic f-ing flip-flopper. I wrote a post in the beginning of the summer that read as a love letter to Manhattan, but two months later I’ve pulled a Mitt Romney and/or John Kerry and totally changed my mind. I spent time in Chicago and California this summer and discovered that happiness—contrary to what anxiety-ridden New Yorkers have taught me—isn’t just a fictional thing projected by Hollywood rom coms.

So, to begin a short series of posts about city life:

Reasons I’m Leaving New York (That Could Also Be Used to Break Up with Someone)

You’ve turned vegan but have no idea why.

You’re stuck in a constant hustle and bustle, always silently screaming, “Yes I hear you, but I really must go now.”

You look kind of shitty in the winter.

You’re too tall.

You only wear black and gray. Ever heard of color?

You think you’re surrounded by nature because of Central Park.

You make it too easy for me to make lists about what’s wrong with you.

You smell like urine.