Thursday, September 23, 2010

Nothing Happened

I haven’t written about this much, but one of the reasons posting here has been so sporadic over the past couple of years is because I was living in Los Angeles for part of that time.

This blog, and everything about it – the tone, the scenery, the plotlines and everything else – is all connected to New York for me. This sounds like a load of creative-type bullshit coming from me, but I’d sit down to write something on the blog while I was living in LA, and I just couldn’t do it. It felt wrong. The energy was wrong. Everything about it was wrong. I felt as though putting dispatches from LA on this site was a little like pissing on my own bed, so I didn’t do it.

I liked LA well enough, but I liked it for all the wrong reasons, which means I probably wouldn’t like it if I ever moved back. I liked being alone, I liked having time to think, and I liked concentrating on nothing but building my new career and constantly working. I didn’t know anyone, rarely went out, and did very little aside from going to the gym, reading and watching the entirety of several cancelled sitcoms – my Arrested Development period comes to mind here - on my laptop.

For several months, I lived in Studio City - right off Laurel Canyon south of Moorpark, if you’re familiar with the western fringes of the glorious San Fernando Valley. I chose to live there because a few other people from my new job rented there, and because the commute down the 101 wasn’t ridiculous.

Studio City is boring. Nothing happens there. I wasn’t within walking distance of anything, the Pacific Ocean was little more than a rumor, and I spent the majority of my “going out” time sitting in the In-N-Out drive thru on Ventura Blvd, at Poquito Mas – also on Ventura, where I once cursed out Jack Wagner for blocking the inexplicably tight parking lot – and at either Gelson’s or Von’s, the two supermarkets close to my apartment. Gelson’s has the best hot food and salad bars of any supermarket I’ve ever been to, by the way.

As an adjunct here, I'll just point out that I'm well aware that my time in LA would have been much more enjoyable if I'd lived somewhere like Santa Monica. I know this. I simply didn't give a shit at the time, so spare me the whole "You didn't see enough of LA to judge it" litany, because I've already been through it.

I stayed where I was because I had a terrific living situation. My landlord was the grandson of the guy who played Laverne’s father on Laverne and Shirley, and he charged me a ridiculously small amount of rent for a ridiculously large – and completely furnished, with terra cotta floors and granite countertops – two bedroom duplex with a patio and free parking. I was so lucky to find this place that I’ve probably shot my good luck load for the next decade or so. That’s how nice this arrangement was.

I worked flex hours the entire time because of the freeway traffic situation in LA. I’d either show up for work at six in the morning, or I’d sleep until nine, go to the gym, then waltz in at eleven and stay until seven or eight at night. I didn’t mind that at all. Of course, I work in a business now where people don’t exactly keep normal hours, but since I’ve pretty much been on someone else’s schedule for my entire life, the idea of working flex hours is something I’d be loathe to give up even for a raise.

I didn’t do much sightseeing in California. I went to the Getty, the Brady Bunch house was down the street from my apartment, I went to the Staples Center because I had press passes to a UFC fight, and I spent some time in Orange County – I also drove the length of the PCH at one point, from the end of Topanga Canyon Blvd all the way to...I guess it was Long Beach – but I don’t know what the deal was with my lack of interest in the place. I kind of wasn’t into it back then. I wasn’t into much of anything.

This is going to sound like the kind of dimestore depth-without-depth bullshit that I try to avoid, but I think you really need to take some time to reflect on things once in a while. I haven’t written jack shit about my time in LA in any medium – not here, not over email to anyone, and certainly not for publication. I think that’s because life, during that time, just kind of happened. I didn’t think about anything. I had nothing to do and didn’t particularly want to be there – but didn’t particularly want to be in New York, either – so I just went into this unfeeling mode where there were no highs and no lows. Just rote, automated repetition of the same routine, day after day after day.

I guess the obvious point here is that I haven’t thought about it much. I went there, I lived and worked, and then I came home. I didn’t get back that long ago, and I don’t even remember much about living there. It’s like the place made no impression at all, except for the clueless drivers and the disproportionate aggressiveness of people in LA’s supermarket checkout lines – which I suppose could be the subject of its own post entirely. Strangest fucking thing I think I’ve ever seen. Remind me to tell that story soon.

If you ask me about LA, there’s no emotional reaction I can give you, because I have no emotions connected to it. I’ll just shrug my shoulders and say something to the effect of, “Eh.” It’s like a place without a shadow – the most lightweight major city I’ve ever seen. And trust me, that’s not me badmouthing it. I can’t badmouth it, because I didn’t see enough of it, and the parts I saw made no imprint whatsoever. It’s not like going to Detroit, where you’re scared shitless to walk around and you kiss the tarmac when your return flight lands. It’s nothing like that. It’s not bad. It’s not good. It’s just pretty much of a big maybe.

Whatever. That’s the story of me moving to LA and coming back. Take it or leave it.