LA SURVIVAL GUIDE
I DID IT! I finally put on my big girl panties and made the move to the "city of dreams". Although the transition from one big city to another has been smooth, I have noticed quite a few differences worth commentary. The culture and overall pace of the city is a tad different and I have compiled a list of what I've learned since I moved to Hollywood.
1. Top three questions EVERYONE asks.
- Where are you from?
Because - accent. Well at least that's what I first thought upon my arrival. My beautiful Texas drawl is clearly why everyone keeps asking. I mean, if I am addressing more than one person, it's "ya'll". Period. But alas mates, I've set aside my vanity and realized I am not the
only one who has migrated to the West Coast. Actually, I have yet to meet a native. Granted, I have only been here for a little over one month, but the vast majority of the people I've met have moved here from either another city or state. It seems as though not being a local is expected and everyone is interested to hear your travel story. However, I am still going to assume it's because of my lovely Texan elocution.
**Side note: Apparently no natives refer to California as "Cali". It's a dead giveaway you are not from the state. It's "Cal", "California", or nothing. Good to know. **
- What do you do?
Because - nosy? Not necessarily. I should actually rephrase that to "what do you do and how can it benefit me?" Networking is king. KING I say! Opportunity is literally everywhere and it seems like most people are searching for their next big break. Nepotism makes life easier. Befriending me will get you to so and so who is such and such's uncle who is Brad Pitt. I get it. I've been told to make sure to have a stack of business cards and a headshot on me at all times. Solid advice. I recognize I now live in a city where the aforementioned scenario is actually plausible. Those celebrities that seemed so far away could now be sitting one booth over at Cheesecake Factory.
- Who is your agent?
This is a new one. You wouldn't believe the number of times I've been asked which agency I've signed with. Whether it be modeling, acting, singing or dancing, it is assumed that if you live in the Los Angeles area, you're in the entertainment business. I went to an audition
just to see what to expect, and that assumption is valid. I arrived an hour early and the line of people had already wrapped around the building. I was completely taken aback by the number of people vying for a couple of roles. I've also learned that showing up is only the first step. Tenacity and patience have to work simultaneously to get anything done out here. Welcome to LA.
2. How do I avoid the infamous LA Traffic?
You don't. You just don't. There is no way to avoid traffic unless your method of travel is via a flying broomstick. I've learned to tack on at least an extra half hour to my ETA every time I head out. Mileage is relative. Last week it took me 45 minutes to drive 3.9 miles, and that was before I found parking. I probably should have just walked. One of the first pieces of advice my roommates bestowed upon me was the defensive while aggressive driving technique needed to navigate around town. Whew! They were spot on. I feel like the next time I'm driving in Houston people are going to look at me like I'm insane.
3. Parking lots are a foreign concept.
Much to my chagrin, when I first arrived, deciding whether to leave my apartment was weighed heavily on the availability of free parking at my destination. I now understand that paid parking is inevitable. Whether it be upfront in a controlled garage or wasting gas while driving around trying to find a spot on the street, you are paying to park. There are a few places with free parking lots, and I hold those places close to my heart, however they are rare treasures. Uber is definitely making a killing out here. The stress of parking combined with the outrageous gas prices makes me want to get my Beyoncé on and be chauffeured around town. GLORY! I found an Arco about 30 minutes away where unleaded gas is only $3.11 per gallon. I never thought I'd see the day. "Only" $3.11. I'm pretty sure this isn't a competition but Texas, you win.
4. Walmart? What's That?
I am an advocate for saving money whenever possible, resulting in Walmart being my staple store for everyday items. It's like an unwritten rule that you choose Walmart for toilet paper. However, that is not the case in LA. It's almost taboo to even mention Walmart as a
shopping option. I asked my coworkers where the nearest Supercenter was located and they looked at me like I had just recited some kind of evil incantation. Trader Joe's is the Holy Grail of the grocery world but I remain unimpressed. I'll admit, their produce is "bomb dot com", but if I want a bag of Chester's Hot Fries, Windex, and a bottle of TRESemmé Conditioner for a reasonable price, I'll pick my one stop Great Value brand home any day. Alas, I discovered a decent Walmart an hour away and will be making that trek to stock up whenever my supply is running low.
5. THE PEOPLE (the good, the bad, the weird)
Aside from the strung-out lady chasing my best friend and me off of the Santa Monica Pier (literally...another blog post on that coming soon), most of the people I have encountered have been quite friendly. There are a few jerks here and there but what city doesn't have them? To be honest, I was expecting an air of arrogance to be wafting in the streets. I mean, this IS Hollywood right? That stereotypical superiority complex has yet to rear its ugly head in any of my friendship circles but again, I have only been here for a month. I will say that an overly friendly demeanor is not as accepted here. Maybe unexpected is a better word for it. For example, down South, it is normal to give a friendly smile to a stranger in passing. I find myself doing it here out of habit and, so far, I have not received one smile in return; just do I know you frowns or a this is awkward lookaways.
Overall, everyone is doing their own thing and I absolutely love it. It's as if "weird" doesn't exist, only an open space to flex your creativity. Using "eh, it's LA" is an excuse used for things that otherwise would be considered out of the ordinary. Now, with that being said, it does not mean everyone supports everyone. I am very lucky to have some of my best friends here with me who are trustworthy because it is still a very "dog eat dog" city. Like I said before, "what can you do for me that will lead me to success? Sell my weird!"
6. Rain = The Apocalypse
It doesn't rain in southern California. We received one shower in October that made me
realize just how much of a phenomenon it is. It rained Halloween Night and all hell broke loose (pun intended). The city went into a panic and it was one of the most hilarious things I've ever seen. Coming from a place where hurricane season is a serious concern, the 2 inch torrential downpour was pure comedy. Imagine seeing Maleficent, the Spice Girls and a dinosaur fleeing to take cover against the dark forces of nature. It was great.
On the contrary, I have yet to experience an earthquake. I'm pretty sure if that time rolls around, I will be the one cowering in a corner somewhere because that's standard earthquake survival procedure right? I don't think we did earthquake drills often in middle school.
7. Black Power...maybe
Add this to the list of separate posts I have to make but being a darker skinned female out here has been...interesting. For now, let's just say I have encountered some people who have been surprised that an articulate chocolate sista exists. I have flat out been told "you're so pretty for a dark skinned girl"
shock. It seemed to be more of a pleasant surprise. Here I feel like it would keep me from being invited to a social event. "Naturalista Coco" almost took a backseat to "Laid and Slayed Coco" because the beauty standards are quite different. We'll go more into detail another day, but that is one aspect of LA life that I have yet to come to terms with.
8. Sushi is a food group.
"Let's grab some sushi". NOMS! Even though I'm still sticking to the basics, there's a wide variety of sushi joints about the city. The delicacy is a unique one that has been incorporated into my (almost) weekly diet. Although sushi is not the healthiest of options, it is a light meal that is easily obtained in this fitness obsessed town. Whilst walking Runyon Canyon, you will overhear people's lunch options, and sushi is pretty much the front runner.
9. Boredom doesn't exist
There is always something to do in LA. ALWAYS. That is probably one of my favorite
attributes of the city. Living about 20 minutes away from a beach where you don't have to tiptoe around seaweed is also pretty wonderful.
Want to go to Disneyland? It's about an hour away. Want to watch the sunset overlooking the ocean? There's a place for that. Want to go to the Academy Awards? Not sure how to get in yet but I'm sure we can find a way. I have not yet been able to legitimately say "I'm bored" and have no remedy.
I am so unbelievable excited to watch my LA experiences and opinions shift and shape over time. Thus far I am loving my time here and I am so happy I decided to give Hollywood a shot.