The Absurd and Amazing Adventures of Cafe Girl: This Absurd LA Life

October 20, 2007

This Absurd LA Life

I've been told by numerous LA transplants that there are three stages everyone goes through when they move to LA.

There's the initial fascination stage --"Oh WOW, I live in LA!" This is followed, inevitably, by the bitter stage --"I hate this shallow, mindless city" -- which is then followed, thankfully, by the acceptance stage. In this stage of acceptance, one realizes that Los Angeles, like any other major city, has its quirks and neurosis. One also realizes that it is possible to live in this city a normal, healthy, happy person with a network of friends and, yes, even a long term relationship leading to marriage and children.

How a person gets from the bitter stage to the acceptance stage affects whether you remain forever a transplant -- "Oh, I live in Los Angeles, but I'm really from New York" -- or whether you say, with confidence, "I live in Los Angeles." Period. No other geographical reference needed.

Six weeks in Los Angeles and I don't think I've hit any of the stages yet. Truth be told, I haven't seen much of the city beyond the ten mile radius around my apartment. People are constantly surprised when I tell them this and look at me as if I'm some sad sod, holed up in my apartment afraid to go outside. Fact of the matter is, I'm not on vacation where there's ample time to wander the streets of Hollywood, sit on the beach in Venice and have coffee in the little cafe on the corner. I live in Los Angeles -- which means I have to go to work, do laundry, get groceries and go to the bank. In between, I get to go play.

Nonetheless, in those golden moments of play, it does dawn on me that I actually live in Los Angeles now. I'm not visiting friends, on vacation or on a business trip anymore. This is it. This is going to be home for a while. And for now, this is what living in Los Angeles means:

Britney Spears and I share the same DMV.
The DMV in Santa Monica that Britney Spears visited to pick up her driver's license is the very same DMV I'll be going to in two weeks to get my car registered. Britney Spears did not have to make an appointment or wait in line. I suspect I will have to do both.

The chances of a celebrity sighting have increased exponentially.
Just this week, a friend IM-ed me saying that there had been a Lindsay Lohan sighting near his office in the San Fernando Valley. She was apparently having lunch at Pit Fire Pizza. While the paparazzi took pictures of Lohan, my friend's co-workers took pictures of the paparazzi.

The evening news and the entertainment news are often indistinguishable.
I'm not exaggerating when I say that two nights ago, the leading news story on the 11PM news was how Britney Spears ran over the foot of a paparazzo while trying to exit a parking garage. This was followed by a story about how the FBI raided David Copperfield's storage unit in Las Vegas. But since the Chicago evening news often leads with the weather, maybe this is not so much a reflection on the quality of news in Los Angeles, but rather the quality of local news across the United States.

I can get great sushi anytime I want.
And if I go between the hours of 4PM and 7PM, I can also get two-for-one alcoholic beverages. Yes, these are indeed very happy hours.

Trader Joe's is always just around the corner.
No matter which direction I take driving home from work, there's a Trader Joe's along the way. Funnily enough, Trader Joe's in Los Angeles has cheaper groceries than Albertsons (the LA equivalent of Jewel) or Vons (the LA equivalent of Dominicks). I can now shop at Trader Joe's without feeling like a yuppie poser. Also, Trader Joe's has an array of good, affordable Californian wine. And at the risk of sounding like an alcoholic, there's a certain pleasure in ending the work week with a glass of wine. Especially wine you can afford.

I can go from glitzy to ghetto all in one day.
About a month ago, a sales rep took me to lunch at Ivy at the Shore which is legendary for its Ivy Gimlet and celebrity sightings. We drank Bloody Marys and ate $25 per plate lunches. At the next table was a former soap opera star from Knot's Landing. Then I went home to my apartment where, across the street, a car horn played the opening phrase of La Cucaracha. I suppose it's possible to go from glitzy to ghetto in any city. But in LA, there's just more irony in it.

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