Confessions of an Unintentional Domestic Goddess

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Things I Learned Living in LA

on February 24, 2010

It’s been a while since I lived there, but having found several of my friends and coworkers through Facebook has made me a little introspective about my time there. I learned things about the city, about life, about people, and about myself.

My cultural/geography lesson was kind of the first one I got. Having never been to California, I thought all of LA was Hollywood and Sunset Blvd. And I thought that there were movie stars everywhere. I literally expected to bump into someone famous at Mc Donalds every time I went. (As if!). Hollywood is just one small part of the city. There are loads of cities within the LA metro area. It’s pretty much the same as the guys I worked with thinking we still rode horses and had dirt roads here. It’s an easy misconception to have.We see awards shows in Hollywood, movies are made to look like they’re in one small part of the city, but it’s so much more than that. Not to mention the whole speed of life there. everything is going 24 hrs a day. I’d never seen a grocery that was open 24 hrs before I’d moved. They’re commonplace everywhere now, but in 1990, not so much.

something that was really difficult to grasp was how you could have a 10 lane freeway, 5 in each direction, so congested it was literally bumper to bumper and at a complete standstill. Our highways around here  at that time were 4 lanes, 2 in each direction. To have that many lanes completely clogged was mind-boggling. And on the other hand, when the traffic wasnt’ clogged, people drove like they were on fire! I would be going 65 feeling like I was going fast, and I was being passed left and right as if I were really standing still. And then the motorcycles would come flying by even faster and going in between the cars! I think I started saying a prayer every time I got on the 405 that I would make it home alive! So, any time you hear anything about the traffic in LA, it’s true, and then some.

I learned that there really is a rainbow of humanity. Coming from a very white bread, midwestern home town, diversity was not a word that was used because there wasn’t any. When I arrived, I found out that I was in the minority there. At my job, I was one of a handful of white people. The employee base was black, hispanic and Asian. That was a huge wake-up call that there is so much more to the world than what we see in the mirror. They are all different, and yet interesting and beautiful in their own ways. I was like an animal in the zoo, they looked at me because I was the one who was different, and they wanted me to talk so they could hear my accent. it was a very enlightening and humbling experience.

Something I learned the hard way, people out there, not everyone, but most of the people I came into contact with, wanted something. They wanted to borrow money, they wanted you to help them get where they wanted to be, they would be friends with you as along as it was advantageous to them, and then they would lose interest and just fall off the planet. People would tell me one thing, while thinking another and doing something completely different. It got to be very tiresome trying to figure out if the person I was talking to actually wanted to be friends with me or if they were just with me because they had nothing better to do. I guess that’s why people out there seem to be jaded and aloof, they don’t want to put themselves out there, in case they’re dealing with a fake person.

I realized that I was a lot stronger than I ever thought I was. I moved out there with a suitcase of clothes and a couple hundred bucks in my pocket with a dream of starting over and doing something fun and exciting. Yet at the same time, scared to death. I’d never lived anywhere but my home town and near my parents and friends. Now I was leaving everything I knew behind to take a chance on a city I’d only seen in the movies. it was difficult at first, I won’t lie. but after the first few months of culture shock, I made up my mind, I could let the city beat me, or I could really give it a shot, and try to make it work.

I tried all sorts of food I’d never even heard of, let alone tried. Thai food was very popular out there. I wasn’t crazy about it, but I tried it. authentic Mexican food was different than the Taco Bueno/Taco Bell we had around here then. Now there is a literally a plethora of good authentic Mexican around here. At that time I’d never had a chopped beef burrito. I can’t remember the name of it exactly, but it was very unappetizing to me b/c it looked too much like Alpo! All of the ‘California cuisine’ had avocado or sprouts on it. Well, maybe not ‘everything’, but a lot of it. Heck, we had an avocado tree right outside the door of one of the apartments I lived in. I don’t think I’d ever had real fresh avocado before. Artichoke hearts, hearts of palm were a couple of things I’d never had either. Wasnt’ really crazy about either one, but I tried it. Oh, and Filipino cooking. I worked with loads of Filipinos and I have to say they were the sweetest most generous people you could ever hope to meet. someone had a birthday and one of the older ladies had made a traditional cake. I can’t remember the name of it, but it was purple and had an odd flavor to it. I wish I could remember, but it was very popular in their country.

I realized that as in a previous post, you can’t judge the book by it’s cover. It’s not fair to either you or the person you’re making the snap judgement about. If someone looked at me right this second, I have no idea what they’d think, I look terrible, no makeup, wild hair, giant sweatshirt on top of overalls and old tennies. I probably look like some old and tired middle-aged woman. I have to admit, I’m kind of feeling that way right now too, but still. You get my point.

Before I’d moved, to my knowledge, I”d never known a gay person, other than the guy who did my hair. But that’s a stereotype isn’t it? I worked with several gay people, mostly men, and I would never have guessed that about them, if someone hadn’t told me. I realized that being gay, straight, crooked, whatever has nothing to do with the kind of person they are. Truly. How could what someone does in the privacy of their own home be anyone else’s business? How could it matter in their job performance? I’ve known people who were straight as an arrow, but were arrogant, lazy jerks. I’ve known gay people who were dynamic, intelligent, funny and charming. I think the color of your skin or your preference in love have nothing to do with the kind of person you are, and I don’t see how people get off judging other people in that manner, as if one is better than the other. I think when there are two people who love each other and want to be committed to each other, they should be allowed to do that. I don’t see how allowing gay people to marry damages the institution of marriage one little bit. Honestly.

That’s a few of the things I learned living in LA. It was a very transformative time in my life. I came back a different, more tolerant, less judgmental person than I was when I left. LA definitely made a mark on me, even if I made no mark on the city, and that’s fine by me.

6 responses to “Things I Learned Living in LA

  1. alohasara says:

    You’ve received the Beautiful Blogger Award. Enjoy and keep up the great work. 🙂

  2. drmomx2 says:

    wow! Very cool! Thanks! And I was beginning to think no one was reading my posts! 😀

  3. Every time I started to read this blog I got interrupted so now I finally read it in one sitting and was able to be focus on just you:)
    It is amazing how a big city with so many lanes can always be stuck in traffic. I saw first hand the driving and I agree it is crazy even with a navigation. Sometime it is hard to get over the lane which is needed because some people do not want to let you cross over and worst by the time the navigation system tell you where you need to go your no where close to the lane. The motorcycle people have it made.
    The 405 in Oregon was the same when it came up to bumper to bumper traffic. Every morning, lunch time, and evening when people was leaving off work. I think that highway is curse when it comes to traffic jam, lol.
    I like how open minded you are in people and trying new things.
    Even though Los Angeles left a good mark on you and gave you a great experience in life I am sure you also left one on someone. The way I think about it is that people are like the wind/breeze just pasting through. Meaning each time the wind or breeze touch someone they feel it. So for me each time any one come in contact with a person they change their life somehow. Some drastic and some seldom. You the wind may not know this but the person you have touch has.

    May I ask of all places why LA to start over? I have nothing against the city just being curious as usual:)

    • Why LA? Well, it was a really crappy time in my life and my former roommate had moved out there and loved it. I thought why not? I literally have nothing to lose, if I don’t like it or it doesn’t work out, I can always move home. I was there for two years. I don’t think I”d ever live there again, but at the time, it was just what I needed.

  4. I liked your comment about the wind. It’s true, I still have friends from there, a couple of them that I keep in touch with and I guess I must have made a mark on them too.

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