Now that the Olympics are over and my fleeting patriotism has all but dissipated, I have been forced to face two facts. One: I will now have to search that much harder for pictures of Nathan Adrian, and two: I have been in LA for exactly two years and have failed to book enough work as an actress to quit my day job, or become a writer who has sold out enough to be welcomed into “the wrong crowd” and subsequently develop a nasty heroin addiction. Why can’t I be one of the lucky ones?
In two years I’ve not only developed an aversion to child actors, a love for frozen yogurt in all forms, and a resigned acceptance of the traffic on the 405, but I’ve failed to witness and experience several things that I was warned I would encounter if I left the relative safety of the Midwest for a life in Tinseltown. I actually lived outside of LA for five years when I was younger so I was already aware of a few of these commonly misreported and grossly exaggerated “facts,” but I feel that I must lay them plain for the poor misinformed masses who inexplicably insist on living in places that are not Southern California.
There is gang violence EVERYWHERE!!!!! (THERE IS NOT.)
Hey people who have never, ever set foot in southern California EVER, shut up! Also, stop watching South Central and Boyz n the Hood to convince yourself that it’s impossible to walk outside without having to dive under a low rider on hydraulics to avoid the spray of bullets from a drive by. I’m not sure if you’re aware, but those are movies. There is gang violence in certain neighborhoods, but they are such a small percentage of the entire state of California that they don’t warrant even a third of the hysteria that they generate. I’m really tired of getting frantic calls from friends and relatives who assume that I live in the midst of one giant, unending Beat It video. This is not the case. Also, stop saying “Cali” and probably anything else you’ve heard in an E-40 song. You sound dumb.
There are 9.0 earthquakes every day. (THERE ARE NOT.)
Hey people who live other places with much less desirable weather, have you ever heard of Wikipedia? Or maybe Google? I’d like to suggest doing some research on the seismographic records of certain regions and maybe checking out the frequency and intensity of plate movements on the West Coast. If you did that, you’d know that there haven’t been any serious earthquakes out here in quite some time. Stop asking me if there have been any earthquakes lately, because there haven’t been!There is no danger of me being sucked into a giant chasm in the ground.
Everything is expensive. (EVERYTHING IS NOT.)
There is no denying that the cost of living is high, although not nearly as exorbitant as New York, and even DC. Aside from housing however, it is possible to get by if you’re creative and frugal and you’ve heard of a little thing called Living Social. One of my friends lamented that it must be so horrible that I could no longer buy clothes, as the only stores in the whole of California are Prada and Hermes. I gently tried to convince her that H&M is alive and well, and that there might even be a Target or two, but she would have none of it. And aside from that, there are free yoga classes to be had, cheap outdoor movies and even cheaper wine at Trader Joes. Relax people, I’m okay.
People in LA are so laid back. (THEY MOST DEFINITELY ARE NOT.)
Have you ever worked a 16 hour day? Have you ever tried to succeed in something that you were very good at, only to be told that this is a bad year for specs? Have you ever gotten a parking ticket that no one, including the city that issued it to you can explain? Have you ever had a diet that consisted only of coffee and your sheer will to survive? If the answer to any of those questions is yes, imagine doing all of those things every day for more than a year. This is what happens to people in LA, hence people in LA are the polar opposite of laid back. Angelenos do not just lay at the beach all day, and when we do, we complain about the tourists and check work emails. Within two weeks of moving here I completely understood why most people curse like sailors and have drug habits. (Hint: These are not laid back behaviors.)
It’s impossible to find real friends. (IT IS NOT.)
On a rare less cynical note… There is a common sentiment that Hollywood is full of duplicitous, opportunistic sociopaths and liars… and that is mostly true. Through trial and error however, I’ve managed to find a few people who are supportive and as reliable as anyone in Hollywood can be expected to be. None of us have become rich and/or famous yet, so our loyalties have yet to be tested, but contrary to popular belief, there are a few genuine people on the left coast. You just have to look really hard to find them. (Hint: if they are wearing Ed Hardy, keep looking. These are not the friends you want.)
There are a plethora of other myths about LA that need debunking: background work is fun, living in the hills is desirable, Ikea furniture is comfortable… I don’t have time to address them all, but hopefully, I’ve inspired those of you who live in other states to do a little critical thinking and stop trying to deter those of us who would move here to pursue the stage and screen from doing so. It really isn’t that bad, except for when it is, but LA is home now, so don’t try to convince me to move back to places replete with snow and mosquitoes but lacking In N Out. It’s not going to happen.