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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Welcome to Los Angeles (Circa Fall 2003)

The first thing to go when you move to Los your money. The rents are exorbitant out here. 

Midwesterners such as myself, experience sticker shock and then numbness as we fork over a king's ransom to live in a tiny efficiency.

Apartments were never this pricey in my previous hometown of St. Paul, Minnesota. For a moment, I’m drawn back into reminiscing about hot apple cider and down parkas. The memory draws me back into a saner time and place. Then, I start to recall that the harsh winters and the boring predictability that each day brought. 

I need to find a job and an apartment ASAP. I spend 15 hours a day pounding the real and virtual pavement. There a million things on my to-do list.

Did I contact my former college classmates whom are already established in the film industry? Why am I procrastinating? It’s as though I’m frozen in place. Am I really too afraid to strive for the life that I dreamt about while I working my succession of dead-end jobs in  Minnesota?

I was lured out to LaLa land by the blasé glitziness of the Southern California lifestyle. Everyone here appears to be so much more laidback than  the Midwest. But, looks are deceiving and unlike New York, Los Angeles is deceptively casual. New York is a tough town and it is clear from day one that it’s not for the fainthearted.

But, Los Angeles is different. It reclines in Southern California greeting starstruck hopefuls with a sigh and a mild look of boredom. Yet, droves of hopefuls arrive each day hoping that to buck the odds and force LA to acknowledge their uniqueness. 

Only in Los Angeles could being a former opera student, Spanish translator, former law student and freelance writer be considered a strong job candidate to a potential employer.

 I have been on several second interviews, but alas no firm job offers as of yet. I an beginning to have nightmares about living on the streets and panhandling to tourists. 

The only time I seem to relax is during my daily jaunts to the bus stop. I sit on the relatively clean bench and try to look sufficiently crazy so that no one will accost me. It is Autumn in Los Angeles and I am overheating in my cardigan sweater. 

Back in Minnesota, I would be clad in a lined jacket with a matching stocking cap and glove set. I reminisce about the crisp Autumn days and the way the leaves rustled down the sidewalks and the reassuring aroma of beef stew that permeated outside my old St. Paul neighborhood.

Then, I start to remember the deep sense of isolation that nine months of cold weather can bring. I also recall the profound sense of failure that six years of career instability can bring. These are the things that even a piping hot bowl of beef stew cannot cure.

Epilogue: After  5 weeks of living in Los Angeles, I did the impossible. I landed a job with a major film studio and worked there for nearly five years. Then, I left California to move back to New Mexico right before the markets crashed in 2008...but, that is another story.

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