Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Where I am
A month ago, I moved away from the East coast (Maine/Boston), all the way over to the West coast (Los Angeles). I've never not lived on the East coast, so it's pretty exciting how new this all is for me. LA is nice. It's much warmer than Maine and everything, but it still gets chilly at night (chilly meaning high 40s so it's really not that bad). There are palm trees and cacti in my front yard which is pretty sweet when I'm used to pine trees in my front yard. It's sunny and wonderful most of the time (there's some rain here and there, but I like it). I much prefer this to the snow and slush that I left on the East coast. Having grown up in New England, I'm surprised that I've decided that I'm a warm weather person. I like skiing and I like making snowmen and igloos, but I think I'd rather end up in a place like California than Maine. That way, I can still get the thrill of snow on Christmas, etc. by going on vacation. After that, I get sick of snow and I'd rather be here (which until now has been like vacation for me).
I'm still getting used to how busy and awful LA is. When I say it's awful, I only mean it's really scary to drive here. That's not just because I'm used to backwoods Maine where we don't have electricity or anything, because much of Maine ISN'T that. I mean, I went to school in Boston, so I'm used to busy and I don't mind it, but I never drove in Boston because there's no point. You have to drive in LA. It's not a choice-- it's not a very good walking city. When I first got here, the person who picked me up from the airport was driving me home and he gave me a little tutorial about how people drive in LA. The main points were turning left and beating a red light.
If the light is green, pull into the intersection. There will usually be oncoming cars, so you have to wait in the intersection with cars zooming by you in both directions. Wait for one of two things: until there are no oncoming cars (very rare here as I found out), or until the light turns yellow and the cars stop. Most of the time you'll have to wait until it's red because people generally run the light until the last second. So basically, you sit in a, inevitably busy intersection until the other cars' light turns green and they are honking at you to turn. Then you turn. There aren't many left turn arrows in LA.
Beating a Red Light:
Apparently, running a red light is a little more accepted here than in most places I've driven. The light turning yellow doesn't mean "slow down. the light's going to turn red soon." It means "hurry up! the light's turning red! you're gonna miss it! GO!"
You would think that the flaw of busy streets and crazily defensive driving would be forgivable, but it's quite overwhelming. I have to drive everywhere. Thankfully I was able to find a nice, durable car here (a 1989 Mercedes Benz- it's like driving a block of concrete, it's so safe). So the car makes things a bit easier. However, I still feel somewhat trapped because once I get home from work, I don't want to go anywhere else. I have to psyche myself up just to go to the grocery store.
Thankfully, my neighborhood isn't a very busy one. It's right in between two very busy areas, but actually being on my street is a breath of fresh air compared to being almost anywhere else. And I use "breath of fresh air" very loosely; LA's reputation for smog is an accurate one. One of the places where I work is up in Hollywood Hills, so every time I drive there, I get a good view of the whole city. When I first saw the view in the picture below, I thought it was a foggy day. Then of course, I realized that it was just a bowl of smog. How nice.
There are mountains in there somewhere...
Now, I accept the fact that LA is where I'm going to need to be working for a long time to be successful in my chosen career track, but I think that when I come back to California for a more permanent stint, I'll probably live in Malibu or Pasadena or Santa Monica and commute into LA. Because I don't think I could handle living here forever. I'd like to be somewhere on the coast, more peaceful. I've been to all three of those other cities briefly since I came here and I loved all of them. Beautiful, more chill than LA and much more conducive to a more relaxing daily life.