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L.A. is Beautiful, and Transitional Thinking

I just got back from a trip to L.A., which was beautiful and sunny and strange and surrealist-magical. I stayed with a friend in West Hollywood in a place with a grapefruit tree just outside the window, and when I wasn’t working, I was wandering. I chose not to rent a car and basically just walked everywhere.

And I walked and walked and walked and walked. I walked to LACMA, where I caught the Calder exhibition up there now. I walked to the Grove, and then to the nearby farmers’ market, where I met up with Liz over beer, chips and guacamole. Lovely Liz! I walked to coffee shops, down gritty streets, past the beautifully strange jumble of architectural styles that only L.A. domestic architecture offers. (A Moroccan castle next to a English country home, next to a Spanish-style bungalow and a mini Tudor mansion!)

I felt undergroomed, but that didn’t stop us from going to fun restaurants (Djelina, Mess Hall, Katsuya) and nifty drinking establishments (Tasting Kitchen, The Griffin). Oh, and I went to Pasadena and hiked near Griffith Observatory. And I went bowling at the Spare Room at the Roosevelt. Vintage style bowling in my socks, and I got a 116, which is about my average game these days. I also bought fancy Mast Brothers chocolate, a sweater coat because I was unexpectedly cold, a perfume rollerball of Balenciaga Florabotanica because that’s what I do when I travel, and my niece’s Christmas present.

I love seeing new places and hanging out with old friends. There’s something about traveling that opens up channels of thinking and feeling that get clogged up by the detritus of everyday life. I’ve been thinking lately about writing, and livelihood, and the proper allocation of energy, time and purpose. Recently — it’s been odd — my parents and sisters are like, “When are you going to get a real job?” and basically think I should just, like, apply to a company and work in computers or something.

Now, this is a question that I didn’t use to get from them when I was footloose and fancy-free in my bohemian 20s, but they probably thought I was going through a “phase” and should just get it out of my system. But I kind of blame Obamacare, which generally I think is a fine (though currently poorly-executed) idea. I buy my own healthcare as a freelancer, so of course I am like, “Ugh, should I bother applying? It seems like such a pain.” And so they go, “Get a real job! Get real health insurance!” Which is kind of, well, a trigger for a woman in my 30s as myself.

I have been working as a freelancer since my early 20s. I have always bought my own health insurance and essentially run my own business for years. Their telling me to “get a real job” — though I recognize it comes from a place of love and caring — feels like a slap in the face, like I’m not an “legit” adult or whatever. The world is a hard place for right-brained, creative, artistic people!

Of course, on some level, I am okay with this, because it is part and parcel for living an unconventional life and mindset. People only want the best for you and kind of want to cross you off the worry list, I guess, but most can’t see an alternative beyond the reality they know. It’s entirely understandable. But it kind of bugged me more than usual.

I had to dig a little deeper to realize why, and then it hit me: I write and edit for a living. In a weird way, I fulfilled my dreams for myself: I have always wanted to be able to say I am a writer and editor. I knew I wanted to be a writer of some sorts when I was a kid; I spent hours at a toy typewriter, pretending to “write.” I created my own “books” and read them out loud to my dolls. Me writing for my job is as natural as a plant growing towards the light. I could do other things, but I could never love other things in the way that I do with writing, and that love and passion makes all the difference — and makes putting up with related bullshit so much easier.

Of course, the realization of that dream isn’t perfect or a fantasy — it’s a struggle, and sometimes I feel burnt out and bored, and sometimes I worry, and sometimes I feel restless like people in “regular” jobs. But deep down, how lucky am I to be doing something that I’m good at, that I love? I know circumstances and situations around that work can be better, but ultimately, I am lucky. And it pains me slightly to know that people who I feel should know me better don’t see that and feel happy for me.

But then again, in some ways, they do see my burnout and my malaise, and that’s what they’re picking up on when they tell me to do something else. And I know I need to shake things up a little. I’ve been thinking about starting a new blog, or re-doing this one in a way that feels more inspiring to me. I’ve been thinking over where I really want to put my fight and my might in writing. I’ve been thinking about blogging in general, and what I get out of it, and what an audience gets out of it, and whether it’s worth it sometimes.

I’ve been thinking about vehicles to spread worthy ideas in the most effective way, and how to share my journeys in ways that feel nourishing, happy and effective for both myself and the reader. It used to be satisfying just to write for the pleasure of writing, but that feeling gets satisfied writing novels — it has to be, otherwise novel-writing would be such a frustrating activity! But writing for writing’s sake in a blog? I don’t know anymore. I feel it has to do something more than add to the reams of content out there. There is such an established set of rules, practices, guidelines, norms that are so different from where I began when I started blogging. It’s something I struggle with: what you have to do to “make a living” and “grow your audience” as a blogger, and the creative and emotional reasons why I began blogging in the first place. Those reasons, I think, are changing, and I need a little time and space to clarify them and then put them into practice.

However, I am not going “on hiatus.” I’m just going a bit slower.

I do have a few ideas and projects, and I’m taking the rest of the year to spackle and construct and bust things up and lay the groundwork for them. So this place will get a little quiet for the rest of the year, methinks. But I’ll still be here. Thinking. Feeling. Living, loving, and recording just a bit of my human experience, and hoping it resonates in some way with some tiny sparkling star-souls out there who somehow find their way into this orbit.

Like what you just read? Maybe you'll like my book as well

All Things Glorious and True: Love Letters to Pop Culture, New York, Fashion and Other Objects of Affection is a collection of essays exploring how my crushes on music, dive bars, books, outfits and so much else gave me a braver soul, more open heart and even love. All Things is like a great, stylish mixtape: surprising, kind of punky, fun and often heartfelt.


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2 Responses to “L.A. is Beautiful, and Transitional Thinking”

  1. John says:

    I know the feeling! I hope to see you on the other side.

  2. Charisma says:

    Oh, L.A.! I’m always simultaneously mystified/horrified/amazed by it. Being there also makes me miss living in the U.S. in ways I didn’t think I would.

    Completely agree re: loving your work. It doesn’t mean loving it 24/7 (seriously, bookkeeping!), but counting ourselves fortunate to be living the life we want.

    Looking forward to your new projects!