A Blog Post: Thanksgiving Edition!

November has been a whirlwind month. Crazy things have happened. It’s as if I had my summer vacation in the fall (September and October) and November is my August wake-up call back into the heavy school-year grind that was my life for 20 years or so. With everything that has happened, I’ve got a lot to reflect on, and a lot to be thankful for, so in the spirit of the holiday, I thought I’d share some of those thoughts with you.

  1. Finding my way in LA
    • I’m not going to say that I have LA figured out, nor am I going to say that I’ve successfully infiltrated the entertainment industry, because if there is only one thing I’ve learned in my year and a half of being out here, it’s that this town and this industry is one crazy roller coaster full of ups and downs and failures and small successes. I will say though that so far I have never felt like my time being out here has been a waste. I’ve learned so much about the human condition, relating to people, subcultures and pop culture and the fight for social equality and the American mindset vs. international POVs and these are all things that a little Dorothy like myself couldn’t have learned if I’d stayed back in Kansas.
  2. Being Employed
    • I normally don’t talk about my own personal views on politics or religion here because I want this place to feel as inclusive as possible, and I often find that once a person knows your stance on something, they peg you with 1,001 misconceptions and stereotypes that they hold against whatever that view point is, whether it is actually true to your own person or not. I’m sure I’m even guilty of doing it–it’s almost second nature for people to do this; we love placing people and things into categories. However, on this one thing I must say that I do believe in God, and–though I won’t say that I somehow magically am awarded jobs because of this (because that’s ridiculous)–I do wholeheartedly believe that my trust in something greater than myself has kept me sane and financially afloat. Whether you are religious or not, I do believe that life has a tendency to work itself out, if you are patient, discerning, and don’t panic. I am very thankful for that.
  3. Midwest Roots
    • There are a lot of things I find wrong about the conservative mindset that you find all across the Midwest and into the South. But if there is something I’m very grateful for, it’s being raised surrounded by Midwesterners. Though the world is small in the heart of America, the heart of America is as big as the world. These people are the kindest, most generous, and most open that I have ever come across. Being raised with what I like to call, ‘Midwest Manners,’ is one of the greatest assets I have, and I’m very, very thankful for it.
  4. Friends
    • Okay, so everyone gives this almost expected answer at the Thanksgiving dinner table. Sometimes I roll my eyes because it’s so generic. But this year, after moving out to a huge city where I knew practically no one, I truly do have to say that I am so grateful for the friends that I have met and clung to. They have made living in LA durable and worth it. They have taught me the valuable lesson that it is always, always about the relationships you have in your life, not the material items or status or career. You could literally be living in the absolute most beautiful and perfect city ever, and if you had no friends there you would still be miserable. Life fact.
  5. Family
    • The other generic eye-roll answer, but I love them so much and am so grateful for my parents, siblings, and nephews. Everyone needs unconditional love in their life, and I have a lot of it. So very very thankful for that.
  6. You, Dear Reader
    • Last, but certainly not least, I am thankful for YOU! Though most of you probably also fall into one of the two bullets above, it means a lot to me that you take the time to read these posts every week. Though it may not always seem like it, I put a lot of thought and time into what I write and share with you, and I hope that you enjoy reading this blog as much as I enjoy making it.

Happy and most delightful belated Thanksgiving, y’all.

-tlc

Mac’N’Cheese…With Friends!

I’m sitting in my good friend Joel’s apartment, which used to be my cousin Willie’s and my good friend Joel’s apartment, as I try to come up with an idea for this week’s blog post. The living room seems wider now, since the big squishy couch my cousin owned isn’t here anymore. I’m sitting at a standing desk that’s operating as a dining room table, finding the rhythm of the swaying table top as both Joel and I type away at our laptops. It is truly a low-key night, and I love that.

I know, it sounds boring and uneventful. But nights such as this really floor me. Let me explain; A little over a year ago I moved out to LA, not knowing anyone–not even my cousin! And in that whirlwind of a year I have met so many people and experienced so many things, and it really pleases me to no end that I have made friends that I know well enough to literally drive over to their place, ask for their WiFi password, and then not talk to them for hours at a time.

True friendship, everybody.

I think everyone needs nights like this sometimes. I know I really needed it, having just flew back into LA yesterday from an extended vacation home, and having no current job to go to for social interaction. In what can be a really lonely city, it’s wonderful to be reminded that you aren’t alone.

It’s strange, because–even though leaving Kansas was just as hard as it always is–I no longer feel like a fish out of water here. I am finding a sense of place and belonging in this city that I haven’t experienced up to this point. Kansas has begun to feel a little foreign, with the sleepy drivers and long miles of endless prairie grass. The city sirens and the tiny Mexican man who pushes a grocery cart full of plastic bottles down my street everyday feel normal. They fit into this idea of what my neighborhood is, and it has a quiet feel of home, which is comforting.

For once, I don’t hate LA. I hope that this feeling lasts, and only continues to grow.

-tlc

DATING.

I have aptly given this post the one-word moniker accompanied by the end-all, be-all period punctuation because this is the best way to describe how this aspect of human interaction fits into a twenty-something’s life: Abrupt, obnoxious all caps with no context and a quick finish.

Okay, no to explain myself and make a little more sense…probably.

Unless you found your life partner in high school or college, dating is a giant gray cloud that hangs over all of our heads as twenty-somethings. We want to meet people, and most of us dream of meeting that one person we’ll enjoy being with more than any other, and frankly, most of us are impatient. We don’t want to have to wade through a bunch of duds to find “the one”. We want to just find “the one” and enjoy the perks of having someone who is always obligated to go to brunch with you.

At the same time, we’re not ready for commitment. We think about marriage and the first words that come to mind are “not now.” So we shy away from really, seriously dating or pursuing anyone. It’s a vicious cycle, though, because then we spend any down time we have thinking about how much we wish we had someone–but not just any random loser, “the one”–to do something exciting with, instead of being bored, sitting at home because all of our friends have plans and we don’t have any hobbies because this is the digital age and let’s face it, any time you could have learned a how to do something cool with your hands you were scrolling through Facebook and Twitter.

So then we turn to online dating because that’s easy, impersonal, and you don’t have to put pants or make-up on.

I held out for a long, long time on trying the online dating realm. I just didn’t like the idea of it–it seemed to me that you wouldn’t be able to find genuine people via dating sites because the only people (in my mind) who used online dating were weirdos who couldn’t make conversation with people in real life. And then one day, it dawned on me: I’m one of those weirdos. So I gave it a try. And I realized that it wasn’t just for weirdos, it is honestly the way that people are meeting these days. It’s the new bar. And let me tell ya, don’t go to a bar to meet people now days unless you really, really want absolutely zero commitment or investment in your time, because all people are looking for now days when they go to a bar is to get drunk with their friends.

I had a misconception about online dating, though. I thought–and here I have no idea why, maybe simply because I had zero familiarity with it–that dating apps were either for hookups, or serious daters (depending on which app you were using). And I figured that the dating app for serious daters would make meeting people extremely easy, because they’re basically handed to you on a plate, and there’s no question of whether or not their interested, because they’ve liked your profile. All you have to do is have a conversation.

Oh, was I wrong. Within the first week of having this dating app on my phone, I realized that online dating is really no different from meeting people in person, except that you know ahead of time that whoever it is you might be talking to finds you attractive, or at least, thinks there’s potential for attraction. Dozens of people will express “interest” by liking your profile, yet, for every dozen that “likes” you, only one or two will actually initiate conversation with you. And out of those one or two, maybe, MAYBE, one will respond more than once and keep the conversation going. And the likelihood of someone asking you to even meet for casual coffee or ice cream is slim. And if they do, it’s usually the person that you’ve already realized you’re not compatible with via your online conversation.

All of this simply to say that my stint with online dating has taught me one thing: There’s no easy solution or shortcut when it comes to meeting genuine people that you want to spend time with. And I still think that meeting people and making connections in person is the best way to live your life. It’s definitely difficult, because people hide behind their screens so much these days. But maybe, if we all try to get out a little bit more, and stop staring into our computers and phones 24/7, we’ll be able to make it a little bit easier on ourselves.

So go forth, my twenty-somethings, and make friends.

-tlc

Finding A Place In LA And Making It A Home

After nine months of living in temporary housing in LA, my roommates and I have finally moved into our own apartment with a year-long lease. It’s both terrifying and exciting to think about making that long of a commitment to such a come-and-go place that has such temporary feel to it. I came out here to test the waters, see if I could make a go of it, if I really liked it out here and if things felt right. In that time I’ve learned so much about who I am and what my choices mean for me and my future. I’ve shed that strange bubble we build for ourselves in school, and that strange feeling you get coming to the end of college–as if you are nearing the final stretch of your life, and only have one possible path to live out, instead of the beginning of your life and the many paths you have to choose from for the rest of it.

I’m not saying I’m committed to LA for the rest of my life, or even for the year’s time of my lease; I’m simply choosing to take the next step in building my career here in LA. And let me tell you, it feels so good to finally feel somewhat settled. I’m still not LA’s biggest fan, but I also don’t feel so foreign here anymore. I’m starting to appreciate things about this city, its people, and what it has to offer.  It’s both beautiful and ugly at the same time.

I saw all this knowing that this city can chew you up and spit you out. I write this at a time when many of the friends I’ve made since moving here have given up on the shiny fake hopes that Hollywood radiates and are seeking refuge and peace in other places. I am both happy for their bravery and peace with departure, and saddened by the heartache and distress this place has caused them.

In high school, I was always the quirky, loud girl who didn’t quite fit in with any of the crowds I hung around. A lot of this was because I never felt like I truly had a place among the other students and my friends. The other part was that I didn’t know how to make life-long friends yet. I ran from drama like it was the plague, but gossiped because I didn’t know the difference between gossip and conversation. It’s funny now because LA is the physical, geographical embodiment of everything that defined my inability to fit in in high school: It is both dreamy and harsh, friendly and lonesome.

I never had any desire to move to LA, until I realized that I might just be crazy enough to try and pursue the dreams that never seemed like a possibility, even in college. Kansas is a very practical place (well, other than Brownback, who is completely delusional–but that’s another post altogether) but I am an impractical dreamer. And though I’m not a NYC writer, or a Londoner like I once fantasized, I’m somewhere, doing something I never thought possible. And I love it.

So, for all this rambling, maybe the only point I have for this post is this: Go somewhere and do something you want to do; something you think you’ll love.  And find a place and make it home.

-tlc

A Wandering Thought

So I’ve been out on the West Coast long enough now to warrant a visit home. Granted, it was a short weekend trip, but well worth it to spend time with my family, my adorkably chubby baby nephew, and the freeing spaciousness that is Kansas City. Nothing gets you homesick quite like the stark contrast between the peace and quiet of a spacious suburban home and the never-ending cluster(ahem) that is LA.

Before now, I’d never really considered the qualities that make Kansas City such an awesome place to live: Quiet, plenty of parking, low city traffic (rush hour there is like off-hours here), good neighborhoods, beautiful fall weather, and plenty of space. All this Royals pride with the team headed to the World Series (who0ddah thunk?) is great, too–apparently they’ve dyed the water blue in every fountain in the city; a daunting task for America’s city of fountains.

It made returning to LA–despite the sun and the beach and the mountains–that much harder. It’s difficult to leave everyone you love (and who loves you) and everything you’ve known growing up and find comfort in a place where you know so few people. I’ve been lucky enough to meet very kind and generous people and make a handful of friends very quickly, but when–as they say–old friends are good friends, and old friends take time, it’s difficult to feel that I have a place in LA.

In a way, I am a sort of vagabond–My housing situation is short term, and I don’t have a steady, paying job–this contributes to the lack of home feeling. But, this seems to be the way with most people in LA–hardly anyone is actually from here. As I once heard someone say, LA is a city made up of orphans. Perhaps that’s why we’re here, in the city of Angels. We’re all seeking our own to guide us.

Now obviously I’m not actually an orphan, but sometimes it can feel this way when you’ve traveled far from home and are living on your own. What’s nice is that since most of us are orphans, it’s a bit of a point of bonding. People band together when they know they are alone in the same ways. I went to a church service last night and felt surprisingly at home–the service was filled with many young people working in some respect in the entertainment industry, and without speaking to anyone, I could just feel that we were all seeking the same thing.

No, not glamour or money (though a little bit of the latter would be nice). We’re all seeking a community. A safe space to call home and validate our place in this city.

LA is like the Regina George of cities: she’ll invite you in and include you if she thinks you’ll benefit her in some way, or she’ll compliment you on your ugly skirt that no one actually likes.

Or maybe LA only seems like Regina George. Because I seem to think she’s much nicer once you get to know her. I’ll have to give it time, though, because I can’t confirm either way at the moment.

No matter where I end up after December, I know I want to be a writer, and I have found a home in my pursuit of that career. So in a way, no matter where I am, I can always take comfort in that. And I’m trying to measure my success less on the accomplishments, jobs, and responsibilities I’m gaining (or not gaining) right now, and focusing more on the journey. This is some advice that I’m trying to follow right now, and maybe it’ll be good for you, too: Don’t compare yourself to others when measuring your success. Have goals for yourself and the ambition to go for them, and plan far enough into the future to help you achieve those goals, but don’t think too much about the future. Enjoy everyday, enjoy the moment, and glean everything you can from your experiences right now. Hope for opportunities, but know that if you’re open to it, life will steer you in the direction you’re meant to roam, be that what you had in mind or not at all.

I’m learning that success is not how much money you have, or where you live, or who you are–success is being surrounded by the ones you love and who love you. Right now I’m feeling pretty unsuccessful, but I know that the ones I love are excited for me and supporting and so, even though I’m not physically surrounded by them, I feel their love. And I hope, no matter where I end up, that I can grow and share that loves with others.

Maybe someday I’ll be successful. Maybe you will be, too.

Until next Thursday,

Yours truly,

tlc