Tag Archives: LA

LA: Now versus Then


If you couldn’t decipher my not-so pent-up aggression toward L.A., you might be too caught up in loving it so much.

Ugh, I sound like such a prick.

I’m sorry I hate L.A. so much. I don’t have to live there, I don’t know why I can’t just get over it. As much as I’m allowed to dislike the city, you’re also welcome to love it–and for some reason that bothers me. I’m not like this with any other place or thing. But maybe it’s because I wasn’t always like this with L.A., either…

Over three years ago, I used to crave the West. I was desperate to explore L.A. and all of its sunny magic. After months or years of talk, I booked my ticket during my birthday month as a ‘treat yo self’ gift. And it was such a great gift to myself!


Joel McHale is really nice.

In my one week spent at Mely’s house in L.A., I fell in love. We took the metro system everywhere we needed, and it was cheap in comparison with NYC’s subway fares. I got to see and meet Joel McHale in the taping of The Soup. We saw Conan live. The view from the Gryffith Observatory amazed me. I loved that you could hike around there. Kodak Theater. How chill Kat Von D’s tattoo and boutique shops were. Overall how chill the whole vibe was. People were generally friendly. The shopping. There was so much to see and none of it was too touristy, even when it was a tourist attraction.

The weather that week was actually chilly, so I didn’t get to fall in love with the warm weather, but I visited my first Disney park then and there and had a blast. This was the first time I had ever been to an amusement park outside of summer. Options seemed endless.

Not to mention I had saved up money to specifically spend in L.A.


Santa Monica Pier ft. Malibu in the distance to the right

A few days after my return, my sister Jodi called me to wish me a Happy Birthday and asked me how I liked L.A. I told her I loved it. I thought everything was accessible and exciting and that L.A. offered so much.

“Oh! Well I’m glad to hear it..,” Jodi started. She sounded like she was lying. Here’s why. “You know, Tob,” she continued, “I actually waited to tell you this because I didn’t want to ruin your expectations or your trip or anything, but I hated L.A.” My jaw probably dropped. “No, it’s actually really good that you liked it,” she said, this time sounding more sincere. “I just thought the city was too spread out.” Mom had said the same thing before my trip, but so what? I’m used to driving most places in New Jersey. “The transportation system sucked, but maybe it’s improved since I was there.” Maybe. Or she just didn’t know it well like native LA-er, Mely. “It was just frustrating.”

3 years later, we’ve switched roles….

I find myself saying how the city is far too spread out, some neighborhoods completely inaccessible by Metro. EVERYTHING appeared to be some sort of chain or franchise. I thought back to when Mely first came to Belmar, pointing out all the “mom & pop shops.” I thought nothing of it at the time because Belmar is very local-oriented, but I found none of that LA. People ended up being more snooty–but in a passive-aggressive way.

When comparing LA to NYC in attitude, honestly, I do view L.A. to be very fake about approaching matters, while NYC just honks at you if you fucked up and you get over it. I don’t know quite how to describe it. But that Hollywood Cinema lifestyle they exaggerate in shows actually seemed to be reality!


What a view! ft. smog. View from the Gryffith Observatory.

And it’s not like LA is the only perpetrator of thinking they’re hot shit. You’ll find that ANYWHERE. But in LA too many seemed to take on this role of environmentally-conscious, vegan hipster, while wasting hundreds of gallons of water on washing their driveways and not really knowing what they’re talking about.

Again, this can be found anywhere. But I don’t know, in LA I couldn’t escape it. I couldn’t escape the weather when every day felt like the same, sunny day, yet so much of my life felt like a waste of time. One day to feel different would have been a blessing.

Let me explain.

I had only expected to be in L.A. for a max of 7 days. I was in L.A. a whole month. I was waiting for mine and Mely’s road trip to begin and it kept getting pushed back due to our transportation issues. I tried secluding myself to Mely’s house in order to avoid spending any kind of money so I could save it for the road trip.

I felt so completely stuck and because L.A. was so spread out, I couldn’t even escape this feeling for a minute. Friends kept suggesting I take a walk around the block, but the hot sun only pissed me off more. There was nothing but houses to see in Mely’s walking radius.

I went to Santa Monica for a weekend with Ali for her Frisbee tournament and got thrown some SERIOUS Santa Monica shade. Very rude people. I couldn’t believe it.

Ali, who was working at a coffee shop at the time, constantly felt like shit because she didn’t have a “real” job. I understand that frustration, but in L.A. I noticed with more than just her, that if you’re not in some sort of impressive industry, then you’re worthless. I can’t even give you an example of when or how I saw this, but I saw this attitude a lot in L.A. People were hardly friendly anymore.

Everything seemed fake.

So clearly in just two years*, my situations and reasons were completely reversed. And it might not all be L.A.’s fault. But ever since my second time there, I have a new rule: Visit a city at least twice before you move there, because once you get the exciting tourist stuff out of the way, it might not be what you think it is.


Western sunset on Sunset Blvd.

Three years after our LA conversation on my birthday, Jodi now lives in Venice. After living in Maine and New Hampshire for over a decade, I can understand her exhaustion and frustration with snow and winter. Her endless texts and snaps of LA weather does not make me jealous,  no matter how hard she tries. And she’s had to adjust to driving everywhere. I’m almost waiting for her to grow tired of L.A.–especially since her dog has a lot of thick fur and loves the snow. But maybe I’ll change my mind again…or maybe she will. Either way, I just think it’s funny how a city is not always what you think it is, even after visiting.

Meanwhile, I’m still completely enamored with New York City. I love its seasons. I love how accessible and compact everything is. I love the hustle. I love the diversity. Its lights. Its size. Its sights. It doesn’t have everything I love–like mountains–but I’m still searching for my perfect city. And you know what, even after potentially years of searching I have ahead of me, I might just find that NYC is just the place for me after all.


*If there’s any confusion: it’s been 3 years since I first visited L.A., but it WAS only 2 years when I visited the second time. I have not been back since. And my aggression has not lightened in the year I’ve spent away from LA. Sorry.

+All pictures were from my first visit in L.A. and I still like them! So not all my emotions toward LA is hatred.



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Days Traveled, Unraveled: Los Angeles

My time in L.A.

Frustrating. Scary. Eye-opening. Upsetting. Dismal. Yet everyone looked at me like I was some superstar. I was this 21-year-old trekking life and the country, and opening the outdoors not only for myself, but supposedly giving people a window to see something so ballsy and exciting–something everyone else wanted, too. Road trip to the continental 48 states of America.

The first week in LA was normal, expected, and fine while I stayed at Mely’s place–my friend and travel buddy. I got to see a Quidditch friend from New York! I saw my good friend Ali for the first time in two years. I went to Disneyland. I sat in the 70 degree Californian sun on the beach (applying sunblock every 20 minutes) and didn’t have any ties. LA seemed like options were available for me everywhere.

Then we weren’t leaving the day I thought. Then I had to watch my wallet even more closely. Then I had to find transportation just to get to public transportation. Then my cat wasn’t doing well in a new environment back home in New Jersey. Then the start date for our road trip was delayed even more due to transportation options. Then we were told we had no transportation and couldn’t go at all.

Doubt seeped through my mind. LA was no longer a fairy tale or an endless vacation. I once said I loved LA. Why did I love it then? What the fuck is this place?!

LA traffic is awful–and I fucking drive through New York City sometimes! There’s no roadwork, construction, or accidents, people just brake for no reason! And how dare I cross the street while there’s a red blinking hand, even when the STREET is an entire ghost TOWN. And if you aren’t a somebody in LA, then you feel like shit.

It was consistent sunny weather all the time while New Jersey got its first, real snowfall. I loved seasons. I actually hate the sun, I’m a vampire. I was confined with too much time to myself and constantly wept to my “boy-thing” (not as official as boyfriend, but essentially a boy friend) for comfort 3,000 miles away.

After Mely’s dad told us now that we can’t go on the trip now, Mely and I sat in silence for a good minute. In those 60 seconds, I pictured an entirely new life that I had not even imagined several minutes beforehand: OK, so I guess I’ll go back home, I’ll have to tell everyone it didn’t work out. But I’ll use my savings to fix my car and I’ll get to see my boy-thing again. I’ll be with family instead of learning things about my dead brother’s case via text. I’ll take care of my cat. I’ll work again. I won’t have to worry about my taxes while traveling, because I’ll be home. I’ll find an apartment. I’ll focus on going back to school. I have to tell everyone it didn’t work out. I’ll have to give the contributors back their money. I’ll do this road trip after I graduate…

Looking back, I actually don’t know when these thoughts ended, nor how. I probably failed at trying to hold back some tears while Mely told me that we ARE doing this road trip NOW. We figured out a couple of back-up plans. But even that took two more weeks.

I rollercoastered between excited/fine/motivated/young to sad/lonely/loser-like/dependent/nervous nearly DAILY. I wanted to start my road trip. I wanted to prove people I could do it. I also wanted to see my friends. Once I got that glimpse of a potential life I could have been living back home, I often wondered why I was in LA. I love my car, I want to fix my car, why aren’t I home fixing my car? I just started this relationship-thing, why did I have to be so far away during the beginning?

[Side note: ever since my brother’s fatal accident, I get emotional very quickly. I used to not be able to cry, and now I cry all the damn time whether it’s related to him or not. I like crying, but I’ll save that for another blog post.]

I often reminded myself that people always find money when we need it somehow. My car would be there when I got back. And so would my boy-thing. We loved each other and we talked all the time. We were so mushy with our love, I couldn’t even believe it myself. I was proud, excited, and I loved someone. ME. I did. Wow. I still can’t believe that.

Finally, there was no more waiting. Four weeks of LA living and emotional craziness, I would set off for the Grand Canyon. What a great first stop! So….grand! Then again, any first stop would have been grand to me. Real excitement finally set in. And my dreams, my goals were finally beginning.

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