My Nitty Gritty City:

 

I am a third-generation Californian.

I live here because I love Los Angeles.

Not the traffic, sure.
Sometimes I get tired of sunshine,
and wish we had weather.

But I love that I can drive five miles
and be in a completely different place,
with completely different shops and restaurants and people.
There are small theatres and large theatres
jumbled up with Korean karaoke joints and medical marijuana cafes.
You don’t have to go to Starbucks
because there is probably another independent coffee shop just a little further on.

And we do walk in LA.
We walk to our parks, walk in our neighborhoods,
walk like I do on Saturday mornings to our favorite coffee shops,
where we linger in the sunshine
and say hello to everyone’s dogs.

California,
for my family,
is promise and hope and something better than where you were–
my great-grandmother fled the Dust Bowl in Texas
for a better life in Burbank,
and she found it.
My parents moved to Washington (for reasons still unknown),
and all we dreamed about for ten years
was coming back here,
to home,
to opportunity,
to sunshine and flip-flops and the ocean
maybe not at your door,
but within reach.

That’s the thing about Los Angeles,
and probably most big cities:

They are what you make of them.

I don’t think I could ever live in Manhattan or Brooklyn,
but I think it’s wonderful and lovely that people go there,
survive, and make it their home.

It’s kinda that old saw of “Bloom where yer planted!”,
but better,
because you get a chance to move about within your city
until you find your home and your way.

…Sometimes it doesn’t work.
And you go back to the Northwest or the Midwest or wherever
because you will find home there instead of here.
And that’s okay, too.

I found my home here.
I love my city.
I love California.
I love the busy-ness and the sunset on the San Gabriel mountains
and the scent of orange blossoms every spring
when I drive through Pasadena.
I love the quiet of Eaton Canyon,
the weirdos on Venice Beach,
the lights and crowds in Hollywood;
I love the way dusk falls when I’m sitting in my friends’ backyard,
all blues and purples and golds on the hills.

When I was in Washington,
on my loneliest days,
I would face south and make a wish to go back to California.

It’s kinda nice to know that
tiny wishes come true,
isn’t it?

 

My favorite LA Places:

(I’ll probably keep adding to this list…)

 

Beantown, Sierra Madre

by Mindee Choi for LAMag

 

This is my coffee shop–the baristas are always friendly,
and there are plenty of squashy chairs and couches for curling into with a book.
I highly recommend the spiced vanilla chai.

 

The Bourgeois Pig, Hollywood

 

From Kate Cornell

 

The coffee can be great or total crap,
but really, I go for the back room, which is decorated to look like a forest,
and has a teeeeeny little two seat cubby tucked into one corner.
The mint tea is usually a good bet.

 

Swork Coffee, Eagle Rock

 

Photo by coffeemeister.blogspot.com

 

Oh, man.
The Boyo and I went here almost every weekend
when he was living in the hotbox ghetto apartment.
Swork makes a mean cup of coffee, just as good as Intelligentsia,
in my opinion,
and a helluva a lot cheaper.
We love the blended Eagle Roca and the Mayan Mocha.

 

Auntie Em’s, Eagle Rock

 

Photo by skyminor.com

 

There is usually a long wait on the weekends,
but the food is worth it!
I had honey-orange french toast here–
the honey was carmelized, so it added this delicious little *crounch* to the toast.
SO. GOOD.

 

Leela Thai, Silverlake
 

I can’t even remember how we found this place,
but the Boyo and I have been coming here since 2006–
their prices are fantastic (most plates around $7-$8),
and the food delicious.
His favorite is the Pineapple Fried Rice,
mine is the Pad See Ew;
we both adore their crispy eggrolls.

 

Crossroads Clothing, Pasadena & Studio City

 

Their website reads as a trifle hipster-y,
but trust: This is where you go to get good clothing for cheap.
The shop in Studio City often has a ton of designer brands
(Betsey Johnson, Prada, Alice + Olivia),
most of which are under $20.
For the last year or so, I’ve bought almost all of my clothing here.

 

The Fabric District & Santee Alley, Downtown Los Angeles
 

First, bring cash.
Second, bring water and a snack.
Third, prepare to be bombarded with loud music,
pushy salespeople,
and really, really good bargains.

I go here for almost all of my costuming needs–
the fabric district has a dizzying array of choices,
and Santee is great for cheap Christmas presents for nieces and nephews,
and for clubbing/circus/acro clothing.
It’s exhausting,
but if you plan well, it’s totally worth the traffic and parking.

 

Favorite Hikes:

Eaton Canyon, Pasadena
Mt. Wilson Trail, Sierra Madre
Griffith Park, Hollywood
Lake Avenue, Pasadena

 

Favorite Beaches:

Hands down,
my favorite is Ventura (which is technically not in LA, but who cares?)–
it’s quieter, cleaner,
and dog-friendly.

This is Ventura. Well. It’s a picture of The Boyo and M’self in Ventura, the day we met our little corgywn.


 

I love Venice Beach for the exact opposite reasons.

Dockweiler allows fires in allotted fire pits,
and Zuma is Malibu without the pretension.

 

Obviously:

 

In n’ Out Burger
(there’s a reason why it’s famous)

The Getty Museum
(well-curated, in spite of Greco-Roman art scandals)

The Arclight
(will spoil you on regular movie theatres forever)

Cinespia
(bring a group, an umbrella, and a low chair)

LACMA
(so much fun–check out the Japanese art wing!)

The Huntington Library
(gorgeous, lush, quiet)

The Hollywood Bowl
(go for LA Phil, if nothing else)

Walt Disney Concert Hall
(Worth it)

 

So…who wants to come visit me now?

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Charlotte
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 21:26:16

    Weirdly, California feels like home to me too – even though I’ve never actually lived there. Yeah, I don’t get it either. LOL. One of the great things about moving as many times as I have though is that I end up loving wherever I am. I never expected to adore Minnesota like I do… and yet I know this isn’t permanent. This isn’t “home” yet.

    Reply

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