Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Blog Hiatus?

When I originally signed myself up to blog (after thinking about it for a few years and, instead, getting others interested in blogging), what made me hesitate for so long was my own disappointment in reading blogs that just kinda "stopped." I felt duped. Here I'd been invested, on-board, if you will, with the writer, willing to engage in whatever came along.

Having this blog has been important to my growth as a writer.

My goal has always been to update every five days. Lately, I've been falling short. For good reason. I'm about half-way through a third draft of a full-length manuscript. What initially started as a look inside my experience of having lost my brother, is beginning to morph into a broader "family's response to illness." Despite the heavy themes, there is a healthy dose of humor and a, perhaps inevitable, pop-culture thread.

So I've decided to let myself off the hook for a bit with the blog, in order to put my head where it wants to be.

And hope to return soon-ish...

Monday, April 5, 2010

Things I Learned About LA While in LA

Two weeks ago, I went out to LA on a sort of favor/job/adventure combo I couldn't pass up. It was a great opportunity to get some work done on my manuscript (which I did, despite the close proximity to cable, and my tendency to get sucked into it...) At the same time, I got to experience a particular sort of culture foreign to my daily life without feeling like I was merely a "tourist."

Turns out, I really love going into a completely new environment all alone. Despite an inevitable loneliness that eventually creeps in, there is a jolt of satisfaction that comes with getting acclimated. Every time I try to figure out my "tendencies," I've found them to often to be contradictory. Adaptive as I am to change, I am also highly grounded in the repetition of routine

What happens, then, when I find myself drawn with excitement to a new territory, is I spend an accelerated amount of energy getting myself settled. I become hyper-aware of my surroundings. Part of this is out of a feeling of safety, knowing, for instance, keys locked inside a car 1000 miles away from home becomes a much bigger issue than merely in the grocery store parking lot in one's own neighborhood. Another reason is the perpetual ticking clock. Knowing I might not pass this way again, I ever-aware of wasting my time (except, as noted, when it comes to the taunts of free cable... I'm not proud...)

So, while in LA, I bought a map, found a local coffee shop, and got to work. I was staying in a modest, yet hip (read, not extravagant yet not scary) neighborhood called Los Feliz. For anyone who remembers the movie Swingers, it was where the Derby, The Dresden Room, and much of the apartment scenes were shot. It also happens to only be a few miles from Hollywood Blvd and the Sunset Strip. Because I didn't want to be driving around and going into places alone at night (and because the sun didn't hit the glass front of the house I was staying until the late afternoon and tended to be cold in the morning) I'd do most of my "sight seeing" during the day.

Here's what I discovered:

- At any given time, you can find one of the following bands playing on an LA radio station - The Doors, Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, or Red Hot Chili Peppers.

- Skinny jeans and retro black plastic frame glasses don't seem to be going out of style anytime soon.

- Celebrity awareness is heightened. Even though I didn't spot a single celebrity, I felt constantly aware there were famous people everywhere, doing ordinary, everyday things. Now I understand why those first couple of pages of US magazine where Tobey Maguire is shown buying coffee are so popular. I never quite understood, and I'm not particularly proud of it, but there is a certainly an inertia to the culture that permeates the city.

- 1967 is alive and well in LA. I went to Venice Beach one afternoon and saw a sea of RVs awash with psychedelic markings. I find it interesting that in the 80s, Hippies had gone from being a youth-culture thing to being an amusing stereotype. You'd think that area, then would shift and become some epitome of "the last generation," like guys with tube socks and mullets and girls in pinstripe jeans and neon tops. But no. It's the 1960s forever at Venice Beach, baby.

- "Landmarks" aren't nearly as impressive as you'd think. The Capital Records building (which graces the cover of much of their product) is teeny and Chateau Marmont is disappointingly close to a McDonald's. I did manage to take a tour of the Kodak Theater (where the Oscars are held.) It was awesome. In a place where the souvenir shops still trade heavily in cheesey Marilyn Monroe memorabilia, it was really nice to see elegant photographs of some of the understated winners. The auditorium was under construction (Cirque du Soleil was digging a fifty-foot hole into the stage for their upcoming ten-year stay), but we did get to go out on into a box and walk through the hallway where the recipients go right after they win. That was cool...

I'm sure there are plenty of "non-industry" sites to indulge here in the City of Angels, but I'm afraid they will have to wait until my next jaunt out West. Or perhaps I'll next find myself with an opportunity to "help out" somewhere in Connecticut. I hear it's lovely there...