It’s been just over forty-eight hours since I came over the Tejon Pass, via I-5, into Los Angeles. And since then, I’ve been both to work and to my new home, and yes, everything seems OK.
- The front of the building I work in is a two storey tall pair of binoculars. Really. I thought that was a Photoshopped image on The Agency site I saw, but it’s real. I drive between the giant lenses to get into the garage.
- The house I live in has a kumquat bush in the backyard. I’ve never had kumquats before. It also has a lemon tree.
- Everything about L.A. has an eerie deja-vu quality to it, but that’s from childhood vacations rather than actual deja vu.
- The smog is so bad that I can’t see the mountains that surround the city.
- My office is a block and a half from the beach, but I haven’t seen the ocean yet since I’ve been here.
- Despite there being bike lanes and trails all over the place, and perfectly good sidewalks and buses, EVERYONE DRIVES anyways. And people get their exercise at the gym. They’re all exercise freaks, but it’s rare to see them getting it. Unless it’s in the form of surfing. Or possibly biking down in Venice Beach.
Today, I got to my office and pulled an Andrew. By which I mean I screwed up the coffee machine. I realized that I’d given it decaf coffee instead of reular, and tried to replace the basket, and then realized that it was spewing hot water all over despite my efforts to stop it. I shoved the decaf back in and then just disposed of it surrepticiously. Fortunately, no one was watching. And I was able to make myself a shot of espresso while the REAL coffee brewed.
I was shown to my cubicle, set up on my computer by IT, and had just enough time to start going through a month’s worth of “TO ALL” messages when my buddy arrived. The Agency’s orientation includes a “buddy” assignment: someone comes over and shows the new kid around for the day. I got a girl my age from another group, who was in production, not interactive.
Maybe I should back up here. The Agency doesn’t just do internet. I work for the interactive group, a section of twenty people which is a subdivision of the greater company that does everything from websites and graphics to traffic and impression campaigns. But The Agency does EVERYTHING. There are people in there doing advertising, marketing, art, copywriting for everything from cola to movies. People casually talk about so-and-so “being out on a commercial shoot today”. It’s a real, huge, advertising agency. The novelty of that will likely wear off soon.
My buddy and I promptly bonded over a discussion of Strongbow cider (which is served at ONE bar in Los Angeles that I knew of, and she didn’t) and off we went. She introduced me to dozens of people I’ll never remember. I said hello to each, exchanged brief words about Vancouver, and promptly forgot who they were as I got dizzy from the twists and turns through the building. Eventually, an hour later, I was briefly returned to my desk to set up voicemail and meet some teammates.
Turns out the teammate next to me had the job at RPA that I’d phone interviewed for in April – the one I got shot down for because they wanted someone with more agency experience, rather than someone with online experience. It was his departure to our current shared cube that prompted the post on Craigslist I’d replied to.
And the teammate across the hall? He used to work for LowerMyBills.com. In a few sentences, without mincing words, he explained to me exactly why I’d had a narrow shave not accepting the offer. The company, despite everything I was told, doesn’t have a real future – and the nice ladies I spoke to on the phone were really vicious bitches. He reaffirmed the belief I’d had that the money wasn’t everything. To all of you who helped me make that decision – thank you – turning down that job was exactly right.
My buddy reappeared at noon to take me to lunch, where we chatted over burgers (hers chicken, mine ahi tuna) down the block. She’s a recent L.A. transplant as well, and so she described to me how she’s been experiencing the city. Beaches, neighborhoods, theaters, malls. She also informed me that not only is the Golds Gym by our offices the one that muscle-bound celebrities are likely to be found at (the Rock works out there), but that we also get a discounted rate by virtue of working for The Agency. $30/month is less than I ever expected to pay for a gym in this city.
So now I’m “home” – at my adopted aunt’s house, where there’s wi-fi to update with. Soon, I shall go to MY new home across town, where there is no internet that I can find – the last guy must have taken the cables – but there IS a TV hookup. The house I live in is longer than it is wide, with a shared living room, kitchen and family room (with XBOX) down one side, and the three bedrooms and two bathrooms on the other. The backyard is HUGE, two-level, and has the aforementioned kumquats. It also has a black Lab that seems to be made out of springs and caffeine. I’ve dropped off most of my stuff, been given keys, and will be emptying the car (including two bags of Trader Joe’s groceries) into the house as soon as I post this and throw on jeans.
I’m still a little dazed with shock, I suppose – maybe that’s why I feel so lethargic. I’m still ridiculously excited about being here, of course – I just wish I had someone to share being here with. I wish I had friends to show all this to, someone to explore with, but for right now, it’s just me and my tourbooks, my Saturn, my hope, out here in Los Angeles.