Tag Archives: los angeles

sixteen years later

I am far too fond of visualizing a cut-over and a “[x] years later” overlay as a visual of my life. I’ve had to move and reboot so many times that I lack continuity. It’s hard sometimes even for me to piece together my own narrative. And lately, the cut-over I’ve been visualizing is a hot take from January of 2007 to January of 2023. This is because the common thread from my twenties is that I have to make new friends based on my own merits, as opposed to just having a kid born in 2008.

This is the weird thing about making friends as an adult who chooses to reproduce. You have a period of time where you make your own friends in your 20s, based on your college circles, or based on the people you meet randomly in your life if you move away from your college circle. Then you reproduce and suddenly, all your friends are people who had a baby around the same time you did. Then your kid becomes a teen, and suddently is an independent person, and you’re making new friends based on your own merits for the first time in decades because your identity is less about your status as a parent. Your life phase governs your identity, and your identity governs where and how you bond with other adult humans.

This is where I, and a lot of people my age, happen to be at this point in our social journeys. We’ve got teens who are their own persons. And we may have our fellow parent friends, but after a decade and a half, we may also have lost those friends to moves or personal differences or other changes that happen with time. We may have our pre-parent era friends, but similarly, they may have been lost as we went through our own life changes. So here we are, having to meet people who have to associate with us based on more factors than just their kid’s birth year. It’s terrifying.

The last time I had to make friends based on my own merits as a person and as a human was in the mid-aughts. I was in my mid to late twenties in Los Angeles, far from my friend circle in Vancouver and my family in Victoria. I had gone to seek my fame and fortune in digital media buying. And after maybe ten days in the Westside, I ran into a girl in the grocery store who kindly passed forward her own good fortune in meeting people, and invited me to meet her friends…and the rest is history. I met new friends, introduced them to other friends, helped to make connections, and always, always had something going on. My blog from that time is a never-ending whirl of work, socializing, and anarchist bike rides…which it continued to be right up until I left the Westside in January of 2007 to move in with that guy I met at Bar Sinister out east of Vermont.

And here we are sixteen years later. If my time in NYC was all about being a parent (in probably one of the least practical cities to be a parent in), then my time in Pennsylvania is going to be about the transition back out of being a parent. Ben is large! He is as tall as I am and is becoming more independent every day. He’s going to be driving in less than two years. I’m no longer making friends with other parents I meet through his school or through Scouts. I’m making friends with other humans based on being my own person. I have not had to do that for the better part of two decades and it is a very terrifying thought.

If I have a point of consolation, it is that I was still learning how to be a human in my twenties (late learner, okay?) and had yet to develop the empathy and social skills I worked on more consistently in my thirties. I have more faith in myself to be a less self-centered and insecure person now. In my twenties, I worked on blind ego (“of course people like me!”) combined with then crushing despair when I wasn’t to everyone’s taste (“there’s something wrong with me”). In my forties, I am trying to work based on self-confidence (“I am a great person to be friends with because I am kind and considerate and try my best to truly hear the people around me”) and rational consolation (“not everyone has to be my BFF and that’s okay!”) This doesn’t always mean I’m going to function without insecurity as years of exclusion and bullying are always going to be embedded in my foundations. But it does mean I’m able to identify my own insecurities and try to move past them as much as possible.

The other motivation I have to make friends is that I need to set an example for my kiddo. Just because I’m not socializing entirely based on being a parent does not mean that being a parent is no longer a factor at all. I have to demonstrate to Ben that friendships are built a block at a time. This does require the core friendship skillset I learned in my twenties in L.A., which is:

  1. establish contact and common ground
  2. ask if that person would like to hang out sometime
  3. get that person’s contact info
  4. follow-up with hang out details
  5. if hangout goes well, send follow-up note expressing how you enjoyed getting to know them
  6. repeat steps 4 and 5
  7. (optional) include that person in other aspects of your life, like double dating or bigger get togethers
  8. build friend circle and throw monster house party (okay maybe replace this with “quiet adult cocktails and appetizers party”)

So here we go, with a cut to 2023. I have to reach back through time and lived experience and remember what it was like to connect with people in an authentic and genuine manner. Thankfully, I am good at the Internet so I’ve been able to use that as a springboard to make new friends so far. But it’s still a major shift and change in my life and one I have to commit to. As does Ben. Sixteen years later, I’m in a different place both in my mental health as well as my physical location and life phase. Lets see how many of these old social skills tactics still work.

weekend recap: hiking, bowling, DWTS

Every weekend, we try to spend quality time, as a family, engaged in Wholesome Activities. We try to find educational activities he’ll enjoy, or physical activities we can do as a family. And usually, we can find a couple things to do each weekend that give us that quality family time; Mama, Dada, Ben. Our general goal is to (a) spend time together as a family and (b) wear that kid out so he will take a nap and go to sleep at night.

This Saturday, I woke up to find a marine layer over Southern California. I love misty days here, when it’s cooler, damper, and more like the climate I grew up with. Also, the San Gabriel Mountains look like the North Shore with low cloud cover. Immediately, I suggested to Paul that we go outside and enjoy this lovely weather by taking Ben hiking. Los Angeles is actually a really hiking-intense city, even more so than Vancouver, because of all the trails in the hills and mountain parks that surround the city. Unfortunately, everyone always seems to be trying to hike those trails at once, which means crowded trails, impossible parking, and a wilderness experience that feels more like a poorly kept city park. We usually try to avoid this by going out to the SGV, and going hiking in one of the parks that connects to the Angeles National Forest up there. Our favorite, by far, is Eaton Canyon Park, out in Altadena, past Pasadena – like everything else, a 30 minute drive away.

We’ve been to Eaton Canyon a few times now, and it meets all our criteria for Family Hiking. There’s a minimal incline in most parts of the park, which is great for someone’s short little legs. The trail is well-kept and clear, again, great for someone who’s used to paved streets and sidewalks. There’s tons of animal and birds to observe. And there’s even a well-kept, fairly extensive, nature center and botanical garden, where the local flora and fauna have been carefully curated and organized and labeled. This includes Ben’s favorite part of the park, the WALL’O’SNAKES…a wall of terrariums with local live snakes in them, including examples of the poisonous ones.

This Saturday, after some poking around in the Nature Center, and some wandering on the tiny trail of the Botanical Garden / Toddler Trail, we set off to hike across the dry wash and up the trail fork of “Moist Canyon”. We walked up the canyon for about twenty minutes, stopping to observe animals that neither Paul nor I could name, beyond “hey, look at all the birds!” or, “listen to the woodpecker”, or “look, a snake on a rock!” (small, non-venomous). Eventually though, Ben informed us his legs were tired and we decided to hike back down. By the time we walked the ten minutes back to the dry wash, Ben was insisting on being picked up:

And then, after all that hiking, he decided to take a nap on Paul’s shoulder. Did I mention the kid weighed in at 36 pounds last week?

After the hike, we came home to make one of Ben’s favorite foods: tofu tacos. Ben, being an LA baby, is used to being able to get food truck snacks. Since he loves tofu, one of his favorites is a tofu taco. Seriously, he’ll take tofu over anything else – chicken, beef, fish – as a taco filler. I just toss some tofu chunks in a mix of soy sauce and Sriacha, pan-sear them, and put them on a tortilla with some cheese and salsa. It’s toddler fusion food! But with all the hiking and lunch, Ben didn’t go down for his nap until after 3…and he didn’t wake up until almost 5, which left us in a zone of being Too Late for an afternoon activity, but too early to eat dinner. Quick, someone find a filler activity!

Then it occurred to me, why not watch Dancing with the Stars with my son? Seriously, even he can get the concept. Famous people learn to dance with professional dancers, and the worst person gets kicked off. Yay. Ben likes seeing dancing, he loves music – sure, it’s completely devoid of educational value, and is the entertainment equivalent of feeding my kid a Lunchable, but it was Saturday! So I checked with Paul to be sure it was OK, and then Ben and I watched an abbreviated version of the season premiere, where we fast-forwarded through everything except the practicing (“see? look how hard they’re working!”) and the actual dances (“look how much they practiced!”)

Sure enough, Ben freaking LOVED DWTS. Every time a couple started dancing, he would tell me, “Look, Mama! They’re dancing!” We would watch people’s feet to see how they were doing, and I tried to explain to Ben that the professionals had practiced for a LONG LONG TIME, but the famous people were just learning, and Why Practice Is Important. Then, for the Results Show, I skipped the first 40 minutes of it, and just ran the last three minutes where the decision was made. We talked about how Not Everyone Is Good At Everything, Including Dancing, So Someone Has To Get Kicked Off. Look, I’m trying to redeem myself as a mom here, letting my kid watch reality TV…but honestly, he likes choreography and he likes music and maybe it’s only the entertainment equivalent of one of those Lunchables with reduced sodium and a fruit cup?

And then we get to today, when Ben asked if he could watch TV. We agreed this was OK, and I asked him what he wanted to watch, expecting Thomas, or Dinosaur Train, or something. Nope. I got, “I want to watch Dancing With The Stars, Mama!”

“But Ben, we watched that show yesterday. We saw all the dances. There isn’t a new episode yet.”

“But I want to see who gets kicked off,” he told me.

I snorted with laughter, and went looking for a family movie instead. We ended up watching Free Willy, which I actually never saw…even though it’s probably partially inspired by the gong show that was Sealand of the Pacific, the marine park across the street from where I grew up. Hey, we saw Dolphin Tale Friday, why not a movie about another special Troubled Youth and Marine Mammal bond? Besides, movies are a Special Treat for Ben on the weekends – on weekdays, he’s limited to thirty minutes or less of educational programming. On weekends, we let him watch movies, which he loves, and we just try to curate to make sure there’s some sort of Discussion Topic we can get out of it. (I’m sure we’ll spend this week talking about dolphins and orcas, and doing Related Art Projects. I’ll have to find and print pictures of marine creatures tomorrow for a collage)

But earlier today, we took Ben bowling for the first time. I found a bowling alley up in Glendale that had bumpers. PROGRAMMABLE bumpers, even: they only showed up when it was Ben’s turn! Jewel City Bowl even had shoes IN BEN’S SIZE. Ben also got their special six-pound ball, which he had to roll, because his hands were too little to hold it. He absolutely LOVED it though, and cheered and grinned the whole game. I’ve got photos and videos we’ll have to put up this week, because a three year old bowling is freaking ADORABLE. It also gave us a new family activity, something Ben can do with us, and probably with our friends and extended family as well. Bowling is a super-social activity, and having Ben be able to play it gives him a new way to spend time with grown-ups. Next weekend, we’ll have to try mini-golf.

Fwd: Tom Green at Frida

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Jillian Tate
Date: Thu, 18 Jan 2007 13:33:34 -0800
Subject: Tom Green at Frida
To: tips@defamer.com

Tom Green is having lunch with an agent type at Frida in Beverly
Hills. Looks serious and balding and dishevelled. Perhaps negotiating for work? What does he do these days in L.A…I thought he was back in his parents basement in Ottawa.

Sent to Defamer on my BlackBerry

row, row, row your boat

Blogging.LA is going to officially sponsor the blogger boat in this year’s Lotus Festival Dragon Boat Races! I posed the challenge (which we were reminded of by LA City Nerd) to the rest of my site last week, and we’ve got a handful of authors signed up already to paddle. I’m really psyched about this, not only because it will be a lot of fun, but because it’s a chance to really participate in the community of Los Angeles.

Yay! Boat racing! And not just the drinking game kind!

NOW i am the party queen of Los Angeles


My post this AM on blogging.la has kicked off a discussion on what to do for the city’s 225th anniversary.

(Eric Garcetti is my hero!)

i really, really live here

Last night, the guy roomate and I went up to the Sunset Strip to see the Birthday Massacre at the Roxy. They are my favorite new acquisition goth band, probably because they have this really 90s feel to them. Violet makes me think of being eighteen and reading a borrowed copy of the Sandman for, like, the fifth time, while waiting for a friend to show up with a video of The Crow. The songs have minor key harmonies, sticky beats, two guitarists, 90s sounding synths, and a girl lead singer.

We found out that the band didn’t go on until 10:45, and we had no interest in the opening act, so we went next door to the Rainbow Room. This is the old-school death-metal hangout bar. It’s actually a restaurant AND bar AND upstairs private room, but is associated with 80s metal bands. Guy Roomate, being ex-metalhead in the same way I am an ex-grungebunny, enjoys hanging out there. And, despite it being recommended in Alternative Los Angeles (the guidebook that got me here to start with), I hadn’t been there yet. So I suggested that we go there for a drink while killing time.

We pay cover, get our drink vouchers – and I recognize the doorman. “The Man of a Thousand Voices!” I exclaim. It was a talented voice actor I’d chatted with, for ten minutes, while waiting outside Gotham Hall in Santa Monica for friends. He’d been working the door there, and paid me the best compliment I’d had all week: “Girls who buy jeans want their ass to look as good as yours does in those.” I said my hellos, and then proceeded into the bar.

We were twenty minutes into the wait when a familiar looking guy in eyeliner sat down next to us. It was Paul Van, lead singer from local dark rock band Solarcade, who I refer to as “The Depeche Mode Guy.” He knows the band, from having opened for them in his native South Africa and in Europe on the Devotional tour. I met him at Miss Kitty’s a year ago, and occasionally hear from him on MySpace when there’s a Solarcade show. We discussed Martin Gore’s musical genius for a few minutes, and then it was time to go next door to the show.

I think what surprised me is that I ran into two different people I had met randomly at previous times, in places nowhere near the Rainbow Room. This happens to me now. I run into people I know. It isn’t a big deal, really – or it wouldn’t have been, in Vancouver. In Vancouver, I can’t get onto a bus without running into someone I went to UBC with. But this is L.A. It’s bigger, and I didn’t start out here as part of a pre-built university community. Seeing people I know – like running into a girl from Critical Mass at Bar Sinister, or finding an acquaintance invited to the same party I am – makes me feel like I really live here. Like I’m not so much a ghost drifting through city after city, but that I live in Los Angeles, and will continue to see people I know as I move in my paths around the city.

And yes, it certainly improves my evening slightly to run into two separate guys who have flirted with me at two separate times. Nothing like a quick ego reminder to make me smile.

the L.A. meme

Shannon is the first person to tag me with a meme/chain letter that has been making the rounds of local bloggers. I’ve seen in on a few other blogs – Will and Heather, to start with, but Shannon’s the first to tag me as a legit L.A. blogger.

Four Jobs I’ve Had In My Life in LA:
Account Manager, Integrated Media Solutions
Freelance Media Planner, Full Tilt Poker
Media Planner, Tribal/DDB L.A.

(The problem is, I moved here for a specific job & career trajectory. All my fun, city cliched jobs happened when I was in Seattle. Like, “tour guide at Argosy”, “HTML author at Microsoft,” “temp at Sierra Video Games”, “barista at Starbucks”. If I’d spent my late teens & early 20s here, I’m pretty sure I’d have the L.A. equivalent list)

Four Movies About LA I Could Watch Over And Over:
Who Framed Roger Rabbit
LA Story (and/or The Jerk)
Pulp Fiction

Four Places I’ve Lived All Over L.A.:
Mar Vista

(Can I count Mom here? She lived in Boyle Heights, Westchester, NoHo and Sherman Oaks)

Four LA-Themed Shows I Love(d) To Watch:
L.A. Law
Melrose Place
The O.C.
and a tie between Animaniacs and Saved by the Bell

Four Places I Would Vacation At In LA:
Venice Beach (living here is like always being on vacation!)
Santa Monica (see above)
Santa Barbara

Actually, even though I’ve almost perfected the Art of Matching L.A. Destinations To Canadian Friends, and I’ve developed an entire NOT A HELLHOLE TOUR (TM), I can’t think of where I would vacation here outside of the beach areas. But being able to visit those places so often makes my life here one extended vacation.

Four LA-Based Websites I Visit Daily:
I syndicate about twenty, but I never miss:


Four Of My Favorite Foods Found In LA:
Shrimp Cocktail at La Playita
spicy tofu soup in K-town
Chaya Venice sushi
gorditas at Grand Central market

Four Places In LA I Would Rather Be Right Now:
The roof at the Standard downtown
biking around Elysian Park
Grand Central Library
exactly where I live in Venice

puplet_loaf (editrix of LA Alternative)
dufresne (when he logs in again from wherever in the world he is)

she had to leave…los angeles

(x, los angeles)

Short entry tonight – I’m typing over a lapful of cat. And I mean a lapful. This thing is 22 pounds of purring fur and fat.

A post on MetBlogging L.A. reminded me – I always meant to post a list of songs about L.A.

Bad Religion – Los Angeles Is Burning
Bran Van 3000 – Drinking in L.A.Go Betty Go – I’m From L.A.
X – Los Angeles
Missing Persons – Nobody Walks In L.A.
RHCP – Under the Bridge
The Like – June Gloom
Weezer – Beverly Hills
Everclear – Santa Monica
Felix da Housecat – Everyone Is Someone In L.A.
Ozomatli – pretty much any song will do
Ditty Bops – ditto

Songs I associate with L.A. even though it isn’t explicit:

Sisters of Mercy – Detonation Boulevard (“through the angel rain, through the dust & the gasoline)
Alice in Chains – No Excuses (“leave our rain, a cold trade for warm sunshine”)
Counting Crows – Long December
REM – South Central Rain

So those are the songs I would put on an L.A. mix tape.
Anything else?

Los Angeles Below Rolls on Surface Streets

Mack at L.A. Voice has posted a great article about biking in L.A..

The keystone of this post is a link tothis outstanding article detailing this month’s Ridazz ride, which I wrote up for blogging.la The author also expands on some additional bike culture in L.A. – like the Bike Kitchen, which is the hub of the community that run Ridazz and BikeSummer/BikeWinter, and a lot of the other activities I go to.

It’s a whole underground culture, biking in L.A. I fell into it through Critical Mass, and love it more every ride I go on. The links are great resources, for those wanting a recap, or wanting to find out how you, too, can join cycle culture in Los Angeles. (You can also read cicle.org, linked at right, which is another site I’ll be blogging for)

what’s that word? MONORAIL!

Ray Bradbury has suggested that Los Angeles build monorails.

And he has suggested it without a single trace of irony.

Doesn’t he realize that the whole reason L.A. has to build a subway is because the wealthy denizens of the Westside do not want an aboveground rail system in their backyards? So, although Los Angeles never hesitates to slap a freeway in a poor residential area (*cough* Boyle Heights *cough* Echo Park), apparently, they’re going to respect Beverly Hills and Mid-City and not unroll an above ground system down Wilshire.

Which kind of makes me want to slap someone upside the head and remind them: WILSHIRE AND OLYMPIC WERE ORIGINALLY RED CAR LINES! They were widened to accomodate cars in the 40s and 50s, in addition TO a mass transit line! So was Venice Boulevard! Any ONE of those streets could take an aboveground monorail line like the one that runs down 4th in Seattle.


When you devote as much time and energy as I do to studying why L.A. is so fucked up, it’s a little frustrating to be reminded that there’s ways to make it better – that aren’t being acted on. I think Ray Bradbury lives in a slightly unrealistic world, and that he’s seeing 2006 through the eyes of his own stories. I think his visions are better suited to his work than to reality. But his visions had a basis in reality, in social science fiction, at a time when Los Angeles was making these decisions, that would ultimately prove to be, well, wrong.

So. What’s that word? MONORAIL! It wasn’t quite the right solution for Seattle (who doggedly pushed forward with outdated traffic patterns), but Bradbury’s article (http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/sunday/commentary/la-op-bradbury5feb05,0,6921963.story?coll=la-home-sunday-opinion) suggests that it could be a better one for Los Angeles.