Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Dating in Los Angeles

In case it wasn't painfully obvious, I am a single twenty-something in Los Angeles.

For the time I have been single I guess you can say I've enjoyed it - at least in the sense of not yet being married or having children. I like getting to know people with the potential of a relationship more so than not - as far as that's been concerned, however, it's been rather hit or miss. Some efforts have resulted in dates. Others have resulted in purely physical relationships. Every now and then, though, I'm surprised to get waist-deep in that "getting to know someone" phase with someone I'm super excited about. Like anyone else would, I go for chest-deep, then chin-, then eyeballs-deep. Sadly, whether a native or a transplant, Los Angeles is full of flakes. Dates can be fun. Slimy rejection after concerted effort... mmm, not so much. It's only then that I tend to go back to square negative one - a place where I'm not really a fan of being single anymore.

However, seeing as I live for the thrill of the gamble, my friends suggested I try one of two things: OkCupid (I've had an account for a long time; re-started a few weeks ago), and going out and just being around people, with no real aim to hook up or find someone. I've fallen into relationships that way before. So naturally I've been doing both.

Oddly enough, I've been able to meet a lot of people on account that I ride my bicycle and make use of public transportation in LA. It has made for some alarmingly interesting inquiries and overall conversation. I've also met a few people while riding my bicycle on rides arranged by the folks over at Midnight Ridazz. It's actually only then when I don't mind guys saying things in my direction while on my bicycle, being that the ratio of women to men on such rides is generally pretty low. If that's not enough motivation to go on more group rides, I don't know what is.

Everyone wants to feel special. No one wants to feel cheated or lied to. Such are the things we deal with when putting ourselves out on the line, and in reality we're all capable of being the latter to someone else. Sure, I'm totally adding fuel to the fiery topic of dating/attaining relationships and the politics involved, but I guess part of me is also sending a message to the universe: which mainly is to keep jerks disguised as nice guys at bay this go-round.

But first I think I'll need a better radar.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Two Wheels to the Pavement

Riding my bicycle is fun, whether it's for reasons of transportation or recreation. I've been taking part in more of the former than the latter lately, so I made sure to take part in some good recreational riding this weekend. Friday evening I went on a short twelve-mile sprint to Woodland Hills and back along the Orange Line bicycle path. Saturday afternoon I rode down Reseda Blvd past Ventura Blvd and up into the Santa Monica Mountains. I am happy to say that I only stopped once up and along the incline, which (at least to me) is a little brutal at times. But still, what a great workout. Doing so means no additional lower body workout for the day as well, so I can't argue with that.

With today being the first day of summer, it's going to be interesting to see how the weather evolves as it does every year - from mild to scorching hot, but still refreshingly cool in the evenings. The next two months are going to be relatively free until things pick up again towards the end of August, so I'm going to try to get back in fighting shape on my bicycle - long and/or challenging rides on the weekends, some recreation for the benefit of my sanity.

Endorphins are delicious.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Walking in LA

I spent the better part of this evening with some friends at the Key Club in West Hollywood. Great night, even greater company. I hopped on the 2 and stopped at the In-N-Out on Sunset/Orange for dinner on the way home, walked up to Hollywood/Highland to catch the Red Line to NOHO station, then walked on home from my stop. Easy commute, especially with a fresh LA Weekly in tow.

Traveling late at night isn't an issue for me. I don't necessarily own the night but I'd like to think that the darkness and I are on good terms. Actually, we're practically best friends when the streets are well-lit and when parts of town are bustling and relatively full of activity (Hollywood, Silverlake, etc.) Once I get back to the Valley from over-the-hill, though, I can't help but feel like someone's going to kidnap me.

Case in point - not more than an hour ago I was walking up the street before making a left on the street that I live on. A car driving in the opposite direction made a U-turn and decided to slowly drive alongside me. I didn't look at the car directly; I kept on walking, although I kept it in my vision in the corner of my eye in case the driver tried something. But all I kept on thinking was "Keep driving; don't you dare stop your car or say anything to me or I will scream." The car followed me for about thirty seconds. When they saw that I wasn't going to give them any sort of attention, they then made another U-turn from the right lane and continued along their way.

I don't know what this person wanted. I wasn't drawing any attention to myself. I was wearing jeans, a tee-shirt and a sweater - but even if I was in a dress and sandals that doesn't give them the liberty to intimidate the life out of me. (But it is for reasons such as this that - with the exception of hair and make-up - I dress down when going out.) I was just a young woman walking home from a night out - but maybe that's really all the reason they needed. I wish people realized that just because a woman is walking down the street it doesn't give you permission to do whatever the hell you think you want to do so early in the morning. It reminds me of elementary school as much as it reminds me of the opening scenes of an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Even if I was carrying pepper spray or a small weapon - which I have somewhere - would I be able to fend this person off if they tried to abduct me?

Now I no longer wonder why I feel safer wandering around Manhattan at four o'clock in the morning than I do my quiet neighborhood just before one. It's ridiculous, unfair, and a sexist violation that I don't approve of at all. I called my friend after this had happened, and he suggested when I go out that I call friends and/or family and tell them where I am and when I intend to be home so that if in the event that I don't let them know I arrived home safely they'll know something might be up. This is from my friend, a grown man who has a car. As a woman, who is admittedly more vulnerable without a car, I should probably be more inclined to do so.

Like I said before, the night and I are on good terms with each other, but sometimes someone has the gall to try something and it all goes back to square one. I've been going out a lot lately. Might go out tonight; might not. Still, with or without a car, are there any precautions you take when you know you'll be out late at night? Do you rely on more than just your intuition and reflexes? What's your take?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Rant a la Metro Los Angeles

This evening was a tad ridiculous, but that's to be somewhat expected when taking public transportation in the Valley.

The last few weeks, as mentioned, I've been getting around to film screenings in the Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Century City, WEHO, and Burbank areas with honestly little to no fuss in getting there and back (I've also been meeting my friend and boss there at times, so when things run too late I've been getting very appreciative rides back to my place)... still, that said, the distance covered has been great, as well as the time in getting there. But like I've always said, if I have a book, a notebook and pen, or music I am set for however long it takes. So long as I'm on time or early to where I'm going, I could care less at how long it takes.

So color me a little surprised when I still find it to be more difficult to go three-quarters of a mile to my favorite Mexican restaurant for a take-away dinner than to get to the Four Seasons Hotel during rush hour. I waited somewhat patiently for the bus for 16 minutes until it decided to come, realizing that maybe there was an accident or traffic or whatever the case could have been. But when the bus finally arrived, the driver was paying so little attention that it blew past the stop completely. It didn't help that the next bus was going to come another thirty minutes later (this was t 6:30 pm, Monday afternoon. Thirty minutes in between buses doesn't make sense to me, but how valid is my opinion?). I've had this happen when I actually had somewhere to be, and it didn't make my bosses happy one bit. So I walked, both ways. It was good weather out, so it didn't bother me as much as it probably could have - but still. Maybe I'm living in the wrong area of town. Maybe I need to live closer to Ventura Boulevard, where there are at least three lines (two local, one express) running until midnight or slightly later?

Another day, another rant.

I love you, too. :)

Impromptu, Informal Spin

I went out last night with my good friends to celebrate another good friend's birthday. There was karaoke. There was beer. There was staying up until 2:30 am and sleeping in my clothes on the couch with the dogs. It was a great night.

There was also the task of getting up in the morning and making a brief trip to the mailbox. My alarm was set for 7:30 am so as to be ready to walk the half-mile round-trip to and from the mailbox. On my way out, however, I noticed my bicycle standing in the rack next to the other bicycles that honestly hadn't been ridden in a while. Of course I contemplated taking it for a spin. Not only would it get some attention but it would also cut down on actual walking time so I could get a start to my day a little faster. I strapped on my helmet, hopped on and went.

The school just across the street from the townhome complex I live in was just starting the session for the day. Cars were zooming around the corner and up and down the street. The sun was just beginning to warm the cool air surrounding, and I found myself groggily singing along to some V.V. Brown song that's been stuck in my head for days. I dropped off my letter at the mailbox and turned around to head home, but figured what with the added benefit of time thanks to my two wheels I'd take a short spin around the neighborhood. Last time I did that was around Christmas time, during a dark and damp evening, when everyone's houses resembled iced gingerbread darlings with lit-up gumdrop accents. I wallowed for a bit in my beer-induced somewhat-sleepiness - if not a hangover - and slight high from the influx of good company this past weekend brought while the rest of the world went about their business. I zig-zagged up and down the maze of streets contained within the block and bordered by main streets; I looked down at my dress shoes and realized I should probably head on home and change if perhaps I thought to go on a longer ride...

It was nice. As a brief side thought, I've been suffering from a mad case of writer's block lately and have an inkling that maybe a ride might help grease the wheels a bit more. We'll see what this afternoon holds.

More updates to come. Thanks for sticking around.

Happy cycling~

Friday, June 4, 2010


So lately I've found myself a bit discouraged on the no-car front.

I've been without a car for the last five years. It's not been too bad of an experience. I have a life. I've acquired and maintained professional, romantic, and platonic relationships. I get intense workouts. I'm able to go to movies, to the store, to clubs and all else. As long as I allow myself enough time, I can get around and about with almost no fuss.

That said, I am finding it hard to work the car-less angle in some areas of Los Angeles. At times it is simply difficult to function without a car. I feel badly because the purpose of this blog was to show that it is possible to exist without one here, but I've found that it's not really possible unless you have the patience of a saint. Someone actually told me that the other day - that I have the patience of a saint.

I just came back from Trader Joe's and the girl at the register was making all these seemingly positive comments but it felt like she was talking down at me, like I wasn't from this planet since I was - gasp! - actually taking my groceries home by bicycle. Perish the thought, right? Interestingly, riding back was a bit uncomfortable and I found myself a bit self-conscious. For the first time I felt off-balance and hoped to God that my left shoulder wouldn't pop out of its socket thanks to my packed-heavy canvas bag. Although admittedly I bought a lot of groceries, so that feeling was my fault... I'll make a personal note to hit TJs a little more often than every three weeks now that I'm in better spirits.

In addition, I've been getting around lately - mainly press screenings, art showings, other events and other such mingling/milling-about outlets. I've needed to get out anyway, as much as social situations make me nervous. But it goes without saying how much I appreciate my friends, as sometimes I'm offered a lift home when most local bus lines near my place have stopped running. I always make sure to have a roll of bills set aside specifically for contributing to gas; besides - as friends have also said of the company - it's nice having someone to talk to. Still, I can't help but feel like an inconvenience at times, as others seem to think I'm incapable of functioning since I don't have a car. That and strangers' remarks lately have been getting under my skin concerning this, quite like Register Girl this afternoon. The statement "I don't know how you get along without a car!" in particular has been grating my nerves. Sometimes I feel like saying something to the effect of "You know, I don't know how I get along being Black and a woman either, but I manage to do just fine!" But I'm a nice person.

In recent light of Metro's fares increasing, DASH's fares also increasing and cuts for the Commuter Express (more information here), it's getting more than a fair share of annoying in thinking about how the powers that be don't seem to care about the ridiculousness of their actions.

And as much as the thought of gas, insurance, and a down payment unnerves me at this moment where unexpected funds are already a nightmare, it's becoming a bigger thought every day something like this happens. And like most other situations, there's little I can do other than sit back and watch it all unfurl.


Thursday, June 3, 2010

News to Me

While on the Metro Red Line this afternoon heading to Hollywood & Highland for a press screening of Splice, I noticed something informative-like posted on the subway wall - namely a notice that Metro's fares would be rising. Again. Joy. If for some reason anyone else wasn't in the know (I hate being the last to know), here are a couple of links to information on the changes to take effect July 1.

July 1 Cash Fares -
July 1 Passes & Tokens -

(Information on current fare for this month can be found here.)

You know, I'd like to applaud Metro for raising fares yet again. It's not enough that some people are buying milk and eggs but not bread because they realize they can't afford all three items once they get to the cashier. That spending days and nights indoors at the risk of sanity serves as some people's monetary relief (feeling like a cave-dweller is so in). Thank you, Metro, for helping people decide between food and sanity, for giving us something else to figure out how to pay for. How dare we think that life's other problems weren't enough? Thank you even more so for continually refusing to provide stellar bus service in the Valley. Your fleet of buses still are arriving every 30-40 minutes like clockwork, are stopping service after 8:00 pm, and weekend service is as crappy and scarce as ever. Go team!! You rock!!!

Oh, Metro Los Angeles. You're the needy, financially draining yet distant girlfriend we never had. I'd feel for you if you weren't such a bitch.

I'm aware that New York's monthly fares are higher ($89; MTA); San Francisco's is just below (at $70; BART)... Boston's got it pretty good so far ($59; MBTA). But personally, I believe that a $13-a-month increase for the monthly pass is a bit steep, as well are the various other increases, from base fare to day pass. These days, whether it's gas, food, insurance, maintenance, sales tax - it's all on the rise. It never ends, on any end of the spectrum. All of us are either making less or the same amount of money, yet we're being forced to spend more. I think this is what they call "spending self into a hole", except it's not a flavor of indulgence. It's the necessities of daily life that add up. And if we don't get where we need to go, then you've got one sad city.

What's Metro going to give those of us in "the boonies"? Hope? That things won't shut down more than they already have due to its $204-million gap in its operating budget? That buses will hopefully not stop running after 7:00 pm instead of 8:00pm (on some streets)?

It's possible that I'm over-reacting. I'm tired and it's been a long day. But I'm curious: how much is bus/railway fare where you live? Have you seen any increases in the last few years?

There was this little pamphlet I picked up on the local bus today that reads: "Transit Flicks Video Contest -- Show us why you like LA County transit. You might win a free pass for a year!" I thought it was a corny/cute idea until LA County transit lost itself a couple of points in my book with these developments. But if it means the chance at a free pass for a year, well then, hell. Might as well get creative.