6 Things You Learn in Your First 5 years in L.A.

15 Things You Learn in Your First 5 Years in L.A.

Mon, May 19, 2014 at 8:00 AM


We Angelenos don't care what the rest of the U.S. thinks of us. And why should we? - SARAH FENSKE
We Angelenos don't care what the rest of the U.S. thinks of us. And why should we?
L.A. can be tough for transplants. There are the winding freeways to get used to, the hour-plus commutes and the regular appearance of palm trees. For the first year after moving here, many of us find ourselves a bit dazzled by the sunlight, shielding our eyes from it like vampires emerging from coffins. 

But after a while, we start to adjust. The light becomes soft and nurturing. We figure out the best routes around town. The phrase "the industry" becomes something that we toss off casually. And in the first five years of living here, there are at least 15 other things that you will learn, like them or not.

Here they are:

1. You have three choices when it comes to traffic. Unadulterated rage, complete mental transcendence, or moving to another city. Yes, traffic is the most despicable thing about living in Los Angeles. There is nothing to be done about it. Check out, listen to KCRW, go abjectly L.A. Confidential, or leave.

2. L.A. residents give exactly zero fucks about what the rest of the country thinks of them. Not in an angry, adolescent way, but in a real, profound lack of caring way. We accept your anger and judgment, and reflect it back in love, light, and then apathy.

3. Culture won't come to you, but that doesn't mean it's not here. Between street art that constantly changes, galleries stuffed in spaces next to Jiffy Lubes, and amateur plays that are actually good, you'll realize that L.A. forces you to dig for cultural experiences - but they're worth it. Suddenly massive museums like The Met look like stoic, overbearing grandparents who are completely out of touch with organic creativity.

4. The Grove is a mystery and always will be. It's an outdoor mall. It's beautiful, but horrible. It's clean, but somehow too clean, and why isn't too clean a good thing? Why do tourists love it so? Spend too much time there and you will enter into a crisis-level existential conundrum even as your body is ping-ponged about by the shopping masses. Enter at your own risk.

5. "Just take Fountain" is an adorable relic of the past. It makes a fair point about the wisdom of avoiding the main thoroughfares in the city - why take Wilshire when you can take 6th? - but honestly, never take Fountain.

6. Announcing what neighborhood you live in is a shorthand way of divulging everything relevant about yourself. Are you a young hipster who desires locally sourced coffee before all else? A struggling actor who is content sweating nearly to death in a cookie-cutter apartment? A yoga mom? Be prepared to stand behind your neighborhood as you would stand behind your very kin. (jump the shark for more....)

See also: 50 Reasons Los Angeles Is the Best Effing City in America 

Turn the page for more things you'll learn, including the customary L.A. greeting and its proper response.


  1. fab, so where does the book writer pappa and yoga teacher mom move to?


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