Apr 28 2009
Time keeps flying. It’s been more than half a year since moving to the west coast and settling into downtown Los Angeles. Whenever people ask about it, I tell them that not only has it way exceeded dreadful expectations, I really enjoy it. Aside from the obvious benefits like work, being closer to loved ones, and the weather, how has my LA experience been so far? Being in NYC right now presents the perfect time and space to reflect on that million dollar question.
I didn’t hold any false notions of replicating my previous NYC lifestyle, one requiring a density of people and happenings. Different cities have their own character so it doesn’t make sense to clone an existing lifestyle (that is not completely suburban) from one geography to another. The important thing is getting a feel of LA life and figuring if it could grow on me.
I started with the food scene since I enjoy it so much and also am quite picky about what I eat. I began with a simple strategy – follow Yelp recommendations. But soon I found the reviews requiring too much sifting through and the accusations of extortion made me uncomfortable. So I moved on to leveraging social media in full, sweaty embrace. With the indispensable Google Reader, I follow numerous foodie blogs whose authors share similar tastes with, as well as the latest from the LA Times food section. I also access specific news for downtown LA through several excellent local sources. And yes, Twitter has also been a fantastic resource. Who can ignore it, especially after all the attention on the roving, twittering Kogi BBQ trucks that have been all the craze in LA?
Back on the topic of my eating habits, I suffer from what the Accordion Guy calls a “socially acceptable eating disorder”, namely a vegan diet. The history of that traces back to about 5 years ago, when I attended a motivational seminar that challenged me to change my diet, with the intent of attaining higher energy to accomplish all of my personal goals. Impossible as it seemed, being the irredeemably hardcore carnivore that I was, I went vegetarian for a while and realized its benefits. The difference in how I felt was night and day. It’s hard to deny the truth once you know it and I couldn’t go back. Still, it was difficult. But since then, through much exploration, my options from a taste perspective have vastly improved, no more bland and nutritionally empty foods. Also the amount of new literature out there supporting this eating philosophy has contributed to further improved health benefits. At the end, the main motivation is to feel better and have more energy for things like reading that book everyone recommends or writing this blog post, things that we never have time for. And it works for me. I will gladly share more on this topic in the future.
While I strive to eat healthy, I don’t always; cultural and social obligations often get in the way. And I find that acceptable, since it’s not a religion and I’m not part of PETA. Sometimes there are dishes so wonderful that I simply have to have every so often. As a result, when I do break the routine, I won’t settle for mediocre, run-of-the-mill stuff. That said, access to healthy food choices in LA has been comparable to NY. Not like moving to Dallas or anything like that.
It’s reached the point to expand my activities in southern California beyond the food scene towards more social and local events. I still miss tremendously my incredible group of friends in NY. Yet I accept the need to building a new network of friends, through reconnecting with old ones in the area, and putting on that out-going persona to befriend new ones. Expanding my geographic coverage requires venturing out of downtown into the other neighborhoods. And while my curiosity of LA’s myriad pockets has often been tempered by my aversion to driving and parking, my past efforts to get out of the comfort zone have usually paid off. And then there are always more foodie trips.