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My First Month in LA

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My First Month in LA

Picture courtesy of Joits Flickr

My First Month in LA

I’ve been living in LA for over a month now and in the few weeks that I’ve been here, I’ve learned to drive (like for real), found an apartment…

I’ve been living in LA for over a month now and in the few weeks that I’ve been here, I’ve learned to drive (like for real), found an apartment, and gotten to know different neighborhoods (although there’s still a ton more for me to learn). The one and only downside is that I haven’t found a job yet, which is definitely nerve-wracking (in a perfect world, nest eggs would last forever, but I live in the real one). But, I can still honestly say moving out here is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

When I first got here, I was staying in Burbank at the Marriott – free points rock, but mine only bought me a week long stay. A friend of mine graciously put me up at her house rent-free until I found a place. The catch was that she lives in Corona, which, if you know anything about the layout of Southern California, you know Corona is really far away from Los Angeles (like moving to New York City and ending up staying in Westchester County). Surprisingly, it turned out to be a good thing – driving all that distance back and forth to LA to look for places on a regular basis gave me great practice at driving and getting comfortable on the freeways.

When I moved to LA, the first couple of weeks driving here were terrifying. Every time I had to get in the car, I seriously dreaded it. As a newbie on the road, I didn’t have the natural instincts most seasoned drivers take for granted, so yes, I’ve made some minor road mistakes, gotten honked at and cursed out (“Learn how to drive bitch!” was perhaps the most memorable). But in my experience, the most important thing to be able to do as a new driver (besides drive well) is to create a “zen existence” for yourself – or less diplomatically, have an “F ‘em” mentality. Don’t worry about what the person in the next car thinks of you; worry about getting to your destination safely. Don’t let anyone bully you into driving faster. If 65 mph is too slow for the guy behind me, oh well, go around me. (Honestly I often wonder why they even bother to post a speed limit on the roads out here, cause everybody speeds). You might also want to take a refresher driving lesson to feel more confident and get better acquainted with the California road laws, which may differ from your city. I took a two-hour road lesson with All Star Driving School (my instructor, Brevla, was a tough cookie but awesome) and I was way more secure on the road after completing the lesson.

My apartment search was also equally challenging. The good thing about looking for apartments was that it helped me to get a lay of the land. If you drive around enough (which I highly suggest), you start seeing and recalling familiar places and before you know it, you know different neighborhoods. However, finding a place did take a bit longer than I’d hoped. In my last post, I talked about moving to LA without employment and whether or not it was a good idea. That’s still up for debate, but I will tell you that being unemployed can make your apartment search more difficult. Over the course of about three weeks, I scoured the alerts on West Side Rentals and Craigslist and hit the pavement, looking at roughly a dozen places. Some of them were hellholes (I could have sworn one building was the same place where Ethan Hawke almost got offed in the bathtub in “Training Day”), but some of them I absolutely loved. However, the ones I loved were the ones that wouldn’t take me because I was unemployed. Those landlords didn’t care if your cosigner was Donald Trump. No job, no dice.

I must admit, I was getting nervous. I was starting to think moving to LA was a mistake. I thought I’d never find a place to stay without a job and the clock was past ticking on the invitation to stay at my friend’s place (we’d agreed on two weeks and it was going on three). Then, after a bout of tears and self-pity, I got back out there the very next day to keep looking and that’s when I found THE ONE! I fell in love with it the minute I walked in. This was my apartment. Fearfully, I explained my situation to the Building Manager – I was new in town from New York and hadn’t landed a job yet, but I had money in the bank and a willing cosigner – would that be a problem? To my amazement she said, “No, it’s never been a problem before.” The “Hallelujah” music cued, I grabbed an application, drove directly to the rental office, faxed the necessary paperwork from my cosigner, and the place was mine. I moved in two weeks later and I’m now writing this post in my very own bedroom.

I love my place. It’s in Hollywood, near Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles and also The Church of Scientology (which is cool and creepy at the same time). I truly feel I lucked out, but as with everything about this journey, it wouldn’t have happened had I not taken a chance and most of all, kept going even when it looked like it wasn’t gonna happen. With any luck (and much persistence) I’ll have a similar story to tell in my next post, hopefully titled “My First Job in LA!”

Jamila Daniel

Jamila Daniel is an LA transplant from New York pursuing a career in writing for dramatic television. You can follow her journey on Twitter here.

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