When new to the neighborhood

Everyone at my new restaurant job is amazed I have only been in town one week. Not that I would relocate from New York to Los Angeles, because at least half of the nice folks I’ve met have done this. Everyone is amazed that I found a job “so fast.” Within a week! How lucky! They say.

We moved into the bare three-room apartment on Saturday night. On Thursday, I went to an open interview at a restaurant and was offered the “opportunity to train” as a serving bartender. The following day, I secured a counter position at a noodle shop opening next month. In between, I’d peppered the town with resumes, gotten dressed up and smiled through open calls. I made E pull over en route to pick up freecycle furniture because I spied “help wanted” signs from the car window. I had, in short, been hustling. It’s what I do best.

Frankly there was no alternative. We’d blown all our savings driving the 3,500 miles through blizzards and nighttime deserts and plopping down the deposit on the three-room apartment. February has two to three fewer days than other months. March was looming, and I was well short of rent.

It surprises me when people think this happened quickly. Perhaps because the anxiety attacks of the first week stretched the minutes into hours and those six days felt like a whole month within themselves. Perhaps because I’d earned no money since November, and I’m very bad at not having an income. Perhaps I just wanted life to restart again, already. I tell everyone we moved here from Brooklyn but Brooklyn feels distant. We’d just had our first snowfall when we left. Now it’s 70 degrees in the afternoon and there are palm trees on my street. Who knows what’s normal now?

I joined a book club at the local hipster book store. I haven’t had time to pick up this month’s assigned book because I’m training for two jobs. Each day feels like a season, and not just because of the thirty-degree day-to-night temperature differential. I am hoping I will make some literary friends.

I’ve been in LA for nine days and I haven’t met a single novelist. I know this is not strange, but it feels it. Everyone I knew back east is a novelist. Or a poet. Or a stodgy non-fiction writer who is eminently concerned you know she did all her research. The people around me talk about films, about sound, about screenplays. I begin to contemplate screenplays. Again. But I haven’t written a word since we left Brooklyn. I haven’t submitted anything since the beginning of the year. So much for hustling.

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