By H.G. Miller
I drove into The Valley tonight. Itís been a long week (nine months) at work, and I needed to reminisce a bit.
I started my LA journey in North Hollywood. Universal Pointe Apartment Complex at the corner of Lankershim Boulevard and Sherman Way. The final Ďeí lets you know that itís a class establishment. The graffiti on the walls let me know I wasnít living in Kansas anymore.
I canít complain about my first place, though. It was a good-sized one-bedroom at a reasonable price. I could drive to my job at Target in about two minutes, and I could buy tacos at four in the morning at a stand across the street, just in case the urge ever hit me.
Itís almost five years later now, and Iíve run through ten roommates in five different apartments across four zip codes around the city.
It hasnít always been easy, but Iíve managed to build a decent life for myself away from the comforts of Kansas. Sometimes, I think itís easy to forget how much work we do as human beings to keep moving forward with our lives. So, I decided to refresh my memory.
x x x
Wrightwood Boulevard has a lot of turns.
Youíll want to bear left hard the first couple of stop signs, and then be ready to jerk the wheel right so you donít run into oncoming traffic off of Wrightwood Lane or Wrightwood Avenue (Wrightwood Boulevard also has a lot of false paths).
Wrightwood tops out on Mullholland Drive. In the mornings when driving to work, I would glance left and take in the thick brown layer of smog hanging over the San Fernando Valley.
Soon enough, Iíd be heading down the Nichols Canyon Road gauntlet. Another dozen twists and turns through roads barely big enough for a German roadster, let alone the SUV tanks people out here are so fond of, and I would finally be in Hollywood and only fifteen more minutes away from the office.
That drive to work will always represent the ingenuity it takes for a person to survive in Los Angeles. I used to just take the most-direct route to work in the morning, which involved stop and go traffic for about an hour and a half each way. A friend turned me onto the Wrightwood ďsecretĒ and I was happily burning gas and winding my way to work in half the time (by driving almost twice as many miles).
x x x
Iíve worked for about twenty different bosses since I moved to LA. I started out by transferring to the Target store in North Hollywood, where I handled duties in the Health & Beauty and Electronics departments. My first buddy at the store was arrested about a month after I got there for helping his friends buy merchandise with stolen credit cards.
I then got a Ďrealí job working for International Promotions, a product placement agency. I was half receptionist, and half delivery boy. The delivery part was cool, because I had to drive around Los Angeles delivering our products to various television and movie studios. It was cool to tell my friends about the celebrities I would spy from the Prop Masterís closet and it was a great way to learn my way around the city.
Soon enough, though, the owner of the company fired the girl who hired me, brought in a few witches to take her place and relegated me to answering the phone.
So, I quit.
Pretty stupid, I guess, but it all worked out okay. I got a job at the Virgin Megastore in Burbank, selling CDs and Movies and hitting on the high school girls who worked around me.
Of course, six bucks an hour only goes so far when rent is more than the mortgage on most of my friendsí houses back home, so I soon found myself slipping into the suit my dad bought me at the end of college and waxing poetic with HR directors about my desire to be a productive member of the corporate culture.
It worked. I had a job on the city-side of the hill and a commute longer than the super-sized episodes of Friends. Greed took over and I sought out promotions and eventually moved on to a more-lucrative position with a competing agency.
And, now I donít work for anybody.
x x x
A lot happens in five years.
Iíve developed a taste for whisky straight and a comfortable relationship with casual debt. My friends are getting married and buying houses and having babies and I consider second dates long-term relationships. Iíve met celebrities and lived with rock stars; wasted days in recording studios working on radio ads; killed countless trees photocopying scripts after hours in the office.
Somewhere along the way, my ambition became a moving target.
I started this website as a tool to help me get into the habit of being creative on a regular basis. Now, Iím taking classes to learn how to be a copywriter, Iím trying to re-write an action movie so that it better fits the three-act structure of most feature films, Iím cutting away wasted verbiage from the archives of this site and trying to streamline the entire designÖ
I want to write a book. I want to visit New York. I want to find a new job. I want to work out more often and wear better clothes when I go out at night.
I want the people who read this far to know that Iím trying every day to make this writing thing work out. I get distracted, but I always find my way through. Stick with me. Keep asking me whatís next, and I promise Iíll try to make more sense the next time.
Life is a twisting winding road with a lot of false avenues and dead end driveways.
And, I donít trust straight lines anymore.