Confession: I have, at various points in my life, googled How to Make Friends in Los Angeles.
By ‘at various points in my life,’ I mean ‘several times in the last few months.’ None of this searches have really been very fruitful.
Join a club! Take a class! Hang out at your local park! Join the gym! Be patient! Get a hobby!
I could tell you about the times I’ve tried each of these things.
How about the time I went to French club at my local Starbucks. I was the only female there, and the only one below 35. One man was about 60, and spoke barely any French, just English with a French accent. He confused Oui and Je suis. The second guy spoke Québecois, but only when he did speak, which was rarely, and the moderator of the group owned a local French school, and spent most of the time showing us the Facebook page for his school, and reminding us to Facebook friend him when we got home. I stayed for thirty minutes and excused myself as soon as it was polite. 0 for 1.
I joined a gym. A worthwhile endeavor for the sake of my love handles and my thighs and my dream of someday (never?) running a marathon. But as a place to make friends? Not really. Weirdly, I’m not really at my best when I’m gasping for breath, my hair is curling into trellis plant tendrils around my face, held into place by a sheen of moisture, induced by the freakishly-warm room (seriously 24 Hour Fitness, sort out the a/c.) 0 for 2.
Sometimes I go for walks in my local park. Sometimes I go running there (see point #2.) But I like to live my life by the golden rule, and so I think that accosting a total stranger in the hopes of starting a conversation that will blossom into a meaningful friendship - where we’ll meet for yoga or spinning class on Saturday mornings, then pop to Starbucks for something pretentious with soy, before working up to weekend trips away together to Vegas - would actually be kind of weird.
There’s always this weird process when making friends in any situation outside of high school or your office. It can be difficult in scenarios where you have to make your own fun. You meet someone, maybe in line at a coffee shop, or in a class you have together once a week. You chat, maybe swap a compliment or two,
"That’s a great iPhone case!"
"Thanks! I like yours too. Where did you get it?"
"Oh thanks, I just got it on Amazon. Only $9!"
and then there’s this real awkward part where one person has to make the first move by asking for the other person’s number or last name so they can find each other on Facebook. This is the part that can make you look stalkery and weird.
The normal progression of friendships that will turn out to be real and important is slow, and usually rooted in things you have in common together for a period of time. With some of my closest graduate school friends, our friendship didn’t really progress from greetings in class until we were thrust together on a school night out. I wonder how long it would have taken us to get over our fear of being the weird clingy one if we didn’t have a school-organised night of debauchery to help us lose our inhibitions around each other?
Which is why it’s so hard to make friends now, especially in this huge, crazy city, where it can take you an hour to drive four miles, and your area code and closest freeway has a damning effect on the number of social activities you can partake in. It’s hard to get into situations where familiarity can develop.
I’ve tried a lot of things - Spanish classes, yoga class at Lululemon, meetup.com (you have no idea how many groups exist for people to discuss the Law of Attraction.) Nothing has stuck yet. In part because I think I’m not really sure about how to make the leap between random occasional acquaintance and tentative-maybe-BFF.
Being in LA was particularly hard for the first few months, because I didn’t have a car, and spent up to five hours a day on public transport. When I got my license and my car stopped breaking down every time I drove it, I was much happier, and convinced my renewed vigor for life and Los Angeles would lead to making friends. It hasn’t really, yet. The girls I communicate with everyday live in Chicago, Seoul, Buenos Aires, Cork, Dublin. My friends at work are in Orange County, a lifetime away on the weekends, and are sadly unavailable for froyo and spin class in Culver City on Saturdays. I’m not sure why my friendship fantasies always involve spinning classes, but they do. But I’m more than ever grateful for having made such great girlfriends, and for being able to communicate with them across oceans and timezones and various modes of communication. I’ve always been grateful for my girls.
I’ll keep trying. I will keep talking to people at Zumba class, or Spanish class, and keep forcing myself to go to events at meetup.com, even though the thought of it makes me want to gouge out my eyes. In the meantime, if you like feminism, fashion, and froyo and you live in my area code, hit me up. I’m cool.
Currently going through the often arduous break-in process with these babies. I bought them on impulse after seeing a girl in Santa Monica with a pair in blue. Went home to google Floral Mary Janes and found this pair in my exact size at Tradesy!! They’re a bit snug (like exactly my size) but breaking them in will be so worth it even if it involves a couple dozen band-aids.
Can’t wait to wear them with black skinny jeans, or plain dresses and denim jackets during the summer.
Some choice quotes from this really hilarious article by Dan Gainor at Fox
Can’t even comment on this because it’s too hilarious. Bottom line: if you’re excited about the birth of another famous baby, better go self-deport right now. Hand in your US passport on the way.
Column: The debates on abortion in the Dail won’t change the reality Irish women face every day -
Many are mothers, who speak about their love for their children and fear that another child would hurt their family. Many are in committed relationships. Several are rape survivors, some of them very young (I remember the mother who fed her three children beans on toast for three weeks to raise EUR200 towards the cost of her 15 year old’s abortion.) The one thing they all have in common is that they are far from the stereotype of women who have abortions to go on a foreign holiday or to fit in a nice dress for a wedding. Women have sold family jewellery, risked eviction by skipping rent payments, sold their televisions, cut off their land lines, sold their cars and returned Christmas presents to pay for abortions.
ATTN: Ger Walsh of the Wexford People
It’s been a crazy couple of days.
Two days ago, Ireland’s Dáil Éireann passed a hard-fought limited abortion bill, caught between a rock and a hard place. On one side - Savita Halappanavar, reality, the bodily autonomy of women who are sick of having to book a flight to England while their government pretends this is rational. On the other side - the Catholic Church, the threat of excommunication of politicians who voted against God (I mean, really), hyperbole and the Holy Bible.
Yesterday, a Florida jury acquitted George Zimmerman of the murder or manslaughter of Trayvon Martin - a verdict many of us saw unjust but inevitable. It’s impossible to know what really happened that night, but in the end Trayvon was found guilty of scaring a man driving past him in his car, to the extent that the man deprived him of his life.
I read this article earlier - entitled On Zimmerman and American Racism. The author makes some valid points about the social consequences of being black in America, but I admit what struck me was this first paragraph,
"As I write this, an hour ago, George Zimmerman, the man who shot and killed Trayvon Martin was acquitted of all charges. I don’t believe that the legal system is a justice system, per se. Law and due process are about argument, not righteousness. People who are accused must be proven to be guilty beyond reasonable doubt or they are free men and women. Everybody gets their day in court and the best arguments win; sometimes at the expense of justice. I must admit that when I ponder this, I become very relieved at my decision not to pursue law school. Because I, personally, would have gone to law school with the purpose of trying to make the world a more just place. I am sure many do. But events such as this serve as a reminder that we have a legal system, but not necessarily a justice system; the semantics matter.”
I guess this is a reason why people choose not to go to law school. In the wake of a bad decision, they lament the absence of justice in the world, decide that the legal system is cruel and unfixable, that hard fight is not worth fighting for.
Abortion activists in Ireland have felt like this for years. In Ireland, the separation of church and state is a non-event, and even in the wake of child-abuse scandals, the Catholic Church still wields a powerful influence, can still make, rational, well-intentioned people believe that soon we’ll be offering abortions to women just like we offer free samples at Tesco. The abortion bill we’re passing is not an excellent one - it provides for abortion in scenarios where there is a real substantial risk to the life of the mother, including suicide. The risk will have to be proven by a medical professionals; three where the mother is claiming intent to commit suicide.
The bill fails to legislate for women who want abortion following instances of rape or incest, or in scenarios of foetal abnormality or non-viability. There will still be hundreds of women booking plane tickets to England, embarking on that difficult journey hundreds of miles from home, returning back to a country which doesn’t really forgive them for what they’ve done, but is prepared to turn a blind eye so long as they do it somewhere else.
But it’s a start. Justice is not made in one day. Often it takes years of defeat, criticism, tooth-and-nail activism, before one day, you get your break.
We didn’t get justice for Trayvon Martin this time. We didn’t get justice for black kids in Florida, or anywhere, who sometimes can’t walk into a 7-11 without the clerk getting a little testy, feeling under the counter to make sure they can press the panic button as fast as they need to. We still didn’t get justice for women whose babies won’t survive outside the womb, but who often have to go through the unimaginable trauma of giving birth to them at full-term. We didn’t get justice yet for the victims of rape, and sometimes it seems like we never will.
I met a really inspirational woman a few days ago. As a freshman, she was a victim of rape on her new college campus, and has struggled ever since to overcome the harassment she’s faced since she called her university out on it, and to help others do the same. She’s going to law school because she feels like that’s the best way to help people, that’s the best way to achieve justice.
Even if you don’t get it on your first go, or your second, or your third. Even if you never get it. Even if you end up in personal injury when you always thought you’d be a human rights activist, that’s okay. There’s no excuse not to try simply because society tells you that you shouldn’t.
(Also, I don’t think people go to law school explicitly seeking to make the world a more unjust place)
Don’t listen to people who tell you there’s nothing good to be found in law school, and you’d be better saving your money. The truth is this - if you want to be a lawyer, if you want to be a judge - you have to go to law school. And, unless you want to leave the continental US, a JD is your best bet.
Don’t listen to the masses who tell you there are no jobs for law students, and you’re crazy if you think you can outsmart the curve.
Don’t write off your ability to do good in this world simply because the world isn’t ready for it right now.
Many people in my country have a hard time discussing women’s rights and bodily autonomy. Many people think I am crazy because I believe I should have access to an abortion if I want to. We achieved a little victory, but really the fight just got started, and like the Thought Catalog author says, the semantics do matter. What we need, in order for real change to be effected, is people who recognise that the semantics matter, and people who fight for what they believe in, who don’t stop caring or working just because the decision didn’t go their way.
Many people in Ireland thought that abortion legislation would never happen, that there was no point fighting for it because the opposition was too strong. Go to law school if you want to. React. Mobilise. Care.
It kind of drives me crazy when, in the wake of any major news events, people on twitter retweet meaningless information left right and center SOUND THE ALARM THAT THE BOSTON BOMBING SUSPECT WAS NATURALIZED ON SEPTEMBER 11TH CONSPIRACY!!!!!! and then proudly proclaim that Twitter *wins* the day by being faster to report than the mainstream media. Ultimately, a newscaster just cannot be faster than someone livetweeting or instagramming an event from their iPhone directly on the scene, but this doesn’t instantly negate the space for the kind of analysis, discussion and re-enactment we see on the news. I’m all for citizen journalism and getting my news in real-time, but there’s no need for this weird egotism when the two can co-exist happily. And, you know, some people, they don’t have twitter.
Dear Ger Walsh,
Every year, for the last ten years, more than 4000 Irish women have travelled to the UK for abortions. Some women who became pregnant as a result of rape. Some who had found out the baby they were carrying had a fatal foetal abnormality, and would not live past birth. And, almost certainly, some women who experienced crisis pregnancies, and made the determination that they weren’t ready to bring a child into the world just yet.
We could read all the literature in the world about abortion - pontificate about the nuances of Roe v. Wade, debate the existence of ‘Post-Abortion Stress Syndrome’ (it’s just your guilty thoughts, bad girls), wax lyrical about the growth of the foetus for days on end - and we would never come close to getting inside the head of a women who’s had, or is considering, an abortion.
Choosing not to become a parent is an equally big decision as choosing to become one. Neither is something women dive into without consideration, because babies are fashionable, or because they decided they just wanted a dog instead. When something begins to grow inside your womb, your whole life changes regardless of the path you take once you discover you’re pregnant.
The conventional Irish approach to abortion is to pretend it’s not happening: bury our heads in the sands while women board planes to the UK, safe in the conch of moral superiority. As we’re trying to herald in abortion in situations where the life of the mother is at risk (only after years of holding out), some people still haven’t figured out that there’s a difference between abortion as a responsible decision, and abortion as contraception.
You suggest that changes to the abortion laws in Ireland could lead an Irish woman to get an abortion when she’s about to go on holiday but "…an unexpected pregnancy could interfere with her plan and how she might look on the beach," or where she’s about to go to a wedding, but an unexpected pregnancy might turn up like some errant Pokémon, “…ruining the chances of fitting into a very expensive dress.” As if choosing not to have a baby is the same as choosing an outfit. As if 4000 women every year don’t have to make a life-changing decision.
Making light of one of the most important decisions a woman of any age can make with respect to not just her body, but the rest of her life, highlights you as another ‘man who doesn’t understand woman,’ a man who sees women as materialistic nobodies, inclined to carry babies to term only if they’re in season. A man who does not understand pregnancy, motherhood, or what it means to be a woman.
Without even broaching on the issue of a woman’s right to choose, this depiction of Irish women is so truly insulting and degrading, it beggars belief. You say you’re “…not for one minute suggesting that many woman would want to do this.” But you believe these women are out there, frolicking around, engaging in unprotected sex, safe in the knowledge that should things go wrong, their beach bods will be saved with a quick trip to the clinic. And that only these frivolous women will be responsible for any abortions that result from less stringent legislation.
And because of your frankly ridiculous belief, we should continue to bury our heads in the sand.
Shame on you, Mr Walsh. Shame on you.
Last night I laughed so hard I couldn’t breathe. It was the kind of laughter that can only be shared with someone you’re really comfortable with, someone who doesn’t mind when you careen from infectious to ridiculous, gasping for air, snorting, trying to hold down the stitch in your sides, someone who stays laughing with you, and not at you. When the pain in my ribs subsided, I hugged my boyfriend close, then, as often, grateful that I live with someone who can really make me laugh.
Flash forward to this afternoon and I’m sitting at my desk. My Facebook feed is full of people sending thoughts and prayers to another massacred city, and I keep hitting refresh when I see a (1) on twitter. #bostonmarathon. I can’t think of anything that makes sense. My prayers and thoughts mean nothing to anybody. Only to me.
I think of the future. Our collective past is one which has already been pockmarked with tragedy and sorrow, and much as we seem to want to create a safer world for our children, we’re constantly reminded that our ability to do so is hindered by something great and entirely incomprehensible, the desires and caprices of others.
I think of the two to four children I someday want to bring into the world, who will hopefully not have my co-ordination, but instead a love of tennis and musical ability. What does it mean that I can’t promise them safety? I can’t promise them safety in their schools, in movie theaters, at races in the open air. I can’t promise any daughters I have freedom from financial discrimination, or the company of adults who will understand them and console them if they get raped. There is no place I can bring them to where they will be truly safe.
I spend all afternoon absorbing as much information as I can about what happened in Boston this afternoon. I read stories of runners who changed course right to hospitals and donated blood, of first responders rushing to the scene, not knowing whether there were more attacks on the way, not knowing the fires they might run into. I heard of people in Boston who opened their homes to strangers, restaurant owners offering free meals and somewhere to sit, strangers who used their belts to make tourniquets.
Ours is not a world that will ever be trained to expect or accept merciless attacks on innocence. But it is a world where strangers will rush into fires for those they don’t know, where decent people live, love, work, learn, make each other laugh and try to come to terms with evil. I will never be able to keep the people I know and love as safe as I would like, but if they can even occasionally feel the kind of unbridled joy I did as I laughed last night, or witness for themselves the sheer goodness of the human race, life will be worth it whatever the risks.
I started to use Foursquare recently, four years later than everybody else. I had been turned off the idea of using it by people obsessively oversharing, checking in at ‘my local shop,’ or ‘my cosy bed.’ But in the past few weeks, I have been trying to remember to check in at restaurants or bars, to write down what I tried, and what I didn’t like about the menu.
I recently found about Jamie Rubin’s ‘Paperless’ project. You can read about it here (www.jamierubin.net/going-paperless) The project documents Jamie’s process of removing all paper from his life, by scanning it into the program ‘Evernote.’ He does this with everything - receipts, bills, his children’s artwork and report cards, postcards from friends. Not only that, but he has synced up his Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare account (zing!) so that every time he updates one of these, it saves a note in Evernote. Kind of like a digital diary.
I had been looking for the perfect way to document my life. When I was younger, I used to keep journals. I’d stick photos in there, receipts, cinema stubs, notes from friends. The older I got, the less dramatic my life became, and the less time I had to pour into writing everything down. My hope that some day they would be discovered and I’d become the next Carrie Diaries became less accessible. So I wanted to find a substitute. Facebook or a blog is not an option. There are some things that only I want to remember, just me, and not the whole world. I want to remember things like that time my friend got a love bite at 24 and texted me a picture of it. Or when I’m shopping with my boyfriend, and he says, “Oh I’d love to have xyz…” and I can make a note of it for his next birthday. Or what about that time we stopped into some random bar after a concert, and now I can’t remember where it was. I want to remember who I loaned my stuff to, or whether or not I actually threw out that thing I’ve been searching for for months.
Evernote seems like the easiest way to do this. It’s a journal I don’t have to stay up late to update, and I can access it on my phone whenever I want. I can record my life, but not have to feel like a sycophantic fool updating my Facebook status every time I eat a sandwich.
You can sync up your Evernote to your other social media sites using If This Then That (ifttt.com) Any time I tweet, check in on 4sq, post a picture on instagram or update my Facebook status, it saves automatically to a ‘social media’ folder on Evernote. Everything is searchable instantly. I no longer have to scroll through tweets to find something I think I might have tweeted about eight months ago.
It’s the perfect compromise. Once a week I download my Evernote data and back it up to a hard drive. Programs can have expiry dates and I don’t want to lose anything. I’m trying to become less of a hoarder, and while I can’t throw out letters or postcards or the paper-plate spider my godson sent me for Easter yet, I love knowing that I’ll have a digital copy I can look at for life.
You can download evernote here