This is an essay about my romantic LA life so let’s start with a SCENE: a college-aged girl, brown hair, large sunnies, knees wide around her steering wheel waits for a break in traffic to turn right off of Highland Ave onto Wilshire. (Imagine the clack of a typewriter, like Willy Faulk’s when he lived up Highland himself adapting Hemingway’s “To Have and Have Not.” This is a scene of myself, who happens to Have Not.) Bass pounds with the sun then TITLE: “I’m Not Panicking about My Descent into Failure.” FADE TO “I Promise Dad, The Arts Are as Lucrative as STEM.”
FADE FROM BLACK: The camera pans to a view from outside the GIRL’s beat-up navy Nissan Altima. The passenger side window is cracked 6 inches with cig smoke pluming out. On the radio: “Candy Shop” by 50 Cent on full blast. The rear view mirrors are shaking except the passenger side mirror is just sputtering since it was snapped flat against the car in her second of three crashes which is also why the window is open. It simply doesn’t close past those 6 inches anymore. Some things just are, she’s learned. To Have and Have Not paid rent, To Be And Not To Be employed. These here are dichotomies and so, she screams a throaty yell, a carnal holler swallowed by the bellow of the bass. The beats pump her tears back into her tear ducts.
PAN to inside of car, catching GIRL head on.
GIRL: I’m fine though, it’s great. I’m sure a lot of people work for companies that uproot across the country, to New York. BEAT, she pulls on her cigarette, lets out a trilling laugh. No silly, not New York City. Upstate. You know, upstate like fly-into-JFK, drive-for-five-hours, hop-a-canoe-and-hike-the-last-bit-by-foot type of New York — Syracuse, New York. By the Finger Lakes. They said “stop by if you’re ever in the area.” She rolls her eyes heavy. Turns the car onto Wilshire with a SQUEAL. Hits another red, pulls down mirror, holds cigarette in lips, curls up her already mascara’d eyelashes with the tips of her fingers. Her nails are cherry red. I wouldn’t have even known they left to New York if it weren’t for the eavesdropping. Up and left, they did. No, not coming back. That’s what you like. Apply to 80 jobs, get one and have them up and ghost you. She flips the mirror back up. That’s industry. But I’m sure it happens all the time: employer ghosting. BEAT, I’m sure we’ve all got our Dylan’s too. You know who I mean. Everyone’s got that Dylan in Ray Bans and a salmon quarter zip who calls a scuffed bumper a totalled car. It’s not their fault, they’re not like us. She looks directly into the camera. Dylans. She looks away, out window, watches smoke from cigarette in the thick heat. Like, for example, I would say “oh dude it’s no problem” but a Dylan says “pay me $1800 cash you poorer-than me, unemployed college student.” That’s just his dialect, can’t blame the Dylan. Still, it wound me up a little, I’ll admit. Call me culturally insensitive, but I don’t do well when people try to talk to me in “ass-wipe douchebag dunce, meany-poo.”
But all this has helped me. I’ve grown, learned, all that jazz and rock n roll. For example, I’m punctual now. Since I never have anywhere to really be, I am promptly 45 minutes early to any appointment I do have scheduled. Say, at the nail salon, a reservation for the new rolled ice cream joint, paying off my fourth parking ticket for sleeping through street cleaning, running out of my 1920’s art deco building yelling “fuck not again, Carlos! Remind me sooner next time about the Parking Control Officers” — or as I call them: Pieces of C*nty Orifice. Get it? PCO? — A car honks at her from behind. All the other cars have gone through the green. She speeds off away from the camera. We have to rush to catch up. She drags on cig, massages temple.
Now, you may be wondering. How did I find myself in such a predicament as this? How did I position myself in such a lucrative situation of personal growth and soft skill development?
Well, it all began with my own bravery, a real strength of mine. I have to highlight this outright myself because people don’t take time to appreciate soft skills like bravery. No one says to me “Hey Julia. You’re a real talent. A real brave talent. Moving to Los Angeles with no money, secured job, friends or a plan. You ma’am have my vote. I’ll write you onto the ballot. Salutations! and Congratulations!” Well, my neighbor did tell me that. Now that I think of it, my neighbor GianCarlo did but he hardly counts. Coked up at 5am on the street like “dude, that’s the LA life though. Dude.” Eyes wide, “you are *so* cool dude.” Then he hands me a hair barrette with a tiny white mound balanced. “Dude, you want some.” And the rest of the story is unimportant to relay at this time of self-promotion. Let’s just say I’m adaptable. I take well to new situations. So this is all to say, I moved out to LA in May and I wanted to bring you all around to talk about it. This is fun right? It’s hella cool. I love it here. She flicks cigarette butt out the window and speeds off. This time we can’t catch her but we see her license plate as she drives away. It’s framed with pink lettering: Hollywood? Holly did, bitch.
Julia Leatham | firstname.lastname@example.org .