Friday, June 22, 2007

Moving from Oklahoma to LA

Many people ask me how I ended up in Los Angeles. Well, when I applied for jobs, I knew I wanted to be close to water (either a beautiful lake or the ocean), and I wanted it to be warm (translation: no snow, no ice). Hence, I only applied for university positions south of I-40 near water (Note: ponds, creeks, water troughs, and cesspools do NOT count).

I noticed that California State University Northridge (CSUN) had a job opening. On the CSUN webpage, it said, "Located in the beautiful San Fernando Valley", which I thought sounded quaint, maybe even wine country. I had NO CLUE it was actually in Los Angeles! There was no mention of Los Angeles anywhere on the page. So, I sent in my application and got an interview. Woo hoo! Wine country here I come!

(Side note: In a previous blog about Sunray, TX, faithful readers may recall they had a brochure with a picture of a beautiful lake, when in fact there was no lake anywhere near Sunray. You would think I would have learned my lesson. Just goes to show, no matter how much education a person has, they still can be so so so naïve).

Anyhow, they told me to fly into LAX for the interview, so I figured CSUN must be close by (duh!). I flew in to LAX and exited the plane at one of those gates that open up onto a huge room with massive numbers of gates. Numerous planes must have landed at about the same time because it was packed with people. I walked outside to catch my shuttle, and the traffic at LAX was a nightmare. In retrospect, it might have been about normal that night, but remember I was coming from Enid, OK. I remember thinking to myself, "There is NO WAY I would live here!" I finally caught my shuttle, and one hour later (after five circles of the LAX airport looking for other passengers) we departed. When we drove onto the 405 interstate, again I thought, "No way, it is not going to happen."

Well, that next day it was a beautiful spring morning and the sky was sparkling clear (pretty good for LA). I could see snow on top of a couple of the San Gabriel mountains, yet it was in the 70s in 'The Valley'. In Oklahoma, it was cold and snowing (brrrr). Later that evening, they took me to the Chart House Restaurant in Malibu, which is right on the ocean (so not fair). Dolphins swam by. I was ALMOST hooked. The next morning, as I was heading back to the airport, a lady on the shuttle told me that one of her kids was snow skiing that weekend, and the other one was surfing, all within an hour of Northridge. It was at this point that I thought, "If they offer, I will come."

Obviously they offered, and I did come.

(Side note: I turned down a job at a university on a Caribbean Island to come here. CSUN was a better professional move).

BUT WAIT, there is more to this story. To get here, I drove a Uhaul truck and pulled a trailer with my car from Enid, OK to Los Angeles. I entered Los Angeles optimistically on a Sunday afternoon in July, and of course, I hit the dreaded 'beach traffic'. This was fairly traumatic for me, as not only was I in the worst traffic I had ever experienced, but I was on the largest freeway I had ever seen, driving a big truck pulling a trailer, merging and crossing lanes. I was a wreck, but luckily, I did not cause a wreck (Whew!).

To make things worse, I was following directions given to my by a legally blind man (the guy I was renting a room from in Studio City) who has never driven in his life (seriously). Not surprisingly, the directions were wrong. And then, to throw salt on the wound, everyone I asked directions from was rude AND unaware of how to get to Studio City. I truly thought, "Plunk, my man, you have made a HUGE mistake coming here." Well, I bought a map of Los Angeles, and found my way to my new 'home'.

Luckily, there is a happy ending. It did not take me long to embrace LA. Even with all of its downsides (e.g., crime, cost of living, traffic), there are so many gems here (e.g., beaches, tide pools, hikes, arts, festivals, food, diversity). When I go to Oklahoma, I still say "I am going home to visit family and friends," but when I am flying back, I also say "I am glad to be going back home to LA."

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