new things

There's a luxe, Victorianesque house in Hollywood with a secret, speakeasy style entrance that you can only access once a lingerie clad woman sitting cross-legged on a bed has told you the house rules. After you've agreed to the rules and had a moment to soak up the decor of the tiny anteroom (which feels like Disneyland's Haunted Mansion on an absinthe hangover), your passage to a multi-level bar specializing in old-fashioned craft cocktails is revealed. No Vacancy is tucked away back behind a cluster of other less notable bars and restaurants near Hollywood and Vine, so if it weren't for Terence knowing about it, I probably never would have. We went there on Friday night, after getting curry a bit further down on Hollywood, just so I could check it out. We were still ambivalent about drinking at that point in the evening, so we literally just walked through the place and left. I still count it as a New Thing.

Saturday night and another New Thing: Ace Hotel, downtown - a newish rooftop bar we'd yet to make it to, even though it's just a few blocks from our building. (There's usually a line, and as Kerry likes to remind me, at a certain age waiting in club lines is ridiculous.) It's very scenester, smaller than I'd expected, and the music (which I think we agreed was mostly trap) was so bad I didn't even care to finish my drink. The view was great and we had fun people watching and joking about the DJ's bizarro playlist, but my main takeaway from the experience was ticking off another New Thing.

On Sunday the prospect of housework on such a sunny day depressed me too much. "I need nature," I declared, still obsessing over the greenery of the previous weekend. My obliging boyfriend drove us to Runyon Canyon so I could get a fix. I'd never been, unbelievably, even though I've missed hiking and trail running terribly since moving to California. New Thing.

Doing New Things makes me feel like I'm chipping away at the hugeness that is Los Angeles, a metropolis whose massive diversity of neighborhoods - and residents - sometimes makes me feel downright childlike. As if I can't ever know it or understand it, at least not for years and years.

There are parts of LA in which I do feel more or less at home; sections I've frequented enough to be comfortable roaming alone, giving directions around, recommending restaurants of. But then sometimes I'll find myself somewhere, surrounded by strangers who are technically my neighbors and I'll think Who are these people? I'll look at their clothing choices and the cars they drive, at what they put in their grocery carts or how they speak to one another and I'll know that their motivations and pleasures and insecurities aren't that different than my own, even if they seem that way. And it makes me feel a little bit overwhelmed and a little bit lost, like I'm a terminal outsider - but it's a heaviness that lifts slightly with each experience I share with them. Or which I could, anyway, provided our interests occasionally intersect.

I can't know anything about most of the millions of others I share Los Angeles with. But in knowing just a tiny bit more of Los Angeles itself, those strangers feel a tiny bit less strange. And that seems as good a reason as any to count and celebrate New Things.

I will not compare Runyon Canyon to Sabino Canyon. I will not compare Runyon Canyon to Sabino Canyon. I will not...

soul food

Strange to think this is the area of LA I know best. Never would have thought.

Team New Things, reporting for duty