Saturday, March 13, 2010

L.A.'s Fine, But It Ain't Home (Read at Your Own Risk)

"Well I'm New York City born and raised
But nowadays, I'm lost between two shores
L.A.'s fine, but it ain't home
New York's home, but it ain't mine no more"

Essentially the first thing I did when I moved to L.A. was buy a car, and I did a really bad job doing so. I had done all the research, but when it came down to the actual buying, I paid a little too much and got a little too little. It doesn't really matter. The car drives. It gets me to where I need to go. And I don't think I would like driving anymore if I had gotten a better deal. It doesn't really matter, except that it does. Because that was the first thing I did in L.A., and I sucked at it.

A little more than a month after that, I scraped up and dented said car pretty badly. It was all cosmetic, it was totally my fault, and I didn't hurt anyone or anything else. It doesn't really matter either, and I refused to get it fixed because it doesn't need to be fixed. But it definitely didn't leave me feeling great about, well, anything related to the car or driving or this city.

It's been six months since then. And I worry. I love my program, but I worry constantly that I am not really good enough to make it. I have not published anything or presented at a conference yet. I constantly feel like I'm drowning under all the work that needs to get done. It's hard, and everyone else seems so much smarter than me, so much more self-assured, so much likelier to succeed. And I feel like I am not cut out for academia.

And I don't really have many friends here. Oh, I have people. People I know. People I like. People I can go to for Shabbos. But staying here for Pesach honestly seemed like the most awful thing in the world. I feel alone. And I hate how pathetic that sounds, but it's true.

I hate both the fact that I was willing to date someone who I knew wasn't nearly frum enough for me and the fact that he rejected me. I hate how much my roommates annoy me, and I hate how much they leave me feeling petty and doubting that I could ever successfully live with anyone even though I have successfully lived with many people before and even though I know it is not petty to not want your ice cream to disappear or to find Craisins crushed into your kitchen floor or to find your apartment door wide open even though no one is home.

Every time I look to see what time it is, I add three hours to figure out what time it is for all my friends. (I did this even when I was on the East Coast for winter break and then just ended up confused.) But sometimes, there's no one I can call when I need to talk. Oh, I know that if I really needed someone at 4 a.m. (on either coast), there are people I could call, but that's not what I mean. Sometimes you just really need to chat at midnight, and there's no one for me to chat with at midnight because it's 3 a.m. for all the people I want to chat with.

Don't get me wrong: There are lots of good things about L.A. I have met some really wonderful people and reconnected with some friends who live here now. I can wear flip-flops whenever I want. And there's Coffee Bean. And I am planning on going to the beach this week. (You can't do that in New York. I mean, I guess you could, but it wouldn't exactly be pleasant.) And I am getting paid to go to school, which is pretty much the best thing ever.

But I just keep on wishing that it will start getting easier, that L.A. will start feeling normal to me, that I will start feeling like my admission to school wasn't just a fluke. And, well, I'm still waiting.

(Sorry for this long, feeling-sorry-for-myself post. Every once in a while, I just need to get it all out, and it's my blog so I can, and I warned you.)


At 3/14/10, 4:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi, i'm sick and in bed, so i'm responding:

"I paid a little too much and got a little too little"
join the club. that's every car anyone buys ever basically. name your car, give it personality. even something comical. it helps when your car is your friend, not your enemy.

"but I worry constantly that I am not really good enough to make it."
change your attitude - yes lie to yourself. tell yourself you're the best student there. it will help your productivity. how does the best student act? be an actress.

"And I don't really have many friends here."
force yourself to go out and make friends at events if you want. you only need a few friends, though. i think that this is only maybe more noticeable since everything else is getting you down. you've always seemed like more of an independent type.

"I hate both the fact that I was willing to date someone who I knew wasn't nearly frum enough for me and the fact that he rejected me."
it was a brocha he rejected you - you wouldn't want to get stuck with him.

"I hate how much my roommates annoy me"
this is a major issue because home is home. i seriously think it will be better to change environments. ask someone dependable like a rabbi if they know other girls you can move in with.. i know its a big move and a pain to schlep all your stuff, but its worth it. if you want to wait the rest of the year out then you have to openly, calmly, but straightforwardly ask your roommates about why they do what they do to you and how you're not a doormat and the way they act hurts you. i hear this communication thing will be big in marriage, too.

i hope things get better for you.

At 3/17/10, 3:55 PM, Blogger Shira said...

Upending your life to move to another place is one of the hardest things you'll ever do. Give yourself a break, don't expect that thing'll be smooth right away.

You've actually accomplished quite a bit since you've gotton to LA - car, have a place to live, have people to go to for Shabbos, people to hang out with (even tho' they're not the friends you left in NY). Please remember that this is only a start.

Anony is absolutely correct. You need a place that you can come home to and be happy. The situation you find yourself in now with your roommates is not a healthy one. You'll be able to deal with everything else better if your home/roommate situation were better.

Give yourself time and a lot more credit. You're smart -- I'm sure a lot smarter than most of those in your program -- you're being paid to be there. Take a breather. No worries. Call any time.

At 3/17/10, 3:58 PM, Blogger Shira said...

And about the dating thing-- don't settle. You want to be happy with yourself... and remember that 'forever' aka. till 120 is a long time... better be happy with the guy you choose.

At 3/17/10, 11:01 PM, Blogger Eli7 said...

Aww, thanks, both. Shira, I miss you! Come visit! We'll play lots of Trivial Pursuit!

At 3/21/10, 6:35 PM, Blogger Ayala said...

Igg, you're roomates are gross. It takes a gross person to want to live with gross people, so if you don't like them, that's a sign that you are wonderful! And not icky like them. Which I know from personal experience to me true. Having been doubly lucky to room with you twice.
Don't worry about feeling not as smart as everyone else in school. They're all secretly thinking the same thing about you. The problem with grad school is that everyone trys to pretend they're smarter than they are, which ups the bar, which makes it harder for everyone (themselves included). When I was in grad school I had this dream of banding together with my fellow students and make a rule that everyone had to get at least 7 hr.s of sleep a night...
Sorry that it's been so tough! But remember, you do have friends who don't live in NY, and are only 2 hr.s time difference away!


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