long-distance relationship

best friends makin' it work

Lalaland

(Our mutual hero’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame)

As some of you may already know, I recently returned from a 5 day trip to Los Angeles for the Asian American Journalists Association’s annual convention. Was sitting in panels all day my primary reason for going? Not quite, but the conference was a great excuse to see old friends and make new ones.

The few other times I’d been to L.A. I was on family vacations that included rental cars, parents paying for everything and visits to Disney Land and Universal Studios. This was my first trip as a visiting independent adult, and sadly, Mickey Mouse was nowhere on the agenda. I was never a big fan of the City of Angels, and my opinion remains unchanged. Perhaps it’s my east coast bias, but I’m not one to become starstruck and generally dislike smog, traffic and high sales taxes. I will say that L.A. has some out-of-this-world shopping malls and movie theatres going for it, and judging by how much time Rohini and I spend in each place, it’s quite possible we might even enjoy living there, but I’m in no rush to find out.

Here’s a quick look at my trip.

My first gay bar/club experience
Wednesday, August 4th, 2010 was a historic day in California, when a U.S. district judge struck down Prop. 8. To celebrate this piece of news, our dear friend Liz took me to the Abbey, supposed “Best Gay Bar in the World.” Pretty big claim, right? I’ve seen ‘world’s best’ hanging crookedly in the windows of way too many bagel and coffeeshops to buy that one right away. But when I saw the satellite trucks from local and national news outlets stationed outside, I decided the claim was probably a legitimate one. As we danced to great mashups of Lady Gaga and comeback kid Enrique Iglesias, I wondered why I never stepped foot into a predominantly gay establishment before. In a typical bar/club setting, straight men ‘dance’ by standing in place , putting their hands wherever they can as their female counterparts rub up against them. At the Abbey, males, females, and she-males alike danced without care or concept of personal space. It was great. Thank you, Liz for being the great friend, confidante and tour guide that you are. My first gay bar experience will not be my last. Next time I’ll make sure I don’t eat two dinners beforehand.

The Food
Rohini and I are perfectly content getting our fix of ‘mexican’ food from chipotle, but being that close to the border, I had as many tortillas and frijoles as I possibly could. This meant fish tacos at lunch and fresh tableside guacamole at dinner with my friend and former class/roommate Courtney in a nice restaurant by Rodeo Drive. The best meal of the entire trip was shared with Liz at Aroma Café, an all-organic eatery in Studio City. I had originally planned to get In n Out Burger for my last meal, but Liz did a good job of convincing me to try “one of Ryan Gosling’s favorite restaurants.” The meal was fantastic. Even their Heinz tomato ketchup was amazing. I had a smoothie, curly fries, blue velvet cake and an amazing wrap with the number one greenest lettuce I have ever seen. Less than 24 hour later, I found myself staring at a similarly colored number two in the ladies’ room at work. And yes, I appreciate the irony of calling myself a lady after divulging that piece of information.

The Convention
This was my second AAJA convention and it was drastically different from the first. Last year in Boston, I was still in school, not sure where I was going and desperate for some vague outline of a job waiting for me after graduation. I would have been immensely grateful for a local reporting gig that paid 30k a year in a town with population 100,000. This time, I was there as a lucky, gainfully employed recent graduate, happy to have my job with weekends and federal holidays off. A year ago, I wouldn’t have seen myself where I am now. The me now is very happy with the unexpected turn of events that brought me here. Suffices to say I swapped career fair time for fun with friends.

I don’t see myself returning to Los Angeles or California anytime soon, although I do miss my friends who now live there a great deal. I do know that the next time I head that far west, I’m taking Rohini with me. We can go to San Francisco, a California city that I love, and on our way home we’ll make a stop in Las Vegas for some roulette and a mesmerizing musical performance by Celine Dion.

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