I can’t believe I’m saying this. I’m writing on the terrace of a nice hotel overlooking Sunset Boulevard. It actually looks a lot less imposing than with what I have culled from memory. The movie leaves me with a picture splashed with bitter nostalgia. It is a bright, quite brisk Sunday morning out in LA and the boulevard is uneventfully quiet and uninterestingly drab, hinting at no trace of any notion of biting bitterness imagined from that camp classic. I look up at the Hollywood hills as it looks down upon Sunset. There is the constant hum of cartraffic below as the occasional bird flies overhead, in between adboards for Charles Schwab and Hustler Casino. I am enjoying a quiet start to a Sunday out here in California. I still can’t believe it (since it was only a few days ago that I was trudging through the unbearable cold brought about by some arctic winds back east.)

This West Coast trip has been flying by fast which is quite unexpected since I have been meaning to pull back from my pace back East and enjoy a laidback schedule as they do out here. Flying in from NYC Friday into SD and driving in from SD into LA yesterday all now seem to be a blur. I still haven’t gone to the Zoo and I still haven’t been to the Getty Center and yet, I feel like I’ve already immersed myself in a SoCal schedule. The many enjoyable meals I have had out with Hans, my friend from Seattle and Luke, his bf based in SD, and their friends both in SD and now here in LA have filled up my schedule. Brunch at Rice at the W SD. Dinner at California Cuisine on Hillcrest. A late lunch at the Abbey yesterday and a nice dinner at Le Petit Bistro in WeHo last night. The food was decent and the reds full-bodied; the company enjoyable. But what lingers most in me is the scene. Buff, blond boys in their tight shirts and Dolce sunglasses sipping martinis at 2 PM, disengaged and self-absorbed. (I found it quite surprising, but then, understandable from a market point of view, that the salads cost more than the staple dishes at the Abbey.) I have always heard of that Socal criticism on the area’s premium on superficiality. (It is, after all, ground zero for Hollywood.) This is the first weekend I’ve actually witnessed it firsthand. (I’ve been out to California so many times but I just realized I’ve always gone to the Bay Area.) It is one thing to be riveted by the occasional group of shirtless, runners in Balboa park, smooth, lean chests soaked in sweat and sun, all incidental to the pursuit of a healthy lifestyle. It is another thing to be surrounded by a shocking display of conscious effort at looking good – the ubiquitous fauxhawk, the diva sunglasses, the parade of pecs, the matching sneakers — wherein to be seen out is in itself a show. (Seen as scene, I am a dork for alliteration, but I digress.) I don’t mean to make it sound like a musem spectacle but it is quite a consuming space to be in. I was eating my salad and observing the scene and suddenly, subconsciously slipped into thoughts of my own physical insecurities compared to the hot boys around me; thinking twice about all the adboards claiming cosmetic services that bombard one on the interstate coming into LA. It didn’t seem to matter that I had an exciting new career waiting for me in a week (since I start at my new job on the 12th.) It didn’t seem to matter that I had a great boyfriend and healhty group of friends back home where the assurances are unsaid; where my words define me more than my body weight. I just wanted to be like them, sipping an Appletini and being stand-offish. Of course, I know it strikes at hollow but it seemed to be the standard, and I found it enviable. This is where the brunches in NYC and LA seem to diverge; Sunday brunches out east will be a venue for therapy where me and my friends bitch about our lives. Brunches out here will push me to therapy.

Norma Desmond’s vanity led to her tragic end. It is a chilling message to me as I enjoy the start of this sunny Sunday out here in California.

We’re doing brunch with another group of LA boys in a few hours. (Hans and Luke are still in bed.) I’m already trying to figure out my outfit.