It could be the fact that I just made friends from L.A. who feel the need to text me weather updates. It could be that I am facing another weekend of shoveling. It could be that I just finished a job assignment and I do not have another one for the foreseeable future and I have to keep reminding myself that I’m not unemployed, but a freelance production assistant… but whatever it is I have been bitten by a bug. And that bug is called California.
I think this is a dilemma that most of us in the media industry face at one point or another in our careers. Whether to stay on the east coast (namely NYC or “The City” as most of us call it, as if there aren’t any other in the world) or to follow the advice of Horace Greenly and “Go West young (wo)man” to the Golden Coast of Californ-i-ay.
Both locations are so different. Having lived in New York my entire life and never even been to California for a visit I cannot fairly compare the two. I am a New Yorker at heart. I walk fast and talk faster. But in terms of my career and what I want to do, aka work in the media industry, I need to be in one of two places (for the most part). If I’m being honest I don’t have a clear cut career goal in mind. I have been working as a production assistant and I’ve been enjoying that because I don’t have to sit in an office all day, I get to meet cool, new people, and I get to learn a lot about production firsthand.
What I don’t like is the feeling of unease that settles over me as soon as a job ends. The fear of not having another job lined up and not knowing if/when it will come. The best way I’ve heard it described is as an “emotional hangover” because you go from the high of the production and show day to the low of saying goodbye to all the people you’ve met and having no job Yet Again. Maybe it’s just me seeing the world through rose colored glasses, but from the people I’ve spoken to those in-between periods are shorter and relatively easier to overcome in California because there is just more work out there, especially the kind I am looking for. Now I don’t imagine CA as a land where jobs grow on trees, that is just what I hear and what I’ve been seeing posted on job forums.
The thing is: moving to California would be crazy. I know all of like six people there. And I don’t do crazy things. I went to college for 4 years. I graduated with honors. I had a job all throughout high school. I don’t illegally download movies or speed when I drive. Basically, I follow the rules. But for once in my life I want to do something a little crazy. I want to pack up my car and drive across country and then figure out what happens next rather than live at home and wonder every day what it would be like to live somewhere else. I want to be a PA at a production studio. I want to learn how to surf. I want to eat a burger at In-N-Out. I want it to be 55 and sunny in February and December AND April. I even want to get stuck in that famous L.A. traffic (okay, so maybe not the last one so much, but it is an experience).
The thing is, and I’m not afraid to admit it, I’m scared. Financially I don’t know if I can move out let alone move across country. I would have to pay for rent and food and gas along with those dreaded student loans that need to be paid back once a month. At home if I have a bad day I am a few hours drive away from good friends or I can just wait for my parents to get home from work. Out west I would have next to no one in my corner; I would be starting from scratch. The prospect of sitting in a small apartment all alone in a strage city after a bad day of work does not sound appealing to me in the least, no matter how warm that strange city may be.
So what’s a girl to do? This is where I am asking for your help. The help of people who have come before me. The people who have quite literally blazed the trail west and done what I am (almost) too scared to do. Has anyone been in the same predicament as me? What did you do? Or maybe you just plain ol’ live in CA (or somewhere else I haven’t thought of) and want to tell me how great it is. Or maybe you want to smack some sense into me and tell me to get a real job and stop trying to work in show business. Whatever you have to say, even if it’s the latter, I want to hear it.
Until then I’ll be staring at my computer screen applying for jobs and playing this song on repeat.