For the last five years I’ve gone to Los Angeles every February. That started as a fan pilgrimage to a Doctor Who con, morphed into an excuse to see friends who don’t (or no longer) live near me, and in the last two years has become something of a professional necessity. The reality is that people offer to pay me to write things for them when I go to fan cons in Los Angeles. The other reality is that Erin and I are writing a book series about LA, and like any New Yorker it’s a city I have a difficult relationship with. Erin has never been.
You will note, however, that not only am I writing this from a plane, I’m writing this in March. This year, my day-job schedule shifted in a way that meant I was needed in Europe (hence a recent whirlwind tour of Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, and Finland) the same weekend I was meant to be in LA, so I missed my friends, I missed some business, and Erin and I had to cancel a reading in Anaheim and some other book related stuff.
As I continue to work on an increasing number of scripted and serialized projects and as I have an increasingly intense attachment to the city due to our book series, I got sad. Really, really sad. I’m a symbolic creature, and the cancellation of the trip hit me in my spots. I always think people — and the universe — want me to fail, and I have built my life on refusing to do so.
So I planned a new trip, sort of on a whim. I’d never been to Paleyfest before and that seemed as good an excuse as any. I could do some fan stuff and maybe see some fan people, pitch some Paleyfest related articles to places I freelance for, do book research, and see what other business I could scare up. I could touch the ocean, and I could go to my cathedral.
And now here we are, and I am going to Los Angeles alone, while I’m miserably jet-lagged from the European trip and exhausted from a three-day writers room in New York. And, more or less as anticipated, I have articles to write, people to see, a few meetings to attend, book research to do, and rituals to be fulfilled.
It’s all good, and I am, besides, a solitary creature.
But I am going to Los Angeles alone. Los Angeles who scares me, Los Angeles who whispers to this native New Yorker that I was not actually born at the center of the world; Los Angeles who seduces me, and Los Angeles who is filled with people who perhaps think I’m not good enough for her fair shores. Well, there’s another thing I’m all into refusing.
When I first went out to LA in the late-90s, I felt too brunette and too ugly to endure the commercial shoot in Bel Aire that I was there to face. The whole trip was bizarre and awkward, but the highlight of both was probably myself and a pair of lovers crashing the Miss Teen USA California pageant at an airport hotel and me missing my flight.
While I have no intention of repeating those particular events, they are germane. Because above all else I am in Los Angeles not for its magic, but for mine. I carry a strange serendipity with me. Whether this is a form of witchy luck or the ability to apply narrative to and interpret destiny in anything, magic comes to me. It always has, solemn and strange and filled with loud laughter.
I am currently on a plane to Los Angeles, and there I have some stuff to do. But I will have absolutely no idea why I am on this plane until some moment there comes. Sometimes, I don’t share these moments. They are too private, too strange, and serve as the talismans that allow me to do the things I’m trying to do.
On the other hand, sometimes I take pictures. And, sometimes, I even tell stories.