Okay, California...you win.
If you’re used to the fast, funny, witty Johnny posts of the past few weeks, today’s post may be a bit of a shock. Hey, the blog description does read “alternatively funny & grumpy,” so there you go. The following was written a few weeks ago in a depressed furor as I was assaulted by a particularly vicious combination of my father’s second stroke, very difficult times at work and a general mood of loneliness. I wrote it, re-read it, decided it was far too whiny to be truly representative of how I really am, and promptly filed it away. But after a few weeks, I looked at it again and realized that sometimes compelling writing comes from life’s rougher situations. So, here it is, warts and all. Just know that I’m much better now, thanks.
Italicized portions are from the song “California” by Wax
Cleveland, November, 1999
i’m gonna move to Southern California
got me a ride
and a reason to ignore you
got me a radio
ain’t got no speakers
ain’t much use
so I’m leaving it
leaving it for you
I’m leaving it for you
could be bye for you
Through what seems like a combination of maddening determination, dumb luck and sheer force of will, I actually got a job in San Diego, California. And not just any job – the veritable dream job with a hugely successful corporation, doing what I’ve set my career goals toward…writing. Not only am I now a college graduate, I’m going to be a working writer in San Di-fucking-ego, California.
I’m going to buy a condo and get a boxer puppy and name him Kirby, after my favorite comic book artist, Jack Kirby, creator of Captain America.
I can’t believe this is happening.
San Diego, September, 2002
gotta find a room
and I’m running out of money
staying out late
but i gotta get up early
The dream job has become a more realistic pain in the ass, full of “workers” who use their husbands/kids as excuses to leave hours early, foisting their work and responsibilities upon all the single people. The pay is good, but not good enough. Living in Hillcrest, the gay mecca of San Diego, is not all it’s cracked up to be, as it’s becoming overrun with increasingly more hostile bums on the streets, open-mouthed gaping straight couples who have no idea they’ve moved into the “gay” part of town and ever-spiraling rent and property values, making it impossible to own a piece of the American dream.
My building does not allow cats, much less a boxer.
Orange County, January 2003
why did i move to Southern California?
smog isn't blue
someone shoulda warned you
they shoulda warned you
could be bye bye
could be bye for you
The new dream job has turned into a real nightmare. This cliché is all it deserves, since it has drained me of any and all creative spark. I left a somewhat creatively fulfilling job in San Diego to take the money and run, moving up to Orange County to work for a music-related company that promised me complete creative control, incredible opportunity and truckloads of cash.
What I got was micro-managed by the President to a laughable degree (“Don’t use ampersands instead of the word ‘and’ in headlines!”), limited growth potential (Actual quote: “Don’t make us too successful, because then our parent company will notice.”) and yes, truckloads of cash.
It’s not worth it.
Orange County is an ugly, ugly place, built and based upon a foundation of commerce. Strip malls litter the landscape, arching up from the flat, featureless ground like junkyard scrap heaps hungering for debit cards. The gay community is virtually split in half, with one group living in Laguna Beach, a pretentious land of BMW-leasing, credit-abusing Pseudo Haves, and the other Have Nots barely subsisting, working one or more minimum-wage retail jobs, with no future goals save having enough cover charge and drinking money for the weekend.
The highways are clogged with SUVs, each one filled with drivers possessed of a false sense of entitlement that dictates they must be in front of you, no matter what crawling “speed” the flow of traffic is moving, or how aggressively they must cut in front of you (never with a signal or courtesy wave). This continues into the grocery stores, restaurants, Starbucks, anywhere people are packed in, waiting their turn, letting more moments of life slip away meaninglessly.
I’m living in the biggest apartment I’ve ever lived in, paying the highest rent I’ve ever paid, with money to spare. I’m still not permitted to have a boxer.
Long Beach, June 2004
why did i move?
why did i move?
(Southern California, Southern California)
why did i move?
(Southern California, Southern California
Southern California, Southern California)
LB is light years ahead of OC in mellowness, relaxation and gay presence. The roads are calmer, the people have manners and the rents are cheaper. Work is changing, as we’re merging with a larger company located closer to LB, so my commute will be reduced dramatically (I currently spend a total of 90 minutes a day on the 405). I’ve caught up quite a bit on bills, even completely paying off a number of outstanding credit lines. If things continue, I’ll finally be able to buy my own place by December. And get a boxer named Kirby. In California.
Okay, California…you win.