FROM THE DESK OF: Nina
In humanities-based fields such as anthropology and sociology, there’s this type of qualitative research method known as ethnography, which is officially defined as “the study and systematic recording of human cultures”. Translation: it is, on an extremely basic level, people-watching with a notebook.
I had my fair share of ethnographic stints throughout college. During freshman year, a few of my assignments required me to spend hours on the L.A. Metro to people-watch in the name of “research.” Furthermore, when I wasn’t bus-riding for academic purposes, I was hopping on the Big Blue to either get to the SD-bound Surfliner track at Union Station or simply get out of the college town that is Westwood. By the end of freshman year, I didn’t know many things about where I was headed academically but I did know one thing was certain: I had become pro at people-watching.
When you become a professional Harriet the Spy in the city, though, something strange happens over time. Autopilot instincts kick in. Streets feel less like fun house mazes. People start asking you for directions. Strange becomes the new normal, and local social idiosyncrasies you once thought were “ridiculous” are now things you find yourself explaining to visitors. You’re no longer an observer; you become part of the observed, an active participant in, and an essential component to, the life and fabric of the city you’ve been watching all this time.
In the context of my own life, this transformation from an outsider-looking-in to an active participant roughly translates to this: I’ve slowly become the very L.A. resident I spent years ridiculing when I was still a lost L.A. n00b getting to know this city.
Here’s how I know this has happened.
I use the term “Angeleno.”* Who the heck uses that term other than people who live in L.A.? Dumb. But that doesn’t stop me from using it. #cantstopwontstop
*The article hyperlinked in “Angeleno” really isn’t intended to provide an informative source explaining the origin of the term Angeleno; it’s purely for my own entertainment because this depiction of L.A. living makes me criiiiinge. “Loubi’s”? Really?! So embarrassing. #Idontknowaboutthatlife #wherethesneakersat
I learned to enjoy the taste of cold-pressed juice. And I don’t mean the ones that are simply green-colored but are basically just pineapple juice-laced diabetes in makeup. I’m talking about those gnarly spinach/kale/algae/can-you-even-eat-that loaded juices that have, like, negative grams of sugar in them. What did I do to my tastebuds?
I grew to tolerate, and maybe even like, yoga. Now, let me clarify: I am not a hippie. I repeat: I. am. not. a. hippie. BUT… with the right teacher (I REPEAT: WITH THE RIGHT TEACHER), I do think yoga can be a pleasant, rejuvenating experience. And it does yield some health benefits which I greatly appreciate – namely, increased flexibility, better breathing, and improved posture so I don’t have to feel like I’m wheezing/suffocating under my stomach folds. I gotta check myself once in awhile, though – one time I tried being one of those perpetually put-together, sports-bra-only/no-shirt yoga girls by taking off my shirt in hot yoga because I got too warm, but then realized that was a mistake when I attempted bridge pose & my sweaty back made this weird suction noise. Note to self: keep the shirt on next time. #pumpthebrakes
I make hike-and-brunch plans on the weekends. Make fun of me all you want, I will always stand behind this activity. Fresh air, a little exercise, quality time, good conversations, and a delicious breakfast to top everything off? Why would I ever be ashamed of such a wonderful activity?
I adopted a style of dress that, for whatever reason, often needs to be toned down when I leave L.A. I was never a hat person until I started working in the streetwear industry. I didn’t even know what a “snapback” was until I got here. I also never even dared to wear running sneakers with a dress before I lived here. Nor did I think oversized clothing would be something I would ever try. Fast-forward to now, and all of those elements comprise my everyday style. For whatever reason, whenever I dress like this anywhere else other than L.A. or New York, my style is categorized as “edgy”, “trendy”, “hipster”, or even just “so L.A.”; I just call it lazy tomboy in monochromatic pajamas on the daily. #hatersgonnahate
I could go on and on about the many ways in which L.A. has turned me into one of its weirdos, but that list continues to grow each day, and I’m getting sleepy. To be continued…
This article has been edited to correct any sleepy mistakes not caught prior to the initial time of posting.