Miss A Columnist

Melissa Curtin covers charity and style related events and loves to cover LA's best in beauty, fashion, and culture. She is an educator who recently returned to the classroom to motivate and inspire third graders at a private school in Pacific Palisades. In 2012, she launched an educational T-shirt line called Wear2learn. When she is not working out, hiking a canyon, or at the beach, she is writing. Her latest dream come true has been travel writing for Johnny Jet.

After teaching in the Maryland public school system for almost a decade, she left the conservative East Coast environment in Washington, DC for West Coast living. Eager for adventure, inner growth, and a new environment, she packed her car and took to the open road on her own landing in her new home - Hollywood, California. As a Connecticut Yankee at heart, she has now lived in Los Angeles for six years surrounded by the stars.

Melissa graduated from Gettysburg College with a double major in psychology and art history. Soon after, she earned a Master's Degree in education. Melissa traveled around the world on Semester at Sea, and earned a Fulbright Scholarship which enabled her to teach in England. A lust for travel and learning has fueled her globe trotting ever since. Some of her favorite destinations are Costa Rica, Thailand, Fiji, Morocco, Vietnam, Belgium, Italy, Sicily, Prague, Egypt, Australia, Greece, and Paris.

Los Angeles has won over her heart. She is constantly taking advantage of what LA LA Land has to offer - new boutiques and restaurants, finding great deals, discovering new hikes and beaches, music, and West Coast fashion.

East Coast Vs. West Coast Living: 12 Differences A Northeast Girl Discovers After Living In LA

After four years of living in Los Angeles, I have learned there are some big differences between the coasts, from men to fashion to fitness and everywhere in between. While these are only my observations, the following describes what I perceive to be the biggest differences between the North East and the West Coast.

1. Guys on the East Coast are hunters. If they want you, they will hunt you. They will call and find a way to see you one on one. They take you out on a proper date and woo you – send you flowers or bring them. On the left coast, it can still happen, but often they may entertain you with a “Come to this party,” or “ Come see me in this play or my comedy gig,” or “Let’s go for a hike.” I’ve started to enjoy the latter.

Um Yum Prep (Photo credit: www.justmadras.com)

2. Every guy I dated on the East Coast had a subscription to The Economist. I haven’t even seen one in any home out here in LA. You are more likely to find InStyle magazine lying around since the guy or girl is checking to see if they are in it.  Let’s just say talking about world issues and politics is not what you typically hear at dinner conversations, more like drugs, threesomes, who is that sitting beside you, and what five parties can you hit in one night.  Long gone are the days when I lived in Washington, DC and a guy I went out with was thrilled I was a teacher because it would help his political career, if he married me. My choice of helping children apparently made him look good.

3. Tattoos are acceptable and pretty much everywhere in California. It doesn’t matter. The more, the better. In Connecticut, where I was raised, tattoos were considered “bad” and something only naughty girls got. Then, you hit college in the 90’s and sorority and frat guys are getting one or two. Not me. In LA, I feel like your cool factor amplifies 85% if you have one on your arm, your neck, your wrist, your back, or your whole sleeve, in case you forget to wear one.

Who doesn’t like a bad boy? (Photo credit: Bad Boys with tattoos on Facebook)

4. It was cool in DC to see any celebrity or important person, no matter who they were. You would get excited for some diplomat or some old politician. Even some lobbyist or restaurant owner may get you juiced. Here in LA, we are not phased too much by anyone since we live, eat, and breathe the tabloid BS, and we often see it happening in front of our eyes at breakfast, the gym, our workplace, or the beach, before it even hits the silly tabloid mags and blogs. Since it is all around us, it makes us laugh when East Coasters post pictures of some reality star from ten years ago and scream for joy like it was the best event of their life.

5. Education.  When you grow up in the North East, everyone around you is talking about what prep school, boarding school, Ivy League school, or prestigious college they would like you to attend. This talk starts at age two or three. Often many generations attend the same school and it is an honor to continue that legacy because so and so’s grandfather has their name on the building. College is just considered a minimal start. Having a master’s degree, PhD, MBA is just an extra something to have under your belt. I have found people on the West Coast (who most come from somewhere else) are not raised with the same educational whip.  I know many high school and college drop outs who are quite successful. This “drop-out” thing would be unheard of on the East Coast, but sometimes I think this non-education thing creates people who work and learn skills at an early age because they have to, and often have real world life skills than many of us who spend years and years in classes don’t have. (Don’t bring this discussion up to my father.)

Effortlessly chic, the only way in LA

6. Fashion. I am completely altered after four years here. I use to get giddy over boys in whale pants, Nantucket reds, green cords with sailor belts, Docksiders with no socks, tassel loafers, bow ties, Vineyard Vines ties, monogrammed shirts, croakies, khakis and navy blazers, hair swept and combed perfectly to the side, but NOW it makes me want to puke.  In DC, if you didn’t have a suit on to go out, guys often went home to put one on before heading out on the town.  I even remember wearing business suits out myself on dates to the Caucus Room or the top of some shishi hotel for some political party.  Maybe I do really need to come home, but what I once found attractive I know longer do. I would take the homeless look any day – scruffy shaven face, long scraggly hair, hoody and Tee, flops, jeans, effortless chic, homeless chic, or maybe it is why bother to put in any effort when I look so great in my SoCal tan and sun kissed locks?   My version of a man dressing up now is wearing a blazer with a T-shirt and putting on some nice shoes, well, beat up cool worn-in shoes.  The thing is the look on the west coast is to look effortless all the time, like you just threw on what you had on with no care in the world and still look fabulous.  No more Brooks Brother wrinkle free button down shirts and pearls for me!  Those days are over.

7. Creativity and entrepreneurship are alive and well in all parts of California.  People don’t want to work for someone and slave in an office all day.  Why would they when everywhere you turn is a bit of paradise? Angelenos or Californians want to make it happen on their own terms and will sacrifice to have a better quality of life.  I am constantly amazed at the tech world, the entertainment biz, the travel industry, the fashion madness, and incredible writing communities here. I never saw this ever on the east coast, but perhaps because I was in DC.  People on the east coast have one job.  People on the west coast have maybe average five, at one time. No joke!  I find it extremely invigorating. At first, not so much, but now I see why. FREEDOM. People are chasing their dream and working where they can to support that dream. We are all living on borrowed time. We might as well have more than a two week vacation a year and choose when we want to work hard and when we want to hit the beach or outdoors.

The Healthy Juicer (Photo credit: www.877myjuicer.com)

8. Health and exercise. I am juicing fruit daily for breakfast (what?) and I like wheatgrass juiced in shot form. I hated veggies when I lived on the East Coast my entire life. Now I can tell you how to grow a garden and what fruits and vegetables are good for each part of your body and why. Everywhere you go in LA there is a cleanse you can try or a miracle juice straight from the earth or vegans proclaiming meat, eggs, and milk should not be consumed.  I have started to buy into it all after watching some documentaries and dating a guy who owned a juicer ecommerce site. Organic is the way to go.  Who wants those pesticides on all of your perfectly colorful gynormous fruit entering your system and hurting your cells?  This video with Jim Carey pretty much explains the juice craze.

9. Bars and cars.The bars on the West Coast have a way different feel than the ones I use to frequent back East in NYC, Boston, and DC where you smash peanuts on the floor, see Irish Catholic boys in their baseball hats, meet everyone with Italian last names, and play the juke box, darts, and pool. These places are packed back at home all the time. People meander from one to the next. The East Coast is more down-to-Earth when it comes to bars. No one is dressing up in heals and the latest trend. Wear your fleece, drive your pick-up truck or your wood paneled car that you have owned for 15 years. No one cares! Living in LA is like living in an altered universe, but if you don’t get out every now and then, you forget the rest of the world is not California or LA. Yes, I drive a new white BMW, but so does everyone else. So I guess I just fit in with the flashy masses in LA.  Everyone or pretty much everyone drives a nice NEW car – pimped out, convertible, shiny, the kind you can eat off of, or a Prius. However, most people I know also own a second UBER cool vintage car, ya know, just to drive to Malibu or take a Sunday drive.  Some car that you only see out here in the Made for TV and fashion shoot land that was badass in 1965 has now be restored, to make it even more badass when you and your girl are cruising down the PCH.

Cruising with the top down in my Ford

10. Grown men skateboard. Yes, they do, even to work. Grown men get up before work to surf. Grown men tell the girl they hooked up with the morning afterwards that he really must catch that wave with his buddies. No one actually grows up here, and that is why I find this lifestyle addicting. It is like being Peter Pan every day. It is like living in an adult playground with too many options. You can get sucked in, and never want to come out of this altered state of reality. By the way, I almost got ran over the other day near LACMA as a guy was headed to work on his skateboard.

11. The stuff you read about and see in the movies and couldn’t possibly even dream up as an East Coaster really does happen here. The things that I saw my first year in LA shocked me beyond anything I could ever write here. I have countless stories for some “Living the Dream” book I need to write some day, but it would be more like observing the ‘dream’ and the demise of many guys and girls in LA due to excessive everything! Last week, a guy friend of mine sent me a photo of $10,000 of hundred dollar bills all strewn about his place and all over his bed that this married girl he “dates” brought over to enhance the mood.  One time I was invited to a Malibu home with my boyfriend at the time that happened to be owned by one of the heirs to a very wealthy cosmetic/soap family.  Little did we know that we were probably there for the husband and wife’s inspection. Their table was filled with countless books the husband made of their topless Tuesday dinner parties and their naked Wednesday night parties, and so on. Their children were also there, running around this party.  NOTHING shocks me anymore.  LA has killed my innocent notion of the world. “Where have all the good people gone?” is a Jack Johnson song that strums through my mind from time to time.

California beauty is everywhere (Photo Credit: Melissa Curtin)

12. I have truly lived more in the last four years than I have lived in the last ten before I moved from the East Coast. The sad thing is most people don’t know how good it is out here and they live in this bubble world of routine and work all the time, see the kids, sleep. I completely attribute my happiness to the weather and lifestyle, the ocean, the sunsets, the hiking, the nature opportunities, and so much more.  It is not a work til you die kind of atmosphere out here. People aren’t hitting the grindstone until 8 p.m. every night. That was the mentality in DC often. If you weren’t working that late or longer, you weren’t working hard enough. There is so much hiking here and beauty all around that you could seriously discover something new every day.  I have traveled all over the world and there are only few places that compare to the grandeur of California. LA gets a bad rap.  If you don’t know the real LA and visit all the tourist traps when you come here, you will hate it.  You can go for a surf in the morning, and then hit the slopes in the afternoon. You can get lost in the wilderness just a few minutes from the big city. I have seen more sunsets in one year here than I did in ten on the East Coast.

 

Come visit LA LA Land

always LIVING, LOVING, LEARNING…

 

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