By Lindsay Meyer
If you don’t let the trucks and traffic and sprawling, rude, mayhem of Los Angeles drive you insane, you can actually find some pretty serene places. The Office in Santa Monica is one I have recently discovered.
Okay, let me set the geographical technicality to rest: Santa Monica and LA are not one and the same. But San Vicente and 26th Street, The Office’s nearest intersection, just barely fall outside of Brentwood, the posh Los Angeles neighborhood. If that’s not enough, The Office is literally right across the street from LA’s see-and-be-seen Brentwood Country Mart. If you’re still not convinced, one thing’s for sure: The Office attracts the writerly of LA.
The Office is a place made by, and for, writers. You walk in, and a museum-like hush is broken by only the typing of keys, the streaming of a small zen fountain, and the entrance and exit of occasional writers such as yourself. Oh, and yes, there’s a coffee machine. Writers can get cappuccinos and lattes in the back and sip on them while they think up prose in ergonomic chairs.
Not sold yet? Aleks Horvat, the Hollywood screenwriter who divined the idea, brought in a feng shui expert to design the room. Now I don’t know a darned thing about feng shui, but I know a peaceful place to write when I see it. A quiet room with books, unlimited internet, coffee, comfy chairs, and a big bonsai tree is as cozy as a hobbit hole.
The Office offers a better environment for writing than Leavey Library or my house, two places where I routinely find myself trying to get work done. When I write at home, I never know if I’m going to have to put up with lawn mowers, ice cream trucks, trash trucks, helicopters, or music blaring from next door, none of which I can tune out with ear plugs. When I go to Leavey, I get to hear discordant cell phones ringing as I sit in harsh neon light, enhanced by flat, salmon colored walls. At The Office, the sound-proof walls almost make the Los Angeles traffic buzzing outside look peaceful.
I’m also drawn to The Office because, unlike in or around campus, I don’t run into anybody I know. One of the reasons I live in Los Angeles is because I can drive ten, twenty minutes, and nobody knows who I am.
I enjoy the anonymity.
Going to a place where many well known industry writers work may seem like a strange way to ìget away from it all,î but I’m not sure exactly who’s who. And I like it that way. For me, in my ignorance, The Office remains more democratic. As far as I know, the person sitting across from me runs the equivalent of the writer’s four minute mile while I’m panting away, cutting just under nine. But I don’t know that. I just know we’re writers, and I can caffeinate and slave away at my sentence in writerly peace.
Unfortunately, The Office is too expensive for those who haven’t yet sold that six-figure script. At $13 for a couple of hours, I can barely afford it. These days, I find myself getting lured in by Starbucks, that sublimely terrible corporate beast where I can sit for an unlimited amount of time for $2, the price of a short vanilla steamed milk. And then there’s the independent coffee option of The Ragazzi Room on Hoover, where I can sit and don’t have to feel corporate coffee guilt.
And then, of course there are the litany of on-campus options: WPH, where I can go, sit, and type for free, with the lovely feng shui of white lights and white boards; the Philosophy Library, where, with all its inspiration, I can’t plug in my laptop or seem to find a comfortable chair; and Doheny Library, which conveniently closes at my grade school bedtime: 9pm.
The Office still holds its own. It remains a place conveniently equipped with the tools a writer needs. (Did I mention the shelf of reference books and movie industry guides?)
It’s a way to get away from the college bubble, a way to escape Starbucks and your run-of-the-mill coffee house, a quiet and peaceful place to go when one too many a driver has given you the bird and the LA smog is so strong, the skyline looks as flat as its sister smog city, Houston.
I recommend The Office to anyone who likes to write, who has $15 or so dollars to spare, and who, upon occasion, needs an escape from noisy LA.
About the Author:
Lindsay Meyer is an editor for AngeLingo. Read her bio here.