The Christian Lifestyle: New to SoCal

Art by Alice Hsieh

I’m new to California and I want to know how can I adjust to living life here? Is there anything I should know about the SoCal culture or the California culture in general? — Anonymous

The state of California can be subdivided into two ontologies: NorCal and SoCal. The former is widely known for being the largest distributer of Northface jackets in the country, a tourist hub in The City — don’t give me this frisky “Mish” and “Frisco” caca; nothing screams uncultured more than these uncool techy terms — and the phylogenetic origins of “hella.” If you need that condensed into a tiny, digestible fact reminiscent of those high class restaurants where you pay $50 for half an ounce of filet mignon: it’s hella cold, yo. These are wide generalizations but, considering the context of this question, I assume you’re more partial to learning about Southern California in all of its glory. Specifically, San Diego — that’s where our university is located, right?

First off, ignore the present weather shenanigans. Believe it or not, California is in a drought — it is spelled “d-r-o-u-g-h-t” if you were too lazy to Google it — which means that our water supplies are shallowing. Thirsty, much? Despite being placed conveniently near the ocean, California is also way too salty to ingest any kind of ocean water, so that places us in a state of conservation. So if you want to adjust to California, heed the following advice with a nod of the head (I can already see you faking enthusiasm right now): do not waste water. Listen, Q. You can wear all the plaid you desire around your waist; you can eat from all the taco trucks you want; heck, you can go juice bar hopping all you want and say you went to Coachella when you really were just at a nightclub in Hillcrest. But if there is one thing you should never do, it is waste water and pollute the air with noxious fumes from your road rage. Los Angeles and San Diego are smoggy enough, so cut as much crap as you can from the exhaust and start thinking smart.

Now, I also know you’re probably expecting some essay-long discourse on SoCal culture, but I find conceptualizing “adjustment” as an impossible and implausible movement. Do you mean “adjustment” as contributing to the displacement of people in a quasi-definitely-is-gentrification, slotting coffee shops in small cracks and pigeon nests? Or is the friendly “settle on this land without knowing that it’s Kumeyaay land” kind of adjustment? What you should know about California culture is that there is a continually erasure of history; a political rewriting of narrative that necessitates the need for polyvocality instead of this uniform master narrative. So what does this mean? Don’t just know the California culture in the present; learn about its history, its temporal dimensionality, and know that everything in life is just one big contradiction. Welcome to California!