Category Archives: Life Style

Hybrid Work

5 Reasons Hybrid Work Enables Employees To Live Healthier Lifestyle, New Study Shows

Hybrid Work The workplace has been marked by upheaval in recent years, and the volatility has caused many U.S. employees to suffer from “change fatigue” caused by frequent shifts in priorities, rules, and personnel. According to a new survey, remote workers’ jobs may be at risk. As these types of company threats and demands persist, the occurrences of stress, anxiety, and burnout rise dramatically. Even after taking time off, a national survey discovered that instead of feeling refreshed, 41% of Americans experience post-time-off burnout.

As we excitedly await the advent of spring, one of the most effective treatments for job stress and burnout prevention is continued physical and mental health. According to Mordor Intelligence, people generally choose work environments that are more conducive to active personal lives, following an era of long commutes to offices that were not close to gyms or fitness classes. The fitness industry has rebounded after plunging at the start of the pandemic, thanks to “rising health awareness” and popular lifestyle fads like yoga, as well as developing initiatives such as well-being-appointed office spaces like Life Time, SoHo House, and Equinox.

New research confirms that the flexibility of hybrid work and employee well-being are linked. According to the International Workplace Group, the benefits of hybrid work enable individuals to better manage their health. Respondents highlighted five reasons why the flexibility of hybrid work promotes a healthy lifestyle:

1- 83% of hybrid workers believe that the flexibility of their employment helps them to prioritize their health and well-being.

2- 85% of hybrid workers believe that working out regularly improves their productivity and focus at work.

3- 90% of hybrid workers report that the hybrid model’s flexibility has helped them exercise more frequently, and 80% feel empowered to live a healthier lifestyle.

4- Hybrid work saves employees an average of 53 minutes each day, with the majority (90%) putting that time to good use by working from home or exercising nearby.

5- 80% said hybrid employment assists them in living a better lifestyle, and nearly as many (79%) said the flexibility of hybrid work helps them achieve their fitness goals.

“This latest research further validates the vast benefits of hybrid working,” says Mark Dixon, the founder and CEO of IWG. “Countless studies have shown that it has the power to make employees happier and healthier, improve productivity as well as create important cost savings,” Dixon said. “Many firms continue to prioritize their employees’ health and well-being. Empowering employees to improve their quality of life by reducing daily trips and using the extra time for increased physical exercise to prioritize fitness is a win-win situation.

15-Minute Commutes Promote Fitness!

Dixon told me via email that the “15-minute city living” notion, which assumes that any place you need to go is within a 15-minute walk or bike ride of your home, is gaining popularity. “Organizations can adapt the ’15-minute city’ concept by opening local offices or providing access to local coworking centers that allow their teams to have shorter commutes, giving time back to their employees to focus on their wellness and spend less time driving or on mass transit.” According to an ITW study, hybrid workers consider commute times while looking for new job options.

72% of hybrid workers polled say they hunt for new employment based on their ability to exercise regularly.

61% of hybrid workers believe their commute hinders their capacity to exercise. Approximately 69% of that group stated a 15-minute commute would improve their ability to work out or exercise regularly.

59% of hybrid workers say that having to travel to a city center office or place of work with a long daily commute would have a detrimental influence on their physical fitness or exercise regimen, and they would not consider a new position if it did not allow them to prioritize their fitness.

46% of urban hybrid workers would bike to work if given the option of a 15-minute ride.

21% of hybrid workers aged 18-24 would consider jogging to work if given the option of a 15-minute commute.
If they could walk to work in 15 minutes, 45% of urban hybrid workers would consider doing so.

How Organizations Benefit from Hybrid Work

Dixon explained that by putting offices and co-working spaces closer to where employees live and want to be, employers can assist their teams overcome common issues like long, stressful commutes and limited time to exercise. He went on to add, “Employers can also benefit from the ability to recruit from a diverse talent pool, while also reducing their costs by downsizing expensive office space in city centers, by instead providing their teams with access to co-working and flexible workspace locations in the heart of local communities, closer to where employees live.”

Dixon suggests that businesses begin by carefully considering how they are allowing their workers to reap the benefits of flexibility while simultaneously promoting cooperation and engagement. He believes that one of the most effective ways firms may boost flexibility is to provide access to local offices for in-person teamwork and collaboration. “Our data reveals that employees save an average of 53 minutes per day commuting when they work from or near home, and virtually all of them use that time to exercise. Employees can be inspired to achieve their fitness objectives and live better lifestyles by shortening their travel times.”

Dixon believes that hybrid work is here to stay, and organizations that embrace it to the fullest will be best positioned for the future. He believes that by putting offices and co-working spaces closer to where employees live and want to be, employers can assist their teams overcome common issues such as long, stressful commutes and limited time to exercise. “As workers continue to prioritize flexibility and their health when considering new job opportunities, hybrid work will continue to play an important role in talent retention and attraction,” he said in his report. “Businesses that recognize and accommodate the needs of their people will win out on, and keep, key talent for the longer-term.

Transform Your Vision Naturally with These Lifestyle Changes!

If you are prepared to go on an adventurous adventure toward vision that is crystal clear without the need for lenses, then you are ready to go! Think about the liberating experience of being able to see the world through your own eyes, with enhanced clarity and better health. A statement like “Transform Your Vision Naturally with These Lifestyle Changes!” is more than just a statement; it is a lifestyle choice that has the potential to take you to a future in which glasses and contacts are merely accessories rather than needs. We are going to get deeply into the core of natural vision development in this post, where we will investigate how making modest, everyday adjustments can drastically improve your eyesight.

This article will cover a variety of issues related to protecting your eyes, including the power of nutrient-rich foods, the enchantment of particular activities, and even how to protect your precious eyes in our digital world. All of these topics will be discussed on how to protect your eyes. Be sure not to neglect the fact that we will also provide you with a day plan that will put all of this information into action. We will provide you with this information. As soon as you open your eyes, you will be greeted by a world that is clearer and more brilliant than before!

Foods That Fuel Natural Vision Improvement

Introduction to the Importance of Diet for Eye Health

  • Overview of nutrients essential for eye health: Vitamins A, C, E, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Discussion on how these nutrients contribute to maintaining and improving vision.

Key Foods and How They Benefit Your Eyes

  • Detailed list of foods rich in eye-healthy nutrients.
  • Explanation of how each food contributes to natural vision improvement.

Incorporating These Foods into Your Daily Diet

  • Practical tips and meal ideas that include these power foods.

Stretching Your Way to Better Natural Vision Improvement

The Connection Between Physical Exercise and Eye Health

  • Explanation of how overall physical health impacts vision.
  • Introduction to specific stretches that benefit the eyes.

Eye Exercises That Enhance Vision

  • Step-by-step guide on eye stretches and exercises designed for natural vision improvement.
  • Benefits of regular eye exercise.

Incorporating Eye Exercises into Your Routine

  • Tips for integrating eye stretches into your daily life to promote eye health and vision improvement.

Protecting Your Eyes with Power Foods

Antioxidants and Your Eyes

  • Deep dive into how antioxidants protect and improve eye health.
  • Highlighting specific antioxidants and the foods where they can be found.

Creating an Antioxidant-Rich Diet for Eye Health

  • Strategies for designing a diet that supports vision through high antioxidant intake.

Guarding Your Eyes in the Digital Age

The Impact of Blue Light on Eye Health

  • Exploration of how prolonged exposure to screens affects our eyes and what can be done to mitigate these effects.

Practical Tips for Digital Eye Strain Prevention

  • Easy-to-implement strategies for reducing digital eye strain, including the 20-20-20 rule and proper lighting.

A Day Plan for Natural Vision Improvement

Morning to Night: A Vision-Friendly Schedule

  • A detailed day plan that incorporates diet, exercises, and habits for optimal eye health.

Long-Term Commitment to Natural Vision Improvement

  • Encouragement and advice for maintaining these lifestyle changes for lasting vision health.


As we close our eyes on this voyage (of course, this is simply a metaphor), let us take a moment to contemplate the empowering realization that the enhancement of our vision is naturally within our reach. By accepting the changes in lifestyle that are detailed in this guide, we are not only improving our vision, but we are also elevating our whole quality of life. This includes nourishing our bodies with the appropriate foods and providing our eyes with the activity and protection they require.

Allow today to be the day that you make a commitment to perceiving the world in a more natural and clearer way. Always keep in mind that the process of improving your natural vision is more of a marathon than a sprint. You will find that patience, perseverance, and an optimistic mindset are your most valuable allies. Greetings, and welcome to a world that is brighter and clearer, where your eyesight will naturally transform, and the splendor of life will become more clearly seen.

Healthy Lifestyle: Key to Better Cognitive Function in Older Adults

The importance of leading a healthy lifestyle cannot be stressed in the modern world, which moves at a breakneck pace. The decisions we make regarding our health have a significant influence on our quality of life, particularly as we get older. This is true at every level, from our physical health to our mental acuity. There is a compelling connection between adopting a healthy lifestyle and retaining cognitive function in later age, according to research that was conducted not just recently.

A Healthy Lifestyle: The Key to Cognitive Resilience

Our cognitive abilities are extremely important to our day-to-day functioning, and they play a significant role as we go through life. The effects of cognitive function may be seen in practically every facet of our life, from the ability to remember and make decisions to the ability to solve problems and communicate effectively. However, as we get older, cognitive decline becomes a prevalent issue. It is important to note that illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease present substantial challenges to older folks and the families of those individuals.

In light of these concerns, researchers have been investigating a variety of factors that may have an impact on cognitive health in later life. Lifestyle is one of these factors that has received a significant amount of attention this year. An association has been found between leading a healthy lifestyle, which includes engaging in cognitive activities, maintaining a balanced diet, and engaging in regular physical activity, and improved cognitive function in older persons.

The Link Between Lifestyle and Cognitive Function

The findings of a study that was carried out by Klodian Dhana, MD, and colleagues at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois, offer interesting insights into the connection that exists between lifestyle and cognitive function. Individuals who adhered to a healthy lifestyle demonstrated higher cognitive function, even in the face of Alzheimer’s disease pathology, according to the findings of the researchers, who discovered this by merging longitudinal data with postmortem brain pathology reports.

Over five hundred individuals were followed throughout the course of the trial, which was a longitudinal cohort study that was a component of the Rush Memory and Aging Project (1997–2022). The researchers collected detailed information on the lifestyle habits of the participants by providing them with periodical assessments. This information included the participants’ exercise patterns, dietary choices, alcohol intake, and participation in activities that stimulated their cognitive abilities.

It is remarkable that participants who scored higher on measures of a healthy lifestyle exhibited lower levels of beta-amyloid, a protein that is related with Alzheimer’s disease, as well as higher levels of cognitive ability. Based on these data, it appears that lifestyle factors may play a significant role in fostering cognitive resilience and minimizing the consequences of neurodegenerative disorders.

Understanding the Mechanisms

To be more specific, what is it about leading a healthy lifestyle that is beneficial to cognitive function? In their hypothesis, the researchers speculate that there could be other causes at play. For instance, it has been demonstrated that engaging in regular physical activity can promote blood flow to the brain, that it can trigger the production of growth hormones, and that it can lower inflammation; all of these things contribute to improved cognitive function.

In a similar vein, a diet that is well-balanced and abundant in fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids is a source of critical nutrients that are beneficial to the functioning of the brain and may help guard against cognitive decline. Reading, solving puzzles, and engaging in social interactions are all examples of activities that are cognitively stimulating. These activities assist to preserve neural connections and create cognitive reserve, which in turn makes the brain more resistant to changes that are associated with aging.

Looking Ahead: Implications and Opportunities

The ramifications of these results are far-reaching, and they provide individuals who are looking to maintain their cognitive function as they age with hope and motivation. People are able to adopt preventative measures to improve their brain health and lower their risk of cognitive decline if they make leading a healthy lifestyle a priority in their lives.

There are a multitude of possibilities to cultivate cognitive resilience, including but not limited to the following: incorporating regular physical activity into daily routines; making conscious eating choices; maintaining mental engagement through hobbies and social contacts; and so on. In addition, these lifestyle interventions may be designed to supplement the pharmacological treatments that are now available for neurodegenerative illnesses, thereby providing a holistic approach to the health of the brain.

In conclusion

The findings of this study highlight the significant influence that one’s lifestyle has on cognitive performance in its latter years. Individuals can empower themselves to age gracefully and maintain their cognitive vigor by adopting a healthy lifestyle and keeping it up throughout their lives. In spite of the fact that we are still working to understand the complexities of brain health, one thing is indisputable: the decisions we make today can have a significant impact on our cognitive future tomorrow.

The Oscars make L.A. tux businesses rich. ц

Olga Markosyan is very busy.

She works as a designer and tailor for “TUXEDOS By Mike,” a shoe-box-sized shop on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. In 30 minutes, she helps a man named Paolo find a suit for a wedding, makes alterations to the outfit, takes phone calls, places a date on her large paper desk calendar and answers questions for the article you are reading.

Olga Markosyan, a seamstress and designer at Tuxedos by Mike, left, prepares a tux for Francesc Garriga, a correspondent for Catalunya Radio in Spain, as he prepares for the Oscars.

(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

From the outside, a handful of colorful suit jackets appear in the glass storefront. When you walk inside of the cramped store, you are met with an explosion of tuxedos and tuxedo paraphernalia. (Markosyan estimates there are about 2,000 suits in the store.) There are outfits hanging from the ceiling. On the L-shaped reception desk at the front are stacks of fedoras, a rack of suit pocket handkerchiefs and at least five pairs of shoes. The desk itself doubles as a display case for cufflinks.

Still, your eyes are drawn first to the walls, covered with suit jackets in seemingly every color and design you could think of: Glittery. Paisley. Sequins. Houndstooth. Velvet. Floral.

Markosyan, who came to L.A. from Armenia not too long ago, says she’s outfitted everything from a Jennifer Lopez production to members of the Church of Scientology. But right now, she’s preparing to take on dozens of people who will attend Sunday’s Academy Awards. She says she helped around 100 customers for the event last year.

Working the shop solo can be difficult in normal circumstances. So, in preparation for the heavy workload the Oscars brings, she has uploaded a document to the store’s Google Maps page warning customers not to come in for 11th-hour awards show purchases.

Francesc Garriga tries on the tuxedo he plans to wear to the Oscars.

(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Some shoe and hat options inside Tuxedos by Mike on Sunset Boulevard.

(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

“Please don’t wait for the last minute. There is no place to stand up,” she says, explaining that a line usually forms down the street. “I wanna keep time for my customers. There is not enough time — for the weddings, for the parties — because of the Oscars.”

While America’s eyes are on the gowns, trophies and social media moments, local businesses eye the revenue. Every year, awards season injects a substantial amount of cash into Southern California’s economy; a 2013 report by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation estimated the economic impact at $130 million. From January to March, big money is spent on hotels, limousines, restaurants and tourism. Among the beneficiaries are the shops that sell tuxedos to event attendees — and not everyone is seeking out luxury fashion designers. Local tuxedo vendors say that awards season drives huge sales on top of their usual income from weddings and proms, on the order of 20% to 30% of their annual revenue, according to tuxedo shops interviewed by The Times.

That doesn’t mean the influx is easy to handle. Fittings, alterations and the staffing needed to pull it all off is a tricky business.

Some shops order suits months in advance to stock up. Macy’s said in a statement to The Times that the company increases tuxedo inventory across the U.S. in December for New Year’s events. However, in SoCal, the company keeps the tuxedo inventory higher through March. The grind begins in earnest when nominations are announced. Shops hire additional staff, expand their hours and stay late to prepare orders for the following day. Many shop owners keep measurements of regular clients so that they can provide them with well-fitting suits in a pinch.

A table shows off some fan mail, inside Tuxedos by Mike on Sunset Boulevard.

(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

During the years when awards shows had strict COVID-19 protocols like isolation and testing, attendees were better about making arrangements ahead of time. As those protocols have become more lax, the panicked purchases have returned.

Shop owners don’t always know who is wearing their suits, as more prominent clients have teams that make the purchase for them. Zarik Kazanchian, owner of Kiraz Bridal & Tux in Glendale, says she prefers not to know so she doesn’t feel the additional pressure of dressing a famous client.

She says men aren’t the best at purchasing outfits in a timely manner: “It’s just the way it is. We’re used to that. It’s not just for awards season; my grooms are the same way a lot of times. It’s universal.” Vrej Grigorian, owner of Gregory’s Tux & Suits in North Hollywood, recalled that just ahead of the recent Screen Actors Guild Awards this year, “there was a guy that came in literally two hours before the awards who needed a tux.”

Handling every request so quickly can be difficult, and not every person has the best attitude about the process. “They expect you to have it all right there and then,” says Marielee Seda, a manager at Men’s Wearhouse in Beverly Grove. “They can be impatient. Some of them, they do work with you and they understand that it’s kind of their fault it’s last minute, so they’re patient and I appreciate that. But the ones that aren’t kind of drive me crazy.”

The tardiness of the orders can’t be wholly attributed to shopper procrastination. Shop owners say many people find out they’re attending events at the last second. Some shoppers are international travelers who may not have had the chance to pick up a suit before traveling to the U.S. Shop owners can’t predict what each awards season will bring, but they can always bet on seeing stragglers just ahead of the show.

“Everybody wants their tuxedos, and we have like five or six people waiting. And we’re trying to help everyone, but sometimes they get very impatient and nervous,” says Abi Yescas, owner of Ryders Tuxedo Shop in the Miracle Mile neighborhood. “They have to be somewhere by 5. They’re here trying to get a tuxedo at three.”

Returns can be a deflating experience. People who come in on behalf of those set to attend the awards show make several purchases, only to return them after the event.

“They come in and they say, ‘OK, he’s not sure if he wants to wear a blue paisley jacket or a more conservative black jacket. So I’ve got to buy the blue jacket and the black jacket and then three different bow ties and two different shirts and everything,’” Grigorian says. “Then, the following Monday, they will come back and return all the stuff that they did not wear. And so your revenues are more like $700 rather than $3,000 that they walked out with.”

He also says that many clients fail to return suits promptly. “There have been cases where the Academy Awards are in March and they haven’t returned their suit until May,” Grigorian says. Shop owners said people occasionally have returned tuxes in terrible shape, or with unexpected items in their pockets like money.

In the long run, the stress may be worth it: Awards season’s impact on the tuxedo industry lasts long after the Oscar for best picture is handed out. It informs what looks stores will order for their stock locally and beyond, as people attending weddings and galas will want to replicate them.

“When you are in the fashion industry, awards season is something you look forward to,” says Kazanchian. “Once the community sees what the celebrities are wearing, it helps with how to style our clients for their upcoming events. It’s a forecast.”

Pulling off awards season is also a community effort. It isn’t uncommon for shops to refer clients to tailors and other stores who can deal with their additional needs. For instance, Yescas’ store is conveniently located next to a dry cleaner that helps with pressing and alterations.

But the local effort also involves helping customers find self-esteem. “We have to work really hard for them to understand that they look good. They do look good, but they don’t think they look good,” Yescas says. “It’s because you don’t wear tuxedos every day. They are used to wearing just jeans, nothing formal.” She adds: “I won’t send them out to the Oscars if something doesn’t look good.”

Yescas says clients feel an additional pressure to look like they deserve to socialize with society’s most beautiful people. Consequently, many clients leave the store in an attempt to find another look that delivers the confidence they seek. They usually end up returning to buy the outfit.

“After everything, they go, ‘Oh, I looked great. Everybody was happy. My wife was happy,’” Yescas says. “And then they start to believe you.”

L.A. Affairs: I was too happy and in love to pay attention to the warning signs.


I landed in Los Angeles with my 10- and 12-year-old daughters in December 2013. After a couple of very hard years in my hometown of Rio de Janeiro, I decided to take them to California during their summer break from school. I wanted to show them the L.A. enchantment that I remembered from my 20s when I first moved here to become a screenwriter.

Arriving in L.A. again, I realized that the magic was still here, and my daughters and I had an amazing visit. Seeing fake snowflakes at the Grove on Christmas Eve was planted in my girls’ memories as one of their sweetest L.A. moments. They enjoyed going to Griffith Observatory, the Getty Villa, Universal Studios Hollywood and Santa Monica.

Then Adriano, an Italian transplant to L.A., happened. We met during a last-minute visit to go see Simon, my old friend and first agent, who lived near Montana Avenue in Santa Monica. As Simon was showing my daughters and me the neighborhood, he checked his phone and said, “Damn, I have to go back home. I forgot that my friend Adriano is stopping by.” We rushed back with my girls tagging along just as happily as always. (They are the best children a single mother could ever have.)

It was a Sunday, and I never thought I would fall in love on a Sunday. After all, my life isn’t a movie, but there he was, entering not only Simon’s house but also our lives. Adriano was wearing a Lakers cap backwards and he had a smile that immediately broke through the seven seals that had been guarding my heart for almost 10 years — since the father of my girls left us.

A week later, Adriano asked me out on a date. I happened to be visiting the Bay Area then, and he was in Palo Alto at the time. We went to a jazz club in Oakland, where music legend Pharoah Sanders was performing. When he played “My Favorite Things,” I leaned my head onto Adriano’s shoulder, and he kissed me. It became one of my very favorite things to do.

As Adriano and I got to know each other better, we discovered how much we had in common. It seemed that life had been playing hide-and-seek with us for many years. We realized that we lived in Paris in 1991 and went to the same small bank branch. Also, back in 1999 when I was represented by Simon, Adriano was working at the same talent agency. And we stayed in the same hotel during the 2008 Cannes Film Festival. How was it possible that we had never crossed paths?

Three weeks into dating, friends and strangers thought we were an old couple. We would host dinners together in Adriano’s condo in Santa Monica and we’d also take the girls to the California Science Center, movie nights, Little Tokyo, Manhattan Beach — everywhere as if we were a family. It was very surreal, but I also had to find a way to cope with the fact that it was completely real.

I started dreaming of moving to L.A., of working again in Hollywood, and of getting married to Adriano and living in Santa Monica. I even dreamed of having my daughters enrolled at SAMO — Santa Monica’s top-tier high school that goes by a nickname.

However, after three months in the U.S., it was time for my girls and me to go back to Brazil. I realized that Adriano and Los Angeles were just meant to be a holiday affair. As I took the 10 freeway one last time during this visit, Lana Del Rey sang my feelings on the radio. It was a summertime sadness.

That night, I sat down with my girls and talked about the possibility of moving to L.A., perhaps for a year, for a while or maybe forever. To my surprise, they got excited. I knew my daughters’ approval was all I needed to proceed. The rest would fall into place.

I have no idea how I made it all happen in six months: the visa, the work transition, the new school for the girls and being 6,000 miles away from everything they ever knew. However, in September 2014, we landed at Los Angeles International Airport with six suitcases and many dreams.

Adriano and I dated for five years. He proposed to me at the Santa Monica Palihouse, where he had rented a room and filled it with red roses and Champagne. He gave me the most perfect ring. When the girls started high school, we moved to a beautiful house in Santa Monica, walking distance from SAMO. It seemed that all my dreams had come true.

Maybe that’s why I never saw it coming. I was too happy to spot the red flags. Determined to make it work, no matter what. But one quiet morning, shortly after our engagement anniversary, I found a letter in the mail. I can still remember the sunlight dancing on my bedroom floor as I read it. Adriano had cheated on me — just like that.

It didn’t only break my heart, it shattered my soul. I broke it off that same day — not only the engagement but our family. He moved back to his condo, and I stayed in the house that was meant to hold dreams.

For a long time, I was afraid to go for a walk and cross paths with him. His ghost was everywhere, and the shadows of us haunted me. When the COVID-19 shutdown came, everything turned indoors, and I turned inward. That was when my heart locked up again, seal by seal.

I never bumped into Adriano again, but sometimes I smelled his scent in the air. Recently I learned he went back to Europe. However, I could never go back to Brazil. I realized that I’m still madly in love — not with him but with Los Angeles.

The author is a creative consultant and writer living in Marina del Rey. Her websites are and Find her on Instagram at @lauramalinauthor and on LinkedIn as laura-malin.

L.A. Affairs chronicles the search for romantic love in all its glorious expressions in the L.A. area, and we want to hear your true story. We pay $300 for a published essay. Email You can find submission guidelines here. You can find past columns here.

Oscars inaccessible? See the stars in L.A.

This Sunday, the 95th Academy Awards will be preceded by a champagne-colored version of the red carpet procession, where celebrities are ushered down the aisle by their publicists to show off their hair, makeup and designer looks for photographers and give their best sound bites to a row of entertainment reporters.

In Hollywood, the red carpet is often a professional and exclusive scene. But have you ever looked at the crowd of fans behind the barricades and wondered: How did they get there? How long did they wait? How did they get close enough to ask for the autograph or snap that photo?

Some Los Angeles locals like to pretend they’re too cool to get starstruck. And some of them really are. But there’s no shame in admitting that there are certain celebrities whom you would totally fangirl or fanboy over. Even Oscar nominee Ke Huy Quan has proved himself to be the master of the fan selfie.

And the Oscars are hardly the only chance to see them. Los Angeles is one of the easiest places to encounter celebrities because many people who work in the entertainment industry live here. You might see a familiar face at a coffee shop or go to a brunch and realize your sister’s roommate’s cousin is childhood friends with that guy on that TV show.

A coffee shop or dim sum restaurant, however, is probably not the appropriate place to scream, freak out, ugly cry and cause a scene. But there are plenty of premieres, TV tapings, awards shows, conventions and other Southern California events where a celebrity is there to be a celebrity. This includes showing appreciation to their fans, who are instrumental to their success as entertainers.

Michelle Ares, the creator of the website and podcast L.A. Dreaming, was born in Southern California but raised in Tennessee. When she moved back, she wondered if she could actually meet the actors she loved watching in film and on TV. She made it her mission to do the research and figure it out.

Early in her exploration, she won a contest to be one of the fans in the red carpet bleachers during the 2013 Oscars. There’s a lottery that opens up months before. That year, she heard that 20,000 entered and 700 were chosen.

The Oscars are still one of the more difficult events to get into as a fan, she said, adding, “I have no idea how I got so lucky.” Even though she didn’t get to meet any A-listers, it’s still the place where she saw the most stars in one place.

There are much easier awards shows to get into, she said. Soon after her Oscar lottery win, she applied to be a seat filler for the Emmys and the People’s Choice Awards.

Once Ares understood the process, she wanted to share the information with other fans. She wrote the e-book “The Ultimate Guide on How to Meet Celebrities in LA” and now hosts a private Facebook group where she often shares links on how to get tickets to red carpet premieres.

Here are some of the best tips she shared with The Times — as well as some words of caution from Basil Stephens, chief executive of the celebrity personal protection company Close Range International, on how to keep fan encounters safe.

Alexandra Shipp takes pictures with fans before the 2021 opening night premiere of Netflix’s “Tick, Tick… Boom” at TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.

(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Where to look for red carpet events

Sites like track these events and give out free tickets to many celebrity-rich environments, including premieres, music festivals and specialized fan experiences. It might be too late to get into the Oscars this year, but you could request tickets for the After Oscar Show with Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest live at the Dolby Theatre, where the Oscars ceremony has taken place since 2001, or E!’s Oscars brunch with Laverne Cox and other celebrity guests.

It’d also be wise to join specific fan groups like D23, Disney’s official fan club, that often have the inside scoop, Ares said. There are clubs for fans of Star Trek, Marvel, K-pop and more — and companies will often offer tickets exclusively to those groups.

But one of the lesser-known ways to get tickets to premieres is through local radio stations, Ares said. “You don’t even need to call in,” she said. “Normally they have forums where you can enter to win tickets to the premieres.”

What to do when you get there

Show up early.

This is especially true for red-carpet premieres, Ares said, where you often aren’t guaranteed a seat, even if you have a ticket. Red-carpet-hopping hobbyists know that if the instructions say the premiere starts at 7 p.m. and the doors open at 5:30 p.m., it’s best to show up around 2 p.m., she said.

As a younger adult, she used to have more free time, but now she has to pick and choose which ones are worth her while. To help pass the waiting time, which often stretches to four or five hours, Ares recommends making it a group activity.

But these fan zones are also a good opportunity to meet like-minded fans. Over the years, Ares met fellow celebrity enthusiasts who now share tips when they hear of future celebrity sighting events. “There’s always so much going on in L.A., it’s impossible to try to keep tabs on everything,” she said.

How it works

There are different rules for different events. For awards shows, the fans are usually kept separated from the celebrities, Stephens said. Even if you are a seat-filler, Ares said, you’re told not to talk to the celebrities unless they talk to you.

But tickets to red carpets of movie premieres often allow you to watch the films with the stars, so once fans are ushered inside the theater, they’re often trying to figure out where and when to strategically loiter, Ares said.

She usually hangs out near the restroom or waits until the film is just about to start to go to the lobby and pretend to refill her popcorn. She’ll also try to catch celebrities when they sneak out in the last few minutes of the movie or right as the movie ends.

But you want to be careful about that, she said, because there’s often security threatening to kick fans out if they don’t follow directions.

And for good reason. Stephens’ team of private investigators often deals with threats, stalkers and restraining orders. “A good security person’s job is to spot the people who are just lurking, waiting to get near your client,” he said.

So while many celebrities may be happy to interact with fans, Stephens said, when you go up to them, don’t touch them. “If you surround them, then that’s a big problem,” he added.

And if the security guards tell you, “Not right now, sorry,” listen. It’s their job to be the buffer between celebrities and those who may make them feel uncomfortable.

More low-key ways to meet celebrities

Ares recommends following local movie theaters and cultural organizations like American Cinematheque on social media. There are a lot of film screenings in Los Angeles where actors will come do Q&As with the audience.

Film festivals are also a great way to find celebrities. One year, Ares said, she bought a ticket to see a shorts program at a local film festival, which got her access into the after-party. She said that often celebrities at film festivals are trying to get the word out about their independent project, so they’re more generous about their time and more willing to engage with fans in those settings.

When Ares first started researching ways to meet celebrities in L.A., she had a list of people she wanted to meet. Though it’s been 10 years since Ares started chasing stars, she said she still gets the same thrill every time she goes to these Hollywood events.

There’s only one star on her initial wishlist that she hasn’t yet crossed off: Leonardo DiCaprio.

“We’ve been in the same room twice, and we’ve made eye contact once, so I’m getting close,” she said.

Ventura County’s picturesque 17-mile railbike track is officially open.

I never learned how to ride a bike.

Sure, I went through the motions of trying when I was 7 or 8 years old, but the skill never stuck. I suppose the balance needed to steer and maneuver a contraption with two wheels has always evaded me.

But you don’t need balance (or really any skills beyond sitting and wearing a helmet) to take a spin on the Sunburst’s new 17-mile railbike route, which launched this month. Thursday through Sunday, riders can now book two-seat railbikes to explore the citrus and avocado groves on train tracks that run through the Santa Clara River Valley.

Gia King and Meg Howes prepare for the tour on a Sunburst railbike.

(Yuri Hasegawa / For The Times)

It costs $249 to book a two-seater bike for a three-and-a-half-hour ride, but local residents of Santa Paula, Fillmore and Piru are offered a discounted rate of $186. In Northern California, Mendocino Railway’s steep pricing was criticized back in 2020, when companies increased River Fox Train and Skunk Train tickets by nearly 500% to $250. But the worth of a railbike experience, I suppose, is in the eye of the beholder.

Searching for citrus in Santa Paula

To avoid rush hour traffic, I decided to book the Saturday afternoon ride for my partner and me. The Santa Clara River Valley is about 60 miles outside of Los Angeles, so we left the house before 11 a.m. and got back to L.A. around dusk.

The drive north is scenic, especially with all the greenery from this winter’s heavy rain. Once we arrived in Fillmore, we also spotted the only JambaWingstop combo shop I have ever seen.

Tour attendees prepare to depart from Santa Paula Station.

(Yuri Hasegawa / For The Times)

On the tracks of the train depot, we spotted seven go-kart-like apparatuses with big red wheels. Each railbike had two seatbelts, two bright green helmets and one shallow basket that could hold small bags and snacks throughout the ride.

Bike-adjacent inventions that roll atop train tracks have been known by many different names — handcar, draisine, kalamazoo and velocipede are just a few — since they first cropped up around the 1860s. And though these devices were originally made for railroad maintenance, different companies have found ways to turn railbikes into fun, outdoor adventures for train lovers.

Robert Jason Pinoli, the president and CEO of Mendocino Railway, said the company’s electric railbikes — which function similarly to electric bikes — are currently patent pending. (Mendocino Railway operates the Sunburst and its railbikes.)

“We didn’t invent the railbike,” he said. “What we did invent, though, was the technology to propel these rail bikes beyond pedal power, the electric assist.”

Mendocino Railway CEO Robert Jason Pinoli pedals a railbike along the tracks.

(Yuri Hasegawa / For The Times)

The brake system of the Sunburst railbike is operated by hand.

(Yuri Hasegawa / For The Times)

As we settled into our seats, the guides explained how to use the bike’s handbrake, five gears and thumb throttle, which allows you to move without pedaling. The person on the right side of each bike is in charge of setting the bike’s pace and keeping a safe distance from the railbike just ahead of them, since the bikes move as one unit with a guide in the front and a guide at the back of the group.

“If you want to make the pedaling effortless, you can do it,” Pinoli said. “If you want to pedal away, you can turn it down to zero and pedal your heart out.”

As we buckled up and set out on our journey, we immediately encountered our first intersection. Pinoli shared that the guides are able to input a code that activates railroad crossing warning gates before the bikes approach each road. The tracks for the Sunburst’s route cross several active roads including CA-126, which made our line of railbikes quite the spectacle for drivers as they waited for our gates to retract.

The railbike route runs across some active roads.

(Yuri Hasegawa / For The Times)

17 miles in the great outdoors, no effort required

There are around 140,000 miles of train tracks in the United States alone — enough track to loop the circumference of Earth more than five times. Most of them are used for utilitarian purposes such as transporting coal, lumber or rocks, but some have been restored and repurposed for entertainment and enjoyment.

In this case, Mendocino Railway proposed a plan to restore the Santa Paula Branch Line, a 32-mile railway corridor that was built in 1887 and is now owned by the Ventura County Transportation Commission.

“This line was originally built by the Southern Pacific Railroad to transport citrus out of the area,” Pinoli said. “We took over operation of the line in 2022, did a bunch of infrastructure work to the railroad, and we are now at the phase where we can actually start running railbikes over it.”

Oranges from Prancer’s Farm, the first stop on the excursion.

(Yuri Hasegawa / For The Times)

The view of citrus trees along the Sunburst railbike route.

(Yuri Hasegawa / For The Times)

Mendocino Railway’s other tourism trains and railbikes include the popular Skunk Train in Fort Bragg and the monthly Boba Tea Train on the River Fox Line in West Sacramento. Eventually, Pinoli said, this Sunburst Train route will include “excursion-based passenger trains” that center around food and beverages local to Ventura County.

“We’re surrounded by lemons, by oranges, and [want] to embrace the produce that’s in this area and incorporate that into the train,” Pinoli said. “So it wouldn’t be a stretch to see maybe orange- or lemon-flavored citrus drinks, like if you want a margarita on the train we can squeeze the fruit for you fresh. Maybe chips and guacamole.”

As we pedaled our way out of Santa Paula, the homes and Del Tacos began to disappear. After about 15 minutes we arrived at Prancer’s Farm, where we had just enough time to browse either the farm store or the petting zoo.

Reanna Cruz surrounded by gang of goats at Prancer’s Farm.

(Yuri Hasegawa / For The Times)

We chose petting goats and pigs over fresh strawberries, growing especially attached to a tiny goat my partner named Denzel (because Denzel Washington is also, famously, the G.O.A.T.).

Once we left Prancer’s, the views were especially beautiful. Suddenly the landscape was split into four layers: grass, citrus trees, mountains and an enticingly cloud-speckled sky. From afar, we even got a glimpse of some large patches of bright orange flowers.

Throughout the ride we passed over small bridges, modest waterfalls and a few bumpy spots. Most of the ride, our bike was set to the third gear, which brought us to about the speed limit with little to no peddling.

Avocado groves along the tracks of the Sunburst railbike route.

(Yuri Hasegawa / For The Times)

Julia Carmel and Reanna Cruz, with the wind in their hair, make their way over a small bridge.

(Yuri Hasegawa / For The Times)

“We are restricted to a speed of 15 miles per hour on this line,” Pinoli said. “But these bikes can go anywhere from 25 to 30 miles an hour.”

Tourism railbikes, similar to the ones that Mendocino Railway runs, seemed to find their stride in 2020, as COVID-19 restrictions forced many people outdoors.

“It gives people the ability to get outside and reconnect with friends,” Pinoli said. “During the throes of COVID, we couldn’t build these fast enough. They were in such huge demand.”

Take me home, country (rail)roads

The appeal of riding on a railbike is similar to driving a convertible — you get to feel the wind and sun on your face — but traveling on a train track also means that nobody has to steer. And you don’t have to be a train enthusiast or an avid biker to enjoy the experience.

When we arrived at the turnaround point, where we were supposed to stop and have a picnic lunch, it became clear that the route hadn’t totally been finished.

Gia King and Meg Howes pass by a train while touring Ventura County on a Sunburst railbike.

(Yuri Hasegawa / For The Times)

“Our picnic stop is abbreviated because there’s a bridge to the east that [was] washed out with the big storms in January, so we can’t cross over the river to get into Fillmore,” Pinoli said.

Once the storm damage is repaired, Pinoli said they’re hoping to pair with local vendors who could provide food at that halfway point. But because the picnics weren’t set up yet, I packed sandwiches (from a personal Culver City favorite, Monroe Place) that we ate on the ride back.

Pinoli added that they’re hoping to expand railbike tours beyond four days a week and eventually start running food-and-beverage-centered passenger trains along with the railbikes and freight.

Writer Julia Carmel and their partner Reanna Cruz on a Sunburst railbike.

(Yuri Hasegawa / For The Times)

The electric-assist controller on one of the Sunburst’s railbikes.

(Yuri Hasegawa / For The Times)

By the time we got back to Santa Paula, I was chilly enough that I was looking forward to getting back into my car. And even though I did minimal pedaling, I felt a sense of accomplishment when I returned my helmet to the seat.

Generally, I’m not particularly inclined to shell out more than $200 for an afternoon of biking, but I can understand the appeal for train lovers and people who enjoy marveling at the natural Southern California landscapes.

“Not to be cheesy, but I low-key get what they were talking about in ‘America the Beautiful,’” my partner said as we gazed at the mountains. I let them revel in that feeling for a minute before informing them that ‘America the Beautiful’ was actually inspired by Pikes Peak in Colorado.

Robert Jason Pinoli, the president and CEO of Mendocino Railway, hopes to expand railbike tours beyond four days a week.

(Yuri Hasegawa / For The Times)

She humorously exposes Latina mental health with Xanax earrings.

“I felt anxious before I came here today,” Rosa Valdes said as she arranged her Educated Chola T-shirts, totes and mugs inside the Cafe Girasol coffee shop in Boyle Heights. “Just because I take anti-anxiety medication, it doesn’t mean it’s gone.”

While friend and colleague Beth Guerra, a brand strategist she met at the Los Angeles Economic Equity Accelerator & Fellowship program at Cal State L.A., offers support and helps soothe her nerves for a photo shoot, Valdes takes a deep breath and forges ahead.

Valdes is used to living with anxiety. In 2018, the 33-year-old entrepreneur was diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder that left her with insomnia, little appetite and migraine headaches.

“When it’s bad, I ruminate in my thoughts more and I develop depression,” she said. “I don’t think non-neurodivergent people understand how much one has to fight with their own brain when they have a mental health condition.”

Today, she is funneling that energy into her own line of T-shirts, tote bags, stickers and jewelry, which range in price from $3 to $40 and are designed to inspire other Latinos to become more comfortable with talking about their mental health.

Educated Chola stickers are designed to destigmatize mental health issues, especially in the Latino community.

(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

“It’s looked down upon to talk about mental health in my culture,” Valdes said as she folded T-shirts bearing the slogans “Tengo Muchos Feelings” and “Respira Profundo” (Take a Deep Breath). “The whole point of my business is to create awareness about mental health. There’s no shame in taking medication, although it has a huge stigma in communities of color.”

Guerra said she has experienced the same issues as Valdes, whose parents immigrated from Tijuana. “Our backgrounds are very different,” Guerra said of her friend. “I am a fourth generation Latina while Rosa is first generation, and yet it’s very much the same in both our worlds. Mental health is not something we talk about. Going to see a psychologist or a psychiatrist is a very big deal.”

Despite surrounding herself with friends such as Guerra, Valdes knows that it’s easy to feel alone, especially as a woman of color who has been taught to internalize her feelings. “While the new age of Latinos may be more open about their mental health, there are still many who don’t want their families to know they are struggling or even getting help,” she said.

Valdes’ assertion is backed up by a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that found that Latinos do not seek out therapy at the same rates as other racial or ethnic groups.

Educated Chola mugs.

(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Such feelings are what prompted Valdes to try to normalize mental health struggles by interlacing her products with humor. “I try to be as funny as I can,” Valdes said, “because if I’m feeling down and can bring some laughter to my day or to someone else, I feel like I’ve accomplished something.”

At the Unique L.A. makers event in downtown Los Angeles last year, Valdes elicited laughter among customers as she shared stickers printed with humorous slogans such as “Always Tired” and “Amygdala ¡Callate!” alongside serotonin-molecule bracelets and colorful pill-shaped earrings representing lithium, Cymbalta, Xanax and Prozac.

“I think it is a fun but subtle way of breaking the mental health stigma of taking medication,” Valdes said of the earrings. “I always love explaining them to people and am happy to do so if it helps.”

Valdes was born in Boyle Heights and grew up in southeast Los Angeles. After her father died when she was 5, she and her two sisters were raised by her mother, who encouraged Valdes to “take a breath” when times were hard. “It works,” she said with a smile.

Valdes’ crusade to get people talking about mental health is based on her experience with life-long anxiety.

“I clearly remember being depressed at one point but not knowing what it was,” she said of her youth. “In regards to anxiety, I have always been very ambitious and a perfectionist, to the point where it would just exhaust me. So I was always trying to get the best grades since I was in third grade because I felt that if I didn’t get into the honor roll, in honors or AP classes, that I wouldn’t get into college. Now we know that is not exactly true, but that’s something you do with anxiety: You catastrophize and assume the worst. I did everything I could to potentially prevent failure.”

Rosa Valdes sells her Educated Chola products at Cafe Girasol in Boyle Heights.

(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

While attending graduate school at New York University, where she received a master’s degree in public administration, Valdes felt like she didn’t measure up to the other students. “I think myself and other students of color have impostor syndrome,” she explained, “but we are so good at hiding it, or acting like we know what we’re doing, that it usually just gets suppressed so that we can continue to move forward.”

After graduating from NYU, she took a job working for a nonprofit, where she found it difficult to advance. “I learned that nonprofits are not a healthy place for people of color,” she said. “I had my master’s degree, and yet I got a job at the same rate of pay as before. Many institutions aren’t built for people of color to succeed.” Also, the job did not help her mental health. “I already have impostor syndrome,” Valdes said quietly. “It exacerbated that.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, Valdes decided to fulfill a lifelong dream of owning her own business. Using her savings and continuing to work full-time as a leasing agent, she started Educated Chola, inspired by the things she felt deeply about. “‘Always Tired’ came from the fact that my brain is always going,” she said. “With anxiety, it’s constant. You’re thinking and worrying all the time. You have to interrupt yourself, which is probably why I’m always tired. If I can catch it, then I don’t spiral and worry about things that I don’t need to worry about.”

Inspired by her transparency and vulnerability, Valdes’ TikTok and Instagram accounts are often jammed with direct messages from followers who want to try therapy and are curious about her experience.

“When we go to events or pop-ups, people will see the pill earrings and open up and talk about their mental health with Rosa,” Guerra said. “It’s awesome to watch her breaking stigmas in real time.”

Although Valdes stresses that she is not a medical professional, she is comfortable talking about her own mental health experience in the hopes that it will generate conversations at home.

“I always tell people that regardless of what your family or culture says, do what’s best for you,” she said. “It’s your mental health. Find what works for you and know that it’s OK to be scared when seeking professional mental health [help]. That fear and shame is the exact reason why I created this business.”

Prescription-pill-shaped earrings represent lithium, Cymbalta, Xanax and Prozac.

(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

A gold dopamine necklace designed to destigmatize mental health issues.

(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Asked what advice she would give to other Latinos who are grappling with anxiety and depression, Valdes suggested testing out the waters with family first. “See what their feelings are about mental health, as well as how supportive they would be if you shared your struggles,” she said. “If they seem supportive, then wonderful. If not, don’t let that hinder your pursuit of taking care of your mental health.

“As a part of our culture, we tend to feel like we have to share everything with everyone, in particular our families, but we are allowed to keep things for ourselves,” she continued. “And in this case, you are the most important one to take care of first. You can’t do anything to help anyone else if you don’t make yourself a priority.”

An Educated Chola tote bag.

(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Having lots of feelings is hard and exhausting, she said. “I have a full-time job and I’m constantly trying to create new ideas. I pour everything into my days off. Eventually, it builds up, and by the time I realize my anxiety is off the charts, I realize I should have called my psychiatrist before I end up in a ball crying. That kick-starts me to reset. This year, I’m telling myself to do less and not feel bad about it.”

As she looks ahead, Valdes hopes to turn Educated Chola into a full-service brand. “I’d like to create a database of resources to help people navigate mental health depending on their insurance or lack of insurance,” she said. “I’ve been on Medicaid before, and it’s very hard to navigate and find mental health services. They make it sound super easy. It’s not.”

At some point, she’d like to have her own self-care events or a conference where she can offer group therapy to anyone who would like to participate.

In the meantime, she will continue to sell her products at Molcajete Tienda in Montebello, Cafe Girasol in Boyle Heights, online and at various pop-up events, such as LatinaFest on March 19.

Rosa Valdes takes a breath while wearing her Xanax earrings.

(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Being vulnerable comes with risks, but the reactions she has received about her products have been worthwhile.

“I’ve had people come up to me and thank me for being so open about my mental health issues,” Valdes said. “People will send me hugs or good vibes on my social media accounts, and I’ll take all the good vibes. But I tell them, ‘Do it for someone in your life. Do it for yourself.’”

L.A. My divorce isn’t contagious. Why am I being mistreated?

My best friend’s birthday party at Don Cuco in Burbank seemed like a safe place to make my debut as a divorcée. After all, I was friendly with her friends and knew their husbands and their kids. These were my people — no one was from my ex’s camp. After 13 years of marriage, I was expecting sympathy, empathy and kindness from this group of married people who no doubt knew, or at least could imagine, how hard this all must have been for me.

They knew me as a married person, and I expected them to see me the same way sans wedding ring. But waves of expectations in Los Angeles often leave a cold foamy sting on the skin in their wake. 

To help me get through the evening, I ordered the biggest margarita on the menu while the other women sat in a row across from me and their husbands congregated at the end of the table. To my right, Rachel, a longtime friend of the birthday girl, sat next to her husband, Brad. Amid the chatter at the long wobbly table, with bowls of chips and salsa being placed between couples and kids getting settled into nearby booths, she turned to me and said, “I heard about the divorce. Are you all right?”

I smiled and assured her I was. The hardest thing to explain was that my ex was always a good guy and a great dad. However, we agreed it wasn’t working for us as a romantic relationship anymore. My ex and I felt that was what a marriage should be first, and like most marriages that end, ours began to dissolve long before we said it was over.

For the first time in more than a decade, I was on my own — a prospect that thrilled and terrified me. The pressure to succeed, emotionally and professionally, was palpable.

As the dinner conversation ventured into the ”what’s life like now” part, more of the wives started leaning in my direction, fists tucked under chins as they eagerly awaited the details of first dates and new furniture purchases — the enthusiasm I had for my new beginning. The mere idea of a different kind of life triggered something in Rachel’s husband. Campy and awkward, he put his arm around Rachel and said, “Uh. Maybe you should come sit on the other side of me, babe.” They laughed stiffly, and I couldn’t help but say, “Divorce isn’t contagious, Braaaaaad,” stretching out his name to match the depth of my annoyance.

Despite this odd moment, I sang for my supper. I offered juicy tidbits of a life after divorce, the unexpected freedom of shared custody and the hopelessly romantic notion of possibility. Wide-eyed and full of girlish giggles, the wives nodded along and peppered me with questions — some silly (“What did you wear on your date?”) and others not so silly (“After all those years, is this really what you thought was best?”).

New beginnings come with stumbles, mistakes and regret, and I had to process all of those, which I didn’t hide. The overall sense I got from the wives was that I was the living, breathing, dating embodiment of a fantasy all of them entertained from time to time: starting over.

Los Angeles has a reputation for being the land of fickle relationships. From the near-constant stream of celebrity breakups to the abysmal dating-app experiences, it isn’t exactly the first place you think of when the words ”happily ever after” drift across your mind. However, according to an analysis by the women’s health and empowerment website, which features data from the American Assn. for Marriage and Family Therapy and the 2020 United States Census, Los Angeles has the fourth-lowest divorce rate out of 20 major cities in the U.S. That’s compared to Denver and Jacksonville, Fla., which are among the highest.

Surprised? Me too. The stereotype perpetuated in the news media is that divorce is as ubiquitous in L.A. as the Erewhon Skin Glaze smoothie. But statistically, more Angelenos seem to be getting married and staying that way.

What surprised me even more was the way married men acted around me.  I was prepared for what we’ve seen onscreen — wives carefully maneuvering the cliché divorcée away from their husbands — but the opposite was true. I noticed that men kept at a distance, were tense and side-eyed me around their wives, wary of the wild, divorced one in their midst. The wives would toss their heads back in laughter as I told the story of how I held a stack of napkins to my bloody knee after falling as I rushed to a first date. I winced in pain as my date ignored me, held out his iPhone and insisted I watch his unfinished movie trailer. Then I paid for both our drinks.

Getting a divorce today is something common, boring even, I thought. Apparently marriage seems to be trending again, and L.A. is nothing if not trendy. Although I felt I was coming from a position of strength, it seemed I was actually in a deficit. 

At the restaurant, the men were threatened instead of sympathetic. When I was part of a couple, they had me figured out. Now that I was single again, I was a rogue agent capable of anything. And from what I could tell, their worst fear was that I would infect their wives with the idea that there could be something else out there other than them.

Maybe there was, but according to the data, it seems that fewer of them would find out. For now, my road to happily ever after might be a long, strange one. At least I’m brave enough to explore it.

The author is a writer living in Los Angeles. She recently completed her first novel and also contributes to Southern California News Group. She received her MFA from UCR Palm Desert. Find her on Twitter and Instagram: @hodamallone

L.A. Affairs chronicles the search for romantic love in all its glorious expressions in the L.A. area, and we want to hear your true story. We pay $300 for a published essay. Email You can find submission guidelines here. You can find past columns here.

Gigi Hadid calls herself a “nepotism baby” and “not the prettiest”


Gigi Hadid, the supermodel who once dodged cameras while her mom, Yolanda Hadid, famously feuded with Lisa Rinna on “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” admitted that she too is a nepo baby.

“Technically I’m a nepotism baby,” Hadid told the London Times in an interview published Sunday. “My parents came from very little.”

The daughter of Yolanda Hadid, the former Dutch model who spent 15 years modeling in Paris, Milan, New York and Los Angeles and then starred in “RHOBH” from 2012 to 2016, Gigi is now one of the highest paid supermodels in the world, alongside her sister Bella Hadid.

She has graced the covers of every top fashion magazine and strutted the catwalk for dozens of luxury labels including Tom Ford, Prada and Chanel.

Her father is Palestinian-born real estate developer Mohamed Hadid — the man behind the Beverly Hills compound that was listed in 2021 for $250 million, Los Angeles County’s most expensive residential property to ever hit the market.

“I’ve always acknowledged that I come from privilege,” Hadid added. “I don’t think I’m the prettiest person in the world. … Some Botox could probably help but I’m not so obsessed.”

“My parents told me, ‘Just because you have parents who were successful, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t walk into the job being as nice and as hard-working as you can be,’” Hadid added.

The term “nepo baby” went viral late last year after a New York Magazine cover story, “The Year of the Nepo Baby,” hit newsstands alongside “An All but Definitive Guide to the Hollywood Nepo-Verse,” which mapped out the stars in the entertainment industry who are the children of established Hollywood heavy hitters.

The list included up-and-comer Jackson White, who starred in Hulu’s “Tell Me Lies” alongside his mother, Katey Sagal; Lily-Rose Depp, the daughter of Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis, who has publicly objected to the term “nepo baby” on multiple occasions; and Maya Hawke, who starred in “Stranger Things” and is the daughter of Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman.

Hadid recently launched her first company, a luxury cashmere brand called Guest in Residence, which sells pink cashmere “shrunken polos” for $195 and matching pants for $415. She’s set to take over for Alexa Chung in a TV presenting role on Netflix’s fashion competition “Next in Fashion.”