How to Be a Dad

How to Be a Dad

Don’t Make Me Raise My Son Here…

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Growing up in Los Angeles L.A. California

I just finished shooting a film with my good friend and fellow filmmaker, Noah Harald. If you didn’t know previously, I’m a professional actor in the spare moments when I am not writing/bleeding/eye-gouging for “HowToBeADad”. Noah and I have known each other since our teenage years in Northern California. If you had the good sense to click on his website above, you’d find me strewn all over his films and commercials. He’s quite the glimmering talent, if undiscovered only for lack of proper opportunity given him.

Charlie Capen in Playstation Move Kills MiiDon’t bother talking to me when I have writer’s block or a giant Wii Creature following me through a desert. Same thing. Click the image to grow taller!

As is customary, at the end of my acting projects there is a moment of groin-punching reflection about my footrace against time and toward my goals in life. Am I making it somewhere? Did I do well? Am I having fun? This film was no different.

I have a very distinct love/hate relationship with LA. I know lots of people hate on the city with a vitriol reserved for Ponzi scheme architects and clowns. To be honest, I can’t blame them half the time. This town has become a tool for me. I never thought I’d end up here. I don’t like the smog. The culture is subpar in many ways and it really isn’t a metropolis or a suburb. There’s no mass transit that makes any sense and it feels like a competition the second you step out your door or into a room. Don’t get me started on the celebrity culture. I’ve lived here going on 11 years this August. Eleven years. Why? To chase a dream…

Los Angeles CrumblesHollywood: Where Los Angeles and Libya meet! Anyone have a dustpan?

My father’s mantra was Joseph Campbell’s, “Follow your bliss.” I’d say he followed it to a fault. He encouraged me to do so as well and when I hit 19 years old I drove to LA, lied on my resumé, got a job and started studying acting. I dove into the dream headlong. Naive and set ablaze with passion for film, I worked my ass off. In that time, I came to realize Los Angeles is what you make of it. There are a million million cultural and artistic communities. There are as many different styles of living. Compared to Los Angeles, San Francisco looks like a Podunk hamlet in terms of the number of opportunities for actors. It’s a town where people end up, get stuck, sit waiting, loudly make phone calls, try to find sustenance — it’s basically an artistic airport. It’s a crossroads, but not a destination.

But I can’t shake the feeling that my son shouldn’t be raised here. He doesn’t belong here.

I could talk about my childhood in San Francisco ad nauseum. But I’m not going to. I used to say the Bay Area “just feels like home”. But I grew up a bit more and realized, as I added fixtures to my family dynamic, that “home” is wherever the family I’ve created resides. But does my family have to live somewhere because my dream is most important?

Finn and Mom on Finn's 1st BirthdayHow could I be a self-centered a-hole with these two snuggling all the time around me?

I think I might have fancies of having a vagabond family. We’d love to live in Barcelona eating paella all day and taking siestas like narcoleptics. My wife’s hometown of Washington, DC was pretty great (Georgetown too) — but those winters. Yikes. Maybe we could revisit the goat farm I lived on as a kid on an island in Greece. Returning to San Francisco would be like a nice hug from an old friend, but there’s also that feeling of returning to where you grew up, feeling like you’ve failed somehow. What’s the best city to raise a child in? Anyone?

But none of that will happen, at least for the moment. For one, we could never move away from family and friends that easily. Second, uprooting ourselves would open up Pandora’s Box of job issues and creative fulfillment struggles. Maybe my desire to move is yet again just another whim of my own that fails to take into account any of my family’s needs. And here I am again, being a lazy and self-centered monologist.

I guess I figured I’d be farther along by now in my career and as a person. I try not to compare myself to colleagues in my field. Easier said than done. But if I could put all that away for a second and look at my son, what he needs… He needs space to breathe… that isn’t filled with particulate matter. He needs room to play… that isn’t being videotaped by four competing reality TV crews simultaneously. He needs to be raised somewhere where the image of something isn’t more important than its substance or character.

Whew. Got deep for a second. Sorry about that. But, you have to know, I think there’s hope for us yet…

YOU.

You could tell every single one of your friends about our site and then I could live anywhere I pleased. Problem solved right? Right? Please solve my problems and make my family happier: USE THE SHARING TOOLBAR BELOW!

62 Comments

62 Responses to “Don’t Make Me Raise My Son Here…”

  1. Dawn says:

    I have had long conversations with my mother about LA, because she has dreams of moving there, feeling it is ‘the place to be,’ assuming that there is always something interesting going on and interesting people to meet. My impression of LA (actually, my preconception, since I have never lived there) is that the majority of people living and trying their hardest to ‘make it’ there, must feel like a small fish in a big pond. Surrounded by thousands of other small fish. And I can’t imagine that feeling good or being particularly motivating.

    But still, I can understand why you are there. It’s that feeling that you might be right on the edge of a big break, since you’re in the middle of the place that is famous for big breaks. Knowing other people who are now stars. Feeling like the next party, casting, or scout at a coffee shop could be the beginning of a fabulous life of stardom and awesome movie roles. The question becomes, at what point do you set different goals, maybe more creative goals…goals that may not be as obvious as becoming a movie star, but that allow more room for other aspects of your life to be addressed and fulfilled. Like fresh air and a childhood in nature for Finn.

    Obviously I can absolutely relate to your trepidations about raising your little boy in LA. I think most parents want to give their kids a big garden, a little schoolhouse down the road, summers romping around the fields and winters building snowmen in the backyard.

    I wonder if there is something you would love to do, in a place you would love to live…..

    I’m hoping you’re going to find out some time soon! :)

    • charlie says:

      To be fair, I probably whitewash my opinion of LA too heavily with the negative. There are some really fantastic aspects of it. But the housing prices are insane and having grown up in both a city and then a woodsy locale, I miss the option of space and greenery and

      I’m versed in doing many things. Acting has been the most challenging and rewarding. I have many other hobbies and loves. But at a certain point, I know there’s an experience I’d love for my son to have, growing up.

      The other side of the coin is: this type of culture is prevalent throughout the US. There is a need to fit in, to adhere to the commercial standards set by our pop culture. That isn’t going away and I can’t erase it by moving somewhere else, necessarily.

      This post was just a bit of my inner monologue. Weighing the options. I didn’t move here to become famous. I moved here to create a life as an artist that could sustain me, to build a career so I could make a living. The famous part honestly baffles and scares me.

      • Dawn says:

        I know how you feel; as someone who has uprooted from my home country and continent, it took a lot of ‘option weighing’ to finally decide to stay in Europe. And now we talk sometimes about eventually moving to America. Like you, my husband would have to settle us in a place that offers as good of an opportunity to thrive financially and artistically as he has here, which might be hard.

        People have been breaking off, pursuing the dream of something better for themselves and their families, for hundreds of years. I guess we’re no different.

        For what it’s worth, I am 100% sure that Finn’s happiness depends much more on you and Avara’s awesome-ness than on location.

        xo

        • charlie says:

          Yep. It’s the balancing act of abundance and groundedness, right? I just made up a word.

          Our society has become much more reflective than previous generations. Maybe we have too much opportunity and we take that time to ponder too much about our choices. But that’s a whole ‘nuther deal.

          And I appreciate your last sentence. Could say the same for the little man on his way for you, preggo! When’s the due date?

  2. Natalee says:

    I came over to your Blog because I follow Tanis from Redneck Woman. I stayed because you guys are super awesome and I have since read every single post…seriously…anyways, I told the husband who has since added you to his RSS feed. Now you have two more people and I will continue to wax poetic about your site to anyone who will listen.

  3. Initially, I thought hollywood was a bunch of under-qualified people running around snorting coke, having orgies, and “acting” in movies. I started in the mailroom of a talent agency in 1999 along with a guy from medical school and another with an MBA. It was interesting. Soon thereafter I became a talent agent, and while my initial assessment was not wholly wrong, I did find out how hard it is for actors and writers to actually succeed in the business. Some people work 16 hours a day for 10 years and still don’t make it. I have alot of respect for actors and writers. It’s a hard job, and it only gets harder when you succeed because people expect more and they quickly adopt the mantra “what has he done lately?”

    There were times I hated it and times I absolutely loved it. In the end, I was in the business for 10 years, only leaving a few years ago to pursue my own business venture. Even though we go back every few months to hang with friends, I still ask myself why we ever left LA. Sun at 6 am, and still shining at 7pm. A friend of mine used to say living in LA is like living in a perpetual state of June. I love that.

    You certainly don’t need my advice, but hold your head up. You’ve already done more than most actors, and if it does end there for you, you should be proud you accomplished what you did.

    • charlie says:

      Dude, as someone who knows how this town works, I appreciate the commentary. The cliches and the realities are simultaneous here. It’s a funny thing that people anticipate “Entourage” and get something different, but then those things do happen (usually by people who believe the hype and therefore create those experiences).

      Such a true statement on ‘perpetual June’. The seasons here are so whacked. That’s why the studios love it.

      But thank you most of all for your last paragraph. You so profoundly hit the nail on the effing head.

      • Amen to that.

        Speaking of hype and spin, down in the beach towns we used the word “haze” instead of “Smog.” smog is an accurate term, but way too negative.

        Like to our out of town friends, “Oh, that’s just the haze. It will burn off by noon.” But it never really seems to go away, does it?

  4. Kristina says:

    Charlie,

    Dude bro. We feel you!!! Completely and utterly. Hence, the reason we moved to Austin. RC changed his career plan (by opening a music agency, instead of struggling as just another composer in a sea of composers!!) and I took a “break” from fashion to be a mama. Moving here to raise our daughter felt like this selfless act. One that I truly don’t regret on so many levels. She’s been raised on a farm, loved by direct family (which sadly we didn’t have in LA, yet we had friends…I’ll come back to that). Her days are filled with splash parks, hikes, pool trips, kayaking and train rides. This city is hands down, a friendly kid city. A family oriented one. One that makes me happy we did the move. RC has a budding and starting to be a successful music agency, I work part-time in the best boutique here and Piper is still happy as a clam. So, if you ever were to uproot, I couldn’t recommend it enough. HOWEVER, there’s always a B-U-T I would say in any situation and…here it is.

    Sometimes at the end of the day we both chat about how we don’t get to share our lives with our friends. Those happy moments. Our home. Holidays. Weekends off. Now that friends like you and too many to name…are having kids or are already onto their second child. It seems like another part of the whole is somehow missing. Playdates, “cousins”, friends that she should be sharing all of this…somehow not part of the equation. So, we’ve gone back and forth. Weighed, the pros and cons. And here they are, maybe it will help you out:

    PROS –
    Cost of living: Homes, Food, Gas, etc drastically lower
    Environment, real parks, real trails, real NATURE
    Lakes, lots of boating, kayaking, etc without it being a huge production, i.e. taking 3 hours to drive to the beach and back. Instead, it’s one exit away.
    Kid friendly activities, every day, almost anywhere, lots of young families.
    Biking, it’s a bike anywhere and everywhere type of city
    Business/career: With this being one of the #3 cities in the country to open new businesses, anything is possible and you don’t get lost in the sea of everyone doing the same thing. Best part is, everyone is trying to help each other. Seriously, I didn’t think that could exist, but it does here.
    Manners/Kindness, you actually see it practiced, effortlessly – every day.

    CONS:
    Making new friends from scratch
    Missing out on all of our friends lives, their children’s, it somehow feels so wrong and at the end of the day. This may seem like it’s such a small CON, but honestly – it weighs heavy in comparison.

    So, we came to some conclusions:

    1) We’re coming to LA either every few months and/or time sharing during the Summer for a place near the beach. We just can’t cold turkey LA yet. While this is costly, it can be done if we sublet our place, etc. And that is something we’ve decided we just must do. :)

    2) Travel, abroad or a road trip, once a year. Save up and DO IT. The reason this becomes possible is when you’re paying 1/2 the rent you would in LA…and not spending $50 eating out for two, but rather $15…well, that money goes into savings. And that savings turns into travel.

    We’re giving this plan a few years. We hope it proves to provide a WHOLE feeling in our lives. Financial success, accomplishing our dreams, raising our kid well, etc. So we’ll keep you posted.

    And you may want to consider the same…but flip it around. Time share here in Austin?! Or Spain. Or anywhere. But have a base there while you continue your passion for acting?!

    That’s what we think it’s boiling down to, doing both somehow. The pendulum swing in either direction is too drastic, but maybe if one can swing it centered, half and half or something, it might just work.

    • charlie says:

      DUDE! YOUR COMMENT IS EPIC! LOVE IT!!!

      I would love to make our home in two places. Besides finances though, there’s the eventual school issue. Once he starts going to school, I don’t want to pull him out to another one for months at a time. Again, I feel like an a-hole just thinking about my needs over his because I have this yearning to be somewhere else.

      What I’d love to do, somehow, is find a place and move there. Solid. Then, have a place to stay when we came in town to either LA or SF. I feel like I could have some semblance of sanity at that…

      … BUT THEN I’D BE WORKING LIKE A DOG PAYING FOR IT!

      ARGHH!H#@$%Y$(T*HKJ

      • Desiree says:

        Don’t worry about uprooting. Back and forth was my whole life and I loved it.

        • charlie says:

          I think I have a different philosophy about. I love travelling but I want to find a place that is a center, an anchor. I just have this aching feeling like it’ll help. I moved around a bit too. I still miss my original house before ALL the moves. Weird.

      • Kristina says:

        LOL!! Dude, I agree on roots. That’s why we LOVE it here and this would be home base. :) Plus, we could actually buy and renovate and rad house and call it home. The COST is what I’m talking about dude bro. Buy a house here for 200K, compared to 800K in LA. That “savings”, goes into travel, time sharing or just plain making routine visits to friends and family. :))) We are all about it. The only thing that would change our opinion is if we could afford a sweet home in Santa Monica and make that our home base and flip it around. But that requires bank, in terms of life style. So one day…maybe. Back to reality, the whole point is that you’d be WORKING LESS AND LIVING MORE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ya see grasshopper. :)

  5. Interesting… I was born and raised in LA. Or, as I’d say to people I’d meet in college on the East Coast who said they were from LA until I found out they were really from the Palisades or Chino Hills or Calabasas, “LA LA.” My parents still live in the same house they bought before I was born in 1974 in Mid-Wilshire, on the intersecting edges of Koreatown and Hancock Park but not quite in either one (I just tell people “near the Wiltern”), and went to public schools in LA, in or near my neighborhood, until I went away for college. (My folks were also LA public school teachers.) After college, my wife and I lived in East Hollywood/Los Feliz for 3 years, then ended up moving to Bakersfield for her work. I never imagined we’d still be here 8 years later, raising two multiracial children of color in this very conservative place. And though I know that we’d never have been able to afford the kind of home we have now if we were in LA, and that we wouldn’t be able to afford for me to be at home with the kids, I still miss it, and think about being there and what it would be like for my girls to grow up there, like I did, versus here, where they are some of the few Asian American kids and their parents are some of the few liberals/progressives.

    • charlie says:

      Maybe home is where you grew up, forever, to some degree. I know that part of town pretty well. LA is so dispersed and different, block to block, neighborhood to neighborhood. It’s not all bad… ;)

  6. Cale says:

    Charlie,

    Brother….I feel your pain. That longing. That pull. More painful than any knee to the junk, the pain of wondering “Am I making the right decisions for my family?” can be a brutal dose of reality.

    My family and I recently moved back to Ottawa, Canada after a 4 year stint in L.A. Santa Clarita to be precise (nice little bedroom community not too far from the hustle and bustle of LA LA land if you’re looking for middle ground). We loved the area, the culture, the celebrity of it all. And then the ground shook, the trees burned around us and high speed freeway chases down the 14 were no longer just items on the 11pm news….they were in our backyard.

    These facts, coupled with a dwindling connection to immediate family, not being able to really make a lot of new friends outside of working hours, and a general feeling of ‘do we really want our kids growing up in such a vacuous place’ all eventually helped formulate our decision to return to the Great White North.

    Ottawa is brutally cold in the winter; think Hoth in the Empire Strikes Back. The summer can be swelteringly hot with mosquitoes so large that they carry off small children. But on the whole, the shift to a smaller, quieter, greener community has been a huge benefit for all of us.

    The kids, while displaced for the first little while quickly made friends and found their place within the neighbourhood hierarchy. The wife and I stopped working the crazy hours we worked in L.A. and rediscovered eachother (queue 70’s waka-chicka guitar riff). We also reconnected with friends and family which helped make the transition so much smoother.

    The long and short of it is, home is where you hang your hat. If L.A. be that place, then Party on Wayne. If not, change your scene. Explore, be adventurous…but do so while the family is still young enough to look past life mistakes and just except change as positively inevitable.

    Cheers.

  7. Desiree says:

    There are buttloads of acting opportunities in Toronto, and it’s a BEAUTiful city. Reminds me of Portland, Oregon, which is my favorite city in America, with milder winters than most Northern areas and is a fantastic place to grow up. BUT, that said, it’s not the acting mecca of the world. In Toronto, the winters suck, but the houses are built for them, too. I would ship you my best winter coat as soon as you arrived.

  8. Marie says:

    Charlie–

    When I read your post, I thought immediately that you, Avara and Finn would fit right in here in Austin. Kristina hit the nail on the head perfectly in her assessment of A-town. It’s such a great place, creatively, intellectually, and for the family.

    As I recall, among your many talents, you are a bit of a cyber-geek. Austin has always been a haven for high-tech and there are a lot of gaming companies here, which I could see you enjoying. NOT that I think you should move. But Austin is a great place to regroup and get a new plan going. Also, there’s no telling what you could do here with your entrepreneurial spirits.

    Having said that and knowing all that Austin has to offer, I again agree with Kristina–there is just something about LA and the West Coast, not to mention Europe. My goal is to get the energy boost in LA and come back to Austin when I need grounding.

    Oh, I cannot NOT mention: the summers are brutal here, at least for me. The only respite is being in the water. I liken it to a mid-west winter–you have to hole up quite a bit and you don’t get the benefit of being outside in the fresh air (granted in LA, it’d need to be at the beach)in the sunshine. But kids don’t seem to mind that.

    I have been keeping up with you guys both on FB and on this site and can tell what amazing parents you are and know that Finn is in great hands no matter where you live. Also, if he’s showing any signs of affinity towards acting, LA is the perfect place for him (I know that comes with its own bag of challenges).

    I wish y’all the best of luck and let me know how I can help. I’ll send the site out to some friends to follow, fo’ sho’.

    Marie

    • charlie says:

      Hey Marie! Long time!

      I am a cybergeek. I’m in the process of launching a social media & viral marketing company this fall. Hopefully that will give me some room to breathe as well. Austin is hot ticket item for many friends. It sounds amazing.

      I’ve never visited, but it piques my interests. :)

      Fresh air and entrepreneurialism work for me.

      Thanks for throwing you viewpoint in the collective hat!

  9. Tracy says:

    Interesting. My husband would LOVE to move to LA, but I don’t think I could handle it. I feel like I would have to get a boob job and start getting weekly botox. I know that’s stereotyping, bc i’m well aware of all the awesomeness there… but it kind of freaks me out.

    So we’re left with only a few places that we’d consider raising Lotte: Brooklyn (obv), San Fran, Portland (Oregon, not Maine…although I could sate my whole farm dream there), Austin, and a few European cities like Munich, Copenhagen, etc. Slim pickings in the US.

    While I would LOVE to say that you would be happy any place on earth as long as you’re with the people most important to you: I don’t know if I buy that, really. I have a few friends who left NYC for the burbs when they had kids and HATED it. Both felt really lonely and isolated and they became overall, very unhappy. So they moved back to the city. Different strokes…

    Also- when you’re from some place as cool as SF, it’s not at all lame to “move home”. It’s lame to move back to shitty teensy hometowns on Long Island, but SF? Do it!

    • charlie says:

      Well, you guys live in Brooklyn right?

      You’d fit right in with neighborhoods like Los Feliz & Echo Park.

      I meant it when I said there are patches of almost every conceivable culture and style. The question is how far apart are they from the places you need to go and are you willing to deal with the traffic.

      I agree with you that I wouldn’t necessarily be happy if you plopped me and the fam in Nigeria. But who knows.

      SF is pretty cool…. AND EXPENSIVE.

      Want to subsidize us moving?

  10. Melissa Janetos says:

    hey charlie,

    great post. you are a great writer, and I love your analysis.

    wondered if you were thinking these questions, as Finn gets older, and school comes in to play, these questions WILL become much larger for you.

    I will have you know, I struggled with very similar questions living in San Jose, and working in Palo Alto. I feel like we went round and round and round this conversation, and even had a spreadsheet similar to your Austin friend’s pro’s and con’s list… to help us make our decision.

    and of course you know that end result, now we are raising New Englanders.

    I MISS CALIFORNIA. But for ways that are hard to explain. Access. Choices.

    Peets.

    However, I know in my heart that for the kids sake, we made the RIGHT choice. We are in a community of articulate, motivated and involved parents of children that I am amazed at all the ways, and places, they have landed here from. Its pretty amazing. Sometimes intense. But good. Our bus driver calls my cell if I am running late, and waits at our house. Or if I am not outside when she pulls up she waits until she sees me. ME. Not anyone else.

    Our hood has parties 2 or 3 times a year. To catch up on all the family updates. (we are pretty spread out you know!) We have monthly Mom’s night, book club and we have involvement on development plans in the area, tax increases, and lets not even go into all talks and blogs and things surrounding our school system. Kind of intense. But for all the right reasons.

    I DID worry very very very very very very much how I would handle winters here. Do you know, I prefer running in the winter than in the summer? How about that new factoid that is close to a miracle for me to say aloud. Wow! Some of my most amazing and altering runs have happened in the gorgeous post snowfall. Yes, I have had to invest in new clothing for the sport. And for outdoors in general. But amazing, what you find yourself doing when your children motivate you. I LOVE to ski now, because I do it with the kids and we all have a blast. I still wont ski on any day less than 10 degree’s. Sorry. But moving here, I did not think that I would do it at all. I love to play in the snow with the kiddos and we are excited also for the seasons as they arrive and go. We are watching for ‘signs’ all the time of the new seasons. I learn more all the time.

    I have discovered, and still continue to find, more biking routes that take my breath away with the beauty of this place. And I encounter wildlife on each ride, always a story…..

    I could not imagine my little cement yard any more in San Jose.

    I know you will make right for Finn, whatever your choices are….. You are seeking so much as provider of your family, and therefore, you are and will continue to be an amazing father and husband. Trust in that, in the end….

    Love you.
    Miss

  11. Vancouver. You nailed it. I also grew up in the SFO Bay Area, then moved to SoCal for college. Realized I just didn’t connect with the values of many (by no means all) of the folks in LA and Orange County. I missed real trees (as opposed to the world’s largest weed, the Eucalyptus). Took a job in Vancouver and moved with my wife and son. I’ve got the West Coast, the beach, real trees, great schools, SFO-sized city…yeesh, I sound like a PSA for Tourism Vancouver.

    And, as you know, it’s a booming and growing film town…

  12. Tad says:

    Well, you likely don’t need my opinion all too much (especially with the above commentary). But I’ll add it anyhow.

    When we first were expecting Mackenzie, we had to make a fast choice as to where we were going to raise our kids. For us, it was a no-brainer that we POSITIVELY didn’t want to raise them in LA. Anywhere but LA. Correction: anywhere but Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia or LA.

    Reasons:
    * We both HATE the lack of seasons
    * We both hate the lack of proper foliage (i.e. being in the desert)
    * Worst Traffic in the USA
    * Smog
    * High crime rate
    * Though there are nice parts of town, you have to constantly drive through crapville to get to/from them.

    So, we moved to Portland briefly while figuring it all out, then moved to DC where we presently are. Though, we will definitely be moving back to Portland when the kids are a bit older as it’s just so thoroughly awesome there it’s beyond words. But DC is great too – with the exception of the muggy summer, it’s got a thousand plusses.
    *

  13. Judy says:

    Charlie – I love reading your blog and the comments. I don’t have too much to offer in the way of input (not being a dad and all), but I would like to make this observation. The comments on your blog (such as those above mine in this thread) are a delight to read and leave me with a renewed faith that perhaps there really are still many people who can write with substance and spell with such comforting accuracy. What I read on some venues (yes, facebook in particular) – i.e. “ware u bin man?” always leaves me with this sinking feeling that the English language is becoming so sullied by texting, phonics, abbreviation and just the sad state of public schools, that it will soon be unrecognizable. Hooray for those who know the difference between there, their and they’re! I also get the feeling that many of your generation will care enough about their children to ensure that they do, in fact, learn that difference. Go dads!

    Oh, and Austin gets my vote – maybe a small town in the suburbs. My kids grew up in Texas – great school systems,
    reasonable home values/taxes/cost of living, and just some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.

    • andy says:

      Who ray, in deed! ;) Arg! As bad as I can be about throwing typos like grenades into my own writing, I’m a wincer, too. I see the basic ability to write taking an ass whooping that just keeps getting worse. Whether it’s hypocritical or not doesn’t affect how much it bugs me. Thanks for the great comment!

      • Judy says:

        I wouldn’t say hypocritical – everyone is guilty of a typo now and then. I guess it’s the general ‘dumbing down’, as I’ve heard it called, that scares me. I see a genuine interest in your children’s future in the postings on this board, and I think that is a huge plus. I believe a large part of the problem has been parents who just didn’t get involved enough in their kids’ lives, education, etc, because they were too busy with their own agenda. The “ME” generation, as my mother used to call it! Perhaps your generation can ‘fix’ some of the problems we old folks have created. Hahaha! Let’s hope… Keep up the good work – some day when your kids are grown, they can read this blog and learn much about who they are and why… :-)

  14. AsherD says:

    That you are considering the balance between your goals and dreams and the life of your children is pretty amazing. You are already awesome for that!

    My husband and I have found ourselves in a very, very odd situation where this discussion comes up regularly. I grew up in Florida, he grew up in Pittsburgh. He moved around the midwest and NE and I lived in the UK for several years. We’re both professors and have found ourselves in, of all the places in the world, Indiana (or Indi-freakin-ana as I call it).
    We have incredible jobs at a wonderful university. The “city” we live in is a hole, for all practical purposes, but it’s safe and the school system is awesome. And Midwesterners are extremely pleasant people. When we first moved here everyone was so nice I was afraid we were going to be forced into some kind of cult…
    I miss life in a city–food, bars, people of different races, etc. But I love that my daughter would grow up here for a variety of reasons: we’ll never have to pay for private school, she can ride her bike in the streets, and there is no traffic. She also has access to a University laboratory school, which is amazing.
    When we wax lyrical about moving somewhere “cool,” we always come back to the kid questions (schools, safety, health, etc).
    So, anyway, I went on for a while, but you are not alone and your deep consideration of the issues is more than most people ever offer their children. So well done for you!

  15. Liza@Blahggy says:

    Ummm…you’ve SEEN the photos of my new house, right? ‘Nuff said. Also, the county I live in is the 11th highest money-maker county in the US but not expensive to live here – guarantee my mortgage payment is less than what you’re currently paying in LA – AND the PUBLIC schools in this county are award-winning. Just sayin’.

  16. smonk says:

    I understand the idea that you feel behind others in your field. I had the same… I got into mine late after a switch… But you catch up. Although your field’s a bit different and tougher.

    I switched from photo to design. It was my dream to be a pro photographer. But I learned it wasn’t my passion. My passion is concepts and design. I’d still love to be a National Geographic photographer. Think about it a lot, although I started as a portrait/fashion photographer. But I still think I’d miss concepting. I swapped careers but still shoot. Acrually I enjoy it more because it’s mine… Not for clients.

    So the question is, Is acting your passion? Is film/TV acting your passion? If the answer is yes then I’d say stay in L.A.

    If you find it’s just a dream and you have another passion chase that.

    Also I’m not a fan of L.A. I have thought of moving to the area but I’d do Santa Monica or Santa Barbara… Probably the latter.

    Minneapolis is a good city in general. Great for families too. Chicago is good for acting (especially improv). Schools can be iffy for family. Evanston is the farthest I’d go there and it rocks.

  17. Luma says:

    My family and I just moved recently. It was a huge shift for us, yet we felt compelled to do it.

    What gave us the courage and destination to move was honest communication. We simply kept on checking in with each about how we felt about where we were and where we needed to go.

    Through this process we over came any fears/doubts found clarity and a new home, we’re loving it. The family’s thriving.

    Keep digging deep and being honest with one another and the path will open up in front of you.

  18. Taylor says:

    my old man is from LA and I grew up spending summers there. After living in Santa Barbara I think The Decemberists put it best “the oceans garbled vomit on the shore, Los Angeles I’m yours.”

  19. RC Peters says:

    Aww, how the grass is always greener, right? Well Charles, my lady and I have actively been seeking a way to live in Austin AND L.A. due to my career, as well as the possibility of my daughters modeling career, but most importantly because of the weather here.
    Austin is a fantastic environment to raise children. It is a thriving melting pot filled with attractive young college students, as well as hip, not afraid to have a beer while strolling their child, 30 somethings. The city is in a CONSTANT state of celebration, and everyone will say hi to you. It has something for everyone. Bars, restaurants, rivers, lakes, and the best music scene in the world.
    Although I am Texan by blood, I am much like you, having grown up in the Bay Area under a blanket of fog for the majority of my childhood and much of my early adulthood. This is my second summer here, and I’m already over it. We are currently in one of the worst droughts ever, and it has been in triple digits and humid since early May. IT.IS.BRUTAL. So much so that even taking my daughter swimming sucks, because the pool is more a less a hot springs at this time, and she can’t run around because the concrete is probably 115 degrees. Oh, and less I forget, the ‘hot’ month for us Texans is August/Sept., so I’m afraid we haven’t even hit the peak.
    My thoughts on L.A., is if you aren’t in the Entertainment industry (and I don’t mean waiters scrapping extra work off of Craigs for SAG cards) then why the hell endure the hell of the city. I wouldn’t put you in that category and you are seriously one audition away from success. You are an eleven year veteran and I think if you left now, that ‘high school’ glory days type of mentality would forever haunt you. Ride it out, your kid is rad, and you guys are pretty much related to every person of merit in the city, and that doesn’t hurt either!

  20. Capetowndad says:

    I loved in Southern California (La Jolla) for almost ten years.
    I left about 6 years ago to come home to Cape Town, South Africa.
    Although I miss SoCal almost every day I must remind myself that I was young and single and that this is what I miss.

    In terms of parenting, I believe that keeping my family here is one of the best things I can do.
    I can afford to keep my children in world class private schools.
    The scenery and recreational opportunities are endless.
    We have a vibrant cultural life with art galleries and live theatre easily accesible.
    Child care is affordable and for the most part children are warmly embraced and accepted. My wife and I also have the benefit of having both our families minutes away when we need them.

    I am concerned about crime and personal safety but have the common sense to appreciate that this is a concern everywhere.
    I recognize also that my kids probably will leave when they need too.

    After much searching and internal and external debate, we have decided that we probably are bringing up our children in the best place in the world.

  21. I’ve been all over California and I can’t say I like much about it at all. It’s nice, in a bland, white bread, tasteless sort of way. Not really good for you, not filling, just kinda there.

    But Texas. Now Texas I love. If I ever had to move (and boy would I miss the winter because my blood runs thick to keep me warm in our -60 temps up here) I’d move to Texas. I think I was meant to be a Texan. My husband and children? Prolly not so much.

    But a girl can dream.

  22. Janice (5 Minutes for Mom) says:

    NO worries!!!! You and Andy are rock stars and u will soon be able to live wherever u want! This post will be very different in one year. Promise.

  23. beta dad says:

    LA’s not so bad for kids. I know a lot of normal-ish people who have families there. You just need to move to Silver Lake. If you’re in “the industry,” you kinda have to be there, right? I moved a lot growing up, and lived in different kinds of places all over the country and overseas. They all had their pros and cons. Ultimately, it’s not so much the location that matters. If your parents are miserable when you’re a kid, it sucks. If they’re happy, things are better. You should live where you are most fulfilled. Unless that happens to be Texas. Then live in the second most fulfilling place.

  24. William says:

    I am interested to hear more about the Viral Marketing company.

    I moved from Philly area to Orlando Florida for two years. Then I moved back. There is nothing like being home, close to real family and friends.

  25. Beth says:

    This post made me miss LA. I lived there 8 years and it was a love/hate relationship, but when you leave a place you mostly just remember the love parts.

    I don’t think you have to leave in order to give your son a good childhood. Wherever you are, it takes time to build support networks, so if you left now you’d just be ripping out the current networks and starting fresh somewhere else.

    Also, consider Burbank. It’s a showbiz town but also feels dare I say it “normal”.

  26. My little bro just set off on a similar journey. He’s having fun, but it always comes back to “I can’t raise my kids here.” (he doesn’t have any yet) But even when considering a serious relationship, it seems like he has to think about whether he’s ready to give up his dreams. I wrote about him here: http://mynewdirection.wordpress.com/2011/07/13/nd-boy-gunnin-for-the-border/

    Love this blog – you’re a great writer and is fun to get an insider’s view of something I think we all dream of once in awhile.
    Adrienne
    @adrienneolson

  27. DC Urban Dad says:

    Whew, we know about those types of decisions. Living in DC has a lot of perks. My wife and I both love our jobs. We have a great house in a great neighborhood. Plenty to do and see. Lots of friends. But…..

    It ain’t home. It ain’t NC. So we constantly have that conversation, should we move. Sometimes I wish someone would just make it for us.

    The one thing I would say is follow what your father said. Follow your bliss. Your kid will appreciate that. It will set the right example. Always pursue what you want.

  28. Jessie says:

    I also grew up there, and I think you all should move up here to Oregon! It was the best decision I have ever made in my entire life (besides my children, of course) but then again, I wouldn’t have my children if I wouldn’t have moved here and met their father. Anywho, it is such an amazing place! Great people, outdoors, and everything else! Not to mention, I drove down to L.A last year to visit all my family, and I could barely breathe. As soon as I drove back, and hit the Oregon border, it’s like my airways opened up and my whole body felt 100% better. If your considering moving, move to Oregon! Best place ever! I live right next to Portland (Portland is like the L.A of California is) in Oregon. There are numerous opportunitys and a lot of successful & famous people get started there. Oh and it’s right to California, so you’ll be close to enough to visit anytime you want!

  29. Sarah says:

    Having grown up in SoCal, lived in Chicago, Philly, and DC for 11 years, and only just returned to LA last year (with my 1 y.o. son too), I can tell you that you would likely have the same worries and wanderlust anywhere. For example, all the negatives about living in LA exist in DC (it’s just politics instead of Hollywood) and so on. In general, cities are not perfect places for raising families but they do offer so much more in terms of diversity. LA is wonderful for it geographic and culutral diversity, which is so critical for socializing children and encouraging openmindedness, empathy, and appreciation (something you know from living in SF). Plus, LA is truly one of the only places in the world where you can be or try to be anything you want to be and it’s accepted as the norm. Good luck on finding the right fit for you and your family.

  30. Chris Green says:

    I can totally understand this on a smaller scale. We are originally from the Dallas/Ft Worth area. We moved from there when our kids were all under 5. We moved to Wichita KS. Yes, people really do live here. haha All of our family is still in Dallas and each time we visit all I can think is “I’m so glad I didn’t have to raise my kids here!”. We’ve since raised those kids to adulthood and married them off and we now have 2 more kiddos. You couldn’t pay me to raise kids in a big city.

  31. I bought my first house in Hancock Park as a single woman. I thought, when and if I got married and had a child it was a place that would insulate me from all the rest of LA. And then I got married and got pregnant and put my house on the market the next day. It was very clear to me that while I COULD raise my kid in LA, I didn’t HAVE to. The schools are a mess, the environment can be unstable and more importantly it just felt WRoNG to me. I know I know…lame maybe…but I couldn’t imagine it. I couldn’t see it. And since I could move I DID. First to Chicago. Then San Fran. Then back to Orange County (where I was raised). Suburbia-ish. And it is wonderful. I understand your thoughts- and would really encourage you to explore making them a reality.

  32. patricia de la mota says:

    Well, charlie, you know I’m all for getting the HELL out of LA. I say move to the new york tri-state area, somewhere close enough for you to go to auditions but outside the city enough so finn and his sibling-to-be have clean air, space, etc. Could even be in NY proper. There’s a lot of that very close to the city, like the next county over, 20-40 minute ride on the metro north to grand central. Looks just like South Pasadena, no lie. The winters blow, yes, so you’d spend 6 months here, 6 months in the laland. Doooooo it. LA has a way of sticking people there who went for a job (or in hopes of one) and just.never.left.

  33. Liz says:

    Coming from a military family up here in Canada I can relate to the struggle of balancing your own selfish wants with the needs of your kids. My spouse and I volunteered for this life (him wearing the uniform and me by being his partner) But the kids? They had no say and were just born into this crazy life of long distance parenting and moving around all the time. The GUILT I sometimes feel knocks the wind out of me because a lot of the choices their dad and I make together aren’t always easy on the kids. I’ve been parenting this way long enough that I’ve noticed some kids are resilient, and some are not. What I’ve learned is the biggest difference in the kids comes from the attitude of the parents. Some parents cave under the guilt of being selfish, others (I’d like to think myself included) just accept we’re parenting selfishly. We agree that it doesn’t mean we’re bad parents and spin the crazy life we’ve thrusted upon our, children as one big adventure. Will my son have the same friends from kindergarten till the end of high school? Nope. But he can tell everyone that before his second birthday he got travel coast to coast of this country. So I say, go and be selfish, but allow and support your family as they come along for the ride.

  34. Amy says:

    My husband and I are having a similar debate right now about raising our son in L.A. I was born and raised here. He moved here from Scotland when he was 18 because it was the place to be. I didn’t have issue with L.A. until I became a mom 20 months ago. Now, I’m seeing the cracks in this place that I’ve always called home. My husband raised his three daughters here and absolutely does not want to raise his son here. He actually feels a bit guilty that he’s given his daughters roots here. We both want to move to a smaller town and raise our son in a more “wholesome” place. But, we’re not spiring chickens anymore and starting over, finding jobs, leaving my entire family behind… it’s alot to think about! But we are both definitely becoming more and more dissatisfied and borderline angry about what L.A. has become…

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