Wednesday, June 23, 2004

los angeles stories

day one
greetings from paradise,
also known as sonja's house in LA. after three days of amtrak misadventures, I feel like I'm at some sort of spa, with beautifully appointed rooms, delicious food, and a chance to rest, get cleaned up, wash some clothes...
the kids were playing in the yard at 8 AM, I had to coerce them in to get them bathed and fed. now they're transfixed in front of bedknobs & broomsticks, I movie I fell asleep in front of as a small child in a movie theater.
it's funny, I have taken the crescent (new york - new orleans) several times - at least 5 - and it runs on time. little did I know that the sunset (orlando-los angeles) is renowned for running 3-9 hours late. we left new orleans (after a fun filled afternoon at the station) a little before 9 PM, so at that point it was running a little over 8 hours behind, and things did not improve as we moved through the great state of texas. in a game of catch up that I don't entirely understand, the train terminated and turned around in tucson and we were placed on buses for the final nine hours of our journey.
we will be getting some money back, but still, damn. I loathe the bus. I know, jonathon richmann would say I should be more community minded, but I have spent so much time on greyhound buses in my life and I'm beyond over it. the train is mighty communal anyhow. and I love the train. it's cozy, soothing, romantic, fun. and the food is pretty good. I feel safe on the train. I do not feel safe on the bus. at all. and I'm not talking about the people on the bus. I'm talking death on the highway. we're flying down these mountain roads and our driver looked like he was nodding off. man, fuck the bus.
our bus ride was long. the desert is scary and I do not like it. at all. dry heat scares me and I do not like it. at all. I'll take my sauna, you keep your oven. when we stopped to eat (garbage) in blythe, ca., I felt like my eyeballs were being baked. before that we had a stop in the phoenix bus station. fuck phoenix, man, I've seen enough of that place.
we got into the (very beautiful) LA amtrak station and then spent two hours wrangling for our luggage. one of the buses had broken down in the desert (my fear!) and it was the one carrying our bags. I was wiped out. I was walking around the station thinking, man, fuck california. I mean, seeing friends is all to the good but beyond that, who needs this place, I'm sick of it already.
sonja was patient and soothing. liam, who had been up since 5 AM central time, fell asleep as soon as we buckled him into his carseat and started driving. it was about midnight central time at that point. nash bunked down in charlie's playroom and would have played til he dropped if I hadn't insisted that he give lying down a try. I had an excellent shower and then crawled into my big, soft bed.
liam woke me at 6 california time, which means that so far he is sticking to his usual hours. and a big fuck you to that. nash slept til about 7:30 california time. I feel like I've been up forever. the kids are too excited to eat much so far, they couldn't wait for charlie to wake up and play with them. they've eaten half a doughnut each and a handful of strawberries so a crash is imminent. me, I've had the best yogurt ever, a cappucino, emergenC and some cold fried chicken. reminds me of breakfasts in the USSR. but I'm sleepy, my head hurts. it's been a long time since I've had to adjust to pacific time - three years I guess.
later, the kids and I will stroll out to check the neighborhood and get some lunch out. I think tomorrow we'll go to the farmer's market, but for today I want to take a day off from mass transit.
sonja & jeff are so wonderful, I don't know what else to say about that. we had the best time hanging around with them in portland three years ago and it's nice to be on their turf. this is the first time I've been to a friend's house and been like, no, really, this is 100% my dream house. it's exactly the sort of house I pine for and they've done exactly the sort of stuff I'd do with it. it's very similar to an old florida-new orleans sort of place in many ways. the windows, so many windows, beautiful old windows.
I'm waiting for it to be late enough for me to reasonably call dorie. I hope I can see nina today! I'm wearing my recently unearthed duran duran t-shirt from 1984, so someone has to see me.

day two
sore throat, stuffy nose.
still exhausted.

much as I want to see the LA farmer's market and am aware that seeing as how I haven't been here in 16 years, who the hell knows when I'll return, I'm choosing not to drag my kids around on a cranky outing this afternoon. yesterday's short outing was cranky enough. we walked down to larchmont and got ice cream. people walk faster here than in new orleans, and in a strangely purposeful way considering that all they are doing is shopping. people don't smile back at you when you pass them on the street. things seem unnervingly clean. the shops on larchmont reminded me of a squeaky clean version of magazine street. or a more busy, moneyed feeling main street in northhampton. or endless variations, probably, on any quaint shopping oriented strip in any old american city.

so we got ice cream, which was the lure I used to get the kids to agree to leave the house. they love the house and who wouldn't? they never want to leave. they've been up and playing since 7:30 pacific time and now are watching a magic schoolbus video.

after ice cream, we went into a little store and bought small toys - bubbles, a sticky yo-yo ball, a magnetic checkers set for the trip home. then the children waited impaitently while I look through sets of sparkly-mesh sandals for a black or red pair in my size (7). no dice. ah, but I'm forgetting: just prior to going in the little store with toys in the back section, we had an unfortunate liam running away incident. my kids are very savvy when it comes to minding the street in our own neighborhood, and around the french quarter and the surrounding neighborhoods. the whole feel is different here. and the people in cars drive faster that folks at home. the genral vibe is pretty scary for this pedestrian. and liam running off to the end of the block like he is allowed to do at home was infuriating.

we did have a possible celebrity sighting: michael rappaport or his doppelganger, buying small toys with two lovely young children, and later having a bagel. he looked tired and sad. cheer up, dick ritchie. I'll always love you.

day three
liam woke me at some unknown hour, crying and angry because I'd put him on the floor to sleep. I pulled him into maceo's little bed with me and wrapped him up in the blanket, held him tight and he went back to sleep.
this morning he said, I can't sleep without you, and I said, well, I wasn't far away, and he said, DUUUUUH! and I said, what does that mean? and he tossed his hair, crossed his arms, looked away and said, don't talk to me right now...

yesterday I felt pretty crappy all day, exhausted, sore throat. I huddled in a chair out in the yard while the kids played, and then I herded them back in so that I could nap while they watched the rescuers. post-nap, we all snacked on pita chips and hummus and then went back outside for playing, playing and huddling, huddling. I am freezing in the shade here.

now we are with dorie in santa monica, in her cozy little place. liam's wake up time has progressed, from 6 on our first day in california, to 7:30 and now 8. not bad. he and nash are enjoying talking with dorie, I think she meets nash's standards of punk rock.

today we need to go find a photobooth, a beach, groceries for our hotel room in long beach. tomorrow, long beach - gack!

I am having my now annual angst that, thanks to my help with hiring, my mother's camp staff is made up of several of my very favorite far flung folks, and they are busy and far away and I'll never get to hang out with them. I want to see them, now. it's not gonna happen.

meanwhile, the long lost hip mama friends reunion is still a big success. being with dorie again after three years is lovely, although I'm sure she's getting sick of my detailed accounting of the time I went to the first lollapolooza, tripping, hot and mostly miserable.

invite me to your house, I'll come, I'll skulk, I'll drink all the juice, I'll talk your ear off.

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