Whaddya Think of My Bagel? (L.A. insider tour)

Back from my whirlwind weekend of friends and fun in LA. Since I had never been to the City of Angels before, my friends treated me to a brief tour. Friday night, I stayed with merkabamystica in Hollywood, and bohostar joined us. The original plan had been to drag them into my tango underworld, but the shuttle got me there so last minute and, considering that the gods had spent their day dumping on my friends, we three decided to share some girl talk and a bohostar special concoction named “London Calling” instead.

Saturday, the three of us plus schmecky went to a popular brunch place where the waitstaff were all criminally good-looking and our waiter served us with his special brand of disaffected “coolness”. schmecky and bohostar were both delightfully witty, intelligent, warm-hearted and just darn fun to be around. What a great treat to find out that you really can make friends on the web. Yay to new and old girlfriends! (schmecky, can I get a copy of those pics?)

We cruised Hollywood Blvd, checking out the gaudy apparel in the ‘ho stores. I don’t know if I’d have the nerve to pull off wearing thigh-high, platform boots and a flourescent wig, but I had fun picturing it, nonetheless. (I was also reminded that it’s time for me to get my tattoo reinked.) We also stopped into a costume shop and goofed around for a while, resisting the urge to play with all the toys. They took me to Grauman’s Chinese Theater (the place where stars leave their handprints in concrete), and, after standing for a few minutes on the montage of greatness, I said, “So, I’m feeling like I’m supposed to be more excited about this.” And they said something on the order of, “No, that just means your are sane.”

Saturday evening, merkabamystica dropped me off at artisoul‘s place in Beverly Hills. (artisoul is a friend of ours from grad school.) So, we traveled from skanky to swanky in the space of a few miles and minutes. artisoul grew up in the neighborhood and somehow held on to the clever skill of blending in seamlessly with the hoity toits without having to give up her soul. She zipped me off to a small Chagall exhibit at an art gallery where I fended off an annoying salesman and she chatted it up with the natives. (The cheapest lithograph was about $15K. Can you imagine? Good thing I don’t have that much credit on my card. 🙂 Then we went to the specialty cheese shop where she expertly selected from the many, exotic offerings. I stood back and witnessed the master in action. The conversation went something like this: “Yes, I was thinking I’d like something smooth and soft, like a Brie but with more of a bite. Ah, lovely. Now, how about something a little harder, similar to a Jarlsberg but with more of an edge?”

[It’s so amazing getting to see another side of people that you already know well. And a lot of fun too. I feel like the trip deepened my connection to merkabamystica and artisoul and others and made it so much more likely that we’ll be able to evolve our connections beyond the magical but limited context in which we once knew each other. But back to the fromagerie….]

I played the role of country cousin and naively inquired about what was wrapped in the grape leaves. They must have found my ignorance endearing because we walked away with a small package of mold for free. (When I got home and scraped off of the dusty green stuff, I found a small lump of goat cheese inside. I didn’t end up in the hospital that night, so it must not have been the killer kind of fungus.)

Saturday night, merkabamystica came back over, along with 10 or so others from our grad school class, for a little reunion. I hadn’t seen these folks since July and it was really great to be with old friends and kindred spirits again. It was also comforting to discover that, like me, a little less than half still had their theses to write. 🙂 So, I’m in good company.

Sunday, the weather was perfect. artisoul said there are very few days in a year in LA that are that clear. And, considering the year round good weather, I was surprised there weren’t more people out on bikes. Then she explained, unless you have a death wish, you don’t want to breathe the smog and compete with the traffic. If you want to exercise in the sun, go to the beach. We drove out to the Palisades, stood on the cliffs, and looked out over the ocean and found some colorful flora and a little peace and quiet away from the high stimulus world to the East.

We took the scenic route back, through neighborhoods of outrageously fancy homes. Although I got to drive by Madonna’s Qabbalah center, I have to say that I’m a little disappointed to have missed out running into a disheveled Nick Nolte buying cigarettes in his PJ’s at the corner store. BTW, I want you to know that Rodeo Drive is nothing special. It’s a lot of chain stores and a few stores so high end that they probably wouldn’t let me have one of their business cards, even if I offered to pay for it. (Think “Pretty Woman”.) Of course, artisoul and I also had a lot of time for girl talk and reconnecting which was just absolutely fabulous. Hooray for more great girlfriends!

Here’s a funny anecdote, which kind of captured my impression of LA. Sunday morning, artisoul takes me to a vegan restaurant off of Rodeo for brunch. At the end of the meal, as I was getting up, a woman at the table next to us says to me, “I just wanted you to know that the reason that I’ve been staring at you is your hair…. You’ve got the grey and yet it’s just beautiful.” I figured that, especially considering that I seemed to be in the beauty industry capital of the world, that was quite a compliment. So, I thanked her and then we talked a bit. It came up that I’m from out of town and she said, “Aha. That’s it! I could never have the nerve to not dye my hair in LA.”

The flight home was a bit bumpy and we landed in a snow storm. A friend picked me up at the airport and braved the awful roads and dodged the cars and trucks spinning out on all sides and, without much additional delay despite cautious driving, delivered me safely to my doorstep. It was really nice to sleep alone again with my fuzzy critters. I woke up to blue sky, bright sun, no wind, and everything covered in white. Damn, I love it here.

One thing about L.A. as a city for me, it’s a nice place to visit but I just can’t imagine living there. In fact, it made me appreciate Boulder all that much more. It doesn’t take more than 20 minutes to get anywhere. I can commute on my bike and never have to be on a road. Open space is abundant. It’s dense with people who are consciously challenging themselves physically, mentally, and spiritually. (OK, OK, so we get a little carried away in those departments.) Apologies to any of my hostesses who got tired of me bragging about my hometown, but if I ever decide to sell my house and move away, you seriously must slap me.

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