Thursday, September 27, 2012

Lala Land

My long writing pause is over...

The details seem to be holding me back.  Suffice it to say:  we moved to Los Angeles and are living a new LA lifestyle; Frank started a different job (at ehow, and he likes it); the kids are in LA public school (Charlie started kindergarten with grace); Henry continues to follow his acting dreams (but now from the center of the beast); and I am happy and filled with excitement about it all.  phew.

It has been a big summer of changes.

We live in an old Spanish style home from the 1930s.  We are renting the duplex, of which we get the bottom half, in an old Jewish neighborhood called Pico/Robertson right next to Beverly Hills in West LA.  My favorite part about the home are all the old tiles and high arching ceilings.  I have a princess bathroom covered floor to ceiling with golden yellow tiles.  I am bathed in nostalgia.  The plaster in my home is embellished with fleur de lys patterns just raised from the surface like a secret braille code.  I can trace the decorative veins with my fingers and imagine a message whispered about old Hollywood.

I feel like wearing dresses and shaving my legs more.  That's what pretty architecture does for me.  LA makes me feel like trying harder at glamour.  I guess that's why the city gets a bad rap generally, but I find it all a breath of fresh air.  I keep wearing these long lazy all in one knit dresses and appreciating how my smooth legs rub freely next to each other letting in the breeze.  I love the weather and the heat and the sweat of it all.  I am overcome with gratefulness that I found my way to this climate.

There is a tree hanging heavy over the street filled with guavas, my very favorite fruit.  I used to eat guavas with my mom by the dozens in Mexico and they just don't travel well.  I rarely saw edible ones in the Midwest.  Now I can pick one on the way to school in the morning with my boys.  Yes!  The kids walk to school.  I know that Los Angeles does have more driving, but fortunately my neighborhood is pretty walkable.

My home is surrounded by Jewish delis, bakeries and grocery stores.  I have become a Kosher meat enthusiast and of course appreciate the hell out of every babushka grandmother I pass on the street.  The entire neighborhood shuts down on Friday evening and doesn't reopen until late on Saturday night.  I find myself drawn to hoard groceries on Friday morning (when the bakery is best) and nod knowingly at everyone in line, as if I know the first thing about what happens inside our local Kabbalah center. 

I live on a very busy street called Olympic.  Some people refer to it as the wormhole of LA because you can zoom from one side of the city to another avoiding freeways if you're lucky.  It means traffic sounds wash over me like white noise at all hours of the day.  My nod to budgeting in LA, because certainly rental costs are crazy (especially when multiple bedrooms are needed), was to give up the ideal of a quiet street.  We have no yard.  My three boys climb the interior of our walls, hanging from door jambs, kick punching and pillow fighting more than ever before.  I try to "run them" at one of our local parks on a daily basis, but it's not ideal.  Having a yard and children in LA is a sure sign of being extremely lucky or extremely wealthy.  Last weekend I went to open houses just to see what the market looks like and realized that contentment will not come from that exercise.

I have been thinking much more like a mystic lately.   I enjoy lots of funny special potions and energizers and toners and tonics and horoscopes and spiritual texts and much more than ever before.  I can't write about it really.  I always think the explaining is the part where I giggle and role my eyes and lose it.  I find it impossible.  But that's also why I love it.  I have been searching for things that surprise and challenge me beyond words and reason and I am finding it.  Have you ever read Franny and Zooey by Salinger?  I just read it and wanted to cry.  So many of the things I have been thinking about are in there and said better than I ever could.

I don't know what good it is to know so much and be smart as whips and all if it doesn't make you happy.


My god, there's absolutely nothing tenth-rate about you, and yet you're up to your neck at this moment in tenth rate thinking.


She said she knew she was able to fly because when she came down she always had dust on her fingers from touching the light bulbs.

sigh.  I just loved the book.   I have been reading a lot.  I also finished A.S. Byatt's The Children's Book which I can't recommend enough.  Lots of fairy thinking and Victorian parents gone awry...

More on potions.  I have something I put in my smoothie every morning called Bag of Tricks.  I got it at the farmer's market.  Slightly chai spiced with cardamom and clove, the list of hormone balancing, stress relieving ingredients boggles the mind.  I find myself saying yes every morning to a bag of tricks.  And why not?  It makes me happy, and I find myself less and less sure these days what type of thinking can be is classified first rate as opposed to tenth.

Jimmy and Charlie are going to a public school in our neighborhood.  Jimmy was voted class representative for the fifth grade last week.  He is the only white kid in his class and I was worried about him fitting in, especially because I remember fifth grade in Madison being full of unfettered testosterone and cliquish behavior.  But Jimmy has taken it all in stride.  When he got out of school on election day we were standing on the yard and four young boys ran up to Jimmy and told him they had voted for him.  My Jimmy was beaming and so proud.  One of the kids told me that our family must be related to Albert Einstein because Jimmy is so smart.  The boys seemed generally in awe of Jimmy's powers of intellect, and these are fifth grade boys!  Giving Jimmy their vote of confidence (and friendship) and thinking he's cool for being smart.  what?  I was so overwhelmed.

I expected bullies and Jimmy was instead welcomed and embraced.  For example, Jimmy sort of sucks at basketball, and yet he likes to play.  These boys all let him play and be awkward without judgement.  Unexpected gift.  Right here in LAUSD. I hope Jimmy can take this experience and move beyond racism.  These kids from different backgrounds are all just trying to have fun and enjoy fifth grade and love being friends with Jimmy.  I hope it sinks in deep.  I really do.  I was so negative about all of it before, and just got blindsided by my own racism and lack of faith.   Really opens me up.

Henry has also been getting lots of gifts lately.  Great teachers and group classes at places like The Groundlings.  Live comedy every weekend.  He keeps getting really close on big auditions and I feel a shift happening for him.  Something is going to hit soon I think.  He has a lot of people pulling for him.  People on his side.  I can't believe that only a year ago I felt like he was an outsider.  A teacher of his called a casting director the other day to recommend Henry for a role in an independent movie and tomorrow he will meet the director.  It's working.  We haven't made it all the way up the ladder, of course, but I just feel like he is living the dream already.  Also, something that makes me happy is Henry comes to yoga with me every morning.  He is my yoga partner.  I never thought but it's true.

I am wearing down but not without a quick commentary about fashion and quality (for dear Mads).  I remember my father (who made his money in the fashion world selling high end shoes and independent labels in his twenties) absolutely hated taking me to the mall when I was young.  He dreaded it because, "the mall sells bad soulless fashion."  "The mall is shit," he would tell me and make fun of the cheap China made clothes from Limited Express.   One year he proposed to give me twice as much spending money if we shopped at independent boutiques in Minneapolis instead of the Bloomington Mall.  I was fifteen or sixteen.  He showed me around Saint Anthonys on the Main (which I remember seeming totally exotic and fancy) and he patiently (glibbly?) took the time to point out quality fabrics and sewing details and fashion trends that weren't in the mall yet.  I traced the quality seams with my fingers and grooved out on the fancy fabrics.  And I remember being really turned on.  There was a difference that I could feel -- an energy and intention that felt like soul.  And that's when I decided I wanted to dress differently than other girls in my class.  It's when I became a snob and a seeker, for better or for worse, and stopped shopping at malls.  I remember I could only afford two sweaters and one pair of pants, and I wore the shit out of those clothes, because they were my personal epiphany, all through sophomore year.  For me in my life,  I have decided to spend twice as much money on fewer quality clothes.  Clothes that are different and well made and make me feel special, or conversely, now that I am set free from Mall shopping, I can fucking wear thrift store treasure whenever I want, because I can't be fooled.  I know what I like.  It's a great feeling to step outside suburban thin drywall (mall soul suck) to find yourself delighted by cracked plaster, antique tiles, and vintage fashion finds mere pennies on the dime.  Is this first or tenth rate thinking?  I don't know but I come by it honestly.   There was nothing sadder to me than watching East side Madison parents shuttle kids back and forth from the mall.  It made me want to hug my crazy daddy and thank him for all his influence.  It makes me sad to think of Maddie coveting cardboard houses, but I have great hope for her later teen years.  Maybe we can take her out shopping next year when you visit LA and totally blow her mind?  or show her the houses of Beverly Hills...

there are so many times i realize that twice as much is not really enough and quality and consumption and attachment to all that i just said is super silly...

Well, from sunny LA, I remain your friend trying to find bliss from inside the bubble.

Miss you.


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