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November 5, 2009

Dallas Raines and Ralph, my two favorite men

The beginning of the week brought November and summer, it was ninety degrees downtown. Dallas promises that summer will end eventually and I hold onto hope:



Doesn't he look like he's delivering the bad news with that stern expression, telling his fans that sad but true we'll have to endure several days of partly cloudy. However will we manage?

At least it's not going to be ninety degrees today again. I have the physique of someone better suited to winter wear than summer attire, it would be nice to finally get the accompanying weather.

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This week I splurged and bought a beautiful orchid I've been eyeing at the grocery store:


Los Angeles has spoiled me with grocery stores that are like carnivals, my local Ralph's is a destination in itself. There are fifteen different types or orchids in the floral area, and you can buy small appliances in the aisle next to it, or the entire Paula Deen cookware line. There are gourmet cheeses, the deli with fat tamales and delicately stacked sandwiches, a pet food aisle a mile long with everything you need for the pampered cat or dog or hamster. Everything under the sun. Spicy gluten-free snack foods and little jars of picked everything, from miniature ears of corn to slim white asparagus stalks to olives stuffed with garlic or pearl onions or almond slivers. And depending on which Ralph's you pick, your celebrity sighting list will grow with every single visit. Even though I have lived here for almost fifteen years I still get a little thrill each time I see someone from TV picking out cereal or lemons or dog food in my grocery store.

One of my favorite scenes from any movie is from The Big Lebowski -- not a favorite movie of mine, but I do love the scene where he's asked for ID and pulls out his Ralph's club card. I remember being in the audience in the movie theater in Burbank and everyone just burst out into hysterical laughter. That was before every store on the planet had a special discount card, of course, and the Ralph's card was still just a new goofy local thing, and anyway, it was so spot-on, a perfect joke.

So I spotted this orchid at Ralph's and it came home with me last night. It's on top of the mantle so nobody chews it to a nub. I never really had a place before to put indoor plants where the cats couldn't get to them, but in the new apartment nobody jumps on the mantle. I like seeing it in the morning when I come downstairs, it feels like such a luxury to start the day with an orchid. I should have bought one ages ago. It was ten bucks, a small price to pay for beauty.

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Dictionary.com says both eying and eyeing are correct but eying looks weird to me.

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Everyone is complaining about the commute home this week. But I was talking to Amber yesterday and she said, "I don't care. I don't want to move anywhere else. Where would I go? This is Los Angeles.... we have everything." I get so used to people bitching and complaining about the city that I am happily relieved to know others are as in love with this crazy place as I am.

This city isn't just where I live, it's the other character in my life story. L.A. has its own personality and irritations. I love it like it's my own unruly child, my errant boyfriend, my ridiculous but charming roommate who steals my car but gives it back after a high speed chase on the evening news, so that even my car was on television at least once. (It was.)

Everyone hates the traffic, that's a given. But I've lived in towns so small there isn't even a single yellow blinking light strung between poles at an intersection and I felt caged in by the intimacy of it. It's not that one is intrinsically better than the other. They're just different. Some people crave that kind of quiet and serene pace but I feel plugged in to the world when I merge onto the Hollywood freeway. Anonymous, vast, constantly moving. It's my own internal rhythm matched by a city I picked voluntarily and can't seem to leave. I tried to leave it last year, I was planning to move to France, getting the cats all their paperwork and mentally crating up my stuff and practicing my verb conjugation but in the end I just couldn't do it. Maybe one day. Maybe not.

My coworker from New Jersey has only been here a year, not quite long enough to just accept traffic, stop resisting it. He's still in the abusive relationship stage: fighting it, yelling at it and making up later in a bar in Santa Monica where an Irish waitress with a stack of glossy headshots in her purse serves draft beer to beautiful people who are all from somewhere else.

"I warned you that everyone forgets to drive in the dark," I told him. "The worst traffic days of the year are Valentine's Day, Halloween and that fateful week after we dial the clocks back. And rain, of course, but that's not on a schedule."

"I know," he said. "You told me and I didn't listen because I didn't believe people could possibly be SO STUPID."

"Oh, people can be so much more stupid," I say, reassuringly. "One day you'll wake up and instead of fighting traffic and being mad at it and asking 'why, why, why?' you'll be planning around it. That is when you know you have assimilated."

And it's all a trade-off anyway. There are a million places on the planet with no traffic and no helicopters hovering overhead and so much rain that people don't call in sick to avoid mist. But there are so few places on earth where you can select from over a dozen types of exquisite orchids right there in the grocery store, between the organic goat's milk yogurt and the Persian cucumbers, all while some actor from your favorite childhood TV show pushes a basket right past you.


Posted by laurie at November 5, 2009 10:33 AM