Thursday, September 28, 2006

Language Lessons 2: Public Servants in L.A. vs. NY

The Language Lessons series used to be on my first blog This is for all you foreign nationals out there and the folks who love 'em...

Commenting on the sharpness of my elbows in bed this morning, my German husband said:

Husband: You're like the exterminator.
Me: I kill roaches?
Husband: No, like Schwarzenegger.
Me: Ooh. The Terminator.
Husband: Oh...well, no, he's no longer the Terminator. Soo, he's the exterminator. Like an exboyfriend, he's the exterminator. I'm not bad, eh?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

In search of practical yet stylish shoes....

This one is mostly for the girlies, I'd say. I saw, and better yet, tried on some very comfy, cute clogs at my friend's house the other day, and she told me they came from Clogmasters. They had quite a bit more style and origninality than the samples on the website. Am I telling you about the store that has dozens of great, practical, cutting edge style shoes, many of which are on sale, as I saw when I was in downtown New York last week? No. But hey, it's a step!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Late Night L.A. Eats

When I first arrived in L.A. after years in New York, one of the biggest shocks came after a performance of mine one night. A few friends gathered about to do the ritual congrats, and I expected, like an April flower expects rain, like a first introduction expects a handshake, like a lit candle expects to melt that we would go out for a bite after. Tis the custom in New York, where I'd been a performer for quite some time. Nope. Too late, moaned one. It was just after 9. Already ate said another apologetically. At what time, like 6?? Ok for a mother of 3 or something, but these were other performers! I couldn't wrap my head around it. Then came the second shock. My boyfriend at the time, a Roman whose habits and love made him game for joining at least, and I set out to find a place to eat, and we couldn't find a thing open. I didn't have a place with a kitchen yet, so buying groceries was out. Back home in Manhattan, there would be dozens of places to choose from (not to mention about the same number of friends who would join as dinner companions). Many a night like these in various parts of town helped me develop a favorite list of late night Eateries.

1. Mao's Kitchen. See the Chinese food posting for details. We discovered Mao's that night mentioned above.

2. Kate Mantalini's
9101 Wilshire Blvd. (near Doheny Dr.), Beverly Hills CA; Tel. 310.278.3699
I've had dinner there until midnight.

3. Toi
There's one in Santa Monica and one in Hollywood on Sunset. Kooky Rock n Roll decor, decent food and open every day from 11am-3am.

4. Swingers
One in Santa Monica, one in West Hollywood. Open 6:30am-4am every day.

There is always also something open in Silverlake.

Of course there are others (like Canter's!! Which is better for entertaining abuse and nostalgia than food, but then again, I haven't really been into a pastrami sandwich since I lost all my baby teeth, so I am not the best judge), but that's my short list for East, West, and in between.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Time Differences: Beyond EST-PST

There are several ways in which time differences manifest themselves in Los Angeles vs. New York, other than the former being 3 hours earlier. Here are some to perhaps adjust to.

One of the obvious and most cliched is time it takes to get places. For those in the outer boroughs who drive, you may be accustomed to long commutes. However, once in Manhattan, you can buzz about to a lot of places by foot or public transportation, in an average of 10-30 minutes. In Los Angeles, a short distance is within 20 minutes by car. Average is 45 minutes. A long distance is an hour or an hour and a half plus. This has a significant effect on social and cultural life in Los Angeles. With much more planning and time needed, both happen less.

Another time difference in Los Angeles, I have found, is the hour that people think it is ok to call you, especially on weekends. While lying in bed with my husband in Manhattan yesterday, a lovely Sunday late morning, I was taking in the bliss of the first respite from the noise that has been a constant all week downstairs on East 19th Street, where we are staying. I explained to him that this rare pool of calm is one of the reasons why there is an unwritten rule in New York City, in my experience anyway, that calling before noon on Sundays is a no no. The same can be said about 11ish on Saturdays, and before 9ish on weekdays unless the party being called is known to work at night, in which case weekend hours apply. Exceptions are if the two parties (the caller and the callee) have a morning appointment, if it is totally acknowledged public information that the party being called is the rare NYC early morning person (better find out first), or if it is an emergency (a real emergency--not my boss, lover, mother, neighbor, etc. is such an idiot, can I tell you for the eighth time why they are such an idiot, from my cell phone while I am stuck in traffic, a problem which I found some Los Angeles colleagues to mistake for an emergency). I was stunned when I first moved to Los Angeles when a few (not just one) new friends called at 7:30 in the morning as a habit, even on weekends, as though it was totally normal. Want to go for a hike? No. Can I just talk for a few minutes, I really need to talk? No.

I have not adjusted--I have made people adjust to me, and have turned off my ringer and set my phone volume on low. A normally very social, communicative correspondent, I have had to do it to stay sane.

In New York, time is marked by seasons. In Los Angeles, while yes, there are subtle fluctuations in light and temperature, and many Los Angelenos don mittens and warm boots in January in a weird display of climate confusion, and the last couple years the City of Angels has gotten a bit chilly in winter, let's be real, it's about 70 and sunny somewhere in the L.A. basin, if you get in the sun, just about every day of every year. I missed the warm sun when I moved from LA as a child to the east coast. As an adult many years later in L.A., I miss the permission to change my mood and pace throughout the year. I don't think one is better than the other, I think it's more about pros and cons and individual taste. However, they's about the same as apples and oranges.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Transplant Homesickness Remedy: A True Story

The other night I attended a dear friend's wedding in Hunter up in the Catskills. It was Labor Day weekend and pouring cats and dogs (more like elephants and rhinoceruses, it was very wet). The wedding of 2-3 hundred guests took place outdoors in a tent with grass as the flooring, and many shoes were sacrificed. Forewarned about the storm and the circumstances, I made the the fashion forward choice of Ugg Boots and couture silk suit. It cost me howls of laughter from my husband who tried to disguise the humiliation he was trying to inflict with words like "cute", but earned me respect an hour later when his Italian leather shoes were soaked to the soles.

As the sweet celebration wound down, probably earlier than otherwise would have happened due to the weather, I put some mental puzzle pieces together to recognize a woman whose tiny studio I had sublet the summer before, but whom I had never personally met. She was So embarassed because of the mice that had accompanied me on my sublet. She swore it had never happened before, this mouse issue, and I should confirm it with my friend, she would know. I played it down as no big deal, but my husband and I have for a year referred to that apartment squeamishly as "The Mouse House." Not that I don't think mice are cute. I have even attained infamy by rescuing a domestic rat in New York and taking it in as a pet. It was just very close quarters in that tiny studio, and the mice made noise and went in my clothes and food, and that crossed some kind of line for me. She apologized again and again, offering an explanation that the mice came due to some construction that was happening and must have only been there when I was there because they were gone when she was back from her tour. I quipped, "Oh, so they are refugees."
She replied ingenuously, "Wait...are you talking about that guy who brought anthrax into the building? I'm talking about the mice."
"Refugees from the construction...," I said, assuring her I was talking about the mice, but what was that about anthrax...?
She explained that some refugee had come from a foreign country and had brought anthrax into her tiny 4 floor walkup in the Village, giving everyone a good scare. I am glad I didn't know about it, as it would have given me a good scare, too.
Do those of you who have been feeling homesick feel a little better now?