Monday, March 31, 2008

Don't Be Scurred

I've been in a rut. Nothing's exciting. Also, I'm so into the idea of working that I sit at my desk all day but there isn't really any work, per se, know. Youtube - check. Pop Candy - check. Facebook - oh, you don't wanna know.

Sunday I went to a kids show taping. When I got there, I asked a PA for help. I told her I was a guest of the host of the show. A PA had to stand guard over me while the other went to find him in wardrobe. She came back and said accusatorily, "He says he doesn't know you." All of a sudden, the three of us were standing there and I felt so embarassed. I was shocked, actually. However, after she sauntered away again (I told her my full name this time) I got mad. Does she seriously think I'm a children's show groupie? That I want to sneak into afternoon tapings at Nickelodeon? At this point, I didn't know what to say to the PA babysitting me because now small talk was even more awkward. We just stood there.

The PA came back and said, "You didn't confirm. You can stand right here until the show starts taping. Then you'll have to wait in the lobby." That tone! Such a bully (which is really just a clumsy way to try and manipulate people - not very clever).

Anyway, why does she have to be so blame-y about whether I "confirmed" or not? (I was casually invited to swing by and I took him up on it - do I have to quadruple-check? Am I trying to land a Lutz or just visit a guy at work?). I icily gave the PA a stare-down until she slunk away. I don't want to be like that but girl was rude. It made me realize how a tiny encounter can wreck your day.

Anyway, she probably should have just kicked me out. The taping went 5 hours and it was freezing backstage. I felt like I was in a meat locker surrounded by stagemoms. I don't know what was worse - that in my thin tee I was so cold I was doing a full-body, violent shiver or seeing a stagemom shriek and undulate when Akon came out. It's like, Lady! That man will hoist your kid and toss him or hump her on stage! Seriously.

At first I didn't understand how all the kids ended up there. I can understand if a child wants to be part of the audience of their favourite show but this show had just debuted the night before. How had they seen it? I asked a stagemom and she told me her kids are extras and are with an agency. Some of them had been there since 9 in the morning (it didn't end until 7:30) and this particular taping didn't even pay (they pay for weekday tapings, not weekends). The producer and floor director were respectful to the kids but it wasn't exactly a Sunday afternoon picnic - it felt! The producer would give them directions and the kids would dutifully respond (usually by freaking out and waving their arms, as they were told to - not hard for them at the beginning but by the end their energy was flagging).

I marveled at the kids' confidence. The floor director and warm-up guy would goad them with promises of being on TV, which would have been my nightmare at age 12. These kids, however, wanted to work it. They'd shimmy shimmy ya in the audience and on risers, angling and flirting with the camera. I was crouched in the shadows like some weird Phantom of the Opera. They were all cool and had dazzling smiles. How are they so sure of themselves? After the incident with the PA, I was scared of being banished to the lobby, too scared to move or touch the craft table, leading me to starve all aft (btw, this craft table had every type of finger food on it and even a basket of allergy meds - what a tricked-out craft table!).

The only reason why I wanted to stay until the end is that my friend had mentioned that he could introduce me to peeps at the production company, who also produce a reality show I'd love to work on. But by the end of this freeze-a-thon, I was in a bad mood and it was all I could do just to thank him for inviting me and then flee, far, far away. I know - I can't believe it.

So these days, I feel like a potato bug when you touch its tummy. A pathetic example of this timid phase is that I am scared to use a carwash (the non-driver in me rears her ugly head) but my white rental is dirrrty. So I took the cloth I use to wipe my kitchen counters and tried to wipe down my car. I've learned this is bad. It just smudged dirt around and around and around, now visible in very discernible streaks. I kept wiping, back and forth, in little circles, over and over, trying to make it better instead of worse and thought, "Why am I standing in the parking garage wiping my car with a kitchen shammy? Am I that much of a chicken? Everyone else just goes to a car wash. What if someone comes in here and sees this? Those dancing 12-year-olds would just cruise down the street with one hand on top of the wheel and pop their status cars into a carwash. While crumping. Then they'd ghostride it." Wipe, wipe.

Perhaps salvation comes in the form of yet another book to add to my pile. Last night I went to a workshop on writing a TV pilot and the instructor (the most engaging and confident guy on earth) held a little trivia contest at the end.

"What big sitcom star just announced his comeback to primetime today?"

Someone guessed Jerry Seinfeld. Wrong.* Next question.

"Who just announced her return to talk...."

"OH! OH! OH!" (Waving my hand at the back of the room).

"...TV to host the fourth hour of the Today Show? Yes?"

"KATHIE LEE GIFFORD!" That was me! I won. My prize? A copy of this. I need it. So while I'm reading Variety online because I have nowhere else to be (how else would I know the comings and goings of Kathie Lee?), I got to win a book. And it ain't over yet. Hello April! I have one more month to go.

*The correct answer is Ray Romano.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Weekend Review

Friday night we went to a 1992 party and everyone was already dancing when we walked in. That's how you know peeps are fun. Oh, and they went all-out - one-sided overalls, hypercolour, stirrups, teased bangs, et cetera. C+C Music Factory, Kris Kross, Dee Lite. I think I danced for 4 hours straight. Jasmin and I went with our new friend Mike. We made some new friends, too.

Saturday night was another party, this time at a bar in Eagle Rock. It was Sunny's birthday. Sunny is my perm location expert. EB and I had dindin first at a cute place on her corner in Los Feliz and then James drove out to meet us there.

Today, Sunday, I am meeting someone for lunch in Bev Hills and then going to a taping of a show on Sunset. Will tonight be another night of hijinx? We shall see.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Salad For Breakfast

The only positive thing to being alone is that I can eat weird. Like, I will eat things by myself that I would never serve a friend (you can thank me later). My fave thing to make for a super-fast lunch is shirataki with parmesan, lemon, arugula and sardines. What? It's healthy and easy to make.

So this morning I had miso soup for breakfast which is something I do at home sometimes, too (are you going to tell millions of Asians that's weird? No, not weird). And the morning before I had salad (in the car, from a take-out plastic container from the night before).

Anyway, Isaac wouldn't mind if I ate weird breakfasts, plus he LIKES my shirataki thing so there's no real upside to eating alone. It's just me trying to be un-lonely.

Tonight Jasmin and I will go out with some new friends and tomorrow, too. So I guess there are plenty of people around. But they're all so new. I like them all lots. But they aren't my home-friends. That sounded like home-fries. That's what y'all are now - home-fries. xo.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

100 % More Korean

I love this Before and After comparison although my self-portraits aren't doing it justice. In case you can't tell, my hair is soo Korean now.

The place was called "Hair Day" which is a not-quite-exact translation of "Muh-lee Ha-neun-Nal," which means "Day To Get My Hair Did". It quite literally was a "Hair Day" because this fancy, Korean "setting perm" TAKES ALL DAY. I actually spent...wait for it...4 hours in a salon chair. I began to feel like what I imagine prisoners might eventually acquiesce to, a feeling of, "This is my place. My new home."

It was just like being in Korea. The lady who shampooed my hair smelled faintly of garlic. I sat under a high-tech hair dryer that tinkles a lullabye as it orbits the head. They had crazy contraptions for waving and straightening. Nobody spoke English.

I had lots of time to stare (plus, salon mirrors help). Everyone in the salon had exceptional hair. All different styles, all amazing. I decided that I've been going about "hair" all wrong. A black lady wouldn't go to a white salon. Why do I? There's a pompous Queen St salon that fried my hair a few years ago, insisting that their way is the only way to perm. I feel like busting in there and shaking my head in their face. "I am KOREAN. If there's anything I know, IT'S PERMS." Then they'd take a moment to touch my hair ("Feel! So soft!") and then I'd spin on my heel and storm out. I can't stand that guy. He deserves to see what he is incapable of.

The entire experience was way long for me but my whole life these days has been feeling simultaneously slow and fast. Also, the ladies attending to me were so meticulous that I just loved watching them work. I looked at my whole head as an oddity, swathed in several types of rollers, a complicated ribbon of cotton padding and not only a shower cap but miniature shower caps for each ear! I thought, "I am going to be SO CUTE like a Monchichi when I get outta here." Y'all know my penchant for cute things and if you just wandered Koreatown for a second you might understand better. It is in my blood. Koreans LOVE cute.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Late Night Reds

I've been having some expensive meals. I need to cool it for a sec but here's the thing - it is exceedingly easy to meet interesting and fun people here. So I just wanna keep going. It's exactly what I was anticipating and hoping for. Random encounters lead to good, inspired conversation with strangers which can lead to more random encounters and f-u-n.

In the last 48 hours, I have met (silent counting on my fingers)...10 interesting strangers. I'm not even counting the uninteresting strangers. That's like, an average of one stranger per 3.2 hours, not counting the hours I sleep. Considering my previous misanthropic tendencies, especially in hibernation mode, this is smashing all records. Maybe it's the warm weather?

L.A. I'm having fun again. Is this bubble going to burst?

Here's a quick rundown of what I've done in the past 48: dinner at Ammo, lunch at The Ivy (yes, plenty of paps), some mentor-type conversations (with fellow Canadians in the biz), strolling Robertson, party at Cinespace, running late night red lights with The Europeans (we're ok, don't worry) (The Europeans are 2 of the aforementioned 10 strangers), went to Hammer Museum for premiere of Bjork video (replete with 3D glasses!), watched The Hills for the first time (I joined Jasmin - I guess there's always a first for everything). I can't wait for tomorrow. No plans in particular - it's just that I can't wait. Good night!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Pop That Lock

Jasmin has one item on her itinerary: get a tan. Yesterday, she followed the one-day tan plan by laying on the beach for 4 hours in the blazing sun. I sat with her for a little while (I forgot my bathing suit and towel and just sat in the sand - I guess I'm not very good at doing the beach). I left to run some errands and came back to her still lying there! Now she is like a crispy spring roll in a bikini. Frittata!

Leaving that morning, we locked ourselves out. As we stood there, holding all our bags, I closed the door of the apartment shut and immediately thought, "OMG!" I could picture the house keys on the kitchen counter. The only set of house keys. My hand was still on the doorknob but it was too late. I turned to Jasmin in near-panic. I don't even know who the landlord is here.

Jasmin said, "Ok, let's call around and if no one has an extra key we'll call a locksmith." In one short sentence, she put the fire out. I was impressed. See? Nothing's really an emergency.

I was emailing on my Blackberry with a new acquaintance who put together a website for me this weekend. I asked simply, "Locksmith?" and he shot me back instantaneously with 3 options. By the time we got in the car, Jasmin was dialing.

I drove to Santa Monica. Jasmin did the talking.

I'd brought this book to read at the beach because I figure, this information is out there - now I need to get it in my brain! Neil Strauss recommended it to me and if I'm going to take a book recommend on this topic from anyone, it's him. Anyway, as I listened to Jasmin dial locksmiths, it slowly dawned on me. I think she could have written this book.

For example, a small glimpse into how she works: When the person on the other end picked up, she said, "Hi, how are you?" before introducing herself. When you're calling a business, who asks "How are you?" I don't! So simple. Like I said, I was impressed. Such a pro. With a few, short calls, she comparison-shopped and got the nicest guy down to $75. Done!

We came back from the beach at 6 and met him out front with 30 seconds to spare. He picked the lock in another 30 seconds. And we were in!

I walked over to say hi to my website friend one street over and was knocked out, again, by how sweet our street smells. They must be blossoms that bloom at night. It's incredible. You want to drink the air. It's like a dream. So much of LA has this dreamy quality, but I know it's also a place where dreams get crushed. Not to be a downer or anything.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Shoes and Booze

Shoes. Tonight the word is shoes.

After picking up Jasmin at the airport, we went home, changed into Tiny Shiny in 5 minutes, then sped downtown to the Orpheum for Margaret Cho. The opener was Liam Sullivan. I love him. Shoes is even funnier live, for some reason.

Then we went to the downtown Standard, simply because it's the only place I've ever heard of in downtown L.A. The velvet rope gatekeepers were in full-force. We chatted one up and he told us to come back in half an hour. The holding pen is the lobby. Realizing this, I felt bad on our way out because by the time we left, the place was packed with those who were just partying away in the lobby. They will never get upstairs. Anyway, we must have missed our tiny window bequeathed to us from on-high because when we went back to the gatekeeper it was at capacity and we were faced with the indignity of waiting another hour (the horror). We decided to split, and in our push and shove through the throng, Jas said, "Nice kicks," to someone we squeezed by.

And that's how we got into the party. I call Jasmin (a Pretty Girl) my human wristband.

Instead of going to the rooftop, Nice Kicks took us into a party on the second level, a Dim Mak Bloody Beetroots show. So basically, I wore Tiny Shiny to a party that was way off the hoodie hipster scale - we were surrounded by kaffiyehs and Blublockers.

Speaking of Jazzers, can I take a poll for a sec? At the party, a couple of guys who were standing a few paces away surreptitiously took a photo of us before ambling away. I told Jasmin I think it's rude. She said that we live in an era where we don't own our own images.

I don't disagree with what she's saying and I'm not trying to fight it, but I'm just talking about manners. I mean, we were at a party with SEVERAL MisShapes-like stations with professional photography lighting set-ups plus everyone had their own tiny digital cams. There definitely wasn't a shortage of people being cute for cameras. Why did they need to take a photo of two girls just sitting there taking a time out?

I'm not against party snaps, I just think it's rude to take a photo of someone without asking first. Like, would you let a door slam in someone's face or would you hold it open for them? Manners! Jasmin says that I am in the minority. I believe she quoted her scientific figure of 1 in 20 as in, I hold an opinion that only 1 in 20 would subscribe to. Really? Really it's not weird to take a photo of someone and then amble away like it ain't no thang?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

We Tried To Make It A Dance Party

When it comes to my reasons for being here in LA, I feel like I may never leave the starting block. Although I did get up at 7 am to do sprints Friday morning.

The day began with Boot Camp. Amanda's friend is a trainer. He was one of the first people I met down here. Amanda loves his boot camp so I told him I was thinking about coming out but had to ask, "Kordo, will you...yell at us?" I hate being yelled at (all spin classes). But he said he doesn't and I could tell he wasn't lying so I joined.

It's actually really nice to be in Runyon Canyon in the blue-ish early morning light. I told Kordo I hadn't exercised in about a year but he still worked me hard and ahem, he was impressed.

My body really hurt this morning.

After boot camp, I spent the day by myself working at home with a break to go for a walk around the neighbourhood. It's really lonely walking because the sidewalks are so empty. It's lonely in general here so I got myself a Pinkberry.

The Pinkberry girl shouted at me. It was friendly shouting. Before I'd even stepped inside the door:


It made me shrink. I don't actually know what Pinkberry is so I said, "How does this work? This is frozen yogurt, right?" (Moments like these make me feel like a crazy, Canadian bumpkin).


"But what's Pinkberry?"


I ordered a small. Which is actually gigantic, but Americans don't know that.

Service here is extraordinary. They're really into it. I think I'm just used to Queen St style aloofness because I get thrown off and almost suspicious with all this extreme service. Like, I have gotten into an in-depth conversation every time I've checked out at Trader Joe's...and you know me. I hate small talk! The first cashier I met is in a band with her brother but also performs solo and yesterday's cashier is 21, Nicaraguan and a child actor. See?

But everyone is really friendly. Unless they're behind the wheel. It's almost magical, this dichotomy. Talk to a stranger face-to-face and they are just so open and helpful, so American. Wait a heartbeat at a green light and the same person behind you will HOOOONNNNK and lean on the horn. It's like, Really? That wasn't even 0.5 seconds of green light. I know I can be impatient but the entire city of Los Angeles has me beat on that front.

When I told Kristine that for the first time, LA was getting me down, she gave me the terrible and awesome advice to go for retail therapy. I would argue that I shouldn't take financial advice from Kristine (the girls at Holt's must know her by name by now) but it wasn't financial advice - it was how-to-feel-good advice, so I took it. Anyway, I discovered that I'm paying for car insurance that I already have on my Visa card. I am rectifying that situation today. I could look at it like I wasted $130 or that I saved $370 by catching the error. I prefer the latter and put my savings into the investment of a killer, shiny dress.

The shiny, tiny dress is the Pretty Girl's uniform in LA. I am not a Pretty Girl. But I like to infiltrate all types of gatherings. So I needed this dress. It isn't tiny but it is shiny, which is an acceptable approximation. Jasmin is arriving this afternoon (a bonafide Pretty Girl) so I expect that we will make use of my investment and it will pay dividends (party time, hayyyyyyy).

Last night Sean picked me up in a white convertible and we went to the Getty Friday night dance party, which ended up being the Getty Friday night stand-around party. The band was too perform-y and art-y. Oh wait, what do you call that? Performance art. The music was like, "Boop boop boop beep boo boot boo." The 3 members consisted of a Pretty Girl covered in tulle and blinking lights, a laptop guy in what looked like a Hitler-Andy Warhol Halloween mix-up and and another guy who worked the visuals by simply staring intensely at a projection on the side wall (get off the stage!).

At the Getty we met with Elizabeth, who likes to call me "Homie," which I love, and all her work friends. Her CFO's wife is visibly pregnant and we started chatting about it.

"So I guess you'll take a mat leave of...a year?"

She looked at me quizzically. "No, that is like, European."

"I'm Canadian," I offered.

"Right. I get it. Well, here it's 2 months max. If you took 3 months it would be like, What is taking her so long?" She said it with pride.

Sean and I went around to another party at a boutique hotel bar and then ended the night eating at Mel's on Sunset. I was starving, and thought about how I had started off the day. It's what I liked about not exercising - you don't get that hungry. Now it's back to wanting to eat all the time - it's like maintaining a pet. I inhaled a grilled cheese and fries and divulged to Sean my secret fascination with the bodies of obese people. We were surrounded by them. We discovered that one of them is famous because as we were walking out, I heard an LA-type tell him that she LOVED his work in blahblahblah. Does a celeb sighting count if you don't know who it is?

Off to pick up Jazzercize at the airport!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Day 11 in LA

This morning I woke up with the feeling of a hangover but it wasn't alcohol-related; it was a sad hangover. I did have a beer before I went to sleep, but trust me, that made me feel better much more than it made me feel worse.

An aside: I don't even drink as an activity, but it really bugs me that I can't go to a bar and get tipsy. I am way too nervous of a driver and cheap drunk (a whiff of a g and t makes me giggle) to drive after a drink and I can't let the appropriate amount of time lapse before getting behind the wheel because at that point I'm usually asleep. If I've ever needed a drink it was last night, but instead I stood at a bar stone sober and then drove myself home in my compact car to sit on the futon in the living room and have a beer by myself.

On the plus side, I ran into a friend! A friend with whom I have a longer history than 10 days! At the Born Ruffians and Cadence Weapon concert, I ran into Sean, a video director from Toronto. It was nice to see a familiar face and in particular, someone with whom I am not that close but just close enough to joke around. That way, I didn't have to go into the long, sad story (not that long or sad to anyone except myself) of being crushingly mortified in a professional situation with a hero of mine. He's in town for a week at a hotel with a pool. I hope to be in that pool tomorrow afternoon.

Another aside: Please go see Born Ruffians play live. They were really good.

Update: I spoke to Margaret Cho again today, so the story will run. However, it was only half as good an interview and I felt really sheepish. But I'm just glad it's over. Time to move on.

Just to describe how I feel right now, when I drove Isaac to the airport yesterday morning, I told him how much I enjoyed all the laughing we did while he was here. I said I felt like I wouldn't laugh again for the next six weeks. And now I regret that I said that because it feels a little prescient.

Before I came here, I said to Sophie that I hoped spending some time away would make me like living in Toronto again. She said, "You always say that!" Which is true. But being in Africa is an adventure. Same for France. Same for Korea. Croatia, Brazil. Being in LA isn't really that much of an adventure. It's just me being here without my friends and family, the stuff that makes life fun. So maybe I've done it. I've found the place to go to that will make me just want to go home again.

The one bright spot of my day: hiking Runyon Canyon with my friend James. It was really beautiful and he's great company.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Margaret Cho Disaster

So I just interviewed Margaret Cho. You all know how much I frickin love Margaret Cho. So of course she was great, talking about racist America and somehow making it funny (true gift), telling me about her new VH1 show and how her parents will be in it. We got into politics too.

It was nice.

Until I hit playback.

I'd forgotten my phone-to-recorder manuals at home so I gave myself lots of time this morning to play with all the cords and accoutrements (if there are actual computers that fit into manila envelopes why does this phone-recording stuff have to be so complex?).

I don't have any friends here to call and record so I phoned Isaac to leave him a voice message on our phone at home. Then I played it back and listened to my own dorky message. Et voila. I checked my audio rigging...but only on one end of the conversation. Mine.


I just about had a heart attack after the phone interview with Margaret was done, when I played it back to myself and heard my own questions followed by long spells of silence like they were lost balloons floating into the sky. Useless!

I didn't know what to do so I phoned her management back and admitted what had happened. The lady on the other end emitted a laugh (good sign? or cruel ending?). I am going to try and get some more time with Margaret tomorrow through her publicist, a different gatekeeper, the person I originally arranged with.

I am so upset that I did something so dumb. I am also upset that I am upset and that I am actually crying about this because I know it's not a big deal like death or a car accident or breaking your neck (things that cross my mind when I'm stressed) but I have to leave the house now to do another interview and I feel so frazzled and lame. I have also been inside all day prepping for the interview, construction going on outside on the street all day long, driving me crazy. Plus all the clocks in the house show a different time which makes me feel that I'm not going crazy - I actually AM crazy. I don't know what time it is!

Isaac Gets to Veto Entries Involving Him

It's Isaac's last day in town. We ate tons of amazing food and blew off Kelsey Grammer.

For some reason, I thought it would be fun to see a taping of a show. Hear the sitcom without the laugh track. So I signed us up for Kelsey Grammer's show "Back To You." It was either that or random Jimmy Kimmel. That dance competition show with the guy from American Idol was totally booked (you KNOW I would have been there in a heartbeat).

Anyway, we made our way to the studio, 90 minutes early just as they asked. Standing in line, Isaac casually asked how long the taping would be.

"Two to four hours."

FOUR HOURS? Are they nuts? So we wait in line for an hour and a half plus four hours of taping? That is practically an entire work day. Being an audience member is actual work. Isaac and I sheepishly did a little tap number and shuffled away from the long line. We made a beeline for the car.

Speaking of the car - we spend so much time in the car! It is weird. Passenger seat gets to program music. I told him his iPod has too much junk on it. I don't know why I bother trying to put it on shuffle.

As I hit fast-forward:
"No! Go back to that one! That's a good song!"

"It's Senor Coconut. Really?"

"I like Senor Coconut!"

Cue Senor Coconut.

"Well. It sounds better usually. This car stereo is bad."

"Really, Isaac? It's the stereo?"

"Well, fine. Play some of your cooool music then."

"No, we'll listen to this."

Instead of seeing Kelsey Grammer, envisioning Sideshow Bob all the while, we went to Poquito Mas and it was AMAZING. I had a brick-size burrito of ahi tuna and lots of delicious other things. We ate it on the patio, as usual, which really means eating it in the parking lot. But it's the Canadian in us - we just can't resist sitting outside when it is warm enough to do so.

Goodbye, Isey.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Desert Blues

We just got back from a mini road trip. We drove to a national park near Coachella, which is not hipster haven at this time of year (we were about 50 days early for that). It is, instead, a meeting ground for the nomadic tribe known as "retirees" in "mobile homes." We were going to the desert.

A few hours out of town, with nary a cactus in sight, I spied an outlet mall. "Isaac!" I practically shouted. I made him stop and told him I would only need 30 minutes (only the Saks and Barney's could be worth a look, right?). He was mildly annoyed because, "This is not what I..."...(silence). He wisely cut himself off.

In the end, he needed more time to do more shopping. This is where I flip my hand and put it inches from his face and say, "Whatever!"

Isaac and I spent a night at Joshua Tree. His idea. It's not like I don't like camping or the desert; I loved everything about the Sahara when I went with Tania in January. No shower for a week? Not a problem. Hair like a Brillo pad filled with sand? A-ok. But camels and Tuareg music in the Sahara are pretty spectacular. Joshua trees in California? I guess they're nice to look at and all but...


Isaac and I realized this after a chilly hike around with the big prize being Skull Rock, a rock that mildly resembles a skull (that's being generous). Yes, the rock formations are stunning BUT SO IS THE COLD.

I considered just sleeping in the car like Tania and I did at the Fete du Chameau (you would have, too). Isaac and I ate a weird meal sitting in the car as the sun went down (salmon out of a tin, cheese) got drunk passing a bottle of wine back and forth (yes it felt weird drinking in a car) and then made a quick dash for the tent. We had put it up, after all. We eventually dozed (wine helped) but woke up to the tent wildly thrashing in the cutting desert wind - all four sides of the tent were freaking out like we were inside something alive. Vinyl, but alive. I thought, Well, at least it's almost morning so we can just skedaddle. Then I looked at my watch - it was 1 am. It was a long night.

At 6 am, we finally hightailed it. Our neighbour's tent in the next spot over had lost their fly (stuck in a faraway prickly bush) and half their tent was collapsed. Why were they still in it? Vroom (the sound of us leaving). I told Isaac that he owed me like, 10 hours at the outlet mall.

We cruised along the highway all morning. We spent a little time in Palm Springs. When I was in Saskatoon in the dead of winter last month, I thought, This place is so bleak but that's its charm. Palm Springs is the opposite. It is perfect and gorgeous with tall palm trees lining the wide manicured streets and giant, snow-capped mountains that point towards endless blue sky. I guess that's technically beautiful but something about the perfection is disgusting. It's sterile and there's something about the incongruity of golf lawns and Hummers in the desert that made me want to scream. Is anything real there?

We poked into thrift shops in Palm Springs (you would think vintage would be fantastic there but it's not) and jumped into a gorgeous outdoor public pool when it became unbearably hot, mid-afternoon. The high school swim team were getting their yearbook photo taken. It took about, oh, 2 and a half hours. Teenage girls are uncontrollable. That's kind of what's awesome about them.

On our way back to LA, at a rest stop, we met Slim, a 250-lb pig with a red diamante barrette perched on the front of her wobbly, morbidly obese head. She belongs to an older couple, very friendly. They're from Louisiana. The three of them live in a van, homeless after being hit by Ivan and then again by Katrina. The lady was so friendly and full of jokes but when she divulged that last bit of info to me, I didn't know what to say anymore.

Back in LA, we hit Koreatown for grilled bbq...indoors, grilled ourselves over charcoal. It struck me that for a camping trip, we were doing things backwards.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Weekend Review

After a jam-packed day on Friday (Getty, Upright Citizens Brigade, Katsuya, Museum of Jurassic Technology) we practically didn't do anything on Saturday. I like both paces, full-on.

Saturday night we met with my old friend James (Isaac: "He looks JUST like James Spader!") and his friend Sara from Toronto (all my friends here only hang out with other Canadians). They took us to a restaurant in Thai town. I've never been to a Thai town. There were so many Thai resto's. Fantastic!

Above is the view from Griffith Park Observatory. It's a very cool visit, in a Science Center kind of way, i.e. I read a placard about how every element in the cells in our bodies used to be part of a star. Is that what Moby meant?

p.s. Katsuya was the best sushi that I have ever had (no exaggeration) and the Museum of Jurassic Technology wasn't a total waste of time (me: "While I hated every moment that I was in there...") but the way you feel after you leave is really what makes it worthwhile (if you can call it that).

Saturday, March 15, 2008

"I Love L.A."

Friday, March 14, 2008

Another Perfect Day

Our Fun Week continues. This morning we ran some errands and found a strange little Indian buffet and grocery. We stopped there for lunch and ate our delicious food sitting on rickety chairs by what essentially amounts to a highway. There's very little that can put a dent in SUNSHINE. Even honking and traffic.

We spent the afternoon at LACMA. The new Broad center has an amazing collection of all the big names - Jeff Koons (Bubbles and MJ!), Cindy Sherman (incredible), Damien Hirst (ew). I was mesmerized by this gigantic doggie balloon made out of stainless steel and all I could think was that Koons probably had never even put his own hands on it. I don't want to be naive about the business of conceptual art but what's amazing is the lifelike rendering of the actual installation, not just the concept! Argh. All these nameless underlings who spend years manufacturing these amazing things that one person takes all the credit for. Hm.

Then we drove to Los Feliz to meet Isaac's 93-year-old relative Yami (cutest nickname ever), real name Sol. He had a day named after him last year here in LA. He walks a lot (he's done the California coast from Tijuana to San Fran) and for my benefit, he did the math on the stairs in his own home. He says he's climbed higher than Mt. Everest if you count how many steps he's taken in the 55 years that he's lived there. He is too cute.

He has a gigantic avocado tree that must have 600 avocadoes dangling from the branches. His daughter Janet took a long fruit-picking instrument and brought down a bunch for us to take home. Plus we ate kumquats from his yard.

We picked up camping gear from my new friend Elizabeth (for a trip to Joshua Tree monument this weekend) and then stuffed ourselves at Mexico City. Now Isaac is losing his mind, reading an article from The Onion. He has attempted to read some out loud but he's laughing too hard for me to understand. Something about Marmaduke. I have a feeling that the local availability of print copies of The Onion will be my comeuppance for having a Blackberry.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

LAX Arrival

This morning I picked up Isaac at the airport. Rejoice! We are going to have lots of fun, plus, he helps me be calm as I practice my driving on the mean streets of LA.

We started by hitting the In'N'Out burger right by the airport. He said he wanted to do it because it's in The Big Lebowski (I don't remember that because I don't remember anything, ever). He then told me that lots of celebrities enjoy frequenting the In'N'Out burger. I get a kick out of when Isaac says things like that. Doesn't he know who he's dating? I could tell him what Britney had for lunch today. (Not proud of it, it's just true).

Then we went downtown. I told him to be my GPS and direct us through Koreatown so I could catch a glimpse. I loved reading all the Korean signage, deciphering what they mean ("Ja Jee Ba" is obviously a jazz bar). We cruised by a fancy salon. I can't wait to go back and test just HOW Korean they are by handing over my hair to someone who will give me a Korean perm. Koreans do it best.

Our destination downtown was Clifton's, a cafeteria that is like a geriatric Disneyland. The decor is incredible, a campy indoor forest complete with waterfall and mechanical racoon, slowly descending into a garbage can and rising back up with his catch, a fish made of paper. This place was state of the art in its heyday but a relic now, as are all the patrons. Everyone there either was either wearing headphones or pulling a bag on wheels. In the cafeteria line-up, Isaac said quietly, "That's you when you're 90" and I turned around to the coolest looking senior citizen ever. She looked like MK Olsen except ancient.

Sometimes I feel anxious, driving around LA having fun when I should be working and sticking to the list but I'm so glad Isaac is here. We have our own list of things to do (although his includes things further along the nerdmeter like the Jurassic Technology Museum - what does that even mean?) and I'm happy to have someone with whom I can discover LA beyond the Sunset strip.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

53 Days In LA

So I'm spending spring in LA. I have a to-do list that revolves around making contacts, having meetings and not being overly distracted by perfect weather. My street smells like blossoms. After wearing knee-high Sorels and trudging through the crazy snowstorm in Toronto a few days ago, it's hard not to be distracted by this blossom-y, perfect weather.

I arrived late last night after a long delay. Can you believe that Tango doesn't give a meal on a flight from TO to LA? That is just asking for some air rage. I tried to buy a sandwich but only had 100 dollar bills USD. They wouldn't take it. I was in this predicament because I had rashly spent every last Canadian penny I had on a quickie manicure in the airport terminal (10-minute mani! Brilliant!) in anticipation of my meeting the next day. Can't go to a meeting with raggedy hands like a mummy who does hard labour, which is what my hands looked like.

This is all to say that I arrived exhausted and starved. And then I got behind the wheel. Every minute I spend driving, I am 100% stressed. There is too much in my visual field. I exercise extreme concentration every time I drive, which I try to do in a zen state because I get lost every single time. I just kind of do concentric circles until I finally hit the target.

This morning I had a meeting with an agent. Now, I will always maintain that I have exceptional talent in the packing department (ask anyone) but this time I did forget one thing, an important thing: toothpaste. Yeah, it might seem easy enough to buy a new tube, but not in the state I was in last night. Plus, I truly had no idea where I was. So I had to plan my entire morning around how to brush my teeth on the way to the meeting.

It revolved around Starbucks. Because I'm not a regular, I realize that I treat Starbucks for what it is, to me - a public washroom available to me on any street corner. The plan was to buy some toothpaste, hit a Starbucks, inhale a latte (no coffee in the apartment) and then brush teeth in the bathroom.

I saw Ice-T at the Starbucks. It was in Beverly Hills. Does he realize that his name is something that is available for sale there? I liked seeing him because it reminded me that people work hard and do regular things like get coffee. Oh geez. I am thinking such LA thoughts already.

The meeting with the agent wasn't noteworthy. I knew nothing would come of it when he started talking about the weather ("Welcome to LA! It's supposed to be 70 degrees all week!").

Walking away from it, I realized that I may need a cheerleader for this whole process. Someone or something that will help me realize that I'm not doing something crazy. That's because I had a thought today, post-meeting. I thought, I'm against beauty pageants, right? They're archaic. But something about this meeting-agents-thing makes me feel like I'm a contestant in a pageant. The only difference is that it's one-on-one, over a longer period of time and behind closed doors. My talent is that I can talk into a mic. Now I feel weird...but I can't afford to think like this. It's only Day One! How do actors do it? They must be maniacs.

I had tried to look nice for the meeting. I wore sky-high heels but didn't drive in them. I put them in a plastic bag and was paranoid that I'd forget them at home by the door and then have to walk in to the meeting in my driving shoes (what am I a senior citizen?) so I checked many times that I had my heels. After the meeting, I took off my patent leather heels and put on my Birkenstocks and drove away. What does it all mean?