Sunday, June 24, 2012

My First Weekend

I'll report on my internship once I've had a little more time there.  This is a post about my first weekend in LA :-)

Friday night, Katie and I tried to see that Pixar adventure I've been pining after since I found out about its first female protagonist: Brave.  Using Fandango as our guide, we were sent to a fancy shmancy mall with the craziest underground parking lot I have ever been in.  There were a dozen different colors each encapsulating their own set of the alphabet.  Some parts of the parking lot had right away, there were arrows pointing to different spots, it was crazy.

Most malls in L.A. seem to be made by this one guy's who drew all inspiration from M.C. Escher.  We wound our way up to the movie theater to find that a lot of other people had wanted to see Brave on its opening night - enough people to fill a theater, even.

So Katie and I sat on a strange cushioned bench and contemplated how to ease the awkwardness of transitioning from one place to another.  Unfortunately, Katie and I still haven't quite gotten over the idea that California is not warm after sundown, and returned to the car pretty quickly to get home, where we instead watched Larry Crowne.  I was so disappointed that I didn't like that movie because I love Tom Hanks, and want everything he does to be successful.  It was just trying so hard to create a lovable band of misfits and failed so much.  The one good thing that happened during that movie was I recognized Chet Hanks as the pizza delivery guy and as a consequence, Katie thought I was cool for having been in an elevator and a callback with him and will hopefully be my friend longer. Thanks, Chet!

Saturday was incredible.  Woke up 4 hours before I had set my alarm to go off and watched as Katie left to go for a run and I stayed to work on my script.  When she got back, she asked if I wanted go join her and her family friends that she hadn't seen in many years to "go to some library."  Seeing it as an opportunity to see some new place in L.A. and fulfill every college kid's dream of maybe getting a meal, I agreed to go.
When I said "yes", I had no idea the magical day that was in store for me, Katie, Bob and Gail.

Bob and Gail are relatives of Katie, but of a relation that she is not really fully aware of....somewhere on her dad's side they exist under some degree of cousinhood.  They told us to find their "cinnamon colored car" and soon after we met, we were underway following their MapQuest directions to The Huntington Library.  Gail was a recently retired 1st grade teacher, and we both discussed what a great, cute age that was for kids.  Bob was a doctor originally from Chicago who had done his residency in LA, and decided to stay here permanently when he could drive his convertible with a top down in December.  Gail had a habit of telling Bob, "Well, you blew it." when we didn't make turns at exactly the right moment, but after a while, we nearly ran into the enchanting Huntington Library Entrance.

Student I.Ds at the ready, the Nopars kindly bought us tickets and then we strolled through the rose garden, awaiting our reservation time at the tea room.  I think the grounds speak for themselves here.


After strolling around, we were fortunate enough to have reversed lunch at the Tea Room, easily one of my favorite dining experiences of all time.  The waitress, Ana Maria, was exceptionally sweet as she explained the workings of The Tea Room.  You could call her over at any time to order your tea.  The scones were yours at the end of the meal, but while you were here you should try them with their fresh butter, mixed berry jam and marmelade.  You could get up at anytime to eat a small yet mighty square buffet table. (My words not hers.)  I started with kiwi and strawberry tea, and was delighted to receive a whole pot of it to myself while I tried the jam and fell into a passionate obsession.  I went so far as to ask Ana Maria if the jam was carried in the gift shop, and it wasn't.  This was, perhaps, more disappointing than it should have been because the visceral response I had to this jam was as intense as my love for Girodono's pizza....which is saying a lot.

Then came the "real" food. Sandwiches of carrot and ginger cream cheese and cucumber and mint.  Salads with chicken and sesame salad.  Small bricks of cheese, green cheeses and munster cheese and peper jack and cheddar and white cheese, and huge chilled bowls of fresh fruit.  Plate after plate, Katie, Bob, Gail and I enjoyed the bountiful plenty - not an exaggeration.  For dessert, brownies, and lemon bars and mini whipped chocolate cupcakes and sugar cookies and more fruit.

It was incredible.  As we wrapped up our scones, I begged Ana Maria to let me take home the remaining jam.  She apologized that there were no containers to carry the jam home with me.  The only blemish on an otherwise perfect lunch.

We continued walking around the Huntington estate, most famously the home of Blue Boy.

On one of the "kid-friendly" cards they had about Blue Boy trying to engage children in thinking about the art asked "Try to describe the brushstrokes!  Are they thick or thin?  Are they large or short?  Are they galloping or gliding?"  The idea of galloping brushstrokes really tickled my fancy, even right now it does, galloping!  what a silly thing for brushstrokes to do.


Got home after getting cultured for about 6 hours with a promise from Bob and Gail to bring us to see the star-studded production of The Producers at the Bowl, which is very exciting and generous.  We thanked the Nopars about two dozen times before the day was through, and I feel like that still wasn't enough.

That night, one of my roommates invited her friends over before going on the Bruin Party Bus, which is the awesome UCLA based business where students over 21 can pay a flat fee for a party bus and access to a local club.  I met her dainty friend, Shawna (popular name around here), and one of her guy friends who had brought two other guy friends along.  They were an interesting trio.  One was partner in his father's landscaping business, who asked me what a subletter was.  I told him it was time to demand "& Sons" was added to his father's company's title.   Another guy was a week away from entering his third boxing tournament for a local radio station.  "Oh!  Is this going to be another one where you guys are all tied together?" the third friend asked, sipping straight Petron.  "No," the boxer replied "This one is called "Death Musical Chairs."

They left for the club and Katie and I hopped in our swimsuits and headed over to a local party with Northwestern kids.  Katie was shocked by how many people were out here, apparently the Michigan State --> L.A. internship rate is way less.

Sunday we woke up and went to a thrift store called Jet Rag.  They had heaps of clothing on the floor all for $1, but I made the mistake of wandering inside the store.  It was a dress-lovers paradise.  Dresses  were sorted into decades, and once I thought I had stumbled through all of them longingly, there was a sign on an entrance to another room that said "More dresses this way.  Remember to feed your parking meters until 6 p.m :-)"  How well did that sign know me.

I bought a pair of boots under the promise that I buy nothing else for a month.  Hopefully I can do that. The thrift store was not really that cheap, an incredibly tattooed salesman explained to me that the $2,000 jean jacket hanging on the wall was handmade from the 40's.

Afterwards, Katie showed me where she was living - the USC Co-Op.  A dumpy plaid couch and a trampoline stood guard in the white house's front yard.  When I walked in, I immediately burst out laughing.  Bicycles and posters of every sort hung from the walls, stairs, anything with a surface.  There were no lights turned on, just a few people sitting around a kitchen table beneath ceilings covered in sinking blankets.  Katie explained there were probably 20-30 people living in the house at a time.  There was a lot of couch surfing.  A huge pile of clothing upstairs was the "recycling bin" from which anyone could take.  Downstairs and outside, there was a pen with 4 chickens.  Behind them, a small garage covered in blankets where three people lived.  The backyard was also full of an orange tree, a graden and stray cats.  Parked 7 cars back on the driveway was a car sporting a spray painted "SAY YES" amongst other designs.   As we walked back through the kitchen, I spotted another hallway, where someone had taken the time to construct 7 ten-foot cloth mushrooms and tacked them onto the walls.  The trunk(?) of each mushroom acted as a timeline of current political events.

We walked back into the kitchen.  A messy room with an on-the-floor cabinent full of spices.  Two girls carried steaming bowls into the dining room "one-two-three- DINNER!" they yelled.

"Can you eat dinner?" I asked Katie.
"No.  You have to sign up to cook to be able to eat."

Afterwards we head to Katie's local haunt to write on the weekends, where her roommate works.  The owner of the cafe, like everyone else in LA had a dog that wandered around the eating area.  Later, Chloe's boyfriend and a friend and "horrorphile" showed up and were appalled to learn that we were not scary-film enthusists ourselves.  Chloe and Casey are both ridiculously talented musicians.  Check them out!



The best part about sitting at the cafe in West Hollywood was seeing almost a constant stream of adolescent Orthodox Jewish boys riding their bicycles and scooters in full suits, in and out of our view from the cafe.  One large group passed and  a few minutes later, a kid came running after them.  "Wow.  That sucks.  He doesn't have a bike or a scooter." I said.

"But he has his faith." Katie retorted.  I wrote it down to use as a punchline later somewhere down the road, but thought it a very good closing thought for myself, a girl who less than a month ago, didn't have any plans for the summer, only to find myself on this Sunday with my very best friend, writing a script in West Hollywood, eating a very good piece of cheesecake.


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