"Linked together by the tedious reality of interconnecting freeways it’s almost as if the car has replaced the old community center. Los Angeles with its 72 suburbs in search of a city has no center ... it’s in our imagination."
--Diane Keaton, in her foreword essay for the photography book, "Los Angeles"
First things first, set the rental car radio dial to 89.9 KCRW, The Best Radio Station in THE WORLD, nay, Universe. It was kd lang who gave me the nickname that I now use for it, "my daily musical multi-vitamin." Thanks to a certain Mr. Harcourt and the Internet, my mornings remain delightfully eclectic, no matter my address.
Second Task: Call Gins, another LA-native who never seems to be far from the Internet, and ask her to please locate the nearest In-n-Out Burger, pronto. (They are only in California, Nevada and Arizona.) Screech tires into the parking lot and gently place all goals of vegetarianism aside for a few hours while I make love to my DoubleDouble. For anyone that remotely likes burgers, this place is Holy ground.
(At some point here, I receive the most bizarre text message of my life. From my badass friend, Laurianna (a firefighter in Albuquerque), calmly letting me know that she'd just given birth to her second son ... on her bathroom floor that morning! Y'know, how is that supposed to make me feel?!? Lazy, that's how! Sheesh! The nerve! Anyway, welcome to the world, Jack!)
Then, I check into my hotel, Oceana, which is a swanky boutique spot right on the ocean in Santa Monica. My room is so big, I believe it beats my Denver apartment in square footage. Apparently, the place used to be condos so the rooms are pretty self-contained with two balconies, a game corner, office nook, kitchen and a humongous bed that could easily fit four or five very good friends. As with most hotels of this nature, I immediately had the urge to move in permanently and have all my mail forwarded immediately. Instead, I just let my suitcase explode all over the place and did some spiral leaps in my new living room while munching on the goodies they have provided: strawberries, figs, chocolate chip cookies and champagne grapes. YUM.
Every last detail in my room has forethought and some complexity - from the chess/checker table to the knotted thingamajig plant on my desk. Delightful.
For some reason, in hotel rooms, I must have the television on at all times. This is strange because I do not watch it at home, ever. (Although, I will occasionally turn it on during football season, mainly because I find the sound of football games, including the male-centric ads, wildly comforting. Must have something to do with Dad.) Short of jumping on the bed and raiding the mini-fridge, this is me, being extravagant. When I crawl into my fluffy white oyster of a bed that night, it is the remote control I cling to, until I am drifting off to my late night dream date, Conan O'Brien, whom I adore.
Behold, my Santa Monica porch. Yup. I'm just trying to deal with these gol' dern business trips the best I can, you know? It ain't easy but ... well, okay, I confess: Sometimes, it is very easy.