Live from the City of Angels

I’m writing this from a giant fluffy nest of pillows and futon in my room on the eleventh floor of a hotel in downtown Los Angeles.  I’m here for a couple of days, celebrating the marriage of one of my favorite people, a law school bestie.  I flew out yesterday morning, billing time on the plane.  I’m writing an appellate brief right now, and flying up over the clouds is actually a kind of great place for thinking more broadly and creatively about complicated legal issues, so I made really good progress on the brief.  Although since airplane seats are seriously so miniscule these days, and the dude in front of me laid his seat back to take a looooong nap, it was a  bit of a challenge to type with my laptop shoved up into my abdomen.

The past couple of weeks have been good ones, busy ones.  The boys started school, and we’ve been slowly but steadily chipping away at the moving-in tasks, before and after work and on weekends.  We sold some furniture and purchased some other furniture and curtains – for the first two weeks in the house we had no curtains in the master bedroom, which faces the street, and so we had to tiptoe around in the dark at night and change clothes in the closet.  We still need a couple of rugs.  The upstairs bedrooms have wall to wall carpet, but the carpet is a sisal style that is rough on your tootses.  Jack came out the other morning and said “Mom – we gotta do something about this carpet.  It hurts my feet!”  I can’t kneel on it to get Craig dressed – I have to put a pillow down.  There are a few other items on the “want” list, including bar stools for the giant kitchen island, a large couch, area rugs for downstairs, bookshelves . . . but we’ve got the basics for now, so that we can get largely unpacked and functional.

We love our neighbors.  Across the street is a little boy who falls (in age) right between Jack and Liam, and the three of them are already inseparable.  When I come home from work he’s either at our house or the boys are at his house.  We’re making friends with his parents, too.  There’s a 12 year old girl across the street who will be babysitting for us at some point – she seems very sweet.  I have not yet met the blind man who owns all the lime trees next door, but I look forward to befriending him, not just for the potential limeade and key lime pie and lime-cilantro chicken I’m gonna get to make. . . but that does factor into my enthusiasm.

The boys started school, and it’s going well.

Three backpacks

Three backpacks

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So it’s a week later . . . my radio silence is largely due to being in a real crush at work.  All of us are drowning right now – aaaaah, litigation and its unpredictable ebbs and flows.

The wedding weekend was amazing.  The flight from New Orleans to Los Angeles is direct, and takes about three and a half hours. My flight was uneventful, though I learned that on the same day I’d left, a flight out of New Orleans had been diverted and made an emergency landing because one of the engines essentially fell off. No such shenanigans for my flight, phew.

I arrived in Los Angeles and downloaded Lyft, the West coast competitor to Uber. I learned that most drivers actually drive for both, and once I “price-checked” a Lyft, decided on an Uber instead due to cost, and ended up with the same driver anyway.   On this occasion, my driver was an older man who had been laid off after twenty or so years in the business of mastering movie trailers, and while he looked for something else he drove for Lyft. He had two daughters who his wife stayed home to raise – “we weren’t going to let our children be raised by wolves in some daycare” – he volunteered this after I told him I was a lawyer with three kids. Eh, but truly he was a pleasant man, a bit anxious, and we had plenty of time to get to know one another as we sat parked in L.A. traffic for ages.

After I checked into my hotel, I worked out in the hotel gym for a couple of hours and then got ready for an evening out. My Lyft driver picked me up, and fiddled with her broken phone while driving, until I asked her to quit. She was young and a little bit dumb, and the small talk was pretty painful, but the ride didn’t take long. All out-of-town guests had been invited to the rehearsal dinner, at an Argentine steak house on Melrose. They had rented out a back room and waiters just kept bringing giant plates of food – empanadas, mashed potatoes, hot salted fries, a bubbling cast iron pan of seasoned button mushrooms, a salad with onions and vinaigrette dressing with olives and tomatoes, skirt steak and mounds of rice. The wine flowed, and I sat with friends who had also traveled from New Orleans for the wedding – another law school friend. The bride sat with us most of the night – such good fortune for us, given all of the people pressing for her attention. She couldn’t eat due to nerves, but chatted and introduced us to her betrothed, who we all instantly liked deeply. He hugged us and kissed our cheeks, told us about his heritage – Israeli Jews on one side, and Italian Jersey Catholics on the other (his mother converted). The bride’s parents are Russian Jews who fled the Soviet Union in the 80s and settled in California. Her tiny grandmothers were there, hollering in Russian and fretting over lighting the Shabbat candles while the bride rolled her eyes and petted them lovingly, telling them in Russian that the Shabbat candles were the least of her worries and to please, darling, just hush.

Rehearsal dinner - hearing speeches

Rehearsal dinner – hearing speeches

After the dinner/speeches/being stuffed, I caught a Lyft home – a somewhat sketchy old guy whose car smelled strongly of weed, but who turned out to be quite a character, some sort of performer who drives for extra cash to support his band. He was obnoxious and theatrical, and we had great conversations as we wound our way through L.A. traffic. I arrived in the hotel and proceeded to not sleep all night, due to my terrible insomnia.

The wedding was beautiful.  Traditional Jewish wedding, with a Ketubah (intricate cut paper designs, all in Hebrew, flown in from Israel); beautiful chuppah draped in flowers; the glass stomping; an amazing cantor who sang the whole wedding and charmed our socks off; the hora (that thing where they put the bride and groom up on chairs and dance around them in a circle, and I totally got in that circle, goy though I am!); bedeken di kallah (the veiling of the bride – she wore two veils, one in back for style and one in front for tradition, and her groom checked that it was her underneath – pretty cute);  the seven blessings (she did not walk around him in a circle seven times, though – there wasn’t enough space).  She also had some cute things that I don’t think were “Jewish” – though I’m not sure – including having no attendants and just their entire families stood up under the chuppah next to them, and when her niece and nephew walked up the aisle with their mother, they carried giant pink balloons.

Lovely chuppah, charming cantor

Lovely chuppah, charming cantor

I love the little details at weddings

I love the little details at weddings

Flowers for days

Flowers for days

The wedding was in Laurel Canyon, which is beautiful and also made me a tiny bit claustrophobic

The wedding was in Laurel Canyon, which is beautiful and also made me a tiny bit claustrophobic

The guest book was a slice of tree . . . cool

The guest book was a slice of tree . . . cool

My kids' interest was piqued when they saw these balloons.  Now they want to go to LA, which is apparently the land of giant balloons.

My kids’ interest was piqued when they saw these balloons. Now they want to go to LA, which is apparently the land of giant balloons.

Speeches.  The bride's parents gave the cutest speech - each taking a turn giving advice to the bride and groom.

Speeches. The bride’s parents gave the cutest speech – each taking a turn giving advice to the bride and groom.

I've always wondered why we think giving a bunch of drunk people sparklers at the end of a party is a good idea . . . ;)

I’ve always wondered why we think giving a bunch of drunk people sparklers at the end of a party is a good idea . . . 😉

I love this girl, I loved being invited to her wedding, and I love that I got to go (shout out to the hubs for manning up and taking a weekend solo with the kids, not either of our favorite things to do!)

Law school besties

Law school besties

On Saturday before the wedding, I went to the Santa Monica pier with friends who had also flown in from New Orleans.  The plan was to rent bikes and ride along an asphalt strip designed for bikes (but also populated by a lot of dippy pedestrians who were not paying attention, I almost plowed into several people and not to be mean, but they mighta had it comin’).

A ‘marine layer’ cloud cover made for a chilly start to the morning. I caught a Lyft from my downtown hotel to a coffee place called Toast, on West Third. I met my fellow law school friends at their table outside, already on their second cappuccino and ready to order. I myself had a drip coffee and sourdough egg-and-avocado sandwich, with a side of browned and salted potatoes. I did not pay for many meals in Los Angeles – this was one, and it was glorious. We were fueling up for our excursion.  These friends had rented a car, and I hopped in back as we headed in the direction of Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Muscle Beach, and the other funky little communities along the beach that marks the Santa Monica Channel.

We paid too much for parking and then wandered down to the pier to find the bike rental place. The pier was full of street vendors, carnival rides, small shacks serving hot and greasy food. An aggressive and unfriendly preacher hollered angrily at one end of the pier, and a much kinder and gentler preacher occupied the other end, telling all of Santa Monica to repent their sinning ways. There were dancers, musicians, people who would airbrush your name in Chinese lettering, or do a quick caricature. One girl was bounding around as joyful as a puppy, dressed in a full astronaut getup and holding a rainbow umbrella – her purpose we could not determine, as she had no sign or tip jar and we kept our distance, lest she corner us and be as crazy as she appeared. Behind us was the bustling city, the busy Santa Monica Boulevard. To the north, mountains loomed in the distance, and long and lanky palm trees loped sullenly along the mountain road. Straight ahead, dozens of people fished off the pier. My friend and I strained our eyes in vain for a shark, but just saw a few surfers and brave swimmers – the Pacific is cold, and that marine layer was hanging in there making it pretty chilly at first, but eventually it warmed up to the absolute most pleasant weather you could imagine.  We three swampy overheated New Orleanians all openly pondered moving to this amazing place where you don’t melt the instant you go outside.

We spent two hours cycling through 70 degree, zero percent humidity glorious weather, sea breeze riffling our hair, looking at all the weird and wonderful sights that Venice Beach has to offer.  We stopped for a beer in an open air bar and devoured some chicken nachos, then waited twenty minutes while the befuddled bartender searched for our tab (three beers buddy – just let me pay it please).  It was a really nice, much-needed day.

 

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Santa Monica Pier

The pier.  This is a skort, but I still got some scandalized looks while riding my bike in it.

The pier. This is a skort, but I still got some scandalized looks while riding my bike in it.

View from the pier

View from the pier – it reminded me of Rio de Janeiro, buildings right up to the sand.

Panorama

Panorama

Venice Beach

Venice Beach

Surf

Surf

And now it’s the following weekend, and my sisters are visiting for my birthday.   And they all just woke up, so that’s a post for another day – I’m going to go enjoy them!

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