Archive | March, 2014

Licensed To Kill Or, I Passed The California Driving Test

29 Mar

Prius at end of canyon road The Prius now has almost 100,000 miles on her; she got me out here; she leads me through the dark mysteries of Mulholland Drive; she guides me through downtown with quick turns and near misses. We regularly drive the whole length of Olympic Blvd which goes from Kosher Delis to Korean Spas to Piñata stores.  She gets me to the beach. She gets me to Noah. Plenty of times she gets me lost.

It was time to become a licensed California driver–mostly because if I didn’t I wouldn’t be able to park on the street; you need a CA license for that. At first I had had the luxury of Marcus and Natasha’s guest spot in their luxury garage. When that luxury ended, I had the luxury of a handicapped permit from the hip surgery, but that luxury was due to expire any minute. (You’re able-bodied, now cut the crap!)

So I made a luxury appointment at the closest DMV. There was a luxury line of about 50 people out the door. Everybody was there–old and young, stylish and rumpled, fifty shades of skin color and ethnicities.  And we were all pissed. Really? I took time off of work to stand in line for 40 minutes?! And that’s WITH an appointment made two weeks earlier. I remember complaining about the Ithaca DMV. There were always about 10 people ahead of me. (And I knew every single one of them.) A luxury!

I took the test and passed it. Strangely, there were no questions about blasting your horn at pedestrians if they put one toe off the curb, or the sacred ritual of waxing the Lamborghini, or the gorgeous kick of doing 90 mph in the Ferrari, veering in and out of  lanes on the 405, passing everyone just ‘cuz you can.

One reveals one’s soul on the freeway–one’s  uber-motor/man-ness.  If others are in the way, so be it. Driving with NY plates and license I was an outsider, just watching and playing nice. Now I have a license, plates, and what will be will be.

licensce sexy In Southern California AUTO is the logos, the telos, the ethos, the id and ego. What and how you drive is who you are. I’m driving a middle-aged Prius. Doesn’t look good. . .

Fortunately I’m too old to think that my car has anything to do with my soul, my authority, my penis size. Is this thing even real?

biting license plateThe Prius and I are now officially here, wherever  the here here is. Following the speed limit, signaling for lane changes, occasionally (ok more than occasionally) making illegal U-turns, singing the song of the open road. (Traffic ahead.)


Note to Self: You for Real?

17 Mar

The hardest part about starting a new life–new work, new friends, new everything–is wondering, every day:  What the hell  am I doing?

Then I say to myself, It’s only been a year. Give it time. Now shut up, put on your sunglasses. This is L.A. and you’re indoors.


OOOOOKAAAY!  I am a resident of Beverly Hills! A juice lady! A health blogger! A public storyteller! This may sound pretty cool, but let me give you the real story. With a story.

SO, I’m at a meeting with my new boss at her gorgeous enormous house: Cathedral ceilings. Beautiful art everywhere, swimming pool in back. The company’s PR team is there.  Everyone is wearing sunglasses. I’m older. Than everyone. Including my boss. No one, including me, knows what I’m doing there.

There’s some animosity in the air; I have no idea what it’s about, and assume it’s got something to do with me. The egoism and paranoia of starting over: I don’t know what I’m doing and everyone is onto my fraudulence. Having had a quick tutoring session with friend Natasha, I try  saying things like “competitive branding” and “price points,” but they come out sounding like “comparing bandaids” and “spice pants.”

When the discussion turns to the subject of blogs for the juice store, everyone is bandying about phrases like “lifestyle rejuvenation,” and “detoxification days.” The words “fresh,” “inspiration,” and “soothing” are repeated over and over.

A year and a half ago, I was saying and writing things like “the author’s codification of consumerism belies his post-modern hermeneutics,” and writing in the margins of essays, “What do you mean by ‘lifestyle’? This is a  lazy, useless word.” (You know you need to leave teaching when your grading comments verge on personal attack.)

The climax of the hour-long meeting in my boss’s shimmering and organic kitchen occurs after I’ve slugged down some kale and lemon juice, and my stomach is making the sounds of an organ going through lifestyle rejuvenation.

“Radiance,” my boss says, “Jenna is about Radiance. Living Radiantly.” Jenna is the other blogger. She’s fifteen years younger than I and she is–if you didn’t guess–radiant. She covers specific tops in her blog. I cover others, like wrinkle treatment,  and “food for menopause.”

“And Kirsten. . .” my boss begins as my intestines spasm. “Kirsten is about. . .”

“AGING!” I burst out in an unpleasant guffaw. I don’t know if I am bragging or complaining, but my tone bristles with the venom of a Kipling scholar surrounded by Post-Colonialists.

There are a few polite laughs, and I look at the youngest members of the PR team thinking, A few years ago I’d have been standing at the head of the classroom discussing ambiguity in the conclusion to The Sun Also Rises. And you’d be slouching in your chairs, taking notes.

Who. Am. I? Is my story about embracing a new life with hard-earned humor and a bit of grace, or is this the narrative of a woman shaking in her (Armani knock-off) boots, a frightened and resentful outsider?

Yesterday I was handing out samples of juice at Kyle’s on Brighton Ave. That’s the clothing store owned by Kyle Real Beverly Hills Housewife. I realized that I really really wanted my picture taken with her. Who Am. I?

IMG_1977Aren’t you impressed, Dear Reader? Don’t worry,  I don’t  actually take too much of this stuff about fashion and youth culture seriously. My mother raised me right; I’m pretty sure Audrey is laughing in her grave, sympathetic to  the ambiguity of this stage of my life.

In the conclusion of The Sun Also Rises, Jake responds to Bret’s delusions of romantic grandeur with a curt, “Wouldn’t it be pretty to think so?” This is Jake’s way of saying “Don’t be a horse’s ass.”  While I might long for the seeming glamour and radiance of Beverly Hills, I know who I am.

I am someone in transition. And I like role play.

IMG_1259(This is not as interesting as you might think: just a 30-second photo moment with a stranger on Halloween.)  Maybe what I  am is this: someone who likes to role play someone who likes to role play.

I don’t know exactly what the hell I’m doing, but I do know I gotta do it. Like aging, certain things are inevitable. And, as with radiance–there is more than one way to glow.

Please share with me, Dear Reader, a time when you took a while to figure out what you were doing–a life stage that was bewildering/frightening/rewarding?