Sunday, January 31, 2010

Friday, January 29, 2010

Won't You Be My Neighbor

There isn't a better place I could have spent my last 6 months in LA than Downtown. I LOVE Downtown! Let me reiterate, I fucking LOVE Downtown.
I love my loft. I love my gigantic windows with a clear view of my neighbors in the building across the street (recently I tried to reach out to them with a sign in the window but all I got in return were hand waves, no real correspondence). Quinn and I have given them all names; Claire and Henry, Tom and Jerry, Lacey and Kid Rock, and we marvel at the ones we know exist but never show themselves, never open their curtains (a habit I find to be quite peculiar).

And in that way that exists in a new relationship where all those little idiosyncrasies make you swoon, I love the weirdos that shout at nobody from the sidewalk just below my window and the bogglingly loud bus that stops every few minutes, and the ridiculously loud sirens.

I love that within a block or two I can get to an independent art supply shop, an independent book store, a used book store, and several little independent cafes and restaurants and bakeries. Not only can I easily walk to all of these, but I can bring my dog along as well which is something she greatly appreciates.

I love that there is a vast array of different people and cultures down here. Chinatown, Little Tokyo, Olvera Street (Mexican), young American artist types, USC students and fashion school students are all pressed closely together and what's amazing is that they all intermingle pretty harmoniously.
Skid row is just around the corner from my building (literally) and I've gotten to at least recognize if not know the local tent dwellers. They always say hello to me in the mornings when I'm rushing to the bus stop.

Just about anything I could ever need is right down here too. The Fashion District, Toy District, Flower District, Fabric District, and countless electronic stores with prices so low they must have fallen off the back of a truck.

I love walking down to Grand Central Market, an open air market with a parade of food vendors, butchers, produce sellers and herbalists. I love meandering through the labyrinth of ".99 a lb" signs with the dull roar of hundreds of people speaking multiple languages, cash in my pocket and my hand greedily groping the mangoes, and apples, and gorgeous bunches of broccoli. I want so badly to plunge my hand into the bin of lentils!
All the way at the back of the market is a small herbalist who has every herb for every ailment you can think of in giant glass jars along a large wooden shelf. Here you can get little brown bags filled with Mullein for your cough, or Valerian root to help you sleep, or Black Cohosh for your cramps.

It feels so much more real to shop here. I feel like this person, who is real, buying this produce and herbs and lentils and beans from these other people who are real. Our hands touch slightly as I hand them cash in trade for their goods. I compare the onions from this guy to the onions from that guy. Nobody seems to have good persimmons.
After foraging for what I need for dinner I walk back home as the lights are coming up and the sun is going down somewhere off by the shore where I can't see it.

I love this too. Walking home. All the daytrippers walking in the opposite direction as me. They're all headed back to Hollywood, or the Valley and I'm walking into the belly of the beast, where I reside.

As I come up my street I wave goodnight to the sweet Korean couple that own the sandwich shop at the bottom of my building and I watch my fellow downtown dwellers relax at the bar across the street.
Up the elevator and into my place, Quinn has already started dinner and Lucy runs up to greet me. The feeling of Life is sweet!

And in three months I'm about to give it all up. This new life of farming in foreign countries better kick some serious ass (I have a feeling it will).

Friday, January 22, 2010

Stupid, Crazy, Selfish, Rich, L.A. Bitch

So I got this part time job at a flower shop in West Hollywood to make extra money for the coming South American Adventure. After being entirely on my own schedule and working entirely by my own rules, it is far harder than I imagined to all of a sudden be answering to someone else again. It's also made harder by the fact that my boss is a stupid, crazy, selfish, rich, L.A. Bitch.

There is an epidemic of stupid, crazy, selfish, rich, L.A. Bitches in this city. As with every species, there are variations within.
First there is the "completely oblivious rich bitch" who just doesn't seem to understand that some people only have one house and it can be rather small. The idea that some people don't have homes is just some strange mythical tale told at parties, like the tale of the Sasquatch is told at campfires. While this variation exists within the species, these are rare and generally never encountered by the general population (except when they almost hit you in their jaguar because they don't usually drive themselves, but somehow it's your fault even though you're on foot).

Then there is the aging mistress who came from a small town with no money but blew her way to the top. Everything she owns was bought with someone else's money but that doesn't stop her from feeling like the world still owes her something. She walks around in the tiniest skirts and the reddest lipstick. She is sex. When she was younger she hadn't a care in the world, with a ferocious taste for millionaires, she stalked the right hotel bars and fucked her way into the inner circle. However, now she's feeling age creep up on her and slightly fewer men check her out when she climbs out of her gifted, silver Maserati. This is where the bitch lies. The lioness feels the younger felines creeping close behind, waiting for the right moment to take her out of the game, and they know that moment isn't far off.

That brings us to the bitch that attempted to marry money but failed to reach that millionaire mark. She thought she'd be smart by marrying an up and comer, someone who wasn't so obviously rich. He'll feel like he won a prize and would never question her love because she married him when he was still a nobody (with lots of promise and talk of deals in the works). But her investment isn't quite working out the way she planned. She thought they had it made after his minor, but still pretty substantial role in a major feature film staring Drew Barrymore, but he's back to commercials again, and fewer than last year. She's panicking and clinging on to people around her with power. She's the kind of woman who will throw anyone under the bus if it meant she'd be in the favor of the powerful. Preferring to be right hand to the devil, if she lived in Nazi Germany she would have been Eva Braun.

And neither last nor least, we have the little spoiled brat all grown up. She was either an only child or the baby of the family. Nothing she ever did was wrong and she was the prettiest and smartest girl in the land! Everything she touched turned to gold and any mean thing said about her was said out of jealousy and spite. She'll insist that she grew up poor yet her family had a summer home in Wisconsin, a woman that came and cooked for the family ("only on Mondays!"), and never had to worry about working or needing money. Because she grew up adjacent to the richest of the rich, she foolishly believes that she was just a normal lower middle class girl. At the age of 35 she'll find herself in enormous credit card debt and a failing business (which she only has so that she can enjoy the company of other LA small business owners) and mommy and daddy will step in to wipe the slate clean for her for the nth times in her life.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the kind woman I work for. The product she sells is highly overpriced, and only half of it is what it claims to be.
Just a few days ago I was sitting around with nothing to do when an adorable old couple came into the shop. I greeted them and began to tell them that all the vases on the sales floor were vintage. The old man picked up the "1800s Chi Dynasty, Hand Carved Peking Glass for $675" and shook his head and put it down. I asked him what was the matter and he said, and I quote, "You can tell anyone you want that that's an antique but it's not. That's new and so is the other one!". Not in the least bit surprised by this news I asked him how he knew, and again I quote, "After 40 years in the antique business, you know some things.".
They spent about a half hour in the store and I asked them about nearly every piece and for the most part it was all fake; junk found at garage sales and on ebay pedaled at such ridiculous prices that nobody would question it's authenticity. While some of the Murano glass was Murano glass and some of the Rosenthal was actually Rosenthal, they were not vintage and certainly not worth $200!
Adding this to what I already knew about the so called "organic flowers" and the pile of insufficient funds notices on the desk, I quickly realized the kind of LA bitch I work for. I'm paid to keep her secrets, I'm paid to be there even though nothing is going on and I'm completely unnecessary, but how would it look to her elite club of LA business owner friends if she didn't have any employees?

Now let's add to the equation the fact that I have been working for her since mid December and have only received two checks, both of which have failed to clear on the first two tries, and you can see, my friends, why I hate working for people in LA. I assure you, it is a special breed of boss hatred exclusive to this crazy fucking city.

But I deal, because this is the path out of this city. I just agree with whatever she says and I ignore what she does and collect my paycheck which goes directly into the South American Adventure Fund and then I come home and bitch about it on the internet.

Do I feel bad allowing her to take advantage of people? Nope! Because anyone who is spending $2000 on flowers for a little cocktail party at their Hollywood Hills mansion, doesn't need my pity.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

It's been a while...

I'm back! And I have news and rants and musings galore to share with you so stick around kiddos!

Well, the new year is here and Quinn and I are starting to hunker down and make solid plans for our traveling adventures. If you don't know what I'm talking about refer to THIS POST.
We've decided that our first expedition will be starting in Mexico, going through Central America all the way down into South America. We're planning on being gone for one whole year, perhaps more if money allows.
We've got the maps and the travel guides. We're about to start vaccinations. We're beginning the process of selling all of our things.
We leave in the early half of July.
Our plan is to mostly do work trade on organic farms along the way ( We'd like to balance that with shorter stays in major cities. Approximately 2 to three months per country.

To begin, we'll be flying in to Cancun, Mexico. Now I know Cancun is tourist city (I've actually been) but rest easy, we won't be staying for more than one night and I'm sure we'll have plenty of fun wading hip deep through the sea of drunken douchey horny college co-eds. Wet t-shirt contest, anyone?Yippee!

From Cancun we'll head to Isla Mujeres and Cozumel where we'll rent mopeds, snorkel, sun bathe and bask in the glory that is a total lack of responsibility and freedom from obligation to anyone but each other. This is going to be us, except I'll have my own damn moped.

Oh my lord! The excitement makes me want to peel out of my own skin! Is it strange that it makes me want to have crazy monkey sex (on some isolated beach on the Yucatan)?
After a couple weeks of play we'll head back to Cancun where we'll hop a bus to Veracruz (or more specifically, Xalapa) where we'll begin our first stint at an organic farm. The farm we've chosen is pretty high up in the mountains which makes farming very interesting and a relatively different environment than one would expect when staying in Mexico.

We're not sure how long we'll stay at the farm, I'm thinking no more than one month since it's the beginning of our trip and we'll most likely be eager to keep moving, Belize being (most likely) the next destination.

Fuck! I'm so pumped!