Oh, Go Away

May 19, 2011

Go away, stupid bleak mood.  Go away, certain knowledge that everything’s doomed to fail.  Just go away.  I KNOW this plan is doomed, but it’s the best I’ve got. So just. Go. Away.  You’re making me tired.  Shoo.

Song for the day: Trouble, Cat Stevens

OK, first up: I can’t for the life of me work out photos on this thing any more.  So here they are, not in any order.  You will have to try and match them to my disjointed thoughts, sorry.  Pretend it’s a game!  A game called “Let’s try and spot the exact moment where Flickr and WordPress’s combined forces finally turned Ellen in David Berkowitz”.
I am back in London!  Big fake “yaaay!”!  No, seriously, it’s great to be back.  Properly seriously? It’s not that great to be back.  I’ve been going through some medium-heavy shit the last couple of months and want nothing more than to be back alone in LA, going to the Dodgers games and eating Philippe’s sandwiches.
Something I promised myself as a New Year’s Resolution, though, was that I would write a list of ten things I liked about London.  This seems like a therapeutic time to do it.  Let’s try:
1  Public transport. Yeah, we all hate it.  Yeah, we’re incredibly lucky to have it.
2  General cynicism about authority figures and celebrities.  It often tips over into ugliness, but I    appreciate the healthy lack of awe here.
3  It can be sort of pretty.  If you squint.  No, actually, I really do like parts of it.  Especially around the South Bank.  But anyone who tells you that the greatest view in London is from Primrose Hill is a North-London-blinkers-wearing moron.
4  If you beg and plead over a period of three or four separate £80  appointments here, you can sometimes get the hair colour you wanted in the first place.  OK, that was a bit sarcastic.  Now I understand why the Mariah Careys of the world fly their hairdressers everywhere.  They probably just had a bad experience with a suburban British hairdresser.  Fly out and get your hair done in LA, it will work out cheaper and quicker in the long run.
5  The food really isn’t that bad.
6  We have some really great bookshops.
7  Also Amazon deliver here (starting to struggle….)
8  Fairly tolerant, I suppose?  At least there’s a big mix of people here.  Feels a bit presumptuous for a middle class white woman to expound on our inclusivity.
9  People are too busy to give a crap about you.  Sounds negative but isn’t if you, like me, have no dearer wish than to be left alone most of the time.
10 I dunno.  It’s big?
Well,  I know I feel better now.
Oh! I have a new hobby.  Needle felting, as inspired by Moxie, whose fabulous book you should read.  Great fun.  Starts out stabby, ends up cute.  A most satisfying process.   So far, I’ve made the usual (meth pipe, skull, t-bone steak) and am halfway through some executive jewellery (bracelets that are pretty on the outside but say ‘fuck you’ on the inside – perfect for wearing to meetings) and a truly disgusting project involving house dust and human hair.
Also, I went to see “Meek’s Cutoff” and am now obsessed with handsewing my own period movie costumes.  How hard could it be?
And I had a go at recreating the guava cheese pie from Cafe Tropical in Echo Park.  You can probably see the picture somewhere down there.  It wasn’t exactly accurate, but it was pretty delicious.
What have I left out?  The gross green things are a failed attempt at coconut-stuffed candied limes.  Sounded soooo delicious, went sooooooooo wrong.  Yuck.  But it passes the time.
And that’s it really.  Been following the baseball season.  Well, as well as you can when you haven’t fully grasped the rules and all your team’s games are at 4am British time.  And knitting a sweater in a very Dodger-unfriendly orange.
In other words, keeping myself busy.  Lots of love to anyone still reading this.  I will try to come up with something a little more polished soon!
PS song for the day: “Samba” by Miriam Makeba
Futurama Brain Slug Hairslides by Ms Holloway
Futurama Brain Slug Hairslides, a photo by Ms Holloway on Flickr.


November 29, 2010

Strictly speaking, it’s not Thanksgiving any more.  Also, I’m not American so Thanksgiving isn’t really a thing for me.  However we’ll get to that.  (By the way, I spent actual Thanksgiving at The Original Pantry, which is also one of the very first places I visited on this trip.  I had the full turkey dinner with Lisa and Michael and it was great fun).

Friday was spent in Burbank, which is an area I love.  Fairly fancy and probably pretty expensive, it just has this charming, old-Hollywood vibe to it.  I might be being fanciful, but given its proximity to the Warner Brothers studios, I wonder if this was an area where studio workers used to live.  Isn’t it adorable?

Also, this advertisement made me smile:

Ooh, and I nearly forgot that I saw this at Hollywood and Vine on my way (wow, I’m really on point with my editing today, aren’t I?)

The amazing Capital Records building, which looks like a stack of records topped by a stylus. 

Yesterday, Lisa and I drove up the Pacific Coast Highway.  Being a resolute inland-er, I hadn’t paid much attention to the coast, but it seemed like a great way to round off this trip.  I think this is probably the Los Angeles of popular imagination, and it really is beautiful:

And look, a fancy Malibu nativity scene:

I can definitely see why living in Malibu is the dream.  It’s beautiful and exclusive and swanky.  Wouldn’t actually be my first choice of neighbourhood to live in – which is probably lucky as I’m unlikely to become or marry a bajillionnaire any time soon – as it’s a little TOO quiet and fancy for my tastes (why, since you ask, I would choose Hollywood, Burbank, Echo Park or the nicer parts of Highland Park as my abode).

And then today I’ve just been packing.  Sigh.  If you asked me, I would tell you with complete sincerity that I don’t think of myself as an acquisitive person.  Yeah, I’m just not really into “stuff”, you know?  And yet, somehow I’ve had to go and buy myself a second suitcase.  Hmmm.  Strange. 

Oh, I’m sad to be leaving.  LA is a pretty brutal place in lots of ways.  Hard to get around, full of crazy people, big disparities between rich and poor, punishing heat in the summer.  But it’s never boring (frequently infuriating, but never boring).  For a city that is famous for having no history, I actually found it a very rich and fascinating place to explore.  I’m sure that there are people here who are as vain and shallow as people would have you believe, but I never met any.  I do hope to come back here one day.  With a car this time.

This is monstrously cheesy, but I wanted to thank a few people here for their help and support with this adventure.

Firstly, Corinne, without whose support for the whole general idea of these three months I would likely not have been able to come here at all.  Also Chris and Hugo for making me laugh in the blog comments.

Mum and Dad, for mostly keeping the lid on what must have been a veritable volcano of anxiety at their baby girl travelling alone to the land of drive-bys and scientology.  Much appreciated.

Nikol and Ron for taking me in when LA proved a bit too much.

Viv and Phoebe for keeping me entertained by email.

Ellen Bloom for welcoming me to Stitch’n’Bitch, and for all the restaurant tips.  But not for the spike in my cholesterol.

Lisa, for being a great friend and tour guide; I am unbelievably grateful that we made contact.

And of course the long-suffering Ben, for not just tolerating my leaving him alone for 3 months (including, let’s not forget, his birthday) but actively encouraging me to go and do something that I’d always wanted to do.  Time will tell if I can manage to be half as gracious.

I’d best stop there before I go all Sally Field.  I just wanted you to know that there have been so many moments here where I’ve been looking at something that I’d been imagining for about 15 years, and found myself thinking “oh my god, I am so lucky“, and I’m just very grateful for everyone that helped to make that happen.

Fuck, I’m insufferable.  Let’s move on. 

I did think I was going to quit the blog after the LA adventure was over, but now I’m thinking I might keep it open, at least as an occasional thing.  Lots of ideas have sprung up while I’ve been here, that there just wasn’t enough time to do anything with, so as they come to fruition, I’ll post about them here.  Whether or not anyone still cares. 

And that’s it, really.  Tomorrow I’m getting on a plane and coming back to a London winter.  Time for a new plan….

See you on the other side!

Haunting final song for the day: “We’re Going Home” from the “Moon” soundtrack http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-lxwaH15-po

Completely ridiculous final song for the day: “I Love LA” by Randy Newman http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=le5aIqn_MfE

This’ll be somewhat random. 

First up, I spent Saturday in East LA on a cake mission.  I’ve become obsessed with these adorable molasses-flavoured cakes that are in the shape of piglets.  You can buy them in supermarkets here, but I wanted to find a fancy bakery version.  East LA’s good fun; I love the signs there:

I came home with three piglet cakes and a selection of pan dulce, including Ben’s worst nightmare, a delicious cake that turned out to have sweetcorn in it when you bit in.  Still good, though.

Also went to the fabric district to get some yarn.  Pretty cool:

And also back to Olvera Street, which had some fancy goings-on, uh…going on

And then home.

Sunday was LACMA and West Hollywood again, and lunch at my favourite place, Canter’s.  I had a bowl of aptly-named “Mishmosh”:

That is, chicken soup with noodles, rice and matzoh ball.  I think it’s also supposed to have kreplach in it, but since I’m not sure what those look like, I can’t really verify if there were any in my soup.  Still.  Good.  I’m feeling the going-home pressure at the moment and will take all the comfort food I can get.

Yesterday was Silverlake, for Christmas shopping.  People are so cool there that their stores are not governed by such boring things as opening at the time they say they open, so I killed time at Intelligentsia, the apparent pinnacle of hipster coffee awesomeness.  Look how pretty my coffee was:

I got about halfway through it before remembering why I never drink coffee.  At first it wasn’t too bad, I suddenly got lots of very important ideas that I had to scribble down in my moleskine notebook, which felt nice, but then I realized that I was the oldest, ugliest person there by quite some margin and started to get paranoid that everyone was tapping into their stupid macbooks about me and had to leave.  Rode out my high in some ridiculous overpriced boutiques, so if you get any truly strange Christmas gifts from me….blame my frenemy, caffeine.

Today, I woke up a bit mopey.  It’s the last week of my trip and I’m sad.  I like my family and my job, but basically……I really hate England.  There, I said it.  I find it small in ways that have nothing to do with its geographical size, and I’m dreading being back.

So, where does a sensitive, bookish type like me go to soothe the savage beast in LA?


The Hollywood Forever Cemetery is actually really beautiful.  I’ve heard complaints that it’s maybe a little undignified or direspectful, because it has movie nights there and a lot of celebrities are buried there, but I didn’t find it like that at all.  I thought it was quite lovely and restful.  And check out the wildlife!  I thought this had to be a statue at first:

But, no, they just have peacocks and swans wandering about the grounds. 

I didn’t see Rudolph Valentino, but I did find Mel Blanc:

And Johnny Ramone had to have one of the best headstones in the whole cemetery:

I must say, though, that my favourites didn’t belong to famous people.  Look at this pair of plaques; first Pauline:

And then next to her, six years later, Paul:

Isn’t that just adorable?  They’re in a beautiful building, too

After all this time, I still can’t get over how cool palm trees are,

And apparently this lady agrees:

I think this one was my favourite, though:

Anyway, it’s not a bad spot to spend eternity, with the Hollywood sign and the hills looking over you. 

And that’s that for now.  Tomorrow will be more Christmas shopping, I think.  I’m struggling with the last couple of things.  Also, just looking around my room, I don’t have the slightest idea how I’m going to get any of this stuff home.  Unless I don’t bring back any of my clothes.  Hmmm.

A problem for another day.

Song for the day: “Look What They’ve Done to My Song, Ma” by Melanie Safka http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cqg3kcwAgso

Just a Small Town Girl….

November 19, 2010

The train was pretty magical, as I’d hoped.  I haven’t told anyone this part yet, but I was actually a whole 24 hours late for it.  Since it left at just after midnight, the ticket was actually for the first few minutes of the 16th, and technically it was the first few minutes of the 17th when I arrived.  Since it was about five minutes before the train was due when I got to the station, I was pretty freaked out.  The man at the desk was very helpful but sooooo sloooooow.  I was watching the clock tick as he one-finger-typed my details over and over into the computer:

Guy at station: “There’ll be a hundred dollar charge to change the ticket”

Me: “That’s fine, I’ll pay it, I should’ve checked, only can we please just…”

Guy: “Well…..seems like a lot of money to me….let’s see…..(tap…tap…tap…)”

Me (whimpering): “I think I hear the train”

Guy: “Hmm, looks like I was filling in the wrong bit.  Welp, let’s start over….(tap………………..tap……)”

If you know me at all in real life, you can probably appreciate that I basically wept myself into a stroke at this point. 

BUT, I have to give the man credit, he did get me onto the train, and he waived the fee for me.  I may have to write to him to say thanks, because at the time all I could manage was frantically hopping from foot to foot and saying “pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease hurreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee” at a pitch only dogs could hear.

By the time I got to my cabin and closed the door, the combined relief of getting on the train and sadness at leaving my friends had hit me like a sledgehammer and I pretty much sniffled all the way from Topeka to Dodge City, where I finally fell asleep.

And when I woke up, I was in Colorado!

Sorry these pictures aren’t great, by the way.  I was on the sunny side of the train the whole way, and added to being on a moving train, having dirty windows, and being a generally crappy photographer, this was the best I could do.

I definitely have to go back to New Mexico one day:

Doesn’t it look like a Western?

Las Vegas, New Mexico is a little different from Las Vegas, Nevada, but I think I want to move there someday:

It seems to be the place where all the broken cars in the world end up.

The train made a stop in Alburquerque, where you could get out and buy cheap turquoise jewellery and such.  I didn’t buy anything, but I did get a closeup look at something I’d always wanted to see:

Tumbleweed!  My fellow passengers thought it was pretty funny how excited I was about this.  I’m thinking of crocheting my own tumbleweed for the house.

Alburquerque didn’t look like all that much, but that could easily be because I was only around the station, and which city is at its best right by the station?  It did look cool as we were pulling out at sunset, though.

I don’t have any pictures from the train after dark, because sadly my camera just isn’t up to the job, so you’ll just have to imagine Arizona/California by night.  We must’ve been pretty high up at one point, because I got woken up by really painful eardrum pressure, and my water bottle was all squashed flat.  Aside from that, though, it was really beautiful; just stars and the outlines of bare rocks, like the surface of the moon or something.  I felt very tiny and insignificant and couldn’t sleep at all.

When the sun came up, we were in San Bernardino and starting to see palm trees again:

Now I’m back in LA, and within the first few hours have heard all about a sales assistant’s former porn career in great detail, witnessed a premier for a (terrible) movie and been told I need to lose weight by a homeless lady.   You’re a mixed bag of nuts, LA.

Song for the day: “Ramble On” by Led Zeppelin http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3HemKGDavw

You wouldn’t believe how wholesome I’ve been this week.  I took pictures as evidence. 

I baked a pie:

Look closely and you can see that I put little pastry mittens on top:

I made ginger beer with Nikol:

watched over by this guy:

And I went to Mitten School, where I worked on these:

I was sort of the dunce of the group, as I didn’t get mine finished and pretty much everyone else did, I think.  But I’m very pleased with the colours I chose and I think they’ll be great when I fiiiiiinally finish them.  Here’s how they’re supposed to look when finished:

I’m leaving tomorrow and taking a 32 hour train ride all the way from Topeka, through New Mexico, Arizona and California, which should be great.  Won’t have internet, but will post blurry shots from the train window when I get back to LA. 

And now it’s nap time.

Song for the day: “Sweet Touch of Love” by Allen Toussaint http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZmkMp713aI

Day of Meat

November 8, 2010

Salina is pronounced Sa-LINE-a and not Sa-LEE-na like I’d been saying it (easy way to remember: “rhymes with vagina”).

It’s about a two hour drive from Harveyville (a drive that involved seeing a tonne of roadkill.  Seriously, deer and skunks all over the road).

It is also the filming location for the hilariously racist eighties military academy teen comedy (and movie debut of a certain Mr Ralph Macchio) “Up The Academy”.

Mainly, though, we came for the burgers.

This is the Cozy Inn.  And it really is cozy inside.  Look how tiny!

I was taking this photo from the furthest point you could get to in the room, and the people standing to the right of the picture are right against the back wall. 

The other things that are tiny there are the burgers.  Actually, they’re sliders.  We bought a bag of six to share between two and could easily have doubled it if hadn’t been so late in the day that we would’ve spoiled dinner time.  Unfortunately they were so delicious that we inhaled them before I had a chance to take a picture.   I can tell you it was totally worth stinking of fried onions for the rest of the day, though.

So, a two hour drive for 20 minutes worth of burger-inhalation, and then we drove back.  This is what Kansas looks like:

And when I got home, this was the view from my window:

AND there was beef bourgignon waiting for us for dinner.  That’s a whole lot of delicious beef in a twelve hour period.

And then I went to bed, tired but happy from my day of meat.

Song for the day: “Death Letter Blues” by Son House http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jN5vqEyV7g