Now I Just Need an Extra $200,000

11.26.12

When Steven asked me if I wanted to go flying with him I didn’t ask where we were going. I didn’t care.

The last time I was in a small plane a truly small plane, smaller than commercial, was September 17, 1995. One of the men I worked with had a small plane and he took his wife, a friend of mine and me to Nevada for the weekend. It was an old plane and a slow plane but he loved it and we all fit comfortably, had a decadent weekend and then flew home. On the way back I got to hold the control wheel for a minute or so and it was exhilarating.

I loved the feeling it gave me and hope one day to feel that again. Well actually I hope to have an extra two hundred thousand dollars laying around so I can get the plane I want along with some lessons (I’d totally forego ever having a butler if Mr. G would buy me a plane).

Of course after I hopped off that airplane more than 17 years ago I went to go meet some friends and have a drink. It was my first date with Mr. G. It’s possible that all those good feelings are completely intertwined for me and I have no idea which part of it made me feel so joyful. I just know that it was a very happy day.

On Sunday morning there was fog at the Santa Monica Airport. In fact there was so much fog that no planes were taking off and since the original plan was to fly to San Diego we had to decide on a new place to go. Somewhere closer since we weren’t going to be taking off at 10am as planned. So we sat in the car to wait and eat warm potato tacos from a ham tin.

We even talked about maybe not going at all because it was so foggy but my hair came to the rescue. I am absolutely convinced that my perfectly blow dried hair singlehandedly captured all the humidity in the air so that the clouds would part and we could take off.

We got a look at the planes and were relieved to find out we weren’t going in this one

 

We did finally get up and go and found ourselves in a Cherokee that was just right. In fact my yellow pants matched it’s yellow stripe and my spiky shoes were just perfect with the rudder pedals.

 

I never thought to be nervous because Steven (who can be ridiculous) is deadly serious when he talks about flying. In fact I even got a lecture about how the FAA was worse than the TSA and there would be no Instagramming at 6,000 feet. The term “social media bullshit” may or may not have been bandied about. William and I dutifully nodded and promised to behave. I was only shusshed a few times, we were as good as two fools could be.

Flying low is beautiful. I spent an hour with my head craning down over the city that I love looking for homes I used to live in (found and photographed), parks I ran around and boulevards I drive daily. I loved flying over a wind farm and the Mojave Desert. Apparently the Mojave Airport serves a parking lot of sorts for aircraft not being used at LAX.

When we got to Kern County the airport is sort of tucked away in a corner beyond a lake and in a valley. I was happy that Steven didn’t tell us that the landing made him nervous until we were safely there and eating lunch.

Here’s the airport.

No, really, that’s the whole airport. The lady who runs the snack bar is sweet as can be and is also from Manhattan Beach. Her son is younger than I am by two years (okay four… shut up) so we just missed each other growing up there.

 

And no trip would be complete without a picture of our fearless captain.

If you want to see all 254 pictures, they’re here.

City of Hope, NBC, Strawberries and 75 inch Samsung TV

08.10.12

I woke up at 7 yesterday which seemed a little early for a woman whose children were out of town but my friend Stefan had asked me to come and speak at the City of Hope. It’s been a busy couple of weeks and we’d failed to connect, we’ll he’d done a good job of calling and emailing but I hadn’t quite responded. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t know that from 2-4 each afternoon I have to lie in the pool. I don’t swim so much as I float and read books. It’s a mental heath thing and if you ask your doctor to write a prescription for this they totally agree that it’s necessary.

I knew that I was supposed to talk to the folks at City of Hope about how to blog. “How to blog” is incredibly broad so I planned to talk about passion and compassion and how the City of Hope would tug at people’s heart strings. It would be fun and easy.

At 9am I pulled up to the City of Hope, and please don’t ask me how this happened, and it was like running into a brick wall. I sat in my car and realized that the last time I was there, the only time I was ever there, was in 1987 and it’s the last time I ever saw my Grandmother alive. I’d been in boarding school and she had pancreatic cancer so her illness was quick and fatal.

Typically when one revisits a building from their childhood there’s the sense that it’s not that big anymore. The strangeness of this was that it was just as I remembered it with patients on the left and research on the right. My car faced the same way my father’s had 25 years before. I was instantly propelled back to that moment where I stood afraid to walk into the building because how does a 17 year old know how to say goodbye to her Grandmother? And then how do you react when you finally see your zaftig grandmother frail and thin in a hospital bed promising to come visit you in school and you’re still a kid but you know she’s never leaving that place?

That all sort of hit me while I was sitting in my car prepping myself to talk to a bunch of pros.

The talk went well and I know there were a few people in the room who just weren’t with me but I think I got them in the end. It takes someone special to work there so I had the sense that I was surrounded by kind folks with open minds.

After finishing at City Of Hope I had a quick dim sum in Arcadia, swung by the house and grabbed Junior and took him to the Video and Audio Center in Santa Monica. This could only have been accomplished in August when traffic is light. Junior and I checked out Samsung’s 75″ smart TV. I mostly showed up there because the guy who invited me seemed nice. I have to say I wasn’t all that interested in the TV but when I got to see it I understood why they were having a press event.

It’s huge. This may or may not be a good thing. The picture quality is laser sharp. I was blown away by the crispness of the image, the lack of glare, the 3d capabilities and the fact that it houses it’s own app store. If any of you see Mr. G driving to Wilshire and 15th you have my permission to use whatever means necessary to derail him from the errand. MSRP on the TV is $10k, the folks at Video and Audio are selling it for $9k and if it shows up at my house I’ll cry because we cannot afford it but I know we’ll both want it.

Angry Birds on the 75" samsung television

I was also surprised by the store. I haven’t shopped for a TV in ages and I don’t remember it being this pleasant of an experience. Quite possibly I went to the wrong store previously…

From Santa Monica I ran to drop Junior off and had a quick visit with Kelsie. She’s had her second chemo treatment and is looking remarkably good. She’s bald now and I’m pleased to report that she has a lovely shaped head and thank goodness that she really does have a pretty face. Hair is totally not necessary.

From Kelsie I ran home (okay I grabbed an In and Out protein style on the way) and changed back into working clothes. I rinsed the burger out of the tips of my hair, picked up Anna and went to NBC. At NBC the folks at the NBC 4 told us about their social media strategy during the Olympics.

There are things you must know about NBC. I think their Olympics coverage has been dismal. Their color commentary has been too colorful and the endless closeups on the athlete’s faces have taken away all context. I want to see their bodies. It’s also completely unforgiveable that NBC didn’t air and highlight the fact that North and South Korea played each other in table tennis. How was that historic handshake not aired?

Now that I’ve done the mandatory #NBCfail introduction I have to say that our Los Angeles affiliate has been spectacular. Their facebook, twitter and instagram strategies are brilliant and I’m grateful that they were willing to share it with the community (including a friend from ABC News). I enjoy our local broadcast and I’ll hope for something better from the network when NBC has the Winter Olympics in two years.

From NBC Anna and I headed to Palihouse for to meet with the Strawberry Growers Association. I met my new girlcrush Jodi. Anna and I were late to the Strawberry thing and Jodi kept making sure we had food. She explained that she was half Jewish and half Italian so she specialized in feeding people. I noticed that she also talked with her hands. This is my kind of woman.

The Strawberry folks were trying to explain to a group of moms that strawberries are good for you. It was a whole lot of preaching to the converted. There was some chatter about sustainable practices and a blogger touched on the fact that she would feel good eating conventionally grown strawberries. I’ll stick with organic in the house but I won’t pass up some conventionally grown at a restaurant or at your house. I’m not 100% sure what the push was. If I was there to be told that strawberries are delicious and healthy…. um yeah, I’m with ya. If the discussion was about the safety of conventionally grown berries I’m probably not the right person for them.

Here’s the deal on fruits and veggies. I buy organic so I don’t have to think about the risk. It adds about 10-20% to my grocery bill and I’m okay with that. It’s a luxury that I don’t have to sit down and think about which fruits and vegetables I can buy conventionally grown and which need to be organic. If you can’t find organically grown groceries or if you can’t add a few extra dollars to your grocery bill you should still load up your cart with fresh (or flash frozen) fruits and vegetables. I personally would avoid (like the plague) foods which have been genetically modified unless they are organic. As of this writing the foods that I’d ONLY eat organic are: soy (this is hidden in many processed foods), corn (in all it’s forms), cotton seed oil, alfalfa, Hawaiian papaya, tomatoes, canola, sugarcane, sugarbeet, rice, zucchini, round neck squash and peppers.

Got home at 11, fell into bed. Really just fell right in.

 

Thirteen Year Old Girls Cannot be Trusted

10.24.11

Jane will turn thirteen in just a few days. She’s having all the girls from school sleep over Saturday night (expect to see a lot of me on Twitter and G+ Saturday night, not much else I can do) and she’s having three non school friends sleep at a hotel with her next week.

Oh, to be clear, that’s three friends, Jane and me in connecting rooms.

I loved the idea of a hotel sleepover, can you say, “no cleanup”? Jane really wanted to be close to Santa Monica Place so that we could take an evening walk to the food court. If you’re not in Los Angeles you don’t understand that the food court includes an incredible cheese bar and more than one sushi restaurant. It’s a food court that doesn’t suck. Most of all Jane wanted a hotel with an indoor pool. The only hotel with an indoor pool in Los Angeles is the Biltmore downtown, and the Biltmore is neither new nor in a safe neighborhood.

So I started calling Santa Monica hotels but there were no rooms available. The Viceroy had ONE room free and at $1,600 a night I took a pass on it. Apparently there’s a film festival that weekend so Santa Monica was either booked or price gouging, either way it didn’t work for us.

Jane agreed to try Beverly Hills as a sleepover destination. Of course since she is thirteen and has the palate of a billy goat she wanted to stay on Wilshire so we could walk to California Pizza Kitchen. I smiled and agreed that it would, all the while thinking that I could have a crappy salad and a glass of wine there and then order room service from the Beverly Wilshire. See, I’d gotten a fabulous deal from the folks at Four Seasons and Jane was going to have a perfect sleepover while I had a perfect night of pampering.

I think we all know that man plans and god laughs. Well this plan of mine had god guffawing, and maybe peeing his robes a little.

Jane found out that the Marriott in Woodland Hills has an indoor pool and is located next to TGI Friday’s and a mall. If you’re 13 this is the equivalent of the Four Seasons and an afternoon of shopping at Barneys. If you are 41 this is hell on earth. Whomever told her about this hotel should make sure their affairs are in order.

I get my friend Shana to prove that she loves me and agree to dinner with the girls. We’re not actually allowed to sit with them or next to them but we are allowed to pay for dinner. Yay? Shana, in a stroke of brilliance, reminds me that there’s a Kate Mantalini next to the Marriot and we can go there. I tell Jane that this is an option and she agrees to it.

Mr. G. unwinds that plan. He says, “It sounds like Kate Mantalini is to make you happy and it’s not your birthday. That’s a place that yentas have lunch.”

Umm… does he not realize that I’m trying to raise Los Angeles’ next fabulous yenta?

So I’ll be staying at a $125 a night Marriott and dining with Shana at TGIF. Hopefully I don’t get bedbugs and hopefully Shana doesn’t come to her senses and find something better to do.