July 15, 2010

This morning, my daughter and I caught the red-eye flight from Los Angeles back to JFK Airport. We landed around 5:30 a.m. and stumbled into our house for a nice, long nap.

Right now, I have an hour before I head down to Manhattan to teach my evening New School class. And I will use it to do this post. Let’s practice what I preach about deadline writing!

Every semester, I drill students in the nerve-wracking journalistic art of writing under pressure. To make an on-deadline writing exercise work in the classroom, I usually bring in a speaker for us to interview. When our guest leaves, each student has about an hour to bang out a coherent story about the speaker’s visit, right then, at a class computer.

Sooo, now let’s see if I can do a version of that by blogging about our week in L.A….

My daughter and I had a blast exploring the sights and catching up with dear friends who live there. This vacation also helped me to get over the past. I was last in L.A. more than a decade ago, when I was the wife of an executive, traveling on expense account, enjoying the best hotels and restaurants. A divorce in 2000 took care of that. So at  first, it was a tad sad to be in this glamour-obsessed town minus the champagne life. But I’m relieved to report that we still had fun, even on a budget.

This wonderful, six-day trip began last Thursday morning when we boarded our LAX-bound Virgin America flight. We got into tourist mode the second we spotted reality-show-Playboy-bunny Kendra Leigh Baskett in first class. (She wasn’t much to look at.) During our stay, our friends took us around Hollywood, Rodeo Drive, Melrose Avenue, 3rd Street stores, the University of Southern California and the Getty Museum.

Our major expense was eating. Still, it was relatively affordable because Southern Cali cuisine has gone crazy for L.A.’s bustling food truck culture, hole-in-the-wall ethnic restaurants at strip malls and local farmers’ markets. Sticking close to the street kept our meals in the range of $10-$18 per head.

Buying clothes took a bite out of our budget too. But we mostly window-shopped the fancy retail emporiums, saving our cash for the two Goodwill thrift stores on Santa Monica Boulevard, the Guess outpost on Rodeo Drive and Forever 21 at the 3rd Street Promenade. Although, I do confess to an impulsive detour to Fred Segal. During the marriage, my then-husband liked to shop there. For old times’ sake, I blew nearly $500 on four tops (three for me, one for Princess). It felt good.

Last night found us on the 9:45 p.m. Virgin flight back to JFK, with Joan Rivers sitting in first class. (She didn’t look as bad as I expected.)

P.S. — I’m out of time. Will post this now and get ready for class. Be back later to add photos.  :-)

July 17, Saturday: Update

What you just read is a 482-word post. That’s plenty long enough, don’t you think?

I’m always bugging my students to be fearless and ruthless in editing down their material. Writers love to read their own words. But sometimes, it’s too much blah-blah. That’s how I felt about my initial post here. So yesterday, I went back and hacked out 100 words. I just edited out another 130 to reach the 482 word count.

Also, here are the pix. The Princess took the last three shots. The final photo of the hands and foot are of me working on Jeff’s feet. (I know how to do Chinese reflexology, a form of therapeutic massage that believes you can address the entire body’s issues by simply working on the feet.)

Before you get excited about me mentioning a man (no, I’m still not dating), I should explain that Jeff and I were in high school together and he married Judy. She’s been my best buddy since we were 7th graders in Chinatown. The two of them are godparents to my daughter and the reason we vacationed in California. Jeff — a Western, modern medicine kind of guy — said he found the reflexology helpful. Now he’s interested in exploring a holistic approach to health with Chinese herbs and acupuncture. And that made Judy very happy!

P.S. — Okay, I’ll admit that I just cheated. With this update, the post is up to 709 words. Too long? Hmmm. I guess the real lesson here is that when you have a blog, you can break the rules and do whatever you want.     ;-)

CLICK on each photo to ZOOM-IN: