Wednesday, September 14, 2011

How Do I Love Los Angeles?

After leaving home early-early Monday morning, a sleepy jet brought me back from Los Angeles this morning. I’d gone for a disability law conference, and it was worth every penny.

The trip itself, however, was much more a mixed bag.

To get to Los Angeles from Anchorage, an air traveler usually
skims the west coast. Following tradition, or Occam’s razor, my first plane, which had thankfully been on time, deposited me in a strangely sunny Seattle. After boarding my second – the final – plane less than an hour later, the flight attendant announced that some object on the airplane’s right wing was perhaps a micron out of spec, and so a team had been dispatched to measure it. If the measurer had made a mistake, she told us in a too-cheerful voice, we would be on our way in “an hour or so.” If, however, the thing actually required fixing, she explained solemnly, we would be stuck in Seattle for a time. Which would mean I’d likely miss my conference since I didn’t have a spare day to sacrifice to the gods of Alaska Air.

This is the first time I’d ever left my young son – he’s 8 – overnight. I had, therefore, asked the state travel office to minimize my time away: I’d leave Monday morning and return Tuesday after the conference – well, I’d arrive early-early-EARLY Wednesday morning (and just deal with the subsequently Volkswagon-sized feet). I requested that they put me in LaLa Land during the middle of Monday so I could avoid Angelonean (aka “abysmal, soul-sucking”) rush hour traffic. I’d planned to stay with my sister, you see, who lives in Monrovia, near Pasadena, a good 40 miles north and east of LAX.

After doing whatever tests needed done, aka about 100 pages of a Terry Pratchett novel later, the measurer apparently
decided that the plane could make the trek south, and sent us on our way.

Upon arrival – upon our LATE arrival – I collected my bag and made my way to the shuttle port. The bus to the car rental company was strangely empty, but I remained optimistic that I’d miss the worst of the traffic. That optimism faded, however, just like the force behind my smile when, and after I’d packed the car with my bags and adjusted the mirrors, an attendant knocked on the window to tell me that the car’s license plates were expired and that I needed to go here and see them.

And, after that was sorted, it was 5:00. Straight up.

The trip to Pasadena (home to glorious 99-cent stores and the
best Thai food on the west coast) took about 1.5 hours. Too late to meet my sister at the time we’d agreed at President Thai. “I’ll wait. It’s okay,” she assured me after I’d finally been able to plug my dead cell phone into the car’s outlet. “I have papers to grade.”

After a quick trip to the 99-cent store (I spent $27!) and dinner, we stopped by a clothing store we both love and shopped the clearance racks. Among other things, including a new outfit for my sister who’d stayed with my son, I got myself the most beautiful green-stoned ring I’d ever seen.

The next morning, I left my LA-sister’s house at just before 7:00 a.m. to make the conference in Century City, 30 miles and, per google, 40 minutes away. I wanted to be there in time for the continental breakfast. I made a quick stop at the closest coffee chain for a latte, reasoning that my bladder could hold the hill for the hour to hour and half, max, if the roads were bad, it would take to get to my conference.

Oh, yeah – 40 minutes. Ha, ha, ha. And ha, ha, ha, ha, ha to boot.

I am so naïve.

Two hours, 45 minutes, and a nearly exploded bladder later, I pulled into the hotel parking lot. The conference had started at 8:30. It was now 9:45, and all the chairs were full, and I had to be marched thru the room and seated in the front row. The speaker, bless him, made a joke about how since
everyone was watching me anyway, I should just continue to the very front and introduce myself. Pulling a smile from someplace, I said, “sure,” and sat down, and let the breath I’d been holding out.

The first break came at 10:45. After relieving a still complaining bladder, I tiptoed thru the throngs (the conference was full) to the middle of the sink shelf. I’d worn my new green ring, but didn’t want to get it wet, so I took it off to wash my hands. The paper towels were located at the two edges of the sink platforms, so I squeezed through and pulled some towels from the dispenser. When my hands were dried, I pushed back thru to the sink I’d washed at. And discovered my ring was missing.

Seriously. Someone had had the gall to steal a too big, adjustable green ring that I got on clearance at a clothing store. Of course I asked, and of course no one saw anything.

The rest of the day went better. The conference had sponsored a lunch, and during it I made some new friends. The drive back to return my car took less time than I expected. Getting through TSA at LAX took less than ten minutes. Both of my flights left on time, and my car was parked exactly where I’d left it in the paid parking lot. My sister and my son were asleep when I pried open the door, and my kitties were overjoyed that I’d brought them a strange-smelling suitcase. Bed felt better than heavenly.

Los Angeles. A mixed bag, but one I think I’ll leave lie for a while. 


  1. 1 mile in Los Angeles can take up to 1 hour.

  2. First of all: Did you steal my blog's font? I know imitation is the highest form of flattery and all, but... ;-p

    I am SO sorry your trip was so crazy. I'm especially sorry for the 3-hour morning trip and the abused bladder. I can't believe I thought 90 minutes would be sufficient for a 30-mile drive. Sigh.

    And finally, I SO loved having you here, my embarrassment over the smelly apartment aside. Even the kitties seemed extra thrilled to see you. We all miss you.

    Love ya!

  3. Oh my goodness, you had a crazy couple of days!!!! I hope whoever took that ring learns very soon that it's absolutely worthless apart from sentimentality lol!

    Had to chuckle at your kitties and the strange-smelling suitcase. So typical :-) My sister told me this morning that the cat I adopted ten years ago still sits outside her bedroom door (at my Mom's house) wanting to be let in (he isn't allowed: she's sensitive to cat fur, and my Mom usually used the room as a B&B room ...). Poor boy, he's wanted that for ten years - and trust me, if that door's ever left open, he makes himself at home on the bed.

  4. Poor! I hope whoever stole the ring discovers it has an evil spirit housed inside that will plague them for ever more. Or that they're allergic to the metal. At least the journey back was less torture than the outward one. :(

  5. Hello! My first visit, will visit you again. Seriously, I thoroughly enjoyed your posts. Congrats for your work. If you wish to follow back that would be great I'm at
    Thanks for sharing!

  6. Loved the post about flying to LA and I hope I have better luck when I fly out next month. (New York and Arizona.)
    I'm giving your blog an award--the Liebster. You have to get the badge off my site to post it on yours (I'm posting it Thursday if I can figure out how) and ideally pass it on to five other blogs. Put a link to my blog and the other five you pass it to on your blog accepting the award. Yes, it's a chain letter thing, and my blog Thursday will have a calculation of how it could explode. Nice example of an exponential function!

  7. Traveling for work is such an adventure--and I write that with tongue-in-cheek. I am glad that you made it home safe and sound. It is hard to leave little ones at home. :-) I really hope that there is another over sized, adjustable, green ring in your future...

  8. Aww -- thanks to you all. It was truly an adventure, and I hope to find another beautiful, inexpensive green ring, too, sometime. :-))