And on the morning of Tuesday, December 22, 2009, I packed up Caprica and set off on—
Wait, I was still wearing my slippers. Okay, let's put my shoes on. I packed up Caprica and set off on—
Wait, I should pour out the milk so it doesn't spoil and maybe drink a bit as breakfast. Okay, there's...what the hell, the fridge light just went out. I hope it's just the bulb. I can't deal with this right now! All right. I packed up Caprica and set off on—
No, really, this time I was able to leave.
I left around ten to avoid the rush hour traffic, which seemed to be a sound course of action and worked out well. I started out with the tunes of Smellerbee, opting to start listening to the mix CDs once I got out of the Bay Area, truly signaling the beginning of my Road Trip. While I was in familiar territory, I listened to familiar music.
There was lots of green! The Far East Bay was kind of pretty with the greenery and the mountains. Every now and then, though, I passed diagonal rows and rows of dead trees. I assumed they were off-season crops, but it was a very strange sight. I liked how diagonal they were, and so evenly spaced.
The best part, however, was that there were tumbleweeds. HONEST-TO-GOD TUMBLEWEEDS. I crashed right into one on purpose, shattering it verily. It was really fun, but then I realized that it might not be good to get tumbleweed in my car, so I avoided them afterward. But I still got a kick out of seeing them.
My plan for lunch was to pick a random local restaurant, so when I saw the Apricot Tree Restaurant off the road around lunchtime, I took the exit. It sounded like exactly the sort of place I was looking for. In the parking lot, my first stop, I excitedly began reading Daredevil, which I would be reading for the next week. I brought the book inside.
To get to the restaurant, I had to pass through the gift shop. I got a booth to myself, and after checking out the menu, I decided on a simple turkey sandwich with a side salad with honey mustard. And an apricot milkshake, since this was the Apricot Tree and I'd never seen an apricot milkshake before. The apricot milkshake was...a milkshake with apricots in it. Real apricots! So I felt like I got some fruit out of the deal. It was good. The turkey sandwich was nothing special, nor was the salad, but it was all perfectly decent food. Real food! I was trying to avoid succumbing to fast food on the road.
While 5 may be faster than 101, it's a pretty dull drive. For one, there are no billboards! You guys, what is a road trip for besides reading hilarious billboards? Plus, the exits were like thirty miles apart! At each exit, it would say how long the next exit was, as if to say, "Dude, if you don't fill up or eat now, you are SCREWED for the next thirty miles." It was kind of scary.
As I reached the outer Los Angeles area, I hit the mountains...and a bunch of semis carefully going downhill. I tried to avoid them. I passed Pyramid Lake, which was pretty and a welcome sight after hundreds of miles of dry land.
I began making calls to announce my arrival. April (aprilbegins) was still at work and would be for a while, but I could call her roommates to be let into the apartment. Now, I had a Document of important information, but I had forgotten to engage in my usual trick of putting the numbers in my phone beforehand so I could just press some buttons. Now I had to reference a sheet of paper and punch in ten digits while driving. This was not the most dangerous thing I would do while driving, don't worry.
In any case...neither of her roommates answered. Curses! After much coordination and calls and messages and texts, though, we got things sorted out. Since I was getting into L.A. even earlier than expected—because I had hit no traffic, where was the famed L.A. traffic?—I could swing by Gallery1988 and check out the Lost art exhibition. I punched the address into the GPS while driving. This was not the most dangerous thing I would do while driving, though. Well, maybe it was. It sure could have been dangerous. It wasn't easy, I'll tell you that.
I exited onto Highland and rolled down the window. There were a lot of billboards. After a few blocks, it hit me: I was driving my car in another city! A city hundreds of miles from the Bay Area! A city I had previously flown to! My car! It had taken me to a whole new world. I also noticed, to my surprise and bewilderment, that I had gone over 460 miles without having to fill up. Usually I hit the quarter-tank mark at around 300 miles! What the fuck, cruise control.
I turned on Melrose and spotted Golden Apple Comics, which I knew was near the gallery, so I found parking. Much more easily than I had anticipated, really, although April's roommate had assured me it would be easy.
I walked past Golden Apple to the corner and saw people lined up at famous Pink's Hot Dogs across the intersection. I couldn't find the gallery, however, so I called them and got the same woman I'd talked to earlier when I asked when they closed. I told her I was by Golden Apple Comics, and she said they were right next door! What! Oh, there they were. I was looking for a more prominent sign, but it was a tiny little gallery. Before really checking it out, though, I stopped in Golden Apple for a few minutes since they were about to close. It was a pretty big store. They didn't have any used trades that I needed, though, sadly. I would be back on Wednesday to read my titles, though.
The Lost Underground Art Project was an exhibition of awesome Lost-inspired art sponsored by Damon, Carlton and a Polar Bear, who created some crazy ARG-ish thing or something, I don't know, but it looks insane. The art is pretty awesome, though, and I wanted to see it for real.
What I didn't expect, however, was that THERE WAS A SHIT-TON OF OTHER ART. A lot of it awesome.
That baby right there costs $7,500. But it is pretty goddamn sweet, is it not? That is the first picture I took, so you can click through the LJ gallery to see more. I'll just post some of my favorites here.
Damon, Carlton, and a polar bear!
These little dudes were one-of-a-kind sculptures that cost eight hundred bucks.
I liked that bottom one.
The little sculpture was called Freckles.
I'm not sure who that guy is. One of the writers?
This set, called Showdowns, was fucking brilliant and hilarious. Each little piece represents a showdown. I couldn't identify every single one, but they were very clever.
Sawyer vs. polar bear! Hurley vs. ranch dressing!
The one in the bottom right of an Olan Mills portrait of Ben and his dad was brilliant.
In the reflection, you can see Lost fans! It was neat to encounter Lost fans. In the sense that anyone who stepped in there was a fan of the show so you knew you could geek out with them. One group of teenage girls comprised girls of various levels of fandom. They couldn't remember Michael's son's name.
"Walt," I said. "Or more accurately, 'Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalt!!'"
The guy at the desk had mentioned something about Locke shirts. Could it be? Did they? They did not! They did! They made a shirt out of this awesome poster. But they had sold out almost immediately. They were supposed to get a new shipment tonight, however! Ooh man. Any minute now. I waited. Any minutes passed. The guy said they would be there the next day, but I would be busy in the morning and was afraid they would sell out before I got back. I hung around for a while—he even let me use the restroom in the back, even though I saw a sign that said there were no public restrooms—but I finally left. Well, then I just read DD in the car because I didn't really have anywhere better to be. April wouldn't be home yet, so I waited till the gallery closed to see if the shirts would come in at the last minute. They did not. Balls.
I drove to April's apartment, and her roommate let me into the parking garage and up to the apartment. April had a pretty sweet pad with all these interesting colored light fixtures. And a bar labeled "The Polar Bar," which her roommate said was left over from a party three years ago. More recently, however, was this message left on the refrigerator:
I waited for April to get back from work, surfing on the company laptop and reading DD. I ate an apple when I got too hungry. When April finally arrived, she had a present for me! She had warned me that it was cold in L.A., so I should bring a hat, but I didn't really have a hat besides the mugger hat. So she got me a hat! With ears! The mugger hat did not have ears. I put on the hat to keep my ears warm.
Julia (jujubee) was waiting for us downstairs. I didn't think I'd met her before. I got to sit in the front seat. I know shotgun is supposed to shut his cakehole, but I asked if I could put in a CD. Except her CD player didn't work. Balls! Because I wanted to put in April's mix CD.
April got really excited. "Oh yeah! Because you make mixes for your hostesses!" She said she would be happy as long as there were no Grizzly Bear on it. I asked what she had against Grizzly Bear, and she didn't like what they stood for. Or something like that. A little too hipster indie for her, I guess. I told her the mix was called Pop! Goes the Mix CD, and she got even more excited.
We were on our way to Mani's on Fairfax, except Fairfax tried to kill us. Out of nowhere, we suddenly heard a loud CLUNK. Julia didn't think she'd hit anything. It sounded like something had just fallen from the sky on top of the car. Like a dead body or a weighted companion cube. At the next stop, April got out and quickly investigated. She didn't see any damage around the car. After parking outside Mani's, Julia examined the roof and found a small scratch, but we had no idea what had caused it. AND WE NEVER WILL.
Mani's slogan was "Good and good for you," and the menu was full of vegan and gluten-free options, which was good for Julia and April. There were a lot of good choices. I was amused that the salads and sandwiches came with a "choice of protein," usually between chicken or turkey and tempeh/seitan/tofu. I settled on the turkey burger with turkey bacon! And cheddar cheese and mushrooms. IT WAS A BACON CHEESEBURGER I COULD EAT! How cool is that?
I had a lot of sides to choose from. I was intrigued by the steamed kale since I had heard kale was really good for you. I asked what kale was, and Julia said it was like spinach...but chewier. Which did not sound appealing. But Julia and April sure loved kale, and, hey, might as well try new vegetables too, not just new meats.
The steamed kale was terrible, though. It was completely unseasoned, and after choking down a few forkfuls, I gave up. April let me have some of her roasted potatoes, which were much better.
The turkey burger with turkey bacon, however, was yummy. It was tiny and cute and not messy, and it tasted great, and now I want another one. Even if it was twelve bucks.
One topic of conversation was Placentia, where I was going the next day to visit my aunt. I thought it was a terrible, ugly name. Julia told a story about teaching in Detroit and reading the roster. One child had a very interesting name, and she asked the mother why she'd named her that. The mother said that when she gave birth, she didn't know English, but the doctor was saying one word over and over, and it was a very pretty word, so...
Another topic of conversation was popular intersections or something. April mentioned Hollywood and Vine, and I said I knew it from a Kid Rock song. April was flabbergasted. Was I, music elitist, making reference to Kid Rock? Yes. Yes I was. Come on, you know you love "Cowboy."
Anyway. It was determined that I had never had Pinkberry—if I had, I would remember it—and this needed to be rectified, since it was heaven on Earth. There were various Pinkberrys, but they closed at different times and only one took this coupon and after much deliberation, we just went to the one in the Grove Farmers' Market...
...which had just closed. Except now we needed to buy something to get our parking validated. And it had to be in the Grove and not the other place because there were two adjacent parking lots with their own rules and it seemed very stupid and confusing. Anyway, we went into Taschen, who made their own books so they could sell them to you. I don't know. I guess they're popular. They had a Big Book of Breasts. I opened it. There were...lots of breasts. And not attractice ones, at that. Next to it was a Big Book of Penises. I did not open it. Or the Big Book of Legs, which I would have opened were it called the Big Book of Gams.
April looked through various design books, being a web designer. The web design books they had seemed to give pretty obvious tips and good examples of functional site design without really teaching anything she didn't already know. So we hopped over to Coffee Bean, where Julia referred to herself as a glutard. Glutard, really? Is that what people on gluten-free diets call themselves? Really?
As we walked—past a dog bakery, among other things—I commented that it really wasn't as cold as April had led me to believe. It was chilly, and it was colder because it was windy, but it wasn't that bad! I had lived in Ann Arbor for three years, after all. Oh, but Julia had spent eight years in Ann Arbor, and April had come from Chicago, so...I still don't know why they thought it was so cold.
So we found a Pinkberry that was open. As it was my first time, the guy let me try the most popular flavor, which was..."original." I tried the famous Pinkberry frozen yogurt, and it tasted...like yogurt that was frozen! What the hell? It was very tart, like actual yogurt. I was confused. Frozen yogurt was supposed to taste like ice cream, not yogurt! Julia said she didn't like the chocolate one because it didn't taste like yogurt, so I got chocolate and pomegranate. And I could get as many toppings as I wanted, oooh. I had him put some kiwi and strawberry on it, as well as dark chocolate crisps (little rice balls, I think) and toasted almonds.
It was good! I mean, it tasted funny, but it was good. We ate in Julia's car as we traveled back to April's apartment to debate our next move. April and sweetcynic23 were going to a Lady Gaga concert tomorrow, and April needed to drop off her ticket. Would Julia accompany us? Should we go in her car? My car? Two cars? Red fish, blue fish?
In the end, we decided that April and I should go in my car so I could play her her mix CD. I popped it in, and April got excited again because the first track was Garfunkel and Oates, whom she and Julia loved a lot. But the real reason she should have gotten excited is because "Worst Song Medley" begins with "I love you, always forever."
And speaking of Julia, we had to wait for her to realize that April had not brought her clicker and let us out of the garage (she was over so much she had her own clicker).
On the way, we passed Hollywood and Vine. It was not impressive. April guided me to SC's apartment. SC came out and greeted us, and I had thought we were going to be hanging out or something, but we were just delivering a ticket and hugging. It was nice to see her for a few minutes, at least.
Julia was going to head on home, but she said that if I couldn't find anyone to have dinner with tomorrow, I could give her a call. April and SC had already invited us to come out to Fred 62 after the concert, but it could be as late as 12:30, so Julia and I were maybe not up for it. But then we realized, hey, let's have dinner at Fred 62! So it was settled.
Back at the apartment, I handed April her mix CD. She was very happy about it.
This picture, however, is false. The flash belies the true vibe of the room! This is what it was really like:
We watched an episode of Scrubs[: Med School]. It was weird. Afterwards, April excitedly proposed we go out to breakfast tomorrow. At like six in the morning. No. Oh oh how about I wake up at seven and have breakfast with her? Uh, no. How about she makes peanut butter pancakes and leaves some for me? Oh, yeah, let's do that one. April is a very good, accommodating hostess who really looks after her charges. Mostly.
I woke around 6:30ish to the sounds of April getting ready for work and making pancakes. I sleepily waved to her. She said they were a little burnt, and she left a note.
The note read, "You are consuming peanut butter multi-grain pancakes with rice nog instead of milk and applesauce instead of oil." She wanted me to know how hippietastic my pancakes were! Also, there was vegetarian brie in the fridge. Except it was all wrapped in plastic and unopened, so I was afraid to open it. The pancakes, however, were good and peanut butter-y.
After breakfast, I was off to exotic Whittier! As it just so happened, I was in town the same time as Kate. Kate was a friend of Ravi's, and we somehow started IMing in late 2000, and we became friends. We lost touch after graduation and then, of course, found each other on Facebook so we could keep in touch a little that way. She lived in St. Louis but was home for the holidays.
Traffic was not bad, but I found that it was always worse on 101. To my surprise, Magiben—Magellan Roadmate—told me to exit to Whittier and then drive on streets for twenty minutes. I couldn't believe there wasn't a faster way! And, in fact, when I finally arrived, Kate's mom said I had taken the long way, having looked at the suggested route on Google Maps.
Kate! So Kate and I had only ever met once before, and it was for, like, two minutes. So this was like our first real meeting. She showed me around her house, which had lots of books—the sign of a good house—and an evil parrot. Outside, there was an avocado tree! And a lemon tree! And an orange tree! Also signs of a good house.
Kate suggested we go uptown. On the way, we caught each other up on our lives, including the Topic That Shall Not Be Named, which caused some eyebrow-raising.
As we neared uptown, I spied signs directing me to parking. I followed them...and they led nowhere! Stupid lying signs. I found street parking next to a Coffee Bean. Kate had never been in a Coffee Bean, so she went in and got some coffee. And then we walked up Greenleaf, which was the most happening street in Whittier. There was a little movie theatre and all sorts of restaurants and shops. Kate said that there had been a great pizza place there when she was growing up, but it had closed. And then it reopened, but they had changed their sauce, so the pizza wasn't as good anymore. Alas.
We passed a comic book store called Geeks that was having a sale on graphic novels! Except it was a 15% off sale, which was just not enticing enough, as I could get them cheaper off Amazon. Kate declared that I was the reason small businesses couldn't survive, but I clarified that my own comic book store periodically had 25% off sales, so even that was better than 15%, and I always bought things to support them. I liked supporting small businesses, but especially the ones I actually frequented. But I still buy most of my stuff from Amazon.
We also passed a very amusing sign, one so amusing I had to take a picture.
Someone inside waited for us to take the picture before coming out, and when he came out, we were a little embarrassed. He asked us whether we knew that they sold a hair growth drug, maybe I didn't want my picture with that.
There seemed to be several Cash4Gold places. One of them had a very big painted sign warning us to beware of "hotel" cash4gold...which we did not understand at all. Do they exchange cash for gold in hotels or something? Is this some industry term?
We popped into the Little Old Bookshop because I am drawn to bookstores. I asked where their graphic novel section was, and a man gave me directions that led me down into a scary basement. I wondered if it was some sort of trick and I was about to be murdered. But no, there was the graphic novel section...on a rack. It was one circular rack of books. But they had an older version of Who Killed Retro Girl?! Neat. And oh oh, aha, they had a Fables trade I needed! Aha.
I went back to ground level, and Kate said she was looking for the sci-fi section, so I led her down into the sci-fi/fantasy ghetto. I was sort of miffed that the SFF was relegated to the goddamn basement, as if it wasn't good enough to hang with the Literature upstairs, but there was also a lot of it, so perhaps the decision was made for space reasons. Kate was trying to get into sci-fi and fantasy now. I had noticed she was reading Good Omens, which she was enjoying. She had also read and liked Ender's Game, so I found and handed her Speaker for the Dead, which I said was as good or better. I also found Pratchett and looked at the Discworld options. They had a lot of the Night Watch books, but I can never remember what order they go in, so I haven't read them. I seriously considered buying them all, though. I resisted. Instead, I handed Kate Small Gods, which seemed to be the best starter book available. I wasn't even sure whether I'd read it. I introduced her to Neil Gaiman and made some recommendations, but she was good with her selections for now.
As we left, Kate remarked that she had read Rosemary and Rue and liked it, even though, like me, she doesn't like fairy books. But she had told two friends, who also liked it! Go word-of-mouth marketing!
We went across the street to Lovell's, a music store, so I could see if they had any used Muse. They did not, but I came across a Sparta CD for two bucks. Pandora had given me at least one Sparta song I really liked, and I thought one of the track names sounded familiar, so I picked it up. I also found an Everclear CD for a buck.
While I was searching CDs, I got a text from Hadley, whom I'd been trying to reach for days. I called him back, and, hurrah, he was free to meet up later in the day when I got back into town. When I told him I was in Whittier, he was very perplexed. He'd driven past Whittier but never been there.
(Well, he should go to Whittier, since they named a street after him!
Kate believed that the man who had sold me my CDs was Mr. Lovell himself, or else it was someone who had been working there a long time, since she recognized him from when she was a kid.
We wandered up and down Greenleaf, passing Spin, which touted "mixed music, mixed menu." I wanted to see what the mixed menu was, and it was just typical bar food. Nothing very exciting, sadly. We stopped in some Hot Topic-looking store that made me want to leave as soon as I entered since I just was not edgy enough for them, but Kate really wanted to get a "Hecho en Whittier" shirt to baffle her St. Louis friends with.
Soon, it came time to eat, and there were several options. We checked out Crepes and Grapes, and the fact that the menu had many appetizing options and we were greeted by a cute, Hayley Williams-esque redhead sealed the deal for me. We sat outside and split an appetizer with various breads and breadsticks to be dipped in hummus, marinara, some sort of red pepper sauce, and a mixture of peppers and onions. I also got some French onion soup to go with my chicken crepe with green chilies and cheese that came with scalloped potatoes and veggies on the side. It was all very tasty. Kate got a dessert crepe that came folded like a tent.
After lunch, we couldn't find my car. Normally, I have a pretty good sense of direction...or is it bad? But I was positive that it was one way, and Kate said it was another. We had gone right and left and up and down side roads, and I couldn't remember whether I had parked parallel or perpendicular to Greenleaf. But then we both simultaneously saw the Coffee Bean! Except, again, I thought that meant we were going one direction and Kate said it was another. "Trust me," she said, and I did, since she lived here. Sure enough, she was right. I knew that the Coffee Bean was to the right of my car, but the sign I had seen was on a different side of the building.
On the way back, Kate regaled me with Whittier trivia, mostly related to Whittier College, which was founded by Quakers and attended by Richard Nixon. More importantly, it was obliquely referenced on Gilmore Girls! When Lane is applying to colleges, she mentions a "Quaker school where the applicants are selected by Richard Nixon."
The GPS was still on, even though Kate knew how to get back home. It was taking us down Whittier, which was slower than the way Kate would have gone, so I just turned left when I could since the GPS would recalculate anyway. "And then turn right," said Kate. "Approaching right turn," said Magiben. But Kate said it first!
Back at Kate's, we commemorated our real meeting with a picture taken by her dad.
See? Orange tree!
Then it was off to Placentia! Which Kate said was not pronounced in that awful-sounding way, which made more sense. Of course, now it rhymed with dementia, so was that any better?
To get to Placentia, I had to go on a highway...with traffic lights, really? Was there no faster way to get there? Come on! I was already behind schedule.
I got to the house and knocked on the door. A white guy answered. Uh, I clearly had the wrong house. I went next door. A little Indian girl answered. That was more like it, even though I didn't know who she was. Moti Baa came from the kitchen, and I gave her a hug. I hadn't seen her since Mota Bapa's funeral in 2003.
Moti Baa returned to the kitchen to continue cooking. The little girl was named Radhika, and she was like the living embodiment of a Pixar kid, a chubby little seven-year-old who talked too much and asked question after question. Moti Baa told me to relax in the living room, so I did. On the TV was some cartoon that turned out to be Bible stories or something.
Radhika asked, "Do you want to watch the news?" Ha ha haaaaa, because that is what adults do! We watch the news! She showed me which were the Indian channels, because that is what adults do, watch the Indian channels. I took the remote and flipped to PBS, which was showing some cartoon.
"You like watching English cartoons?" she said. Yeah. "Even now?" Yeah. She was like woooooooooow. We watched cartoons as she told me all about herself and her family. I had never met this kid before, but she clearly thought I was the most interesting person in the whole world.
Moti Baa had cooked up a lot of food, even though I told her I only wanted some snacks. I wasn't even hungry after lunch, but I still ate a little. She asked me why I'd eaten already. Because?
I was already behind schedule, and I hadn't intended to stay for too long, but, of course, she had assumed I was going to be staying for dinner and staying the night and living there for all time because that is how family works. Even though I had made no such statements when talking to her. She told me to sit, sit for a while.
I showed Radhika my surgery scar, telling her it was a werewolf bite.
"Werewolves are real?" she said.
"When did the werewolf bite you?"
"What was your costume?"
"I was a rabbit."
"Rabbits eat werewolves!"
Then she told me to draw her a picture, except I can't draw for shit, so I did my doodlesketching, where I just scratch a bunch of lines and then try to look for a picture in them. I found a bird, but she didn't know what it was. "Draw me something I know what it is!" she cried. Then we jumped from couch to couch. And then she took my camera and took a bunch of pictures. And then she asked me what's so great about the Golden Gate Bridge. And then she asked me how deep the ocean was.
"You can find out on the Internet," I said.
"The Internet knows?" she said.
"The Internet knows everything," I declared.
There was a guava tree in the back, so Moti Baa fixed me up a guava and then gave me three million guavas to take back with me. They were guavas, even though I would keep telling people they were passion fruit, since I only knew the Gujarati name.
Moti Baa was essentially the nanny for this family, who had no other relation to us, and I tried to wait for the family to return home—of course, being Indian, they had assumed I would stay for dinner as well—but time was getting short, and I had to meet Hadley in the city, and there was going to be traffic. So I talked to them on the phone. They owned an Indian restaurant in Tustin, though, and hey, I was going to be in Tustin the next week, so I could stop by then.
I waited as long as I could, but then I had to leave, much to Radhika's dismay. I packed up my snacks and guavas. When I turned on the car, rock music started playing.
"Is this the music you listen to?" asked Radhika.
"Why no God music?" she said.
"God music is later."
"Why not now?" Oh, kids.
My original plan was to visit the Echo Park Time Travel Mart on the way back since it was along the way, but I confirmed that they were open on Christmas Eve, so I could hit them up tomorrow, when I had nothing to do anyway. Right now, I had to make it back to West Hollywood by 5ish. I used the GPS's "avoid traffic" feature to avoid what looked like a significant delay, but I still hit crazy traffic on 101. Here was that L.A. traffic I had heard so much about! For instance, observe:
Note that I have 10 minutes until I reach my destination at 4:51.
I now have 9 minutes until I reach my destination...at 5:01! Also, it has become dark. L.A. traffic disrupts the space-time continuum.
I made it back to Gallery1988, where there were still plenty of Locke shirts available. I picked up one for me and one for Dahlia, who also loved that Locke art. Sadly, the shirt itself couldn't say "Locke" because of copyright issues, presumably, but it still had the art and the "Just don't tell him what he can't do" tagline, so it's more of a stealth geeky shirt.
Hadley wanted to meet me at the Starbucks on Melrose, so I asked Magiben to find me a nearby Starbucks. It pulled up two million, but none were on Melrose. I'm not sure whether that Starbucks is off the radar or it was actually further away than two million others so it didn't come up on the search. In any case, I just drove down Melrose and there it was. I found some parking and listened to a voicemail from my mom, who said that Moti Baa was kind of miffed that I had only stayed for an hour or so, as she had assumed I was staying longer. Yeah, well, I can't control what people assume. Can't I have a nice vacation without family drama? Geez. (Luckily, when I talked to my mom later, it didn't turn out to be that big a deal, I guess, because Moti Baa was mostly just glad I'd finally visited her.)
I met Hadley in front of the Starbucks, and we went inside. To my surprise, he actually cared about my family drama and empathized with it. Family drama is universal. We took a table and chatted for a while about what we were up to. Hadley was up to a lot; I don't think he sleeps at all. I'm looking forward to seeing his projects. I also discovered that he's a big Mafia fan! I miss Mafia. He plays with a bunch of actors, but he's a better liar than any of them.
We only had a short time together, and then we each had to go our separate ways. I told him I was having dinner at Fred 62, and he recommended the tuna melt, which was so good. I didn't know how a tuna melt could be so good.
I punched Fred 62 into the GPS and was on my way. I reached my destination but had to look for parking. I got a text from Julia that said she, too, was looking for parking. Heh. I found a spot several blocks down the street. When I got back to the restaurant, she already had a table.
I couldn't remember what I had ordered last time, but I thought it may have been the turkey meatloaf sandwich (it was). Julia could only eat two or three (or maybe fewer) things on the menu, so her choice was easy. I decided to go with that tuna melt, especially since it was $8.88. They should call it the Cromartie.
It's so cute! And round! How...how did they do that? Julia and I pondered. I mean, it was round but still had a crust. Did they bake cylindrical rolls of bread? Also, wouldn't a round slice of bread be smaller than the comparable square slice? Was I being ripped off? In any case, I stopped caring as soon as I took a bite. Holy crap, it was good. The tuna was not fishy at all, and the cheddar and grilled onions worked together and made everything taste really good. It was definitely the best tuna melt I'd ever had.
Julia was good company, and I was thankful that I didn't have to eat dinner alone. She couldn't hang after dinner, though, so I was on my own, a lone wolf in Los Angeles. As I left, I noticed that the theatre right across from Fred 62 was showing Fantastic Mr. Fox, which I had been wanting to see. I illegally parked across the street for a second, leaving the car running, and ran over to see what time the next showing was. 9:30. It was now 8. Well, that did give me some time to explore Amoeba for a while. It was a plan, since April wouldn't be getting back from the concert until late anyway.
I hoped Amoeba was open, and it was! I looked for parking on Sunset, and I found what looked like a great spot...until I got out and saw that the curb was actually red. BUT! As soon as I discovered that, someone a couple cars ahead of me pulled out, so I immediately took his spot. WIN.
I first checked out the clearance section, but I couldn't find anything great that I was looking for. I checked the regular used section, which had Muse's Showbiz for ten bucks. That wasn't low enough for me. Pandora had introduced me to a band called Laika that I figured Amoeba would have CDs of, since that is what Amoeba does, and sure enough, they had two Laika CDs, one for six bucks and one for seven bucks, each with one song I really loved. Score! They also had the Snake River Conspiracy CD for eight bucks, but I figured I could get it cheaper off Amazon Marketplace. Oh, and there were tons of DVDs for two bucks. Gah! So many choices. Also, I needed to pee.
Amoeba had no public restrooms. There was a Jack in the Box across the street. They had a restroom, but you had to ask the front to buzz you in. I walked down to Baja Fresh and saw that they, too, had restrooms for customers only. Fine, whatever, I would buy something for a dollar at Jack in the Box for the privilege of using the restroom.
They had a self-serve kiosk! What! It was like at the airport. You could order using a touchscreen. How bizarre and high-tech! Well, there were churros for $1, so I could have a crappy dessert.
But aha! Two guys got buzzed in. So I just waited outside the door for them to come out so I could go in. One guy came out, but I wasn't sure what sort of restroom it was. Wasn't the other guy still in there? Oh, there were stalls.
I went in the unoccupied stall. As I was on the toilet, I heard a lot of commotion outside, like some guys demanding to be buzzed in. I thought I heard someone referring to the fact that two guys had gone in. I thought I was in trouble for sneaking into the restroom. The door buzzed.
I flushed and zipped up my pants, ready to exit the stall.
And then I heard the following words: "Put your hands up and step away from the fucking blowdryer."
Oh my God, oh my God, oh my fucking God, this was not happening, this was not happening, seriously, was this happening, really, to me, what, seriously?? I didn't hear a gun cocking. I thought I heard the guy say something about it not being funny, not a joke, but I couldn't hear. I couldn't hear any rustling, any telltale sounds of a mugging, but what else could it be?
Immediately I pulled out my wallet and took out all my twenties and my credit card and put them in my pocket. I would hate to lose my wallet and everything in it—especially Emily's letter, which I should have stuffed in my pocket as well, but I was only thinking of a situation in which they would just grab the cash—but losing my cash and credit card at the beginning of my road trip would be a disaster.
Should I pretend to be sick? They wouldn't want to get near me if I were really sick, right? No, no, let's not call attention to myself. I stood quietly in my stall, my legs shaking like they'd never shook before. Were they waiting for me to come out? Were they going to knock on the door and tell me to come out? Were they going to bust down the door? Did they even know I was in there? I mean, they had to. I had flushed, the stall was locked, the top of my head was poking out from the top.
As long as I stayed in the locked stall and didn't make a sound, I was safe.
I realized that a wallet with no high bills at all may rouse suspicion, so I put a twenty back in. Through a crack, I saw a black guy in a hat standing outside my stall. Guarding it? The man who had spoken sounded like a white guy, your stereotypical white trash criminal voice. My legs were shaking so much.
And then I actually had to go to the restroom again, so I had a valid reason for remaining in the stall, but I hoped that the sounds wouldn't make them notice me. Were they even there? Had they left? I had no idea what was going on.
I stayed in the stall until I heard people entering and exiting without incident. The door was opening and closing, and no one else was being mugged, so it was maybe safe. Maybe.
I unlocked the stall and pushed the door open. Nothing happened.
I quickly walked to the sink and washed my hands—I know—and exited without drying them. I had a few more yards of Jack in the Box to get through. And then when I exited the Jack in the Box, I was afraid of being jumped, so I ran ran ran ran the fuck across to the street to Amoeba with its many people and its bright lights and I felt safe. I wanted to cry.
It was possibly the most terrifying experience of my life.
But no one was going to mug me in Amoeba, right? I found a spot to stuff my cash and credit card back into my wallet, and now that I had not been mugged, I should spend some money.
Not too much, though. I was tempted by some cheap Powerman 5000 and Puddle of Mudd, and oh yeah, maybe they had Filter, and what about this band and that band and—
After finding the two Laika CDs, I also found some cheap Ladytron (Light and Magic) and Lacuna Coil (Karmacode), so I resolved to buy only L bands. Oh, maybe they had the first Lovemakers EP, which I didn't even realize existed until they broke up and mentioned their four CDs. AND THEY HAD IT! For four bucks! And it had some sort of "1#" written on it, so maybe it was special. And they also had the new Lovemakers CD, which I wanted.
Later, I did some comparision shopping. The Laika CDs were both cheaper on Amazon Marketplace. Lacuna Coil was a winner. The Ladytron album was out of print, another winner. The first Lovemakers CD was selling for $70 on Amazon Marketplace, and I had picked it up for $4. Go me. The new CD was, of course, cheaper on Amazon. But the fact was I had these CDs now, and I could listen to them on my road trip, and I had bought them at Amoeba, and they were all L bands, so I was paying a premium for the whole package.
I asked the checkout woman if she could figure out my theme for the day. She said she noticed a lot of electronica. I said they were all L bands. So they were! I had to make up that rule to keep from buying too much.
I had considered going to see Fantastic Mr. Fox, as it seemed like just the sort of movie I needed to watch right now, but I also thought that maybe I wouldn't be able to concentrate on it, and really I just wanted to go back to April's apartment and be safe.
As I left Amoeba, I did not cross Sunset first, since I didn't even want to be on the same corner as that Jack in the Box. I walked toward my car, hoping it hadn't been broken into or stolen. I saw a guy hanging out by the car and hoped he wasn't about to carjack me. Nothing happened.
What I needed, I decided, was ice cream. There was a Persian ice cream place right by April's apartment that April had recommended, Mashti Malone's. So I went there. Even though it was right next to a liquor store. There was a guy outside the liquor store. I made it inside the ice cream place without being killed. Inside, it was well lit, and I felt safe. Plus, there was a cute girl. I tried some of the ginger rosewater and saffron rosewater ice cream, and she took some tastes for herself. They tasted interesting and okay, and normally, I would have gone for them, but right now, I needed comfort ice cream, so I just got mint chip.
I made it back in my car without being killed, and I headed back to April's apartment. She had given me her clicker to get back. I clicked and clicked and nothing happened. Because I was at the wrong garage. I drove down a little and clicked again. There we go.
I parked and walked to the elevator. Which required a key. Uh. I called April's roommates, neither of whom answered. Uh. Using the clicker, I went outside and buzzed the apartment. No one answered. Uh. April was at the concert, and also she had left her phone in her room, so it was no use trying to contact her.
I saw a car entering the garage, so I went back in and followed them into the elevator.
"Do you live here?" a guy asked as the elevator ascended.
"I'm visiting people who live here," I answered. He was cool with that.
I walked down the hallway to the apartment and rang the doorbell. Nothing happened. Uh. I knocked. Uh.
So I sat outside the door in the hallway and began writing.
About 45 minutes after I first arrived, I got a text from sweetcynic23. The concert was over, did I want to join them at Cafe 101 after? Uh. Well. I called her back and asked to speak to April, who couldn't hear me very well. During the call, I got a text from her roommate, who was on his way back from the gym, so at least I would be let in soon. April and SC were on the bus back, and they would let me know when they were close; Cafe 101 wasn't too far from me.
I didn't discuss what happened with April's roommate. Instead, I went to b.org, where I knew I would get some intangible support, at least. 1_aga, bless her heart, offered to come and get me. I didn't know whether to go and meet April and SC at Cafe 101. On the one hand, I really needed some hugs and distraction, and I was going to make April buy me something. On the other, I really needed to feel safe, and going back out into the dark night was not going to help that cause. My decision was sealed when I started crying when I vocalized, "I don't want to leave."
When I next heard from SC, I told her, "I can't leave. I'm sorry, I really do want to see you, but I can't leave." To her immense credit, she did not ask me to explain. She said it was okay, and it was nice to see me for a bit yesterday.
I waited and waited for April to come home. She had no idea what had happened since she couldn't hear very well. I told her the story.
"Oh, honey," she said, and she gave me a long hug. And then we shared a cupcake and a cookie. She reminded me that I should take the brie.
She was leaving for Portland the next morning, so it would be of no use to her.
April decided that hugging now would be the most awkward goodbye ever, and she preferred the safety hug. I agreed. It had been a good hug, and it would count as our goodbye hug as well.
April left around 5ish, and I sleepily waved her goodbye. "Have a good trip!" I said.
It was a lazy morning. I read DD and waited for one of the roommates to let me out, except the one I had coordinated with overslept. There was still one left, however, and I didn't want to bother him, but...I kind of had to be let out. Or else I would just hide April's clicker somewhere. But no, he would do it. And I was off.
Oh, but my adventures in Los Angeles had only just begun!