Those who call Los Angeles home seem to take the insane freeway traffic in stride. For those who live elsewhere, however, driving here can be a disconcerting and frustrating experience.
I feel sorry for the poor woman stuck in the #4 lane of a five-lane stretch of the 101. I don’t know whether her car was experiencing mechanicsl problems or whether she just ran out of gas, but she was helplessly waving both arms, signaling drivers to go around her on both sides. The net effect of this woman’s very bad day was that traffic was backed up for miles. We sat on the freeway, stopped, then inched forward in little jerks and starts for nearly an hour. Grateful that Donna was driving, I took out a novel and began reading aloud for a bit of distraction.
Advice to my 16 year old niece who just earned her driver’s license last week: Stay off the L.A. freeways for a while.
Fortunately, my niece lives far away in northern California and we live out in the desert. It takes five minutes to drive anywhere in my little burg. I can’t get over how it takes an hour and a quarter to get just a few miles down the road here in La La Land.
Freeways aside, the urban sprawl feels, well, unnatural. The way houses and shops are crowded together and piled atop one another in a jumbled heap, a visual cacophony punctuated by a million signs in a Babel of languages – Spanish, Korean, Arabic, Mandarin, English – reminds me of certain photos I have seen of Hong Kong and Tokyo. More to my personal experience, I am reminded of Queens Boulevard in New York City, only multiplied by a factor of six.
It is probably best for me to stay out of Los Angeles as much as possible, not only because I enjoy the slower pace of life in the desert, but also because there are just too many great restaurants here. Despite the gym rats and muscle men who strut their stuff down at the beach, this place is an eater’s paradise.
Let’s just say that I do not look forward to my weigh-in tomorrow. At all. Although I have stayed away from the traveling temptations of junk food, we did stop for a decent lunch on the road and then there was the matter of our family dinner last night.
It’s not like I didn’t make an effort. I picked at the starchy appetizer, ate less than a quarter of my giant baked potato and drank plenty of water. We found a grocery store and brought fresh fruit and club soda back to the hotel room for late night munching.
Our time with my family was rather predictable. My sister, who I hadn’t seen in two years, showed me photos of her cats and griped about her jerk of a boss and an even jerkier coworker who enjoys showing off his knowledge of the plural forms of the scientific names of male and female reproductive organs. My nephew complained to the staff about there not being enough sauce on his pizza, then proceeded to spend the rest of the evening engaged in a deep discussion of Japanese grammar and syntax with his sister, ignoring everyone else at table. My mother was annoyed with me for not having visited recently enough to see her new dishwasher and kitchen faucets. And so it goes.
Next up is Sunday brunch at a bakery/deli that has the best rye bread this side of the Bronx and my favorite sugar-free cookies in all of California.
Face it, I’m gonna be fat forever.