I had a marvelous time in California with my cousin, Pam, over spring break. Makes me wish for the millionth time that I lived in Calfornia and got to spend every day in sunshine and glaring covetosly at neighbors with avocado trees. Alas, that isn’t the case for now. I have every intention of moving to the west coast before I’m thirty, though. Once I finish all this higher education nonsense here, I’m off for Hollywood and a degree in Egyptology from UCLA. Iowa has just never been for me. It is certainly a nice place for some people, and it does have its bucolic charms…but we don’t have an H&M, and that is really too much for me.
Instead of my usual ramblings, I’m going to do a photographic essay of my time in the Golden State. Prepare for an onslaught of imagery, dear reader.
Getting to the central coast of California proved to be no simple task. I considered trains and buses and different planes. Eventually I found a route that would take me, but unfortunately that required me to go to Minneapolis and stop at the Mall of America for a nice bit of shopping. I found a gorgeous sweater at H&M (it’s important to me, okay?) for $5. I was living my best life.
I stayed the night at there rather lovely Radisson Blu, a hotel that is literally in the mall. A shopper’s dream come true. Good coffee.
I HOPPED OFF THE PLANE AT LAX!
I was absolutely obsessed with how ALIVE everything was. I had arrived from Iowa where absolutely everything was dead and the first hint of spring was still some time off. A week in the sun was exactly what I needed to recharge my psyche and body. I feel so much healthier for having been out in nature and soaking up some glorious vitamin D.
We had an amazing lunch at Jaffa, an excellent mediterranean restaurant in Arroyo Grande. The falafel was really one of the best I’ve had in America. And that lentil soup…blessed.
There is a colony of chickens that struts around Arroyo Grande living their best lives. I was obsessed.
The Pacific was absolute perfection. Windy and a bit cold, but it wasn’t -22 like it has been back home for months. I found a sand dollar, admired the pristine sand, had excellent conversation, and it was just a wonderful time.
The village of Halcyon was a total shock to me. It was founded by a branch of the Theosophical Society. That may not mean much to you, but I was utterly gobsmacked. This is a spiritualist group that was created by Helena Blavatsky in the late 1800s. It has been one of my longtime interests because Theosophy incorporates many old Egyptian myths into its belief system.
I have been researching it even more over the past two years because it plays a small, but important, role in my series of books about the Desmarais siblings. There’s a slight mention in my first one, always available on Amazon! It has a more prominent role in the prequel which I’m editing now. I hope to release it sometime this year.
Because of this, it was awfully strange to find Theosophy alive and well when I thought it was long dead. How bizarre to see a temple dedicated to something so odd so near to where Pam lives. I’m still not over it. I have never really believed in coincidences; Lady M was very right in Cairo when she told me they weren’t real.
We stopped by Halcyon’s peculiar cemetery where the headstones didn’t traditionally follow the east-west line. There were blue marbles on each stone. It was peaceful and slightly decrepit, and though it was far from the most beautiful cemeteries I’ve ever visited (and I’ve been in plenty) there was something deeply peaceful here.
An abandoned Catholic cemetery had many beautiful headstones and memorials.
We took a day trip to Santa Barbara, and I fell madly in love with the city. It’s so beautiful, and there’s such a variety of things to do. I would happily spend a month here exploring every street and every shop. Had a great breakfast at a vintage diner and was called “ese” so I felt very at home.
It’s seriously one of the prettiest cities I’ve ever explored. And, of course, I found the cemetery. I died. It was also gorgeous, and Egyptomania ruled the mausoleums.
On the way back, we took a narrow, winding road high up and saw Chumash cave paintings. There weren’t many, but they were utterly beautiful.
After a day of relaxation, munching on broccoli chips in the shade, it was time to head to my favorite place in America: HOLLYWOOD!
Los Angeles and I were not in love when we first met. You remember my soul-crushing realization that it’s no longer 1930 and movie stars aren’t always dining at the Ivy? That took me a while to recover from, but since that first shock, I have totally taken to LA. I love the leisurely lifestyle, the fashion, the food, the asphalt, the canyons, the streets, the facade of it all. It’s perfect to me. And though it has nothing at all to do with Paris, I feel the same way in LA as I do in Paris. Light and free and glowing, like all the world is out there for me.
Schwartz Bakery, on Beverly Boulevard, is what really made me fall in love with LA, I think. They make the best black and white cookies. There’s a woman behind the counter who is always there, and I love her with a passion that is equal to what I feel for the old woman at Miss Manon in Paris. She’s equally grumpy, but utterly charming. This time, after we chatted about rent prices and how wonderful it was to be in Hollywood, she gave me two cookies at a discount, saying I’m a poor student and need all the money I can get my hands on. I literally about cried. She’s the sweetest person in Los Angeles and I hope she knows how loved she is.
The apartment I rented was absolutely perfect and in my favorite part of West Hollywood. The owner was an eccentric antique dealing hairstylist, and we seemed to have similar taste. I absolutely loved the apartment, though I feel that the couch in front of the fireplace is a SIN.
After a great dinner at Musso & Frank, I headed out on the town, beating my feet up and down every street I’ve grown to love. I stopped by the Chateau Marmont just to drink in the decadent atmosphere. It’s one of the finest hotels I’ve ever stayed in. Peaceful, luxurious, elite. I miss it.
The next day, we went to the Getty Museum, which I have meant to do for years, but finally managed it.
I’m not a model; I swear! I was just casually posing dramatically with LA over my shoulder when the camera went off by itself.
I was 100% mesmerized by how nice my hair looked in California. I didn’t do anything to it. It waved and curled and ringed by itself. Here in Iowa I have to pray to every god that ever existed to get volume, in California, I just wake up like that. It’s no wonder that Harry Styles is there so much; you look flawless.
Of all things, I shall miss the flowers. I noticed a dogwood tree in bloom yesterday, and that was nice, but it can’t compare to flowers erupting with cacophonous flourish everywhere. Sometime soon spring will arrive in full force, but until then, I’ll hold on to my memories of California and the wonderful times I had.
But let’s be honest, I’m going to miss my California hair the most because I was effing radiant.
I can’t wait to go back.