Today was the much dreaded/anticipated LA Marathon. Dreaded, because it royally screws all traffic in Los Angeles. And if you’ve ever heard of Los Angeles, you probably know our traffic is pretty screwed to begin with. The race route cuts a line through the city from the 5 to the ocean, with no way across. It’s kind of like the Berlin Wall, except it only lasts half a day. And it’s for a good cause. The race was also much anticipated, at least by me, because I was going to finally run and complete a race.
Last year, I religiously followed a 10-week training program in preparation for the Portland, Oregon Half Marathon in October. Two weeks before the race, I planned a 12-mile run through Glendale, Los Feliz, Hollywood and West Hollywood. About 9-10 miles in, I tripped in a pothole, fell, and broke my elbow in two places. Awesome. I walked the Portland Half two weeks later, arm in a brace. This was directly followed by a couple of months of healing, minimal exercise, and eating lots of holiday food.
So I was more than ready to give it another go. And by ready, I mean I followed about half my training schedule, fit in exactly one run over seven miles in the past two months, and almost forgot to pick up my race packet yesterday. The usual.
LA doesn’t have a half marathon, but this year they had a charity relay. One team member runs the first half, then the second team member tags in. I was running with the Courage Campaign team, and didn’t actually know my partner at all. I briefly met her last night at a team dinner. I decided we were the perfect pair, because she didn’t train either, and she wanted to run the first half. Since I hate waking up in the morning, that was ideal for me. Looking at the weather report last night, it said 90-100% chance of thunderstorms. Obviously. Come to LA where it’s beautiful all year round, except that one day that 25,000 people are going to attempt the truly stupid feat of running really far.
I prepared myself mentally for the downpour. I thought of the time my parents took us on a horseback ride in the Smoky Mountains during a thunderstorm. (To be fair, I think the thunderstorm started after we were down the trail a way, but I remember my tiny little brain seething in anger and indignation.) I figured hey, it’ll be like that, except I have no one to blame but myself. At least no one will know I’m crying. Instead, I woke up this morning to blue, clear skies. Not trusting this, I put on a tank top, long sleeved shirt, warm vest, and a hat. Fortunately, I decided against the gloves.
It was gorgeous. Not a drop of rain. Lots of sun. In fact, I got a bit of a sunburn on my face. Which wouldn’t be awful, except for the hat I was wearing (see above photo). It makes for an awkward tan line. All in all, it was an incredible run. I ran through West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Century City, Westwood and Santa Monica, and I love the fact that I’ve finally lived here long enough to have fond memories of all these places. One of these fond memories now is running 13.1 miles through them. Some of the highlights of the race included: tranny cheerleaders in West Hollywood; seeing Natasha and Adam at Mile 20, and stripping down to give them my disgustingly wet long-sleeved shirt which they graciously took home for me; being cheered on by Henry Winkler - that’s right, the Fonz - at Mile 23; running the Sunset Strip - last time I did it I had just scraped myself off the pavement and continued on with a broken elbow; and seeing Brad cheer me on at Mile 15. Which leads me to the ultimate highlight of not just this race, BUT MY ENTIRE TIME IN LOS ANGELES.
I MET HOLLYWOOD JESUS.
I stopped to chat with Brad, who said “Hey, Jesus is here too.” And I think I stopped breathing for a moment. I cannot tell you how much I have wanted to meet Jesus of Hollywood. I have seen him regularly for the past three years. It seems like he is everywhere all at once. I distinctly remember the first time I saw him, not long after I got to town, walking past the Laugh Factory on Sunset Blvd. And I thought: “That was Jesus. That was JESUS. I love this town.” To me, Hollywood Jesus symbolizes everything I love about LA. And to meet him while running the LA Marathon? Well, I’m pretty much in heaven.
Thanks Brad, for snapping the photo. I will treasure it forever. And thanks to Jesus of Hollywood for making my year. I do have to admit, when it got to the end there, and I was kind of wishing someone would carry me, I thought about that Footprints poem and laughed again. That will never not make me laugh.
P.S. Nobody carried me and my legs hurt a lot. They might never work again.
I saw this bus the other day when I was in Van Nuys. I’m a big fan of Parks and Rec, so I got excited for two seconds, took a picture, then promptly forgot about it. Living in LA, you get used to seeing the fake world of film and television bleed into the real world of your life. One time, I saw a car crash into the back of a semi truck by the Hollywood Bowl, then keep driving full speed with its front bumper dragging amidst a shower of sparks. I looked around for a few minutes trying to figure out where the camera was before I realized it was real life, not a stunt.
Another time, I was going to a concert at Universal Studios, and Jay Leno was filming a Jaywalking segment right in the middle of the Citywalk. My friend and I were in a hurry, blew right past, and said to each other “Seriously, could he pick a more annoying place to do that?”
It’s not that we’re all jaded. It’s just that there are so many famous people and so many TV shows and so many movies and so much BS that we just don’t have time for it. We would lose our minds if we cared about even a third of it. So we don’t.
Except for those times when we really do. Because, come on. I LOVE Parks and Rec. And it’s not every day you see Leslie Knope’s campaign bus. (Although, I’ve seen it a total of three times now, so it’s not exactly a one in a million thing either.) On that note, here’s a list.
My List of Surreal Los Angeles Experiences That I Cannot Even Pretend I Wasn’t Totally Psyched About:
I’m sure there are more I’m forgetting. I’m also sure there are plenty of times I’ve walked or driven right by something insanely awesome happening without even giving it a second glance because I’m thinking about what I need from the grocery store, or how many miles I need to run. I’m okay with that. I live in LA. I don’t have time to care about all of that.
But if you see Nathan Fillion, please make sure to get my attention because I’ve loved him since Buffy the Vampire Slayer and I’ve thought of a million better things to talk about than the weather. Thanks.
I tell people I live in Los Angeles, but I actually live in Glendale. It’s Los Angeles adjacent. But it’s not really Los Angeles. It’s kind of like the one time I asked a British friend if she was from the same part of England as this weird British guy we both knew, and she answered, “Yes, the same part of England, but also a different planet.” It’s like that. LA, but also a different planet. So:
Things You Didn’t Know About Glendale (Which Could Be a Very Long List Since You’ve Probably Never Heard of Glendale Until Just This Moment):
I like living in Glendale. Aside from that one coyote death and those serial killers, which were kind of a while ago, it seems like a pretty safe place to be. If you’re not in a car. Or crossing a street where cars are driving.
What I like most is that it feels like a neighborhood where people actually live, and have kids, and have dogs, and celebrate Armenian Independence Day (which is September 21, everyone knows this). People who live on the west side look down their noses at anyone who lives on this side of the I-5. I have two words for all you haters out there. FREE PARKING. That’s right. No permits. No pay-to-park structures. NO HEART BURN. Deal with that.
Some people might call Glendale boring. In fact, a lot people actually did. A study done in 2011 found that the majority of respondents did, indeed, think Glendale was boring. The city council voted to appropriate $1 million to an image campaign based on the tagline “Your Life. Animated.” I have no idea what this means, but I think this was probably a really good use of taxpayer dollars and no one will think Glendale is boring ever again.
I saw this guy the other day, holding a sign that said “JESUS PUTS D SONG IN MY (heart)” and dancing in the crosswalk at Hollywood and Highland. And he seriously looked as if he had d song in his heart. The man was ecstatic. At first, I didn’t even really see him. It’s Hollywood and Highland. To put this in perspective for those of you who are not from LA, on the opposite corner Elmo and Jack Sparrow were having a conversation with each other. This is Hollywood. There is very little that seems out of place. I’m glad I snapped a picture though, because the more I thought about it, the more I realized how crazy this place is, and how much I adore it. That’s right: I adore it. I don’t have a lot of patience for LA haters. The sun is shining, there are palm trees lining the streets, and Jesus has put d song in that man’s heart. What’s not to love?
Speaking of Jesus, he’s one of my favorite people I see wandering the streets on a regular basis. He keeps more toward West Hollywood, and he only really comes out when the weather is nice, but there he is. Posing for pictures with tourists and staring at traffic from below the Chateau Marmont.
I think it might be healthy to see a little bit of crazy every day. Unexpected, out of the ordinary, completely weird things. And LA’s good for that. To illustrate, I’m going to share with you some tweets from a source called WeHo Daily (WeHo, as in West Hollywood). They’re good for instant local news updates that you wouldn’t find anywhere else. Seriously though; you will not see this kind of news anywhere else. (If you do not understand how Twitter works, I cannot help you at this time. But call me sometime this weekend and we’ll start at the beginning…)
My Favorite Recent Tweets from @wehodaily (in Reverse Chronological Order):
Just to be clear, those are all tweets from the last two weeks. This is why people call it Hollyweird. It’s weird. And not ever boring. Just the way I like it. For reals - West Hollywood Jesus puts d song in my heart.
I have a friend Jill who lives in the middle of nowhere in Idaho. Tonight, she called me from her two-person hot tub where she was drinking a glass of wine. The connection wasn’t so great, and she explained that this was because she was on a landline and the cord didn’t quite reach all the way to the hot tub. I found this highly amusing. First of all, Jill has a landline. Because she has to, because her cell reception is spotty on her farm out in the middle of nowhere. Secondly, she had the cord for that landline stretched out to the limit so she could talk to me from the hot tub, while she sipped some wine. Like a total baller.
I have very few friends whose lives are similar to mine. But I also have very few whose lives are so totally antithetical to mine as Jill’s. To illustrate, here is a list of differences between my life and Jill’s life (lists seem to be working for me the last couple of posts):
This is by no means a comprehensive list. But you get the picture. In fact, the photograph above pretty much sums it up. Jill has DONKEYS. And other animals. Like, a farm. She lives on a farm. Although, if you think about it, Los Angeles really is kind of a zoo. So I guess we’ve got that in common. We’re surrounded by animals, just of a slightly different variety.
I decided to take Chloe to the zoo because I have a membership. Don’t ask. (Okay, Groupon.) Chloe is a two and a half year old whirlwind of energy. It is my job to keep her alive, safe, and happy. It was clear from the beginning that she needed a nap - fortunately, LA traffic was exactly as bad as expected, and she fell asleep in the car. I drove to Griffith Park, found a shady spot, and proceeded to act like a crazy person. I slowly pulled into the spot; I quietly shifted the car into park; I very slowly cracked the windows; I faded out the Oldies station on the radio, and turned the AC down; then, as gently as possible, I killed the engine. Chloe slept like a champ.
Thirty minutes later (spent quietly reading on my iPad with my phone on silent), I looked up, out the window, into the face of my nightmare scenario. The man parked next to me had returned to his car. With two dogs. I glanced at Chloe, still sleeping, then glared at the man, willing him to read my mind, which was broadcasting something to the effect of IF YOU WAKE THIS CHILD THE FULL FORCE OF MY WRATH WILL COME DOWN UPON YOU AND SMITE YOU TO THE GROUND DO NOT TEST ME ON THIS.
Oddly enough, I think he got the message. He quietly loaded the dogs in, then climbed into the drivers seat and rolled down his window and turned on his car. AT WHICH POINT THE VOICE OF RUSH LIMBAUGH RANG OUT. At a volume deaf people could feel. Shattering the serenity that had been Griffith Park. And the man just sat there, listening. To Rush Limbaugh. As I heard the child start to cry, I nearly shook my fist in the air. Next time, you crazy conservative. Next time. I told Chloe that we were almost to the zoo - which was not a lie - and pulled out of the parking lot.
When we got to the zoo, Chloe was still crying. This child wakes up like I do, as if opening her eyes and rejoining the world of the conscious is the most painful, heartbreaking feat she will ever attempt. As I took her out of her car seat, she wrapped her legs around me and my brain tried to process the fact that I was suddenly soaking wet. Flabbergasted, I tried to find the source of the wetness, and it hit me: it was Chloe. From her armpits to her ankles, that child was soaked. My mind flashed back to the juice box she had downed immediately prior to her nap. Which had apparently gone straight through her. And somehow seeped into her clothing. And now mine.
I hesitated for a moment, then said,”Guess what Chloe? We’re going to go inside, and we’re going to get you a pair of zoo pants!” Zoo pants! Chloe was delighted. We made it through the entrance line by talking about zoo pants, and how great they would be, and what color they might be. Once inside we headed straight to the gift shop.
As it turns out, they don’t sell pants at the LA Zoo. I think this is a travesty. I am now of the opinion that children’s pants should be available for purchase at all locations one is likely to find children. Seriously, they don’t know how to use the toilet. They go through pants like grown Americans go through paper towels. Chloe and I wandered the gift shop, soaked in urine, conversing about the silliness of a zoo not having zoo pants, when a piece of pink tulle caught my eye. Bingo. Zoo pants became the zoo tutu. Which also meant purchasing zoo sunscreen, since zoo tutus don’t cover much of your legs.
Fifteen minutes later, I was mostly dry with just a faint smell of urine, and Chloe was sporting a fashionable pink zoo tutu. Fortunately, she is only two and a half and very close to the ground, so not too many people could tell she was essentially walking around the zoo in a diaper and t-shirt.
At this point, we only really had time to hit up the petting zoo, and Chloe went straight for the pigs. As we walked toward the pig pen, I thought about how much time it took us - easily an hour and a half -to get to the point of spending 20 dry, happy minutes in the petting zoo. Thank god I have a membership, or that trip would have cost us a dollar a minute. Plus the price of a zoo tutu. I pointed out the pig, and Chloe gasped “That is a pig???” Confused, I said,”Yeah, see his snout? And listen to those pig snorts he’s making.” She stared in wonder for a moment, then looked at me and solemnly stated, “That is a pig. But he isn’t pink.” And I knew in that moment, I had just blown her mind. Not all pigs are pink. While she stared in amazement at a grey pig, I stared in amazement at a little girl in a zoo tutu and thought “You are so little. Not everyone knows not all pigs are pink.”
An hour and a half of craziness was absolutely worth that moment when we both felt our minds and our eyes open a little bit wider. And I thought, this sure beats the hell out of sitting at a desk all day.