Yesterday evening I found myself sitting in the parking lot outside my daughter’s dance school, wearing a dance outfit and ballet shoes, rushing through a session of beginners French on my Duolingo app. I was completely obsessed with finishing the level I was on, before going in to my adult beginner’s ballet class that was starting in three minutes. My throat was sore from rolling so many “r:s”.
“Une table pour trois, s’il vous plait…”
Why was I doing all this, you may ask… I have no idea. All I know is that I suddenly have this overwhelming urge to learn new things, hence the French vocabulary and the ballet classes. I’m craving it the way you crave chocolate or to stretch your legs after a cross-Atlantic flight.
Perhaps all the hours spent in front of a computer writing is making me a bit stir crazy, perhaps I need some new inspiration. Either way, I’m loving both the ballet classes, which are turning out to be the best exercise I’ve ever done, and the French lessons, which may prompt a long dreamed about trip to Paris…or if not, maybe the next character that pops into the script will be a French ballerina…
Lara McCarthyLara McCarthy was born and raised in Nynäshamn, Sweden. She is currently living in Los Angeles where she divides her time between writing and producing films and volunteering backstage at her daughter's ballet school. She is excited and grateful that her life is filled with both family-fun and creativity.
A Quick Little Getaway
Lakes are by far my favorite body of natural water. There are usually no waves, and they are small enough to warm up to comfortable, or at least tolerable, swimming temperatures. We don’t have a lot of them nearby, but we found a nice one about an hour away called Castaic Lake.
Greg had a day off, so we decided to take a break and go for a boat-ride and a swim. It was on a Monday, and most kids were back in school, so it was practically deserted, which to me was a good thing. I like crowded beaches about as much as I like being stuck in bumper to bumper rush hour traffic, or in an elevator with 20 strangers who all seem to have decided to hide their questionable hygiene with various kinds of extremely heavy cologne. Sorry, I guess I’m having a flashback to a bad elevator experience here, let’s get back to the lake…
It turned out that Castaic Lake is actually two lakes separated by a dam. The upper lake is dedicated to boats, water skiing and fishing, whereas the lower lake has a charming sand beach and swimming area where you can also paddle board and go kayaking.
We rented a motor boat and explored the upper lake for about two hours. There were secluded coves and small beaches all around the lake, where you could pull up the boat and have a picnic. Unfortunately the beach we chose was swarming with bees and we quickly returned to the water.
The dark blue water and reddish rocks decorated with scattered greenery made me want to paint, something I love doing but rarely have time for. I pictured myself setting up an easel on a cliff, mixing paints and trying to find the perfect composition. Then I shrugged and took a couple of pictures with my phone instead.
After our boat ride, we finished the day with a swim and a long nap on the beach and I left feeling the most relaxed I have felt in months.
Where do you all go for a quick getaway?
The house felt a bit sad and empty with Chloe visiting relatives on the east coast for ten days, so Greg and I decided to leave town and spend a week in Las Vegas.
In theory, I hate everything about Vegas: How fake, gaudy and ridiculously over-sexualized everything is.
In reality, the second I spot the glittering skyline, I just want to throw my arms in the air, because I just don’t care.
It’s like a dormant part of my brain suddenly comes alive and convinces me to take a break from all responsibilities, problems, societal expectations – and even good taste. Try it, when you get a chance. It’s very relaxing.
This visit was a bit different than usual though, because we decided to take work with us, so that we could go for a longer period of time. Greg was able to take some scattered days off, but needed to work for a few days while we were away, so we got a great, big room at The Rio and set up an “office” for both of us.
While he worked, I wrote, and then we spent several hours going over our script, so he could give me his feedback and ideas for the next day. It was great working without any everyday distractions other than a quick dip in the pool at lunch, or a half hour in the hotel gym, and the trip turned out to be much more productive than I had expected.
The evenings were spent in Vegas style though, and we indulged in everything from gambling to great dinners and drinks at the various casinos.
On our last day there we even popped over to Zion National Park, which is located 2 1/2 hours away, to see some nature and eat dinner at the Lodge, which is located inside the park.
The drive there was so majestic it took our breath away. We got a window table with a view of the giant rocks surrounding the Lodge and inhaled the calm as we enjoyed our food. As we made our way back to the car, the sky lit up with a dramatic thunder and lightning storm – a fitting call to the wilder night that awaited once we returned – a night-time pool party at the Encore.
I’d never been to a night swim like that and wasn’t sure what to expect, but it turned out to be so much fun! It felt a lot like a kids’ pool party, giant rubber floaties and all, except for the alcohol and the outfits, of course. Everyone was kind of giggling at each other, because it was both very silly and very fun.
There were probably around a thousand people at the event, sharing three large pools in front of a giant stage where the DJ, RL Grime, came on at one am (which you can probably guess is normally past my bedtime). Bursts of smoke came from the stage, along with quick beats that had everyone dancing, both in and out of the water.
We had so much fun swimming and dancing that we stayed in the pool the entire time, except for a wet and slippery trip to the bar.
“I don’t take wet money,” the bartender said when Greg presented him with two soaked 20:s. “You don’t take wet money?” “Nope.” “It’s two am at a Las Vegas Pool party. What other kind of money is there?” “I’ll take it,” his bar-tending partner said, and happily grabbed the bills. “Money is money.”
At some point during the evening Greg dared me to toss the fake leather hot-pants I was wearing as a cover up onto the stage – so of course I did. I, obviously, never saw them again, so when we decided to leave around 3 am, I had to leave the party in just my swim suit and a thin sweater. When the Lyft driver saw us, he got out of his car, opened the trunk and took out two thick towels that he calmly laid on the seats – a very responsible thing to do, I thought. It’s a good thing not everyone had checked that part of their brain at the Vegas border.
The News Made Me Cry
I start every morning in bed with a coffee and the LA Times. The actual newspaper, made out of paper and ink that rubs off onto my hands. I know, I know, it’s terribly old-fashioned, you can get the news online, but I get so tired of screens sometimes and I love starting my day that way.
I don’t always read all that much news though, to be perfectly honest. Most of the time I take a quick look at the A section, shudder at the headlines about all the horrors in our city and around the world, skim one or two articles, so I have a bit of a clue of what’s going on, then I reach for the Calendar section and read it from cover to cover; all the film reviews, horoscopes and the “Ask Amy” column, finishing with the comics in time for my coffee being all gone.
A couple of days ago, however, the cover really grabbed my attention. It was a story about how the first parent had finally been re-united with his child, a 6 year old boy, after being separated at the border. They had been separated for two months. The dad was hugging his child, whose eyes looked dead.
Like a lot people, both here in the US and all around the world, I’ve been horrified by the separation of children and parents at the border since the moment I heard of it, but this picture made it hit home even more. The child looked completely traumatized and it made me so full of rage and sadness that I started crying. I also pictured what it would have been like if that had happened to us when Chloe was six. If she had been separated from us for months, or weeks, or one night even. How traumatized she would have been. She couldn’t even handle sleep-overs at her friends’ houses at that age. The children going through this ordeal must be going through a similar experience to children being abducted. Those experiences will most likely haunt them for the rest of their lives.
It’s child abuse. How could this happen? Why is it happening? Humanity is so far from being civilized, so monstrous, so irresponsible that it is almost impossible to fully comprehend.
What can we do to help? There are many people out there bringing change about, and while this never should have happened in the first place, the outcry has led to steps being taken to at least put an end to this atrocity.
Personally, I almost always turn to Save the Children when trying to help people in need. It’s an organization that I trust and support. Here is their fact sheet on the border crisis:
My husband and I took an Uber to dinner the other night and were met by a very excited driver. “I see you’re going to SALT,” he said. “Good choice, that is the best restaurant in LA.” Just like that, as if it were a scientific fact. I was excited about our dinner and had heard great things about the place, yet his statement irked me, as it always does when someone calls something “the best”. I don’t mean using the expression “It’s the best!” I get that, it’s just an expression, but it bothers me when someone says it as if they are stating an actual fact, if it isn’t. “The best ice cream in all of Italy.” “The best artist of the 20th century.” “The best movie ever made.” “Best director.”
How can anyone use those words with a straight face when talking about something culinary or creative? Those are subjective experiences – we all have different tastes when it comes to food and art. I could subsist on oysters alone for a week, and honestly say that I like oysters the best of all foods, but I have friends who gag just seeing them served. You get the picture. I guess that’s why award shows always make me roll my eyes. I love celebrating people’s talent and hard work, but could we maybe change the award to Director of the Year, instead of Best Director? Anyone agree with me? I know, I know, this isn’t terribly important, I’m just worried my eyes will get stuck at the back of my head from too much rolling.
Okay, I’ll stop now. Back to our dinner at SALT. I won’t say it was actually the best in LA, but I will say that it was fantastic and that I highly recommend it. We arrived just as the sun began setting and were seated on the outdoor patio with a view of the harbor. I love boats, there is something so summery and relaxing about them to me, seeing them bob in the water, suntanned people in shorts sauntering up and down the docks.
The sun kept setting the entire time we were there…I’m not sure how that happened, but it felt like the longest, most beautiful sunset I have ever seen. And I mean that literally. The wine and the service were excellent, and the food was beyond that. I wanted to lick the plates to taste every last drop, but managed to control myself, because, you know, I’m a lady and all that.
We shared a burrata and plum salad and a salmon dish. I don’t always like salmon, the wild caught tends to get too tough and chewy for my taste, I guess from all the exercise the salmons get from swimming upstream, but the salmon we had was very tender. The chef either performed a miracle or our salmon had been extremely lazy during his lifetime, never leaving the couch, never letting go of the remote or his bag of chips, not developing a single chewy muscle.
Ugh, the image of our food just got too personal. I’m always conflicted about eating other living creatures, when we can survive on plants, but can’t quite stop craving meat and fish. I’ve tried being a vegetarian a few times, but the last time it ended with me craving meat so much that I found myself circling the deli at Whole Foods with my eyes on a bloody piece of roast beef behind the glass. It was as if I had turned into something from the nature channel, like I suddenly wouldn’t be able to stop myself from attacking the prey, as in jumping up onto the glass and grabbing the roast beef with my teeth and devouring it right there on the spot. It felt like a bad thing to do at Whole Foods, especially since there were so many of Chloe’s classmates’ parents there, and she might get a bit embarrassed if I turned psychotic carnivore in front of them. “Isn’t that Chloe’s mom? Wasn’t she class parent last year? What happened to her?” …so I just bought the meat instead and figured I could deal with my inner turmoil later. What do you all think? Do you eat meat? How do you stop your cravings if you want to go vegetarian?
Well, those are my thoughts for today.
Until next time…
You may have noticed that it’s a bit toasty outside if you live here in LA right now.
If you’re submerged in a pool or have A/C, it’s not so bad, but the second you go out, it’s a whole different world.
People seem both more sluggish and more irritable. It didn’t help that when I drove home earlier today, people kept swerving into my lane – which made me very mad. I’m a big fan of sticking to boundaries, such as those white ones painted onto the road, when driving. Perhaps those who popped over into my personal driving space had a good reason and I should cut them some slack for almost crashing into my car. Maybe their A/C wasn’t working and they were so exhausted from the heat that they simply didn’t have enough energy to turn the steering wheel to stay in their own lanes. Or maybe the heat made their mascara melt and they had a make up emergency and really needed to re-apply it, that instant, right as they were making a left turn. Or maybe its just me who is grumpy because I’m too hot.
I think it’s time for me to to find a nice cool body of water and go dunk my head in it. But before I go, here’s a tip for the next few days if you’re looking for a place to swim:
The Annenberg is one of my favorite pools in Santa Monica. It’s the perfect place for a hot day, because you have access to everything in one spot. There is a beautiful pool, changing rooms with showers, a restaurant, you can even do yoga or throw a party there. The restaurant isn’t cheap, a burger is $18, for example, but it’s worth it not to have to leave and park again, and you can have lunch, or dinner and a drink right on the sand. If you have kids, you can watch them play on the play ground right next to the restaurant, and if you feel like a dip in the actual ocean, you can walk right out for a swim. They only allow a limited number of guests into the pool area, so it helps going early. You can also reserve cabanas on the beach outside.
Here’s the website for more info!
Hope you all have a great weekend and manage to stay cool! Time for me to jump in! Until next time…