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It’s not fair of me to make observations about LA, because I’ve been in one small section, and for less than 24 hours. No obstante (irregardless), I will anyway.

It’s the United States! In all of its colorful, flawed, giant-portioned, crazynice ways. A small altercation between a shopping cart and a human yields, “I’m so sorry,” and bumping into someone on the bus and apologizing yields a “that’s ok.” How human.

A man with little-house-on-the-prairie-style braids brought his small, calm Jack Russel-type dog on the bus, in a case that was brown and beige checked and styled a bit like an old-school lunchbox. Nobody blinked. Maybe because of the guy with the Burger King crown and the skateboard. Or maybe because, why waste all that muscle power blinking? You’ll just get wrinkles.

People here seem to think it’s cold, which is confusing to me, as I consider myself a person who gets cold pretty easily, or stays that way. People are in boots and fuzzy jackets and scarves, and even hats, and I’m wearing flip flops and shorts. I have become that person. I was in a store, and so I asked someone who works there if people in LA really believed it was cold, or if they are just excited to be able to wear their winter clothes, and so they were.

“they really think it’s cold.”

Oh, I said.

“In fact, I’m wearing the warmest technical fleece they make.”

We were in a sporting goods store whose name begins with P and where the clothing is at least twice as expensive in Chile, despite it being named for one of our most famous regions.


And so I went to the supermarket, called Vons, where they have a tiny section of produce, most of it berries from Mexico (and sometimes Chile), and apples that cost 80 cents apiece, which I know because I weighed them myself at the self-checkout.

And there’s a giant “shopping street,” which dead-ends into the mall proper, and some of the stores I’ve heard of before, and I went in and looked at the bounty, the brightness, the pattern of it all, and slunk out again. And when I went by later, there was a set of about 30 people in “happy baby” pose on mats on the street on this same shopping street, and I said out loud, without meaning to, “I would kill myself if I lived in a place where people did yoga on the street.”

Which is probably not true, but nobody heard me, or if they did, they thought I was crazy, like the woman shaking her cup, chanting, “help the homeless, help the homeless, help the homeless man.” Whereupon I went into a store where there were different kinds of herbs and teas I’d never heard of to fix problems I didn’t know I had. I was tempted by the blooming teas, though, which unfurl into a beautiful underwater teascape before your very eyes, but I figured they’d get taken by SAG.

And so goes my first day “back” in “my” country, in a city I’ve never even really been to before.