Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Out of step

I've really been absent from this blog and I know I'm going to lose what few readers I have if I don't write something! I've just been out of sorts lately and writing makes me feel emotionally vulnerable. The desire to write honestly about whatever experience I'm having scares me.

I really miss my husband and my daughter. I missed them while they were in Asia but there was a lot of time to get used to the idea that they'd be gone. We made a fairly quick decision for them to go to California and maybe I just didn't have enough time to adjust. And my husband was traveling prior to that so I don't feel like we've had the time we both crave to re-connect with each other after their Asia trip.

I'm also PMSing so, as usual, that has me feeling all topsy-turvy.

I had to go to L.A. on business last week (which is one of the reasons I haven't been writing). So I brought M Girl and so we got to spend some time with Big D and A Girl. (Actually, M Girl got to spend time with them - I was in meetings and going out for big, expensive meals every night).
So let me just say that I think L.A. is the most intimidating city in the world. Not that I've been in every city in the world but I have traveled a bit and so far I haven't been anywhere that intimidates me as much as L.A. (Beverly Hills in particular). And staying at the Peninsula Hotel just reinforced that feeling ten-fold. I'm still recovering which might be why I feel out of step.

So here's what the Peninsula - Beverly Hills is like - there's a circular drive with the entrance in the middle. Across from the entrance is a lovely stone fountain with lots of beautiful greenery around it so it blocks any view of the entrance from the street and makes you feel like your in a more secluded place. Parked around the driveway are a selection of Mercedes, Bentleys, Maseratis and (my personal favorite) an occasional Aston Martin. Porches don't even make the cut to stay parked up front (not even the cool looking convertible ones). Can you even imagine what it felt like to pull up in our rented Ford Taurus wearing no make up one morning? (And without a cuddly, fluffy purse dog accessory like so many of the women were carrying.) The head of the valet dudes interrogated me until he was satisfied that I actually was staying at the hotel. I think he was a bit put off when I indicated that I did intend to have them park the Ford for me. (Of course, I didn't expect it to stay out front. The Ford knows it's place in the valet parking pecking order.)

Every employee has clearly drunk the customer service Kool-Aid. They're polite to the point of sycophancy. (Wow - SAT word). I like good, friendly service as much as the next person but sheesh - you don't have to plaster yourself to the wall when I walk by. And for goodness sake, you don't all have to snap to attention when I walk into the lobby. (I would always check behind me to make sure there wasn't some important celebrity getting off the elevator behind me). It really makes me feel self-conscious when five people behind the counter look at me with identical robotic smiles. It's downright creepy.

In the room, there's personalized stationary and business cards saying Ms. La De Da, Peninsula Hotel -Beverly Hills, In Residence. Seriously, does anyone actually hand that shit out? I barely ever hand out my real business cards (and even then it's usually to another mom so we can set up play dates for our kids).

And then there's the other guests and assorted visitors. My hubby and I saw a handful of celebrities that I recognized or other people pointed out. Jimmy Connors, Richard Lewis (you know, the comedian with the kinda long hair), Tony Robbins. There were dozens of people that I'd swear I'd seen on TV or in movies but couldn't think of their names. You'd think with a daughter who's on the margins of the business, I wouldn't be intimidated - these are real, human people. Just like you and me. But in so many ways, they aren't just like you and me. For one thing, they get driven around in limos (or those fab Bentleys) on a regular basis. They don't just occasionally get to stay in hotels like the Peninsula (and then only on business when someone else is paying) - they always stay in places like that.

I saw very few women without make up on. Even early in the morning. Even at the Starbucks across the street. Even the ones I saw jogging. And I didn't see many fat people, but that didn't come as much of a surprise. The men were mostly dressed casually but it was a calculated casual - like they worked hard to look like they didn't work hard at getting dressed just right. It was a showy casual, if that makes any sense. I saw more Prada bags and shoes than I've ever seen in one place outside of a knock off market. And I'm pretty sure they weren't knock offs.

Generally, I wear make up - not a lot. Just enough that I look like I made at least a little effort. But I don't "put on a face" (as my mother calls it) and that's what pretty much all the women looked like. There are plenty of women in Chicago that wear lots of make up but I rarely get the feeling like I'm out of place with my level of make up wearing. There's a diversity in Chicago that's comforting. I didn't see much diversity out there. Again, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised.

Maybe part of my discomfort while I was out there came from thinking about the possibility of moving to L.A., either permanently or part-time, if our daughter gets significant work. My husband and I don't particularly want to move (although I will say that this time of year, the weather in California is a significant draw) and we just talk about it in terms of "what ifs" so that we can be better prepared to make a decision in the event that it comes up. But just trying to picture us there was difficult because I felt so conspicuously out of place. I know that the Peninsula Hotel and its guests are not representative of the greater L.A. area. But it is indicative of how much the culture in L.A. differs from the Midwestern vibe that we're used to.

So I can't wait until my family is all together again tomorrow. I don't feel whole without them around.


Sandra said...

I can really relate to your first paragraph, and I think you put that so well. I'm having a hard time lately with my blog, because I don't want to pour out my insides, but when I try to write something lighter, it feels like I'm chickening out.

As for the rest, I think almost everyone is intimidated in situations like that, even the people who look and act as if they belong. That is probably why so many celebrities seem borderline crazy--can you imagine living in that kind of environment all the time?

I'm sure if you move there, you'll find a community, friends, and a place to feel you belong.

(Sorry you're missing your family. My husband is traveling now and I miss him, too. It's lonely.)

landismom said...

First, let me say that I think it's fine to stop blogging for a while if you're not feeling it. Your loyal readers will return, as long as they use Bloglines.

Second, I agree, LA can be a really weird place, but there are lots of non-celebrities and normal people too (I mean, it is the biggest city in the country, after all). I'm sure that if you made the decision to move your family there, you would be able to find a place that was more comfortable (and definitely more affordable!).

And third, I'm sorry that you're missing your family too. I know you've spent a lot of time away from A Girl this year, and it must be really hard on you. (and Big D, but that's a different kind of missing, I'm betting.)

Jessica said...

Thanks for your encouraging words. Missing them makes everything hard these days (especially when I have PMS!). I know that if we do move, we'll find a community that isn't intimidating - the funny thing is that we have good friends that live just outside of Beverly Hills and they are still as grounded as they were when they moved several years ago.