So, before I start blogging about places I’m going and what I’m seeing, and what I’m reading there, I thought I really ought to say something about the places I’ve been reading so far. After all, it’s not like I’ve been slaving away in the spice mines of Kessel for the last decade. I’ve liked where I’ve read, mostly.
The obvious lead in this list is my former home, a condo in Santa Monica, my Room With A View.
That’s a photo of my condo building, with my unit on the top floor facing the ocean. You’ll notice that the front is dark brown — it’s mostly wood shingles, but you get back just a little ways and it’s all stucco. That’s because this is Hollywood (adjacent), and a Hollywood set only worries about the superficial facades of things; behind them, it’s all minimalist and utilitarian. I’ve seen more buildings like this in my area than I could easily count.
Of course, I didn’t do my reading on the street. (Though, like my sex education, that’s where I picked it up.) Where I actually *did* the reading was in my living room, generally in the armchair facing the sun:
Also, in the sun room:
(My thanks to my realtor, Luis Martin, for taking a ton of pictures as the place was selling.)
From here, you could hear some street noise from the nearby shopping street, but you could also watch several sets of fireworks going off at firework-appropriate holidays, see the ocean a mile away through the palm trees, and sometimes just give up and nap. I’m not much of a napper, but I am not ashamed to admit that even I was capable of such a suspension of consciousness in the face of such unremitting pleasantness.
FYI, this is what my living room looked like after the movers left:
An echoey space that was no longer a home. But will be again, to someone else. (A domicile of easy virtue.)
My second favorite place to sit and read was Peet’s Coffee, at 15th and Montana:
You can get better pictures of the place at their Foursquare site, but they’re all brightly sunlit. This is how I’ll always remember it. Quiet in the wee hours of the morning (wee for most people, but really in the 5:00-5:30am range), when I could sit and read (books and comics with a booklight, or, later, Twitter on my iPad) and have a really good cup of coffee and some yummy pastries. Just before my job ended, they dumped all their old pastries and started carrying different ones and they weren’t quite as good, another example of the universe saying, “It’s been fun, but you’re done here.”
There was a group of old guys (must have been at least 10 years older than me) who’d show up there in the morning, every morning, to talk like the coffee shop was their cracker barrel. They were nice, conservative, church-going folks, so I never joined them (it burns, precious!), but I always enjoyed knowing they were there. Gave the place an air of community — which I’d then leave to sit outside in the quiet. But still. I made a point of saying goodbye, the last day I was there, on the off chance they’d worry that I’d been hit by a bus or something.
My other favorite place was the Monsoon restaurant, on the Santa Monica Promenade.
It’s an asian-fusion place on the main outdoor mall in Santa Monica (the Santa Monica Promenade), a few blocks from the ocean; I used to go there every Friday, rain or shine. It was almost literally my Cheers*; everyone knew my name, and I could sit outside having great sushi, drinking Irish Coffee and/or Guinness, watching the passersby and reading. But that, too, faded. Life events kept me away more often, and then the owner shook up the management, the staff left or were let go one by one, and when I went one last time yesterday there was only one guy I knew still there, Mark the bartender/patio-waiter who was quitting in 3 weeks because he’d just sold a movie script and was going to work on the movie. We congratulated each other on our life paths, and that was the end of that. Another synchronicity.
I’m tempted to hunt for more photos: I read most of the Harry Potter books parked on the roof of one of the Promenade parking structures, 9 stories up looking out over the Santa Monica bay, in my open-topped Geo Tracker. It was an awesome place to read, until they renovated the structure, installed security cameras on the roof, and the local cops started chasing off anyone who lingered in their cars. It was a great sadness (in the admittedly tiny world of lost reading spots), and one of the reasons I started spending less time at the Promenade. But I’ll leave such tragedies to the reader’s imagination, no photos are required.
Currently, I’m staying out the end of the year with my old college buddy Mark and his family (Jane, whom I’ve known nearly as long, though only by phone for many years), and my niblings Rich and Brianna. Here’s one of them:
She’s dressed a little more conservatively than usual, but the gift-box hat is a nice choice. And I have to say, the guest room makes a pretty nice reading spot all on its own.
It has a view, were I to point the camera the other way, and the room itself has many other things. This merely highlights the important parts: a book, a drink, a comfy chair, and a soft pillow, entirely sufficient to my needs.
I can think of little else to add. I have two more weeks here before I head out into various degrees and shadings of The Unknown. I’ll try to include some other pictures and status updates before then. The LA County Museum of Art has a samurai exhibit that we’re going to next week, and I have every hope of including pictures that will be very nearly half as good as other similar pictures you might find of samurai things on the interwebs. Stay tuned.
* (I say almost because it’s clearly not literally my Cheers, and fuck you Oxford English Dictionary, I know better. Never give up, never surrender!)