Tag Archives: travel

Who are You? New York or LA?

Plunging into LA has been a summer indulgence that I’ve learned how not to live without. I crave the perfect weather, and when I mean perfect weather, I mean perfect weather. The consistently bright sky free of dark clouds, which translates to little if any rain, which translates to no mosquitos, no racing inside and yelling “Go, go, go!” to anyone in front of or following you, no mildew smells, none of it.

This summer wasn’t any different when it came to the weather, but other things dug under my fingernails. Really, just one thing got stuck in there. It was the degree to which the people in LA can fake it. In fact, they fake it so much that you can feel their nerves splitting as they speak.

They talk a lot about energy and crystals and energy and, really, I agree, energy is there, everywhere. So, when we went to a restaurant, a party, or even just for a walk, I felt it, even saw it.

“HHHHiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy,” she would say in such a high-pitched voice that I could feel her frayed nerves followed by the shrill lies muted by her hand shake that she tried to cover with the steadiness of an extra hand on the outside. Ouch! It stung a little.

And, it went on and on, daily, hourly sometimes.

I still enjoyed it. I still chilled with my sister, my family, but it felt strangely different. Even the Elvis impersonator who I loved catching on his way to work had left us. Not surprisingly, he had moved away, maybe to Vegas, a whole other story.

I doubt it if he would head on over to New York, but it’s still a place for impersonators. I mean, New York, in particular, New York City has its share of the inconceivable and the outright bizarre, but the fake? Absolutely, emphatically NO.

Do I want to live there? Not really, but I don’t necessarily want to live in LA either, no matter how much I love to visit.

I think an actress who was interviewed on Conan O’Brien said it best.

Although, I don’t want to live in New York either, I have always preferred the rough-edged realism of New York to the giant teeth shining behind often-oversized lips in LA.

Who are YOU? New York or LA?

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The Summer Blues

Tossing the clothes in the dryer after an extremely long day at the beach, an excursion meant to make our summer feel like summer vacation. It felt more like hell.

It was burning hot, crowded, and smelly. So, when my beautiful Ray-Bans emerged in a twisted mess, the screams of terror and the ensuing tears amplified my established upset.

Those shiny, metallic-blue Ray-Bans landed in my hands when we visited Catalina Island off the coast of California last summer. My mother insisted on buying them for me even though I told her they were too expensive and I didn’t need them. I don’t wear them often because I don’t want to break them or scratch them, but this summer, they’ve been keeping me together and there they were.

Destroyed.

Everything broke out of me, not just tears and mucus, a wild river of what had been left behind, nearly forgotten.

Ray-bans

I missed JetBlue. I really missed LA. I fully missed my sister. I missed the other side of the country where mountains sprout from the ground and majestically watch over everyone. I missed the cool air at night, so cool you need a jacket.

I missed Elvis walking down the street to go to work. I missed the Pier. I missed the $30 Asian massages. I even missed the nausea of twirling up and down a mountain in my sister’s car. I especially missed the excitement of preparing and going there.

I usually take off to Los Angeles to visit my sister every summer. This summer it didn’t happen mainly because money became an issue.

Money, where are you?

So I’ve made the best of a disappointing situation and pretended I’ve been traveling. I put on these Ray-Bans and think of the fresh air on Catalina Island.img_6334.jpg 

The minute I walk outside I’m reminded with a heavy hit of humid heat that “No, Lisa, you are still in Miami.”

No matter.

I drive to Starbucks and pretend I have to have a cappuccino there because my sister doesn’t have an espresso machine like I do at my house. When I walk back outside, my skin sizzles worse than ever now that my body is warmed from the inside as well.

“Still here,” the Miami heat proclaims.

I swerve on over to Nordstrom Rack and think I’m in LA across from the Beverly Center. It works out pretty well until a pinch on my arm turns to an itch and I realize I’ve just been bit by a mosquito.

I stand at the door watching the sudden burst of rain pour buckets. Thunder trembling against the glass and lightning cracking its whip. I can’t wait any longer so I rush to my car, only about 10 feet away but I’m completely soaked when I get in the car.

A mosquito zips around my head.

Pinched again, I drive home.

I open my computer to find that instead of writing or working, I’m looking for flights on JetBlue:  Too expensive, Too many stops. Bad timing. No one to take us. Need to save money.

I call JetBlue to ask about points and I’m met with the nicest voice. She’ll help with whatever she can. She has a fifteen-year-old daughter too. She knows what it’s like to stay when you want to leave.

Then I really miss LA, more than ever.

The Joy of JetBlue

You see, I’ve flown on JetBlue ever since my daughter turned two and a half and I have only flown on one other airline, Virgin America, but it didn’t even come close to my experience on JetBlue so I never went back.

I knew when they helped me take her out of the stroller and folded it for me, smiled patiently, not the snarky kind, and waited for us to gather everything up that I was in love.

They forgave us when she screamed for a half hour during a landing. They cleaned up our vomit when both kids puked during a red-eye flight.

And, to top it off, they gave me brand-new beautiful suitcases on the spot when mine were damaged after the flight.

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If there was a delay even for five minutes, JetBlue gave us free movies.

I miss watching movies, asking for too many popcorn chips, and even drinking the bitter coffee when we take the red-eye flights.

I miss that so much more than my Ray-Bans.

I miss where JetBlue can take us.

It took us to San Francisco also. The magic of wearing a coat in summertime. The bread bowls. The tea bars. The crazy hills and crazier trollies.

And I’m here. And I know.

I really do know.

…that, really, when I look around me as I type on an Apple laptop and am feeling sorry for myself, I can’t really feel sorry at all.  I watch my son falling asleep on the couch as we watch E.T. because he said that I should choose a movie.

I think of my daughter already asleep growing into a young woman who can be fierce and challenging but still she rests her head on my shoulder and often holds my hand.

How can I feel bad in my air-conditioned house full of comforts I couldn’t have dreamed up when I was little and lived in a tiny house with one bathroom.

I feel the deep appreciation for everything I have and have had and even what I will have.

That kind of pleasure sends surges of joy traveling through me so much so that I know JetBlue will be there for us on another vacation and sunglasses can be replaced.

Written By Lisa Chesser

Europe Without Email? Just a Dream

The stacks of paperwork stared at me, but it didn’t matter because I was going to Europe for my honeymoon. Bleak cubicles boxed me in, but my emails reminded me Europe was waiting.

With both of us working fulltime at jobs that required 12-hour days, my fiancé and I could never have planned a honeymoon to Europe without email. The negotiations, the pricing, the bookings—email, email, email.

Before email became a common tool, it would’ve meant appointments, endless phone conversations, time away from work, and Europe probably would’ve been a pipe dream.

But, this was the year 2000.

Despite the incessant anxiety of planning a wedding and attempting to transport family from Venezuela to Miami, my emails set a reassuring hand on our shoulders, saying, “You’ll fly away soon.”

I remember thinking, “This isn’t gonna happen,” at one point as I was struggling to battle the seating arrangements for the wedding reception. Then, I turned to my desktop, seeking solace in what amounted to love letters from my fiancé. There, smiling, was an email titled, “Itinerary.” It was done. He had emailed me the agenda for our trip.

We would soon be sipping cappuccinos in cafés in Roma and Firenze. All momentary problems dissolved and those stacks of paper diminished to a simple task at hand.

Even our Eurorail tickets floated to us through email. So, I dreamt of the train that would take us to Vienna from Venezia.

Looking back now, I remember dragging our suitcases from the TRENI down the street to Hotel Alexandra in Roma and I wonder how we survived without our iphones. Facebook would’ve sounded crazy and WordPress would’ve been unimaginable.

The technology we have today would’ve not only made our trip more interesting, but it would’ve saved memories that often slip through my fingers. Most of the pictures I post pop up from my iphone. I can’t believe I lived without it.

But, that good old reliable email…that was just the beginning. Europe without email?

Just a dream.

Written by Lisa Chesser