When the Drive-Thru Will Save You (#318)

I am not a fan of car culture. I believe in public transportation: trains, the subway, buses. Do not get me started on the lost and lamented Los Angeles Red Car.

But damn, cars came in handy during COVID-19. Cars were a way to maintain social distancing in drive-thru testing sites. There were Ubers and Lyfts for those who didn’t dare brave buses, even with masks. There was Instacart for those who didn’t dare brave the grocery stores. With restaurant dining off-limits, at least you could still pick up a pizza or have it delivered.

Drive-in Theaters became a thing again. Fast-food restaurants brought back carhop service. We went from Escape Rooms to Stranger Things: the Drive-Into Experience. The majority of Americans opted for road trips this Spring Break, rather than risk flying.

Aside from take out, Andy and I mostly skipped the resurgence of car culture.

Until it was our turn for vaccinations.

Andy, being part of some top-secret national defense project, and being asthmatic, was up first. Now, a lot of folks are very pro-Pfizer (the first vaccine out), which requires two shots. But since all the vaccines will keep you from being hospitalized or dying, I’m with the California website My Turn, which says, “the best vaccine is the first one you can get.”

The first appointment Andy could get was the Pfizer vaccine at the LA Forum at the beginning of March. Run by volunteers, Andy drove up on Sundays, three weeks apart. He reported that it was smooth sailing, with minimal traffic and no wait times.

The first appointment I could get was last Friday afternoon, for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. (Andy reported that his coworkers eligible at the same time couldn’t get appointments as quickly as I did, possibly because they don’t get up at 5 AM. At least there’s one good thing about having a kid who wakes up early.)

The vaccination site was a drive-thru at Cal State Los Angeles, run by the California Office of Emergency Services. In practical terms it meant the vaccination site was being run by the National Guard.

It also meant I would have to brave a fifty mile round trip through Friday afternoon traffic. In Los Angeles.

So be it.

There’s an LA-specific greeting card that says, “I love so much I’d take the 10 to the 101 to the 405 for you!”

True love has nothing on inoculation against death. For the COVID vaccine, I took the 405 to the 91 to the 710 (because the 110 had 3 accidents). The 710 was stop and go, because it was, as always, filled with big rigs hauling containers from the Port of Los Angeles. Those trucks can’t accelerate quickly and thus cannot merge for shit.

About the time I exhausted my supply of swear words, I arrived at Cal State LA. There was a ton of signage, plus literally thousands of orange cones to make sure everyone went the right way. For 5 minutes, we literally followed cones around the campus and through two parking garages.

In one parking garage, we stopped in front of a sign that offered translators in every language I’d ever heard of (yes, including Tagalog). Next to the sign were members of the National Guard (who looked like 12-year-olds-dressed up in camouflage uniforms which is probably a sign that I skipped middle-age and went straight to old ladyhood).

The National Guard member checked my ID (which was my license but could have been a library card or a utility bill) against his electronic tablet, filled out my vaccine card, and had me put it on my dashboard. A laminated card with the time went under my windshield wiper. I drove through another parking garage to the actual inoculation site.

The site had tents and about 20 rows of cars. A pair of National Guard members walked down each row, giving shots. 15 minutes after the last injection in a given row, that row was allowed to drive away, following more orange cones off the campus and practically right back onto the 710 freeway. (Spoiler alert: equally awful traffic on the way home.)

You can check out more snippets of my drive-thru vaccine experience on my Instagram account if you are so bored so inclined.

I probably spent less than a half-hour at the vaccination site, but the whole excursion was over 3 hours in the car.

Pretty much a typical roundtrip commute in Los Angeles.

No wonder I’m still a big fan of public transportation.

 

To Coddle, or Not to Coddle? (#246)

I’ve never been fragile. Born into a large family of semi-feral children, I learned to guard my food and my stuffed animals early. I mowed lawns, lifted weights, and fought dirty with siblings when necessary (also when unnecessary).

Sympathy and coddling were in short supply. Like most young women, I powered through feeling like crap when I had cramps, headaches, and nausea.

The “I can endure misery” mindset was helpful when I was pregnant. I continued working out and playing volleyball, since the endorphins helped me not puke all the time. I still walked my rescue dogs for miles. My only concession to pregnancy was lighter weights and no squats.

This astounded people.

Continue reading To Coddle, or Not to Coddle? (#246)

Connect the Dots (#195)

You’d think that the most annoying thing about living by a middle school would have been kids sitting on your steps, or littering, or trampling your flowers.

It wasn’t.

It was their parents. Continue reading Connect the Dots (#195)

The Finest Drivers in Los Angeles (#189)

This driver is ready to take on L.A.’s asphalt jungle.

Sometimes, when I’m stuck behind an old white woman doing 45 mph on the 405 Freeway, I remember Germany’s Autobahn.

I drove on the Autobahn once, years ago. Heaven. Not just because it’s well-paved and you can go really, really fast. It’s heaven because a) Germans are rule-followers, and b) Everyone follows the same rules. If you’re passing, you’re in the left lane. If you’re slow, you’re in the right lane. If you wind up slow in the fast lane, a righteous German will fly up behind you and flash his lights until you move.

Los Angeles is the opposite of Germany. Continue reading The Finest Drivers in Los Angeles (#189)

Of Privilege & Police (#168)

My father was an authoritarian. When I screwed up, the consequences were swift. That’s how I expect justice to roll.

I got my first ticket when I was 16 in suburban Virginia. I could have contested it. I didn’t. I sniffled. I paid the ticket. I endured a weeklong harangue by my father. Continue reading Of Privilege & Police (#168)

The Hunt (#139)

Look! It's a sign! A rainbow on the studio backlot...oh, wait, more Hollywood fakery.
Look! It’s a sign! A rainbow on the studio backlot…oh, wait, more Hollywood fakery.

When my production company laid me off, I sued them for unpaid wages. That’s risky. Hollywood is all about relationships. Relationships are all about getting along – even when you’re getting screwed. Make waves, and you may never be hired again. Unless, of course, you are An Established White Male Director or Actor, in which case everything from rape (statutory or aided by rufies) to drugs to assault to crazy-assed religious requirements are forgiven. You might not even have to do a highly publicized stint in rehab! Continue reading The Hunt (#139)

16 Things Americans Oughta Know Before Landing in London (#129)

When Andy and I went to London earlier this month, I thought I was prepared.

Turns out, Dr. Who, Top Gear, Graham Norton, Inspector Lewis, and Downton Abbey may leave gaping holes in your education that authors P.D. James, Helen Simonson, and Elizabeth George cannot quite fill.

The internet doesn’t exactly do London justice, either. But for those of you who are either looking to laugh at the clueless Americans or hoping to visit London and NOT look like clueless Americans, I’ve made this handy list: Continue reading 16 Things Americans Oughta Know Before Landing in London (#129)

When You Listen to Lawyers (#120)

IMG_6583After serving on two excruciating civil juries, I got lucky. I reported for jury duty twice and never left the jury room. I was dismissed from service at the end of the day. Both times.

There was great rejoicing. Continue reading When You Listen to Lawyers (#120)

Sometimes You’re the Bug (#82)

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If I lived in DC, New York, or Boston, I wouldn’t have a car. I would take the Metro, the Subway, or the T. I’d read or people-watch, and then I’d walk.

But Los Angeles County doesn’t have just one urban center. There’s Downtown LA, Century City, Santa Monica, Long Beach, Redondo Beach, Burbank, Glendale, Pasadena… Continue reading Sometimes You’re the Bug (#82)

Alas for the Red Car (#81)

 

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The original Red Car.  From the Robert Gaddie collection, photographer unknown. Courtesy of PacificElectric.org

Once upon a time, Los Angeles had mass transportation in the form of 900+ electric “Red Cars.” 1,100 miles of track connected cities such as Pasadena, Downtown LA, Santa Monica, and Long Beach. (Today New York City only has about 842 miles of track.) A massive hydro-electric plant in the Sierra Nevadas powered the cars. Continue reading Alas for the Red Car (#81)