Order of the Good Write

That Magic Feeling When the Words Flow. A Blog by Debi Rotmil

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May Gray, June Gloom


Paramount Studios. Filtered in black and white to accentuate the gloom.

“I had some dreams there were clouds in my coffee
Clouds in my coffee…” Carly Simon

So here we are, in the midst of a Southern Californian June Gloom. We’ve past the May Gray right into the bad hair days of early summer.

I’m an east coast person. It’s in the blood. Having lived in Los Angeles for almost 5 years, it will never leave me. When it’s cloudy and gloomy in other places of the country – like New York – it usually means rain. Not here. Gloom means gloom until the sun burns it off later in the morning, when dark skies turn to crystal clear and cloudless blue.  But in June, it takes a little longer for the clouds to disperse. Sometimes, they don’t push off at all.

Yet, as many Californians know, there is a price to pay for the beautiful weather year round. Drought, and earthquakes, of course. But how about the Marine Layer that won’t quit. Spitting rain. Moody clouds on the horizon, obscuring the mountain range that’s part of the landscape. It hovers like a lazy friend who hangs out at your house but doesn’t leave until afternoon when half your day is over.

junegloom LAAnd yes – May Gray is also a thing. We can back it up to last month and remember the premiere to the gloom that would become June. The clouds didn’t linger as long, but they appeared early in the day, reminding us that May flowers in Southern California really bloom in March, and the heady aroma of Night Blooming Jasmine and Lily trees has long faded into an early morning soup of low lying cloud coverage that will turn more intense once we turn the calendar page.

The Gloom sets a pallor on the day. At least it does for me. I wake up sleepy, less enthusiastic to attend to a really nice, productive day ahead of me. The mist weighs me down like a force. Call it Mercury in Retrogade (which ends tomorrow, by the way) – but I’m stuck in a muck. Clouds in my head. Clouds in my coffee.

But we’ll break through. Much like the gloom, the sun usually burns it off later in the day. Even if it doesn’t go, there will come a day later in the week where the sun will shine. Nature’s ying and yang.


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New York Dreamin’

Hellow UWSOh, Los Angeles – I really love you. I do. But I think we’re nearing the end of this relationship. Maybe not yet, but soon.

Don’t be pissed off. You’re amazing.

When I wake up in the morning, I see your bright sunny face in the window. You never turn off that blue sky and sunshine. All year round, it’s sunny and pleasant on your side of the bed, and for that – I am forever grateful.

You  gave me warmth during the winter when I used to shutter from the bitter cold blowing off the Hudson River.

You smell like hickory chimney smoke almost every night when the temperatures dip into the 50’s, coming from the fireplaces of houses near by. It mixes with the aroma of Night Blooming Jasmine and the fragrance from those trees that sprout yellow blossoms smelling like heavenly perfume.

The skies are dark blue at night, with a moon rising and hanging above more vibrant and closer to Earth than it appears in New York.

It’s weird. Everyone has the moon in their eyes here – with stars on the brain. The sun bleached sidewalks and the sharp sun dried walls of California houses, cutting sharp against the angle of blue against a daylight sky.  Purple prose for a very yellow sunshiny life.

Your sunshine brings people outside. Dogs, cats and people.  We all converge on the sidewalks, chatting and befriending in ways one hardly does in New York. I’m grateful for that.

Your glamor brings out the dreamers with baggage – lots of baggage. Samsonite. Moving vans. Old cars packed with personal belongings, sometimes used as makeshift homes parked by the curb.  Litter, mostly comprised of take out remains, are left on the street in the gutter for our dogs to sniff through when we’re not looking.

Some bring brain baggage – a different type than the New York style (which is in your face, with a big side of fuck you).  Daddy issues, mother complexes, narcissism, defensiveness, aloofness, the need to transfer personal problems on to you when you’re just minding your business.

Traffic and vehicular etiquette is a culmination of this, where left hand turns are impossible. Where people don’t let you go because they need to go first. Where drivers don’t even put their directional blinkers on because they aren’t thinking about you, nor do they care to show you the consideration. Not everyone is like this. And I’m no angel. But the behavior behind the wheel pervades here – and that sparks the road rage we all hear about.

Pedestrians  don’t even know how to walk here. They enter crosswalks like they are entering the red carpet. Strutting purposefully slow, talking to their equally slow partner or reading a text on their phone. Oh, are is there a line of cars waiting to make a turn before the red light goes on? Who the fuck cares? I’m walking and you must wait and watch me.

You may laugh, but I’m beginning to believe the collective personality of a given society can be measured in how they drive and how they walk in traffic. Slow. Thoughtless. Only they exist. Not you.

Everyday, your sunshine, once warm and beautiful, now blinds me.  I can’t have a quiet Sunday indoors to decompress without the sun shining, taunting me to go outside and drive somewhere. Hike somewhere. Do this. Enjoy that. Bask in the glory of this gorgeous day. This introvert is exhausted. I just want a cozy, rainy day.

But everyday is gorgeous. Almost every. Single. Day.

No rain.

Well, hardly any – with a short sprinkling from the sky, or perhaps a day of soaking rain that does not make up for four years of dry weather.

California’s perfect weather hides a dirty secret – and it’s not a sex scandal in a Beverly Hills mansions somewhere. It’s drought.

The drought began a few months after moving here over four years ago.  Within the first month, I was soaked to the bone, everyday pour rain with an intensity I’ve only seen on the east coast in the form of late day summer thunder drenchings. For a while there, I thought I had moved to Seattle.  But then it all stopped.

Oh Los Angeles, you took my money and a little bit of my old New York rhythm and blues.

I want to quote Billy Joel here, and claim I’m in a New York state of mind. Because I am.

So, don’t be sad, L.A.  I’ll be back. I left New York four and a half years ago when I was low and on my knees. It’s time to get my NY residency back. But I’ll return every year when the winter starts to kill me.

In the words of Paul McCartney, I want to “get back to where I once belonged.”

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L.A. Rain to A New Yorker

Thank you Nik Adler, whose photo I'm borrowing from -> https://www.flickr.com/photos/whoshotya/4012882645/in/photostream/

Thank you Nik Adler/Flickr whose photo I’m borrowing from -> https://www.flickr.com/photos/whoshotya/4012882645/in/photostream/

It rained last night in Los Angeles, one of the first good, soaking rains the metropolis has had in two years. The air is now fresh and crisp, letting autumn in after a dry, stagnant and dusty spell – summer needed to be washed away once and for all.

Before I moved to Southern California, I was like many non-west coasters mocking Los Angelenos who freaked out over a few rain drops spilling from the sky. But, now that I’ve lived here a few years, I can attest to the over-the-top reaction. The terror is justified.

“It never rains in California, but girl, don’t they warn ya – it POURS…man, it POURS.” I will follow that with a wholehearted “AMEN”.

It hardly rains here in L.A. There is a rainy season in December through February, but with the current drought, it’s hard to call it that now. When the skies do open up (as they did when I first moved here four years ago – I mean – wow – it just rained constantly in late 2010-2011), it’s in torrents of water that never seems to stop. The roads are not ready for the rain. The drainage can’t capture the gallons of gushing stuff, backing up sewer systems, making lakes out of streets. And then guess what you have? Traffic. Traffic upon traffic that is already a horrible traffic jam before the first drop even fell.

Can I be frank? There are a lot of people in L.A. who can’t drive for shit. Sorry – L.A’-ers reading this. It’s likely not you. But adding to the strange fact that drivers here don’t use their signals and like to race alongside your car so they can pass you (because screw you – you’re not going to be ahead of them), people kind of don’t know how to drive in the rain here. They speed down the street fancy free – like they’re going to the beach on a summer’s day, not believing the streets are slick and that a three foot, ten yard wide puddle is coming up hard and fast. Then it’s hydroplane time…tidal waves of water splashed about endangering the passengers of other vehicles, as the dare-devil in the 1997 Honda Civic with the jazzed up engine, takes a spin.

But let’s back it up to the first problem. The dry, oily roads that have baked in the sun for months and months between showers, making the roads slippery with the first light layer of rain drops. When you move here and take the written test at the DMV for your new license, you learn from the handbook that you must drive slow when the first rain falls because the streets can be perilous, causing accidents and then…traffic from hell.

Then, you have the strange firmament of electric transponders in Los Angeles older than the day Claudette Colbert came to town. They’re so fragile, a simple wind, much less an ocean of water dumping on the local power station will cause black outs at any moment – in any given radius of neighborhood blocks, taking with it – traffic lights that don’t work. You know what that means? TRAFFIC. SLOW. TRAFFIC – as four way intersections are a free for all and everyone has to do the “right of way” thing. If you’re one of the unlucky neighborhoods without power…good luck. It may be a few hours or a few days before you see light again, as you watch a freezer full of food turn to rotting, dripping wasted bags of money and your home turns into a new version of 1900 House, where you have to look up how to make dinner out of mushy meat. Oh, that’s right – you can’t because the internet can’t happen without electricity.

So, as a New Yorker who rolled her eyes at Los Angeles’ terror of rain, I take my hat off to you with apologies. Yes, we have blizzards that will paralyze a populace for days, and cold that will turn your appendages blue until the April thaw, but all factors that tie into Los Angeles’ famous perfect weather, is exactly what makes rain dangerous here.

But, I still laugh at news people on television who are on the scene somewhere in Silver Lake showing raindrops on a puddle and freaking out like it’s Hurricane Sandy.