The smell of LA

When I moved to LA last year it was as though all the moisture got sucked out of my skin. My friends and I all marvelled at how dry our skin had become, seemingly overnight, and the enduring nature of it was more than could be blamed on a 14 hour flight over the Pacific.

I wandered down to my local CVS Pharmacy on Glendale Boulevard and spent a really long time looking at all the beauty products, most especially moisturisers. I still remember comparing all the different brands, the prices (calculating currency conversions in my head) and features until finally deciding on Alba Botanical natural very emollient body lotion. It had a pump pack which I thought was a bit different.

After bathing myself in the moisturiser for more than a week, I managed to bring back my skin’s normal smooth appearance.

I loved it so much I made sure I brought some back to Australia and now every time I apply it to my arms and legs I am taken back to LA, to our cool apartment in Silverlake and to the vivid feeling of excitement I had while living there. I love that certain smells can instantly transport you to another place and another time and am glad I have a strong association to take me back to my memory of LA.

Do you have a special scent that takes you somewhere else? What is it and where does it take you?

A most wonderful chiropractor

A sore back from sleeping on an airbed for a month and hoiking furniture upstairs sent me on the quest to find a chiropractor.

After a couple of different experiences back home, I wanted to find someone who did minimal crunching and who had some other manipulation tricks up their sleeve. I did a search on Yelp.com which is a great review website where you can find information, reviews and ratings on all types of services from restaurants to mechanics to health professionals. It threw up a few names in my area and I came across Sally Kleinbart.

From her website it looked like more than a crunch-crunch experience, so I sent her an email and made my first appointment a few weeks ago.

I knocked on the door of her home, where she practices from, and was greeted by a friendly and totally chill Sally who I instantly liked for her down-to-earth attitude. After filling out something like five pages of paperwork which went from my contact details, to health issues, to my description of the pain and location, I signed my chiropractic care away to Sally.

Today was my third and final session with Sally (until the need arises again) and what I love about going to visit her is that she spends an hour with you and wants to get to the bottom of your back problems. I am amazed by what she can find as she gently moves her hands over your back. With the lightest of touches I can feel my back muscles moving and realigning in the correct spots. On my first visit she found that my diaphragm and liver were all knotted up together, and after working on this, the spasms in my back stopped. My sore lower back came from some swollen discs, that were coaxed back into place and then the pain disappeared. On my visit today she discovered more connective tissues all mixed up.

After all this gentle manipulation, which Sally calls ‘body sculpting’, there is a small amount of crunching to iron out anything else in the back or neck. I always leave her place feeling put back together again. It also goes to show that you should never underestimate the value of having a healthy and strong back. I had never really had back problems until I sought help from Sally, and I would be screwed if I had chronic back pain. I mean, if that was the case, how would I be able to hit the road with my backpack?

More car woes (just not mine)

Today seemed to be the day that everyone else in my household’s cars decided to chuck spazzies.

I had a message from a friend staying with us to say her recently purchased car (as in purchased Friday three days ago) was playing up again (after already having been to visit the mechanic on day 1).

Then J called me on the way back from LAX to say that Brandon had stopped at an intersection and wouldn’t start and required a tow. She called me for my expert advice on dying cars given that Esmeralda has had two overheating issues and three tows. My advice was to call AAA (the equivalent of RACV or NRMA etc) and join up. With AAA you get four free tows of up to 7 miles each year. It’s an absolute necessity here.

So I guess if you are looking at buying a car in LA (and America) I have the following advice for you:

  • Cars are not as reliable as they are back home. The reputation cars have at home doesn’t necessarily translate to that of cars here.
  • If buying a used car, always buy a certified pre-owned car. This basically means the manufacturer has gone over it with a fine tooth comb and gives it a seal of approval.
  • Get a warranty. If something is going to go wrong, it WILL go wrong in the first month. I have at least three examples of this!
  • Find a good mechanic and check their reviews on Yelp.com. Put their contact details in your phone so you can ring them if you experience a problem and so you have their address to give if you need a tow.
  • Have a pool of contingency cash so you aren’t caught short when something does need to be fixed.
  • Don’t skimp on insurance. It is expensive, but absolutely essential.
  • Pony up to put the good gas in your car. Chevron is the most expensive, but is also the best quality. Whilst I am shopping for the cheapest gas for Esmeralda, I am putting in premium to keep her turbo engine happy.

If things go wrong, don’t despair. Everyone has a story of car woe. You arrive in LA and you have car issues. It seems to be de rigour, so don’t let it get you down, soldier on and things will get better.

Shanks’ pony in LA

Today I used Shanks’ pony for transportation in LA.

I haven’t really gotten out much in LA on my own yet. except for a couple of kilometres radius of our place. It really is a city built for driving. Suburbs are far more massive than they appear on the map and the grid layout can be quite deceptive.

I had hitched a ride with Gin, J and friend to the Trails cafe at the bottom of Griffith Park for lunch and then decided to leave them to continue on to the Griffith Observatory while I made my way towards where I had a test drive of a car. The Google Maps app on my phone made it look really close. I should have done the directions thingy to get a proper idea.

I ended up walking for about 45 minutes to where my friends who were helping me with the test drive were having lunch. I walked through Los Feliz and then the little enclaves Thai Town and Little Armenia that are peppered along Hollywood Boulevard. The diversity in between each block was quite remarkable. One block you would have fancy shops and neat footpaths, the next it would be more derelict and dirty and so on.

I didn’t meet many other pedestrians. I wasn’t the only one using Shanks’ pony (walking on my own two legs and yes, it a very grandfatherly kind of thing to say) but there certainly weren’t crowds waiting at the lights, except out front of the metro station.

So it is doable, but just don’t underestimate the distances and time it will take you.