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Driving in L.A.

Recently, I’ve made a few trips up to Los Angeles to meet with clients and prospects and do some Beaming Bohemian business.  You may remember that I lived in L.A. for five years before I moved to Japan in July of 2002. As apprehensive as I was at the time to move from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles, those five years provided excellent career opportunities and cemented numerous friendship and business contacts that have remained even during my eight years overseas.

The downtown revitalization had just begun when I left in 2002. At that time, many folks still drove downtown to work, and went home to the Westside. The reverse is true now. It is difficult to travel East in the evening and West in the morning. Heck, it’s tougher to travel anywhere at anytime, the housing boom even affected my little neighborhood where side streets like Ohio and Sawtelle are no-go’s by 5pm. L.A. traffic has always been, but seems even more nuts than I ever remember.

Even with L.A. drivers being more rude than San Diegans, for example, there are some disturbing trends that would really give me pause if I ever needed to move back there.

1. No one behind you for miles and you get cut off… pulls out in front of you or on the freeway or where ever. The space in front of you is just way more enticing than all the free space behind you. So much so that some folks even speed up to cut you off.

2. The folks that speed up to cut you off when you have miles of free space behind you have a tendency to do so right before an intersection where they slam on their brakes to turn right.

3. At a stop sign when you are angled to turn right, a car will pull up on your left, in what seems an effort to turn left.  But the driver decides they don’t trust your judgement, nor do they want to wait for you and they turn right around and in front of you.

4. Also at a stop sign, and it seems particularly popular during the evening hours, the person behind you will pull up to the right of you and go through the intersection ahead of you instead of turn right.

5. There still seems to be no concern for crossing over five lanes on the freeway to narrowly make an exit that you know the driver takes probably everyday.

6. If a driver is in the wrong lane, it doesn’t matter where anyone else is, how it affects everyone else or how dangerous the maneuver is… it is clearly impossible to just go in the direction of traffic, out of the way for a block or so, make a u-turn somewhere and get back on track.  I saw a guy in the left-hand turn lane on Overland and Pico who decided that he needed to turn right on Pico instead and bolted across the traffic at the green light so that he could go the direction he wanted.

7. The second the light turns green, everyone celebrates by honking.

8. If you do not have a green arrow to turn left, it is still expected that you will turn into oncoming traffic to make your turn. At least that’s what all the honking in the back screams. Nevermind it’s not clear, just GO!

9. If you are forced to park on the street and unlucky enough to not be able to put your front or rear bumper right up to a driveway, you will find that the kind people who have also parked on the street have made it impossible for you to move even an inch.

10. Even when the traffic is not heavy on the freeway, it seems that the general rule is to drive rightnext to the person in the next lane. Match their speed and leave no room for error.

Ten is probably enough. Truth be told, I never use my horn expect when I am in L.A.  It is frustrating, it is stressful, and it makes me glad that I live in San Diego.

What L.A. driving habits have you seen develop over the last several years? Do they bother you or do you just let it roll off your shoulders?

Tales from the Taxi

So another evening and another taxi ride home.  Traffic was horrible this evening.  And my taxi driver was certifiably crazy.  While I appreciated his interest in practicing English (the teacher in me is ever-present), I wasn’t really in the mood to speak in broken sentences, smile politely and uncomfortably and make nice.  It was a long day.  Yup – not really in the mood to talk to a crazy cab driver after my really “fun” 12+ hour day.

I am closer and closer to renting a motorbike because for ONCE I would just like to step into a taxi and…

  • not have it smell like super stinky sweaty something or rather (I am constantly reminded of the Seinfeld episode with the valet driver/car smell).  I also don’t love it when whatever the smell is in the car gets on my clothes and I can faintly smell that stench all day (I have a strong sense of smell).
  • have the driver actually, truly, really know where we are going
  • upon giving directions to a clueless driver, have them actually listen instead of argue with or ignore me
  • when pointing which direction to go, the driver doesn’t follow the line down my arm and finger to see the direction I’m pointing in
  • on excursions different from the home/work route, the driver doesn’t insist on taking the long way around, making that extra buck
  • the driver actually knows how to operate the vehicle – for example, understands that you cannot shift into 5th gear at 20MPH.  AND that you cannot take off from a red light in 3rd gear OR that the rumbling of the car means you are in too high a gear for 7MPH
  • the driver doesn’t answer his cell phone while driving, slowing down and nearly causing numerous accidents – driving in Hanoi requires your full attention.
  • the driver doesn’t madly beep his horn, flick his lights and tail the cars in front of him.  When this happens, all I can think is that he would be a casualty of road rage in Los Angeles. I have not yet gone numb to the horn honking.  Hope not to.
  • not wanting to use the passenger floor board as my imaginary brake pedal, and sometimes gas pedal too!
  • not quickly shut my eyes in fear that we are going to cream the lady and her kids on the motorbike
  • the driver doesn’t hit a motorbike and then get out, scream and yell at the woman, escaping blame for the incident simply because he’s yelling and she’s not because she probably slightly in shock and a bit banged up.
  • the driver “actually” has money in his wallet to make change.  I’m not that friggin’ generous to leave you double the fare.
  • step out of the taxi without getting dust, dirt or some sort of muck on my pants

And while we are on the topic of transportation, I just have to say here that the motorbike drivers here totally freak me out.  I feel like I’m being stalked when walking around.  It’s so creepy to be strolling down your street and hear from the shadows of darkness, “Moto?”  And this is all said in low voices with a boogey man in the voice.  Seriously – freaks me out.  I especially hate it when I am walking roadside and a motorbike driver approaches from behind and nearly whispers in my ear as he’s slowed his bike next to me, “Moto?”  We’re lucky I haven’t punched someone yet and instead have acquired the ability to give them the look of death which requires no words and they drive on.  Seriously.  Me no likey!!!

My buddy Pete has put me in touch with his friend who rents motorbikes.  So be prepared, my friends.  I may just take to the streets over the weekend.  The freedom of driving around whenever and wherever I want has become irresistible!

I’ve Been in L.A.

Los Angeles, California – No angels here.  Traffic in L.A. serves as my reminder and motivator not to re-settle there.  Drivers are crazy, obsessed with honking their horns and always in such a rush!  S L O W  D O W N people!


Yesterday I returned to my little corner of the world here in San Diego after spending the last two weeks in Los Angeles.  This was the first chance I’ve had to get away for a bit since I returned from my travels at the end of July.  I was happy to have a little break!

You see, I’ve been spending day after day after day at my computer doing my research for job opportunities, sending off letters and networking my bootie off (not really, cuz it’s definitely still there!).  So I welcomed a break to visit some friends, and give myself a well-deserved mini-vacation.

I house sat for a friend who was in Europe for 10 days, which also gave me some much needed alone time, a chance to reflect on my travels and assess the path I’m taking with my career.  I still managed to network a little more of my bootie off, though, as I visited the City Club, chatted with my former boss, co-workers, and members.  I even attended the annual wine expo, indulging in just a few tastes of really good wine.  Yummy.

Sheryl and I hit a hotspot for happy hour and dollar tacos, as well as hit the Central Market for lunch one day – tame in comparison to Asian markets!  But I felt right at home!

Steve and I caught up over a fantastic dinner, our conversation falling easily back into our comfortable and stimulating rhythm.  We’ve developed the habit of closing the restaurants we frequent.  Just love his company.

Carol, Bruce and I got caught up on the laughter which always ensues when we start telling stories.  Carol and I covered good ground in L.A., from a Greek restaurant around the corner from her house, to InNOut in Westwood, to Billingsley’s and an afternoon at the Grove.  I can’t believe how many beautiful homes have been sold and torn down in the area, only to have Italian-themed condos go up.  The side-street traffic in West L.A. is a nightmare because of it!

Coffee at Pete’s on Montana and 14th allowed me to catch up with Sarah and the boys, Dan and Paulie, and meet a fantastic couple, Phil and Paula.  Pete’s is always good for great conversations and lazy weekend mornings.

On my way back to San Diego, I stopped in Torrance to visit with the Eisenberg family.  Michelle and Justin are about to welcome their third child.  Sarah and Bryan are preparing for their new sibling, too.  I most enjoyed our dinner conversation, which included the kids telling or making up jokes and Bryan enjoying the idea of finishing his food after saying, “Nice to eat you!” before each bite.

Among all that fun, I did manage to make significant progress in my networking efforts.  Things are really heating up!!! In fact, I even have a job interview this week!  I’m so excited!  I don’t want to jinx it, but I will say that it’s exactly the type of job I’ve been hoping for and I would be based overseas with lots of international travel involved.  So fingers crossed.  I will update you when I have more news.

Whew!  It’s been a busy couple of weeks!

On the Bright Side,



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