Golden State of Mind

I was standing in line at Mann Brother’s Paints on La Brea, waiting for my turn.

(I know, I promised not to start any major projects before Christmas, but there were two walls I needed to patch and paint.  Not trying to write a book or sell a book has given me a burst of domestic energy!)

As I fiddled with my phone, checking my to-do list, a woman ran into the store. She was frantic, searching the aisles, peering behind the desk.  I thought she might yell, “I need help.  Now.”  She didn’t.  Instead she looked at me.

“Are you on the line to pay or are you waiting to have paint mixed?”

“I’m waiting to have paint mixed.” I showed her my swatch.

“Oh,” she said, “Because it seems like no one works here.”

I watched the employees shuffle from the mixing machine to the register.  A painter in a stained white jumpsuit lumbered down the stairs.

“I think it just takes a while,” I said

“But it doesn’t seem like anyone is rushing,” she said. Her hair was frazzled. She looked like she might pull it out of her head.

“I don’t think they have any reason to rush,” I said.  It won’t make their day end sooner, I thought, why bother?

“Well,” she said.  (And I swear, I knew what was coming) “You would never see this in New York.”

“That’s why I don’t live there anymore” I said, remembering how I jogged down the streets, shoved myself into subway cars, ran across the avenues against the light.

“That’s why I’m moving back next week.”

We weren’t arguing.  Sure, she insulted Los Angeles without knowing where I was from, assuming that I would want even the paint store employees of Hollywood to be more like their counterparts in New York.  Ass-uming.  I was worried for her.  She was on the brink, so I tried not to take too long when it was my turn, but I had a question about satin vs. pearl.  The New Yorker leaned closer to hear.

“How is that different than semi-gloss?”  she asked.

“I think it’s more shiny than egg shell.  I like the sound of it.  “I’ll go with satin, please,” I said to the man.

When he returned with my paint, the employee entered my name in the computer.

“Are you a designer?” he asked.  “I can give you a 10% discount.”

“Well, no, but I’m the designer of this project,” I said with a wink.  “I’m not much of a liar,” I said to the New Yorker.

“I’m gonna give you the painter’s discount, too,” he said.

“Wow, thank you.”   Take that super-fast New York paint-guy!

“You’ve been shopping here for a long time,” he looked at his computer, “I’m not gonna say how long,” he said, smiling, like even implying that I had been alive for the 13 years I’ve been here would break the ultimate rule of Los Angeles chivalry: never reveal a woman’s age.

The New Yorker smiled.  “I’d like the satin, too,” she said, as if in those few short moments, she’d warmed up to the Golden State.

When Ronan was a baby, Joe shot a tv show in NY and for 2 out of the 6 months, Ronan and I left LA and stayed with him in the top floor apartment of my childhood house.  One evening I found myself on line at the local fruit market; the woman in front of me fumbled her change.

“I’m so sorry,” she said to me, as she retrieved her wayward coins and bills.

“Don’t be,” I said.  “I’m not in a rush.”   (My mother must have been watching the baby!)

The woman froze, mouth open, hand still shoved in her purse.  “You’re not in a rush?”  she said.

I love that Jay Z song, “Empire State of Mind.”  It makes me proud to be from New York City.  But I hate to rush.  I prefer the satin and the discount and the smile. I like the hummingbirds, the palm trees, the flowers.  I admit, I’m still irritated by people who ride the escalator on the left side.  When I am late, I speed.  I swerve in traffic.  I curse.  I can’t claim to be Laid Back like Snoop Dog.  But it is starting to feel like living in Los Angeles has softened my edge.

About Lindsay Jamieson

Author of Beautiful Girl, mother of 2, wife of cinematographer, former dancer, snowboarder -- recovered bulimic.
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6 Responses to Golden State of Mind

  1. Jesica Davis says:

    Baby, living in Cali has made you smooth like satin. I couldn’t agree more in the LA vs. NYC olympics, I take LA’s side every time. I don’t miss the rush. But I DO miss the probing intellectual discussions. But I don’t miss that it always feels like everybody’s trying to prove that they’re smarter than everybody else and more in-the-know. I think you and agree on many of these things, my fellow NYC ex-pat. But I do miss the snow and cold on Christmas. A little. Eensy weensy bit.

  2. Jesica Davis says:

    P.S. I love that photo. Is it an iPhone camera or a “real” camera?

    • You’re smooth like satin, too, babe! The camera is an app on my iphone. I like it, too. I almost included the following about the weather:

      The other day I had a doctors appointment in Beverly Hills. I parked (for free) on a side street and walked to Wilshire in the 80 degree weather. There was a couple in front of me who were several years older than I am. The man was wearing in Lakers bomber jacket with a special patch for every year they had won the NBA title, which is a lot of patches. He was shuffling ahead of her like he might be in pain.

      “So how do you like our winter weather?” she asked.

      “I like winter weather in the winter,” the man barked back.

      It’s snowing 2 feet a day (at least!) at Mammoth right now. I love to be warm here, even in the waves one day, then up in pristine mountain snow the next. 😉

  3. AJ says:

    Love to hear an east coast transplant say good things about CA. I think after 12 months of living here you shouldn’t be allowed to complain anymore, lest us natives give you a return trip on the greyhound. Wish more would follow Ms. Frazzled out of town so I could start using the 5 FWY again.

    Thanks for sharing your blog, it’s nice and smooth reading.

  4. Bessie says:

    I was in NY for three days this week, and had a foot problem (a corn on my little toe), and the farther I walked the worse it felt. When I left for Penn Station on Saturday I considered getting a cab, but you know that goes against my penurious nature! When I got to the top of the stairs, a man who seemed to be carrying a lot of stuff and who had just reached the top, asked me if he could take my bag down the two flights of stairs. I accepted gratefully, and he promptly picked it up and deposited it at the turnstiles. Things like that do happen in NY all the time. I ended up having to carry the bag down the stairs inside the turnstiles at Grand Army Plaza, and then there were elevators and escalators the rest of the way. (I managed to walk relatively pain free by cutting the foot of the tights off, making room for my toes to wiggle a bit).

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