I almost get in accidents when I don't drive incredibly defensively because most people in my neighborhood are fucking stupid assholes who can't be bothered to stop at a 4-way stop sign or even give me any indication that they're planning to sideswipe me if I don't yield to them. I live just east of Chinatown. The main street I take for most of the drive to daycare is considered a little unsafe, but this early in the morning, it's quiet, mostly populated with worn-out Chinese- and Mexican-American old women loaded down with bags, waiting for their buses, and punk-looking Latino teenagers flirting as they cross the street to the high school. Then I drive down through the center of Chinatown, one of my favorite Los Angeles attractions when I was a teenager. I only got to go there once every few months and would get overexcited by the glut of greasy dessert pastries and cheap paper lanterns and jewelry, and go home with a haul of beautiful, practically free knickknacks. Now I drive through there every morning but the gaudy beauty of it forever charms me. Dropping my son off at day care is by turns melodramatic, when he screams for me to come back, or gratifying, when there are other toddlers there already to amuse and distract him and they're all sitting in their tiny seats at their tiny table trading Cheerios and looking like a precious tea party and I feel like a successful working mother.
The rest of the drive, when I don't have my son in the backseat to observe or learn from me, is often like unsuccessful primal scream therapy. I often feel too unhinged in the mornings to think I'm going to be able to make it through the day without some sort of melt down. There are nice parts to the drive – I drive through the gentrified streets of downtown Los Angeles but this early in the morning the transients and pimps and scared schizophrenics that haven't successfully been chased away are out and taking in the morning, consorting and conspiring and yelling to each other from across the street, sometimes eyeing me or calling something out to me in my car but never with any real intent, only for something to do. I like to be there in that part of downtown before the asshole e-traders are up and walking their pugs with their I-phones clasped like talismens against the cliché of their existences. Then I drive through the once vital Macarthur Park neighborhood, and unlike my own working class neighborhood, these streets are already alive with people. I'm starting to get the sinking feeling though, of facing another day. On Monday I was blasting my wedding CD (the party favor we gave to our guests) and I hadn't heard it in a long time and it was so beautiful I was scream-singing to every song with all the windows down and my hair blowing wildly. I scream-sang to T.Rex's "Ballrooms of Mars", but during the line "John Lennon Knows Your Name and I've Seen His," I started weeping thinking about John Lennon being dead, and then again, when I was singing along with the Zombies' "The Way I feel Inside" I started crying again because in the film Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou that's the song that plays during the funeral of my favorite character in the movie. Then a brown minivan swerved into my lane and almost hit me and I honked at those assholes for a solid minute while scream-singing along with the jaunty Morrissey song "Sing your Life." By the time I got to work I felt like a horrible dangerous person but then I saw that my period had just started, and I get really bad emotional PMS, so that explains the melodrama of that morning's drive – the only problem is, I have an IUD in that gives me about 5 periods a month and they're all this bad.
Even without PMS, there is something very … spooky … about life and the world on my drives in to work.
I work across the street from the old Ambassador Hotel, where RFK was assassinated, and I truly cannot believe that I'm not amazed by that fact every morning when I drive by that haunted old place. Instead, I vacillate between brain deadness, road rage or the rat-race doldrums.
|Scenic Macarthur Park|
|my favorite character in Life Aquatic|