A blog about writing and all things story…
|Clark & I, above Santa
Despite a nasty cold and hacking up a lung (gross, I know)
I managed to make my 7 AM flight on Thursday and journey
to sunny Brentwood CA. My brother Clark has lived there,
here, the last 5 years while pitching his scripts and working
in ‘the biz’ as a story board artist. LA’s such a different world.
This morning, 8 AM I walked up the street from his condo to the local Peet’s Coffee shop. The flora is stunning; purple flowering trees, jasmine scented air, balcony after balcony of burgeoning geraniums and other un-identifiable (to this Seattle gardener’s eye) plants, lemon trees, and bright orange roses taller than me. And of course, everyone here seems to have a tiny dog. Two tiny dogs. Dogs the size of a fast food snack for the 150 pound Akita I once had. Dogs with matching studded collars or coats. Coats in 80 degree weather? Okay. Whatever.
I’ve always relished morning people over late day people; my theory being that morning people smile more. Home in Seattle when I walk Greenlake, Burt Gilman, Edmond’s Beach, West Seattle Beach or simply around Fremont, I always smile and say hello. People, especially morning people tend to enthusiastically return the greeting. When I was first recuperating from cancer it was one of the things I looked forward to the most; getting out of my neck brace, not wanting to vomit 24-7, and to take a walk and absorb the friendly smiles and good morning cheers.
This morning I walked the three blocks from Clark’s to the coffee shop taking in all the splendor of Brentwood. I passed 7 other early birds. I said “Good morning,” smiled and nodded. One woman grimaced, one 30-something guy actually looked startled and crossed the street so as to not come to close to me… I guess. Two men simply ignored the greeting and one man with an empty stroller actually pushed past me on the sidewalk – apparently I’m a slow walker.
I’m a friendly person. I dress nice. I smell nice. I wasn’t even coughing for the first time in a week.
So, what’s with the attitude? These are not the same tribe of morning people that I’ve based my theories on. In Paris, the morning people smiled, some even waved. Ireland I couldn’t get down the streets without morning people wanting to talk to me – and talk, they did. In Perth and Sydney, “Mornin’ mate!” they smiled and nodded real friendly like. In London, okay, not so much. Still, I wasn’t expecting the morning people tribe to be represented in downtown London. But in the outskirts – nothing but friendly, friendly English greetings. So what’s up with Brentwood?
Clark has always said he felt like a fish out of water here. Now I get it. Nobody says good morning. He is, after all, a Northwest-ie. We grew up in friendly Portland Oregon, where people say hello.
What does this all have to do with writing? It’s all material. I take notes on every travel experience I have; the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, the indifferent. It’s all material. One of these days I’ll easily conjure the not-so-friendly people in Brentwood for a great scene in a story inhabited by un-welcoming people in a beautiful garden. Translate that to starving people at a buffet, a blind person at an art exhibit, deaf at the symphony, and so on. You get it. In this case, like my grandma used to say, “You can put a gorgeous sparkly dress on a prostitute – still a prostitute.” I know that sounds harsh, but it’s how I’m feeling about Brentwood this morning. Hopefully that’ll change as the trip goes on.
Now, having just written all this, the most adorable brown-eyed little Hispanic girl is standing next to my table watching me type – eyeing my muffin. Her parents who are waiting for their coffee watch her, they smile at me. She twirls to show me her pretty dress. That’s all I’m lookin’ for. Of course now she wants my muffin. With a nod from her father, I share. Her lovely wide-eyed smile, missing front tooth and root-beer brown eyes will also make it into a story someday. So, I’ve received three smiles today. Okay. That’s enough for me. I’ll see what I can get on the way back to Clark’s. Maybe late morning people are the tribe to see here.
SHOUT out to BOB RAY – Be well, my friend! Thinking of you.
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By Miri Elm
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