My recent read is The Portable Writer's Mentor by Priscilla Long and it is as if I have found a long, lost friend: someone who loves words nearly as much as I!
So many of the writing craft books I have read recently have that snarky, chick-lit type of voice within them which I flat out find annoying as hearing the sound of a flat tire while driving 75 on the highway.
This book, though, is different.
Just like a Friday night seeking writerly hang outs in Los Angeles is different.
That's how I found my way to Stories, a bookstore/cafe in Echo Park. Most of the books I looked at were the gently used sort. The floors creaked and it had that luscious old-book smell. The moment "Our House" by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young started playing, I knew I was in a comfortable, this can be my temporary Los Angeles home sort of place. The quirky guy behind the cafe counter was just the closest thing to stepping into Narnia to be found there on Sunset Boulevard that night. Who needs Hollywood glitz when you can order an Arnold Palmer from a guy with a two-braided hairstyle, both ends tied in the back.
He hummed along to his choice mid-1970's singer/songwriter music collection and hovered around his place of worship/work.
I was the only woman there in the cafe, all others were men or young men, geeking out with their computers. I sat and wrote letters at my almost picnic style table next to the nature and geography sections.
It got later and I decided it was time to leave. It would be awfully embarrasing albeit quite memorable to get out of my self-proclaimed new Los Angeles home away from Bakersfield home.
I need to go back during the day in the warmer months because apparently there is a patio I completely missed.
I had forgotten about Los Angeles traffic so there were two Los Feliz book stores I completely missed. I did manage to stop in at the 24 hour diner also recommended by Ploughshares Literary Burroughs Series, Fred62. I thought it was noted as an eatery with a great writing vibe, but apparently I read my notes wrong. It isn't listed in the Los Angeles literary webpage at all.
I wanted to go because I thought it was a writing spot but it was also a 24 hour diner. Since the highway home was closed due to snow, I needed to find a place to contemplate my next move.
It was one of those experiences that left me a bit disappointed but willing to try it again, not on a Friday night. When I got there at a little after eleven p.m. I was seated at the counter and there was literally no place to put my notebook or the Muriel Rukeyser collection I picked up earlier at one of my bookstore stops.
I did what any writer in a pinch would do: I took notes into my phone, thinking I could later mine for gold within the sentence fragments I weaved there.
Here are some highlights:
“My name is Monet,” the girl next to me at the counter told Ricardo, the waiter in the knit grey cap who was attractive in that taller than average young hispanic man with large teeth and very narrow hips sort of way. Her voice bubbled, like Fresca, as she said, “I have just moved to the neighborhood.”
This I believe. Hipsters find hipsters, I thought. Music from the Mama’s and the Papa’s play, asserting their harmonies above Ricardo’s knit grey hat. Both Monet and Ricardo have that definite early twentysomething hipster inflection in their voices. I wonder if Monet is her real name or if her parents were wanna-be-pretentious folks who were thrilled to be able to give their daughter the name of a French painter. Maybe she was conceived when they were discussing the ins and outs of the Water Lily’s while she was conceived or perhaps they were skinny dipping among a water lily infested pond while discussing Walt Whitman poetry and nine months later a lovely little girl was born. Walt didn’t fit her as well as it fits my dog, so they named her Monet instead.
Meanwhile behind me in a booth are some actual French people who are speaking actual French.
Their lyrical French voices rise and swell as the hiss from grill belches at me. I still sit, fastened to my stool at the counter.
I wonder when this place was born? I know Fred, the founder, was born in 1962, but I wonder about this building. They have one of those lever windows you open the top part with a stick and keep it somehow cooler in the summer in the days before air conditioning.
The crew gather at the end of the counter, entertaining each other with whose wit tap dances fastest.
I feel tired. Simon and Garfunkel sing, ironically, “Homeward Bound.”
I decide the time has come to leave and ask my GPS for unusual direction help. I wait, a few moments too long, for my check to come.
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As I drove home to Bakersfield through Lancaster, Palmdale and Tehachapi instead of through the grapevine, I wonder why when I lived in Los Angeles when I was Monet and Ricardo's age, I never found places like Stories or Fred62.
Now I have to visit when I have other activities going on when I can wedge a push-pin into my schedule with a note "cool writerly places" amidst "take Kimberly to LAX".
It is only fair to say at least I am aware today all I need to do is find some cool literary hang outs and I know I will wear that completely content sensation even while getting snowed on in my newly washed car, finally landing on my bed at three a.m. Somehow, I was still smiling.
This post is my Mid-Week check in for ROW80. (Almost) each Wednesday I pop in with some words about who I am BEING as a writer rather than what I am DOING as a writer. I love sharing my writing adventures that appear to have nothing to do with a simple goal beyond filling my soul with deep word-love-pleasure.
I hope you enjoyed reading!
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Julie Jordan Scott is a Creative Life Coach, a Poet Performer, a Writer and a Mommy Extraordinaire. Stay in touch with her via twitter or facebook or you may always call or text her at 661.444.2735 to arrange a complimentary coaching session.Follow me on Twitter: @JulieJordanScot
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© 2013 by Julie Jordan Scott