Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Randomissimo - Hollywood Edition

Ciao Bloggisti from "The Big Orange". Hmmm, I was never a fan of that nickname.

This is my first trip back to America since moving to Rome. Many expat friends told me I would have reverse culture shock. However, other than almost passing out in the supermarkets (more on that later) and the strangeness of not hearing Italian all the time, it feels like I never left. The traffic still sucks, people still complain about the "biz", and barely anyone walks on the street.

With three hours of arriving at L.A.X. I saw my former boss in Beverly Hills. I went to buy a phone at AT&T on Santa Monica Blvd and Bedford. As I crossed the intersection, a car beeped at me. I thought the driver was honking at the lady next to me who had a ton of cleavage going on, so I ignored them. Then someone rolled down the window and said my name. It was Don Cheadle in the back seat. Random.

You know you're on the West Side in L.A. when there's Valet Parking at a supermarket. That the store is already in a mall with plenty of parking and there's still Valet, says a lot.

I walked into Gelson's and almost passed out (same thing happened earlier at Ralphs). So big! All the choices! The fruit is perfectly lined up (and super expensive). I was paraphrasing Kanye in my head, "Yo Italy, I'mma let you finish but America has the best junk food of all time!"

Seriously, I forgot about the soda, chips, cookies aisle. Where did all these new products come from? There are like ten different versions of the Oreo cookie.

I bought the Entenmann's Raspberry Danish. It couldn't be helped. I was craving it a few weeks back. I was filled with joy as the lady rung it up. It takes so little to make me happy. It's kind of sad.

Within the first 24 hours of my arrival, I was told by two industry execs I need to move back to L.A. if I want to have a career in this business. Heavy thing to think about. Still processing.

Why the hell is there June Gloom in the middle of October? The marine layer is so thick.

Club Monaco, how I've missed you. I'm loving the new items for fall.

The friend I'm staying with went with me to Club Monaco and told me I need to accept that I have lost weight since moving to Italy. I keep trying on clothes a size too big. She insisted I go down a size. She was right.

I have no money yet I went to J. Crew and other places anyway (I'll do a Lo Shopping post later) as I have no clothes. I have a zillion meetings, lunches, dinners and I can't be looking crazy. I'm justify the spending the money as early Christmas present. Plus I'm super stressed about my career (especially after the "you need to move back" comment) and some retail therapy was needed ASAP.

I'm looking for a turban. Haven't found any.

Nobody flirts.

Mexican food, hello, I've missed you too.

Downtown L.A. more restaurants and services (supermarkets etc.) have opened in the last 2 1/2 years. I had a dinner meeting at a new place called Bottega Louis. It's Italian so I had a burger as I can eat Italian when I get home. The burger was amazing. More on that place in a upcoming food post.

The weaves are still out of control.

There is an Obika (an Italian restaurant based in Rome) in Century City Mall! I can't believe it. It was packed at lunch time.

Traffic is still horrendous. Nobody should talk smack about drivers in Jersey until they have tried to go anywhere in Beverly Hills during the middle of the day. People, please use the freaking turn signal and get off your cellphones.

I was worried about driving as I haven't been behind the wheel in a year. It's fine and fun (when not sitting in traffic). I have an automatic. I can't imagine trying to tackle that hill at La Cienega and Sunset with a stick. I slide backwards with an automatic. Maybe next time, if the rental car company has them, I'll get a stick. I don't want to forget how to drive one after spending all that money at the L'Autoscuola.

I miss Rome.

Air France has great service.

Going through U.S. Customs was interesting. Very intense. We had to put all our bags on the ground so the cute security dog (a beagle) could sniff them. I was asked a bunch of questions. The officers were friendly but for foreign visitors it must be a pain to have to get your fingerprints scanned, etc.

The mood of the electorate is beyond angry. The mid-term elections are going to be brutal.

There's a lot of Spanish spoke in Los Angeles. Thanks to learning Italian I can understand some of it.

I met a black security guard named O.J. I feel bad for brotherman.

Century City Mall, not as amazing as Short Hills (Jersey for the win) but it's a darn good mall.

All the leaf blowers, that sound is so L.A. to me.

Trying not to have a panic attack about my career. Could I move back? I have a lot to think about on this trip.


Michelle | Bleeding Espresso said...

Whoa...I'm not sure if it's reverse culture shock, but it certainly sounds like *a lot* to process. Any chance of a spa day or something? ;)

Sara, Ms Adventures in Italy said...

Wow, your post left me with a lot to think about, too :| Would hate to lose you but at the same time, if you're doing what you love, you will fit in Italy, too - a villa in Trastevere in Sept & Oct ever year? It could happen.

The junk food does hit me every time I'm in the US. I still have the Pavlovian response and buy it, but I'm getting better every time and taking less stuff back to Italy because "I miss it." Junk food is junk food, and I don't need it :)

I love that you've lost weight and had to go down a size...that rocks!

Hope the rest of your trip is great, and we see each other, or there :) I'm in NYC from Oct 15-25 if you're passing through :)

Sandra said...

People keep saying the voters are angry. However, I have begun to realize that the vocally angry people don't represent the majority. I know a lot of people who are unhappy but they are not angry. It is the loud minority vs. the silent majority.

J.Doe said...

I moved back to NJ after many years of being abroad and for all those people who talk smack about NJ drivers - I have to say they are right! NJ drivers really suck. I think everybody applying for a driver's license there should be forced to live/drive in other states to see what it should be like. Every minute I am behind the wheel I worry about the end of life. The drivers in NJ are just frightening.
The traffic in LA does suck. It's not much better, but I still think NJ is the worst.
In safer news I've been here for 4 years and everytime I go to the supermarket I STILL get culture shock. Oh, I am used to the selection but there are so many snack and versions of Hershey's Kisses and various candybars....I still look at them like they are foreign objects.
Good luck with your job decision.

Diana Strinati Baur said...

HAHAHA Great post of snapshots!!! I could see it all, feel it all (as a former resident of the O.C. it was not hard to do). Well, enjoy what there is to enjoy, and there are certainly things to enjoy! I kind of wish I could hit the streets there with you. I could use lunch at Le Petit Four on Sunset.

Leaf blowers. Yeah, no s--t. :)

Katie Parla said...

Entenmann's and Short Hills represent!!!

Jannelle said... moving back! Okay, it's for purely selfish reasons, I love reading about your life in Italy. You're living a dream of mine and I read your blog for insight until I can make my dream come true. At the end of the day, you gotta to what you gotta do! I had reverse culture shock when I came back from just 7 weeks in Italy. No one smiled at me or greeted me with a good morning at the airport. No one flirted! I seriously contemplated sneaking back onto a plane that was heading back to Italy. Have fun!

Anonymous said...

You could have a life in both worlds. It has been done before.

Ms. Violetta

Kim B. said...

I glance over to Michelle's comment as I try to think what to write and realize that I'm thinking the same thing -- a lot to process for you. I like that you did this kind of stream-of-consciousness, letting-it-all-out type of writing here.

Happy you finally got the Enteman's and awesome that you're down a size!! Too weird that there is an Obika there. How can the mozzarella be as good (unless someone's making it naturally in California?)??

Wish i had some good insight or advice but just know we are all with you. YOu are one smart, talented lady; you'll figure it out.

dorina said...

(sigh). i don't know. you fit with italy so well. but maybe i'm just not a big LA fan. it's a nice place to visit, but . . you know the rest.

you love italy. do you love LA as much? does that maybe not matter when it comes to trying to make a living? (sigh, again). i do love the aroma of the jasmine and pepper trees in LA. or was that just in woodland hills?

i really feel for you in making this decision. sometimes life can be so difficult. but i know, from reading your blog, that whatever you do and wherever you go, you'll bring your own special self and it'll be ok.

good luck!

gibber said...

I guess we should talk sis. But my gut tells me that you should not move back.

Short Hills FTW!

I cracked up re: Kanye. It's true. Our supermarkets kick ass.

Los Angelista said...

Welcome back to the land of weaves! When I had a stick I had to use the emergency brake on that hill at Sunset & La Cienega! I love this post!

You can have a career if you don't live here... look at Johnny Depp! ;) Besides, our world is so mobile these days, you can really live where you want and still work. Don't let someone else's fears/issues make you nervous.

Yay, junk food!

This Time Now said...

I can hardly wait to see Virginia again, NYC again, all the stores, the diverse food selection, etc. For me, it's all about the clean, crisp Virginia air and having room on the sidewalk to actually walk without touching or bumping into someone and most of all, the QUIET. God yes! LOL. I think that you can live anywhere you want. Like, someone said, "look at Johnny Depp". Seriously, if I do come back to the States and work for someone, I will have to work only 8 or 9 months out of the year in the U.S. and the rest will be in Europe or wherever else I choose. You can live anywhere today. This is the age of mobility.

Wishing you all the best during your meetings, etc. Go get em' woman!

Anonymous said...

Don't move back! Rome is too amazing. LA sucks and is all about the $$$. Have a real life in Rome. Use your agent. Your scripts can be read without yu there. Skype!

Elizabeth said...

Your post is so true, and way too familiar!
Everyone will always tell you that you can't have a career outside of NYC/LA. Especially if you live in Rome. They are just jealous.
I have actually ended up on the floor of supermarkets in the States. No joke.
You can do it from here if you really want to. Have fun while you're there, but don't buy into the stress.
Maybe it's time to go have a negroni?

gibber said...

Cosign Los Angelista and Elizabeth.

Go back and read your blog posts right before you left. There is a reason you left LA.

Haters gonna hate.

Tina said...

That is a lot to process! Well, see how you feel when you return to Rome as well. And maybe a month after you're back in Rome, re-visit the career subject. Honestly, I think you can make anything work if you really want it to. You already have gotten this far. It's great following your adventures!
When are you back in Rome?

coco cooks said...

Wow, talk about culture shock. Dont let the execs deter you. You can be transatlantic. I dont see why not as you are a writer.
You have to ask yourself, whay feels more like home to you and where are you happiest?

homebody at heart said...

I flew Air France back from vacation and I did enjoy it. I've been trying to put my hair up in a french twist like the stewardesses had since I've been back. Plus they had free surprise sandwiches. I asked her what kind of meat was on them and she said it was a surprise! The surprise is that it was good!

As far as decisions go, that is a tough one. God bless you sweetie.

Stellino said...

If you have time to have lunch with a reader, I'd love to munch down on something simple if you have time, and I'd love for you to chat with la moglie. I have a feeling that between hearing me and my daily opinions on black America for four years and your experiences in Rome, it'd be a fascinating chat.

Of course, if that sounds totally nuts, I understand. :)

C said...

Now I'm craving Entenmanns!!! AH!
But the move back or not. I felt the stressed for you at having that thrown at you, but I have to agree with Ms. Violetta and Los Angelista as well as adding that whatever the choice-follow your heart.

Petulia said...

So fun to read your impressions! Please keep them coming, but please do not move back to LA!

We want you here in Rome:-)

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

Ciao tutti - thanks for all the feedback. I'm feeling less anxious after some positive meetings. I don't have to decide this very minute and I'm sure my manager will have a lot to say about moving vs. staying.

Okay, Jersey drivers are a little crazy but I still think L.A. is worse. At least very few people get shot on the Turnpike (just kidding).

Sara - Unfortunately, there will be no trip to NYC. Not sure when I will be able to visit.

Stellino - no, it's not nuts but my schedule is packed solid with meetings, breakfasts, lunches and drinks/dinners until I leave. Good thing Target opens at 8:00 a.m. I must buy some over the counter stuff like Tylenol.

Have you been writing about your POV on your blog?

Jay said...

That was an awesome post, and I smiled through the whole thing. Process, don't panic. I'm a firm believer in gut instinct. You seem to have some serious soul smarts. You'll know what to do when it's time to do it.

You haven't been to Toronto when you talk about traffic. A 20-minute drive into downtown takes an hour. Ridic.

Funny, I preferred the Italian supermarkets (do they still have Conad's?) to the ones here in Toronto, which are also huge and stocked with everything imaginable, but in Italy, the markets sold wine. Italy FTW!

Hilarious - my mom put on a turban just the other day. I was like, what the...?

I would miss reading your Roma stories. Just sayin'.


Tracie P. said...

wow, that's is a lot to process arlene! it seems though, that you are having some success, even living in italy. just follow your gut, it has served you well so far.

Anonymous said...

Sorry... what about Rome's traffic?
It is simply terrible.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

anon - you don't need a car to live in the city of Rome. You do if you live in L.A. NYC traffic is nightmare as well but you don't need a car there either.

Cristina said...

WOWSA! Loved this post. Totally reminded me of my experience. Worked in La La Land's biz before I moved to Milan. Lived there for 8glorious years. Met my Italian husband after six years there. He was worth the wait. Felt the need to be closer to my family and we moved to.....FLORIDA. Culture shock extraordinaire!! I felt compelled to write because you must think deeply about where you feel the best before you make a move. The cold, dreary winters in Milan made me move. Been back in the States for 4 years. Nothing is the same. Everything/everyone is big, superficial, money-motivated and glued to the TV. Albeit the beaches are lovely, there is nothing for my eyes to fall in love with, for my soul to connect with. In Italy I experienced a myriad of "movie moments". Life in Italy just tastes better. I am trying to convince my husband to move back......He tries to remind me of all the bureaucratic BS we endured, how things never worked and the salaries were low. Who cares? Italians know how to LIVE! Vai dove ti porta il cuore!

Anonymous said...

if you need to move back to Los Angeles, just focus on the good things.
I mean: things aren't black or white, every city has advantages and disadvantages.
I know that a lot of people like bashing the City of Angels (the fox and the grape?), but the Los Angeles County offers:
amazing natural scenery;
amazing waterfront;
amazing beaches;
amazing weather;
a lot of gorgeous men ;-);
a lot of great ethnic restaurants;
great mexican food;
IN & OUT :-);
and several great towns such as Pasadena and Santa Monica;
and people are generaly friendly.
Plus the authorities are building more subway lines, the crime rate is dropping and the Downtown is getting improved.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

cristina - Very interesting perspective. I also feel things have changed (and not for the better) in the States. First I thought it was recession related but something else is going on.

I will give this potential return to Los Angeles a lot of thought. The two cities couldn't be more different.

anon - I lived in L.A. for 10 years. If it never felt like home then, not sure how things would change. I volunteered and tried my best to do things outside of the biz. If I grew up there or was married with kids, I would have a different POV. But for a single woman over 25 with no family there, it's a tough place to live.

Maybe things would be different as a writer but in the past as an exec, I worked so much I had no time to appreciate the beaches, waterfront. Dating was horrible/non existent.

I liked the energy when I was Downtown last week.

David said...

Hey Arlene,
Welcome back to the States ! how long will you stay ?, I know how you feel about coming back to the states, even though I was only in rome for 9 months, it made a big impression . I miss it a lot and still chat with the many wonderful people I meet there.
I miss the wonderful city ,people and food . I'm sure you will make the right move .

Tanisha said...

I kill you if you move back to the States

girasoli said...

Been very behind in commenting lately...

OMG - Entenmann's Raspberry Danish!! I haven't had one of those in decades! Lucky you!!

I know just what you mean by freaking out in the supermarket. Although Hawaii is part of the US, we miss out on a lot here. I flip out every time I go to a supermarket in the US. The choices and the prices.