L.A. Immersion


On our four-day trip to California, Hadley got a real taste of LA. A veritable Southern Cal sampler.

On the menu? Standard fare:

Beach time at Granny’s pad.



Surf lesson. (Thanks, Gillian’s husband Chad).



Plenty of farm market perusing followed by gluttonous strawberry consumption.



Couldn’t avoid Disney…. Hadley loved it. I survived it.



And finally, what’s more So Cal than Beverly Hills, botox and beach bums?

Earthquakes, of course.

One arrived early Monday morning — a little 4.4 tremor. (The kid slept through it.)



I was awake and it took a moment to realize that high tide wasn’t to blame for the clattering glass and rumbling walls. That said, I didn’t dive for cover under my bed. (See screen shots from the local news during the quake. Where’d everybody go? Oh…there they are…)











And now we’re back home. It’s so good to be back; I missed the frigid nights, the wind and the mud.

PS: Thanks, Uncle Bill, for scoring the Disney tickets. And to the motley crew pictured below: it was great hanging out!


My cool cousins, Stu & Peter, and good friend, Gillian


Seeing Stars


Last Friday night I blew into LA — accompanied by Hadley — to visit my grandmother.

But before jetting off I made a quick appointment with my hair stylist.

Because I’m an actress and that’s how we roll. It’s all about the coiffure.

That’s right, I’m a movie star. According to my sometimes-muddled, 93-year-old Granny.

And I’m not some D-lister or a paltry movie extra. Nope.

My grandmother thinks that I’m Sandra Bullock.

Full disclosure: I’ve been told before that I resemble Sandra Bullock. As far back as college. I still remember the guy at a party in South Carolina repeatedly exclaiming, “Yew look like that gurl from Speed!” Since then others have echoed that sentiment. Though admittedly, with less Southern drawl.

And sure, if you cobbled together a police lineup of Hollywood stars, you’d say that I look like Sandra Bullock, more so than Oprah Winfrey or Zach Galifianakis (thank God).

But truthfully I don’t look like Sandra Bullock. Please.

Be that as it may, Granny thought otherwise. She even told her hairdresser, “my granddaughter is on the cover of the newspaper.”

And apparently I was, just a few weeks back. She saved that issue for me, in case I missed it:



So given this grand build-up, I was a little reticent about the visit. I imagined trekking to the airport, dumping my car in longterm parking, flying cross country, slogging through LAX, snagging a rental car, wending through LA’s tangled freeways, and perching bedside, only to have Granny sputter: “What the hell?? You aren’t Sandy!”

Fortunately, that did not occur. Granny appeared happy to see me and she didn’t inquire about my recent Oscar nomination. Instead she asked, “Where are you with your schooling? Are you in college yet?”

Wow, I thought, first I’m a movie star and now I’m in my twenties. Bonus.

“Gosh Granny, I’ve been out of school for a while. I’m 42! I do some writing–”

“Oh that right,” she said, waving her hand. “Now I remember. That Facebook thing.”

“Yea, among other stuff,” I said. We sat there quietly for a while, before I added, “Who knows, you might be on that Facebook thing sometime.”

Granny arched one eyebrow and peered hard at me with her “I’m not a fool” look.

“I highly doubt that,” she said.

“Well, you just never know about these things.”




Shotgun Wedding



The weekend before the Hurricane Sandy fiasco, my friend Gillian was married on the beach in Santa Monica, California.

It was not a shotgun wedding.

Gillian and Chad have been engaged awhile and I don’t think she’s knocked up.



But for Martin and me (or is it “Martin and I?” Ug, grammar!) —

— for us, it was a shotgun-wedding weekend.

We stayed at my grandmother’s beach house, as did my cousins, Stuart and Peter, who live nearby.

I slept late the next morning and stirred at 10, mildly hungover. Wandering upstairs I ran into Martin and Stuart heading out.

“Oh good, you’re up,” Martin said. “We’re going shooting. Want to come?”

I thought he was joking. On these trips, we walk the beach, and shop and eat out. Shooting is as likely as spotting polar bears.

(Warning to sharp shooters: pardon any poor lingo. I have no gun knowledge whatsoever.)

The closest I’ve ever come to a gun is watching one on TV. Once, our neighbor shot a severely sick, mangey fox who collapsed in our barn.

And way back in grad school, I talked about a gun. A peeping tom regularly staked out my apartment in Columbia, South Carolina. When the creep became a chronic presence — undaunted by 911 calls or outdoor floodlights — another student urged me to borrow the handgun he stashed in his car. “You don’t need to shoot it,” he said, rummaging in his glove compartment, amid air fresheners and Chick-fil-A napkins. “Just stick it through the blinds and wave it at the guy. He’ll go away.”

I did not take the gun. I was more afraid of it than the guy peering in my windows. (Note: police finally arrested stalker-man after five months of lurking. I did not return to grad school.)

Back to present day, 10 days ago. Within an hour’s drive we arrived at the Oak Tree Gun Club. We met two of Stu’s friends — both firearm savvy — and trundled up the mountainside in a jeep. We jumped out at the first sporting clay station: there we were, 5 people, two guns and a backpack stuffed with ammo.


My cousin, Stuart. He looks legit.


The guys went first, sliding a shell in each chamber and snapping the gun closed. Someone would press one of three buttons — high, low or double — on a metal box, and an orange frisbee-like disk sailed out of the tree line. The gun roared once or twice, echoing over the mountains.

I’d like to say I was a crack shot and blew those clay pigeons to smithereens. But I was scared to lean my cheek near the gun, and leery of the kickback. Over time I grew less shaky and actually shot three clay pigeons. But I chalk that up to dumb luck. Blast a firearm 30 or 40 times and eventually, you’ll hit something.


Stance: awkward. Confidence: low.


Martin, who’s only shot a few times, was a natural. He looked so comfortable aiming and firing. It was erie to witness this gun-slinging side of him.

Martin does not mess around…


…all those years of video games paid off.


Three hours and 12 stations later, the backpack held one lonely box of shells. My hangover was long gone; I shed it the moment I jammed the butt of that gun into my shoulder.

We were finished but there wasn’t a ride back down, so we walked the steep, twisting trail to civilization. We gazed at the mountain range, squinted in the sun and tried to ignore the blast of gunfire all around us.