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Monday, February 7, 2011

California Dreamin' ~ A Repost

This piece describes my move from Los Angeles to Oakland back in 1992. A lifetime of experiences and nearly 20 years later, I'm embarking on new adventures. In fact, I'll make this next trek further north on the same date (2/28) as my original posting of California Dreamin' in 2010.

Dedicated to the Mamas and the Papas, and to California dreamers everywhere

All the leaves are brown,

“So you’re going to Bizerkeley?” Jim goaded, when I made my big announcement. My spinning brain did not attend to his play on words. “Yes, you’ll have to come visit me,” I responded. I knew it would never happen but wanted to give him one more chance. Jim and I had worked together over the past year. He had asked me on a date a week earlier, but then changed his mind in favor of a concert with some friends. Thus, another disappointing episode capped my life experiences in L.A. It was alright. I wanted no ties whatsoever as I made my big escape. Besides, there were bound to be some straight men in the Bay Area, if only of the “woo woo” variety. That would work just fine. I wouldn’t be so likely to get dumped for an AC/DC concert. See ya, Jim. Wouldn’t want to be ya. You know, stuck in LA, and all. Sucka!

And the sky is grey.

I went for a walk on a winter’s day.

It’d been one hell of a quarter of a century thus far. With two family members buried side by side in Hillside’s grassy Mount of Olives, and a recent bout of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome that limited my activity level for months, I was more than ready. Clenching my acceptance letter from the UC Regents, I looked towards a new life in the San Francisco Bay Area.

I’d be safe and warm -

“You’ll freeze your ass off up there!” they warned. So I shopped for a hundred, give or take 98, winter garments. As I threw some of my raggedy old sweaters into the suitcase, I paused. “Bizerkeley?” What am I getting myself into?

You know, I got down on my knees (got down on my knees)

And I pretend to pray (I pretend to pray)

But what could go wrong? I was escaping the frenzy of a life I was never suited for: the culture of models with their fake tans and blindingly bleached hair; everyone trying to get ahead of everyone else – whether that be in line at Starbuck’s on Rodeo Drive or the women's bathroom at Wendy’s on Venice Beach.

Oh, the preacher likes the cold (preacher likes the cold)

He knows I'm gonna stay (knows I'm gonna stay)

It’s a known fact that people flip each other off fighting for the closest parking space at Bally’s Health Spa in Santa Monica. Hello, all you gorgeous and fit people! Do you not see the irony in this? Do you need your valet to transport you past a few choice parking spots in order to get your workout in?

Oh, California dreamin' (California dreamin')

LA driving is worthy of it's own special mention. The freeways, let me tell you. First, it is necessary to say “the” before any name of a freeway in LA. Thus, there’s the 101, the 405, and too many more. I cannot let go of the damn the before giving directions nowadays. See, you can take the girl out of LA. But you can’t take the LA driving experience out of her. I only wish.

Oh, California dreamin' (California dreamin')

On such a winter's day (California dreamin')

The last time I drove down for Thanksgiving, I made it to the San Fernando Valley in 4 hours. Then, I was virtually stopped for the last 15 miles. Two hours later, I figured I’d be making it on time for pumpkin pie. (Well, you know that’s all I drove down for any way. But that’s not the point here.) My gracious sister-in-law had prepared a scrumptious meal and taught the Engels the courtesy of waiting for dinner guests to arrive (a new concept, especially when the dinner guest was me).

If I didn't tell her (if I didn't tell her) I could leave today (I could leave today)

Back to my escape. I finally landed at my destination, eyeing Oakland’s Lake Merritt. It was a proud moment, so I pulled over to take it all in. What a glorious sight! Shimmering diamond specks dotted an expansive, green lake that oozed serenity. The skyline was less intrusive than any I had ever seen. A few drug stores, banks, and semi-high rise buildings guarded the lake. All was quiet and peaceful. Despite what I’d heard about Oakland, I just knew the church at the intersect across the way would assure my safety.

I’d be safe and warm -

Oh, California dreamin' (California dreamin')

Home alas! I made it! Life began again in that moment. Something told me not to look down, though. Perhaps it was my inner cynic lambasting my ecstasy with a bit of reality. I somehow knew that if I peered intently into the water, I might see a dead body. Or two. Or three. So I just kept looking directly ahead, and up.

All the leaves are brown and the sky is grey.

On such a winter's day (California dreamin')

On such a winter's day (California dreamin')


  1. What did you say? I couldn't see the post due to the glare from the pasty white legs. lol

    Just kidding.

    This was an awesome post, I am so excited for you on your new adventure.

  2. this picture is bliss...

  3. Mr. O., that is NOT nice, NOT nice at all! But true. Sigh. And I call myself a California girl?! Yeah, good try redeeming yourself with pleasantries. I won't forget that one. Wink, as I splatter sunblock 450 on my pastyness. xo

    SirT, there we go. You almost had me forgetting Mr. O's insults. Hug and kisses to you for that one. ;0)

  4. Oh you know I am just kidding. Nice Jewish girls aren't out in public showing off their nice legs for all of us pervs to see. (see how good I can kiss ass)

  5. Thanks for dedicating this to me! You know, with it snowing here in Utah, I'm really missing the bay area. And I think I'd prefer CA's traffic over Utah's drivers!

  6. Oh, so glad you reposted this! I really enjoyed it! This poor pasty Iowa girl has never been to Cali :( Hope to someday!
    My Crazy Uncle Jim lives in Northern Cali in a van down by the river! Ah ha ha, no really I think he does!
    Feb. 28th is my son Auston's bday :)
    Happy Monday Robyn
    love ya
    gi gi

  7. Oooh, I loved this post!!! California is beautiful!

  8. I like this post and the song that always makes me want to go back to California, I could be wrong but I think the band were British and got pissed off by another wet day.

  9. I've never been to Cali, but I do love that song and that picture is gorgeous -pasty feet and all. :)

  10. So can you tell me where Paradise is in California? I should know since I lived in OC for 38 years, but I don't. I love the fact there is a city called Paradise! you realize now that both of us foxy chicks will be living in paradise? Tooo funny!

  11. Mr. O., no, not this nice Jewish girl. I only wear shorts in public to show off my pasty legs when it's over 75F. xo

    Shannon, are you from the Bay Area? I'm sad to be leaving it; there's nothing like it. Sorry for the snow & lousy drivers in UT.(-:

    Babysis, thank you. Glad you liked it. xo

    Gigi, I appreciate the tip and will avoid your crazy uncle. Will send happy b-day thoughts to Auston on my moving day. <~;

    Frisky, thank you. I agree, California is beautiful. xo

    David, interesting. I don't know the history of this band. They have such a great sound, though. They must really appreciate CA. ;0)

    Yvonne, you'll have to visit. The sun was hitting in a way in which my legs and feet look utterly pasty. They are actually naturally tan...Didn't buy that one, huh? That's cuz it's a lie. xo

    NotSoSimply, most Californians don't know either, so I need to put it on the map in a big way. It's smack dab in the middle of the squared off (Northern most) part of CA. That's right, two foxy chicks in paradise. One of us has a gorgeous tan and I apparently cause blindness by pastyness.[-=

  12. I greatly revere Mama Cass, who as well as being a wonderful singer played Witch Hazel in H R Pufnstuf. Are you ticklish on the soles of your feet, Robyn?

  13. That picture was a thought-provoking juxtaposition of two firm alabaster columns against nature's palette, most specifically majestic California conifers reflected off a limpid pool of tranquil water and positioned at the base of an unyielding granite column.

    In other words, it was dang purdy.

  14. Freeze your ass off in Bizerkeley?? You should come here.

    I loved this piece. Such rich history. I loved how you framed it around one of my favorite songs too. Nicely done, Robyn.

  15. GB, I loved HR Puffnstuff. I didn't know one of the singers was Witch Hazel. And yes. xo

    BOYCOTTAMERICANWOMEN, we do our best but look at what we have to work with. PS Don't come back. You're not welcome at Life by Chocolate.

    AlP, that's a great comment. You've vastly increased my vocabulary. Thank you! :~)

  16. Cheeseboy, thank you, friend. It's such a great song. Sorry we're monopolizing the sun in this state. xo

  17. Hey Robin, what are the big towns around Paradise? What kind of work will you be doing there?

    BTW, I was called Casper for many years because I was sooooooo white. This year I am getting a tan, against everything I know being an esthetician. Screw it, ya only live ONCE!

    Inquiring minds want to know....

  18. Hi Lisa, go for it - with UV protection, of course. It's a great feeling to have the sun hit your face. It's sends serotonin (happy hormones) buzzing throughout your body.

    Paradise (where I'll be working) is close to Chico (where I'll be living). The next big city is Sacramento, but that's over an hour away.

  19. I loved this post. It was just so... so... I don't have a word. It was just beauitful!

  20. Oakland isn't bad at all--if you're coming from another city. I won't go near it unless absolutely necessary. You'll have fun in Paradise, or at least a lot to write about.

  21. I visited the LA area once...a couple of years ago. The driving out there is craziness, I tell you....sheer craziness.

  22. I loved LA, I have only been there twice but I loved it. Hollywood was not at all what I expected but I loved the buzz and the bars and restaurants. The driving was dangerously crazy though! Beautiful post!

  23. Great story! Sure wish I was with my husband ...he's in CA of course that can mean he is several hours away from you!

  24. Beautiful as usual!!!

    "She's got legs, and knows how to use them...." ZZ Bottom!

    Love that song (Calif Dreamin--not's one of my all time favs....shame she chocked on a sammich!!!

  25. Noelle, thank you. xo

    Sarah, I think I'll have lots to write about. ;0)

    Marlene, it's only gotten more ugly. I HATE driving in LA. xo

    PoeticJ, it is ironic that Hollywood is a lot more slime & yuck than glam and glitz. Thank you. {-:

    Gayle, where is he? It probably takes about 12 hours to cross the state by car. xo

    John, thank you, kind friend. You're so funny. She choked on a sandwich? How sad. =-]

  26. This post was brilliant! I loved it! Your legs are tan compared to my Hubby's. We were just looking at our Honeymoon pictures and I swear they were glowing! poor guy! Blessings, Joanne