Category: travel

Coming to L.A. (again)

I had thought that my trip to L.A. at the beginning of March was the last trip I’d take to L.A. for about a year. But it turns out I’ll be back there again–and in less than two weeks. I have to be in Santa Monica for 2 days of work meetings, Thursday and Friday April 28-29. Not an ideal time with Kelly well into her second trimester and leaving her to take care of Zach for a few days all on her own again. But I’m making the trip as short as possible. I’m flying out on Wednesday and flying home early Saturday.

That means two endless flights across the country.

On the positive side, however, I may get the chance to see friends that I don’t see very often.

Santa Monica, then and now

Santa Monica.jpeg

I started working in Santa Monica nearly 17 years ago. I worked there for nearly 8 years, making the 20 miles commute from Studio City each morning and backtracking each evening. Then I transferred to our Washington, D.C. office, which is actually in Arlington, VA. At first, I returned to Santa Monica frequently but as time passed, those 5 or 6 trips/year evolved into one trip per year. As the intervals grew longer, Santa Monica changed more and more each time I visited.

Used to be that I worked in a building built in the 1950s. My office, on the 4th floor faced the West Side. I could see the Getty Museum atop Sepulveda pass, and the building of Culver City, and all of Brentwood and various neighborhoods sprawled out before me. If I leaned back in my Aeron chair and looked across the hallway, I could see the Pacific ocean, always there, so much so that I never really thought about it. That office building was old and dusty and looked its age but its guts were a wonderful collegiate atmosphere that reminded me of the buildings of my university. I recall fondly my morning walks to the McDonald’s  on Colorado and 2nd when it was still dark and the wind blew though the palm trees.

Now that old building is gone, replaced by something much more corporate and not quite as close to the ocean. Next door, the empty lot that housed the old building still remains, fenced off, desolate, a memory cast in dirt and weeds. When I walk by it, however, I can see the ghost of the building still standing, as if shrouded in some coastal mist.

The McDonald’s is long gone, the original structure torn down and rebuilt into something more modern, an avante garde Micky Dee’s. The Philly Cheesestake place next door is gone, too, replaced by a health shake establishment. The pier looks the same. The pier never changes. But the courthouse and the seat of city government is all new. Modern structures flashing with neon replace flat parking lots. The big mall across Colorado was torn down and then rebuilt into something utterly different. Gone are the places a dozen of us would go for our daily lunches, the lot of us together, talking about work and life. Gone are the big group lunches, too. They seemed to die out with the old building.

It’s strange to think of a city aging, but 17 years is a long time for things to stay the same. In many respects, Santa Monica is an old friend that has aged before my eyes.

And I imagine that when I arrive on my annual visits, she thinks the same thing of me.

I am on a plane to L.A.

Assuming everything is on time this morning (as I am writing this last night), I am on a plane to L.A. as you read this. Since I’m flying United and United doesn’t have Internet access the way AirTran does, I am in an Internet blackout until about 10am Pacific time. In my absence, let me ask you:

Did your movie/actor/actress win an Oscar last night?

Discuss amongst yourselves.

(Or better yet, go read the lastest episode in my vacation in the Golden Age.)

My L.A. itinerary

Tomorrow I fly to Los Angeles for my day job team’s annual planning retreat. I usually enjoy this trip because I get to see coworkers I only see once a year (I’m the only one on my team who works in the Washington office). I also get to see old friends that I don’t see very often. And I get to see family, too. This time, however, I almost wish I didn’t have to go. With Kelly pregnant and Zach a handful right now, I really just wish I could stay home. That being said, I’m already checked into my flight, which departs Dulles bright and early at 7am and I will be depending on my friends in L.A. to help keep the gloom away. Here, therefore, is my busy itinerary for my trip:


  • 7am: Fly to L.A.
  • Noon (PST): Lunch with Rob
  • 6pm: Dinner with Lisa


  • Day 1 of planning retreat
  • Noon: Lunch with Jim
  • 3pm: Bowling with the team
  • 6pm: Big Happy Hour at El Cholo


  • Day 2 of planning retreat
  • Noon: Lunch with Beth
  • 6pm: Retreat dinner with the team


  • Noon: Lunch with Cathy
  • 6pm: Dinner with Mom & Dad


  • 9am: Flight to Washington
  • Dinner at home with Kelly, Zach, Jen and Sadie

Coming to L.A.

I have a business trip at the end of the month. I’m heading to Santa Monica for 4 days for my team’s annual planning retreat. I’ll be staying at my usual digs in Santa Monica and I just wanted to let folks know that I will be there in case any friends or family that I haven’t already gotten in touch with are interested in getting together. My time is pretty limited, but I’ll be as flexible as I can. I get into town on Monday, February 28 and fly home on Friday, March 4. The retreat is a few weeks earlier this year than previous years, which is nice because it seems like for the past few years, I’ve ended up flying on my birthday.

Kelly and the Little Man won’t be coming with me this time. Work and school conflict.

Good morning from 35,000 ft

We are about 40 minutes into our AirTran flight down to Ft. Meyers, Florida. Since AirTran is providing free WiFi this month (courtesy of Google Chrome) I just couldn’t pass up the chance to post live from 35,000 feet.

I didn’t see the lunar eclipse  last night, mostly out of laziness. I was up at 3:17am when the eclipse was supposed to be at its peak, but the moon was directly overhead and those I tried looking from several windows in the house, I couldn’t see it. I suppose I could have gone outside, but it was in the low 20s and I was warm and comfortable, and besides, I can see it again in another four centuries or so, right?

The Little Man was very excited to fly on an airplane this morning. When we arrived at the airport, he watched the various planes moving about from here to there, pointing them all out excitedly. Once on board, he was alert for the takeoff, sitting in my lap and watching out the window. Five minutes later he was sound asleep. But then again, he’s an old pro at this. Today’s flight is his 9th.

A number of people have asked me if I was going to be blogging while on vacation. I think this post gives a good answer for that, but just in case it’s not clear to anyone: yes!

Should be back on the ground in an hour or so. And magically, the temperatures will have gone from the low 30s to the mid 70s. Ahhhh!

A Sunday drive to Bronxville

Yesterday, we drove the new car up to Bronxville where we are staying with Jen and Jason while I attend the variously Writerly Events I have scheduled for today in New York City.  We left at 8am and stopped in New Brunswick to meet Kelly’s cousins for brunch at a place called Old Man Rafferty’s.  The brunch there was quite amazing and included some crabs legs which were particularly good.

After brunch, we headed over to the neighborhood that I grew up in–Somerset, New Jersey.  We drove past the house that I grew up in and except for the color it looks very much like I remembered it:


When I lived there, it was the early-mid-1970s. Thirty years later, the cars are the most noticeable changes in the neighborhood.  We drove past my school as well, and then continued up to Broxnville to Jen and Jason’s place.

Zach and Sadie had a blast together, chasing each other around the apartment, laughing and wearing out their parents who merely stood on the sidelines watching.  We all headed out to the Outback Steakhouse for dinner and then came back home and began to wind down.  At first, it seemed that Zach was going to have a quiet, easy night, but that wasn’t to be.  He was uncomfortable, overtired, and itchy and that made for a rough night for him, and Kelly.  And me.  But he finally got to sleep and he’s still asleep this morning as I write this.

I tried getting up this morning to do a little writing, but it wasn’t to be, so it looks like today will be my first missed day since I started on the novel.  That’s okay.  I’ve done a pretty good job so far and I think I’ve earned a day off.

We’re heading into the City a little later this morning.  I have a lunch around noon, a dinner at 5:30, and the big SFWA event at 7.