Distractions Soothe the Doom: A 2021 Summer Story

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My summer of escapism is just what the hippy dippy doctor, who resides in my cluttered mind, demanded I take. What wonders New York City, Los Angeles, and constant talking can do for one’s weary soul. Why think about the deep stuff when you’ve got pretty dresses to wear and fruity drinks to gulp. Why ponder when you can wander through the muck?

All zombie apocalypse, I dreamed of NYC and now NYC will forever be remembered as the place my daughter Arabella and I met Lorde. Lorde, my actual savior now that I’ve ditched Catholicism like my mind ditches reality.

Traipsing through SOHO on our annual NYC trip, I sniffed Lorde out on day one. Her cheekbones gave her away immediately; they gleamed with sharper edges than the skyscrapers. She was briskly sauntering in the opposite direction and it took one second for me to recognize her, grab my daughter — a true Lorde devotee, and say, “THAT’S EFFING LORDE AND I’M NOT KIDDING,” in the sternest voice I’ve ever used.

God praise Lorde. Lorde and Arabella

Arabella turned quicker than the world on Meghan Markle, and ran after Lorde softly saying, “Ella, Ella.” Only a true fan would know to use her real name and Lorde turned and had a small conversation with Arabella, then me. We stammered our shared adoration, how many times we’ve seen her play live (two together, four for Arabella). I complimented her on her sublime Colbert performance and it was off with a picture!

Lorde could not have been more gracious. I like to think of her as the Fiona Apple of this generation and meeting her only cemented her place as the coolest pop star right now. The rest of our trip to New York City was magical but nothing can top meeting Lorde.

Trigger warning: Demi Levato’s a phony.

Los Angeles and a Plane Trip from Heaven

Before the plane took off, I met someone I will never forget. My seatmate was a seasoned 30-year old L.A. woman who’d been in the family biz for years, with roles on Silicon Valley’s “Bear is sticky with honey” episode, Chicago Fire, and a slew of commercials and theater. Lucky for me, her handsome boyfriend — a fellow actor with a robust resume — was across the aisle. His distance left his lovely lady all to me and she regaled me with Hollywood stories for five hours.

She was mesmerizing, enchanting, beautiful and yes, I am obsessed with her. The object of my fascination shall remain nameless but will forever be cemented in my mind. She looked at my L.A. itinerary and finessed it into a tour de force of coolness. Thank you, fine friend and let me know when you issue that restraining order.

Where was Harry Styles? Laurel Canyon Country Store

Triggering Demi Levato

Within one hour of landing, my husband and I arrived at the scene of Demi Levato’s crime against low-fat humanity: The Bigg Chill. I boldly entered this famed L.A. ice cream shop and ordered a low fat concoction that would drive poor Demi into the eight nervous breakdown. The ice cream was fine but the cackling laughter erupting from my mouth was much more divine.

Feeling Lana Del Rey’s hypnotic pull, Laurel Canyon was next on my itinerary. A playground for rock stars, actors and eccentrics since the 40s, Laurel Canyon was staggeringly lovely. We stumbled upon the Laurel Canyon Country Store, fictionalized in The Door’s song “Love Street” as a place “where the creatures meet” and I had the best lavender latte I’ve ever tasted. I gazed at the beautiful people noshing on deli sandwiches surrounded by a desert cornucopia of understated coolness.

If Anything Happens to Me, Call Tom Cruise

What’s weirder: Catholicism or Scientology

Then it was off to the Church of Scientology to investigate the creepiest religion since, well, my 45 years of Catholicism.

We pounced on the large campus, miming for the many cameras everywhere. While filming, a fit and uniformed man biked over and politely asked how we were and what we were doing. I shared that we were interested in Scientology and he directed us to the entrance for a …TOUR!

At the entrance we were greeted by two pretty women and a uniformed man, given gloves and signed over our life to aliens for admission. The paperwork requested personal information and what we were looking for in regards to our visit. It was multiple choice and I answered “help with stress.”

Our tour guide was a beautiful, tall, blond woman named Krista. She was knowledgeable and intelligent – and a little robotic. She never stopped smiling but her eyes reflected a twinkle of regret. I never lied to Krista and was genuinely interested in her stories. I shared that we had recently left Catholicism, that I’m interested in Scientology, and that I knew a lot about the religion from the news and pop culture. She directed us to interactive screens where we watched dated videos about Ron Hubbard.

Covert photo opportunity. I did it all for Beck.

Then we walked by an E-Meter, a “religious artifact that helps the auditor and preclear locate areas of spiritual distress or travail.” Yup, that’s the Scientology explanation and it’s bat shite crazy.

Krista offered us a turn on the ol’ E-Meter and of course I obliged. I took off my rings and plastic gloves, and grasped the metal for it to do its voodoo magic. That E-Meter went higher than my blood pressure every time my doctor tells me the signs of a stroke. I have no idea what was happening but do know that E-Meters are a part of auditing and ultimately the information gleamed is used as collateral against “suppressors.” Krista asked about my obvious anxiety and after telling her that I take anti-anxiety meds, Krista’s calm façade showed twitches. As Brooke Shields knows, Scientology’s biggest enemy is psychiatry!

We left shortly after. As we walked back to our car, the Church of Scientology’s foundation seemed shakier. An old man using a walker looked confused and a middle aged woman waved excitedly to us as we passed by. Both looked lonely.

New York City and Los Angeles were so much fun, we saw friends who we haven’t seen in 20 years and the vacations reminded me how vital human connections are. I hiked to Griffith Observatory, went to Bravo’s TomTom Club and went on a booze cruise in NYC, but don’t you know it’s the people I met that I remember the most. For such a curmudgeon , perhaps I am really a people person.

Places I loved

I hope this isn’t too travel bloggy but here’s a list of hot spots I visited and dug.

Laurel Canyon Country Store– 2108 Laurel Canyon Blvd., L.A. The ghost of beautiful people are in the lavender.

El Candor, 3701 Sunset Blvd. L.A. Fine drinks and Mexican fare.

House of Galbi, 15927 Ventura Blvd. Encino. So. Much. Deliciousness

The Comedy Store, Hollywood. You can feel the history.

Trove, 2008 Westwood Boulevard. A vintage clothing store with authentic vintage!

Citi Bike NYC. I’ve never felt better than riding a bike through NYC.

Eszett. 3510 West Sunset Blvd. L.A. Mouth wateringly delicious food.

Boy Scout Trail to Griffith Observatory. The Boy Scouts nailed this beautiful hike.

My splurge (vintage hat). Purchased at Trove.

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