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Clinging to our Motherland
My LA story, Posts, Soapbox

Clinging to our motherland: US Gov and guns

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks for me.  As many of you know my son is in his senior year at school.  But what does this opening sentence have to do with clinging to our motherland: US Gov and guns?

Back to School Night

Well last week we had “Back to School” night.  It’s where you go to each class the kids have in their schedule and see the teachers and get a breakdown of the class and what they’ll be studying for the year.

Master H is taking AP (Advanced Placement) US Government.  I thought nothing of it until one of the parents asks whether they’ll be discussing other systems of government.  The answer was a categoric no.  Much like the HSC in Australia the APs are taught to a curriculum guideline, the topics of which can be found in a test. That test is taken by everyone in the country taking that subject. And, a quick look at other systems isn’t covered by the syllabus–or on the test.

For those newer readers, we’re at a local private school in LA not an international one. Although, LA being LA, there are a number of expats or people who have moved to the US for one reason or another.

US Gov

I got a bit peeved by the teacher’s response. I mean he chose the subject (there were no other real choices), US Gov is US Gov right?

When I studied Legal Studies at school it was essentially studying the Australian legal system.  We covered other systems in the world but we focussed on ours.  It makes plenty of sense to understand what other countries do in order to better understand ours.

And while the answer was a categoric no she did suggest that they would weave into their discussion other systems because of the expat nature of the group. (The small class had a Canadian family, British/German, Aussies (us) and Italian. So when I eventually calmed down about how she categorically answered the question, it isn’t going to be all bad.

Expat Facebook group

Before I had a chance to calm down I posted a comment on an Expat Facebook group I belong to. I wrote:

“Here’s my gripe: couldn’t she just say there’s no time in the curriculum to discuss the other systems it’s purely a US Govt subject? That would have sufficed.

“And am I wrong to be so sad that my son will know so much more about the US system of Government and the ins and outs of the Electoral College than the Westminster system?”

I was expecting some empathy from the Aussies amongst us and some lamenting from others about the downside of Expat life where the kids often know more about the country in which they live than their homeland–their motherland.

Instead, after the Australians supported me, I was barraged with comments accusing me of trying to change the AP courses and advising me that the AP system is very strict and must be adhered to.  And this:

“With about 200 countries in the world, how could they effectively compare other systems of government while simultaneously going in-depth about the US?”

But I wasn’t asking for that … Just a bit of discussion if it fits, that’s all.  (And remember I didn’t ask the question, one of my American compatriots–in the parental sense–asked).

Potluck night

With all that behind me I went along to the Potluck night we threw for the Senior parents. We were chatting away about stuff as you do.  We were talking about what subjects our kids were doing and one of the dads said, “Are you sad that [he’s] doing US Gov and will know more about our messed up system than not your own?”

Oh my God. Hallelujah.  Thank you. Yes!

Why wasn’t one of my fellow expats able to just say/ask/empathise like this all-American dad formerly of New York and more recently living in LA?

Did someone say guns?

Well one guy did.  Made a huge statement didn’t he? We are literally walking around in disbelief.  Vegas is so close to LA, it’s in our backyard.  There’s someone you know in Vegas every week.  In fact there were people I knew in Vegas at the time and thankfully they were fine and away from the trouble.

But there’s nothing more obvious than an Australian in a gun debate. Especially in America.  I blogged about it early on when I was here for my first mass shooting. (Yep, like it’s an earthquake or hurricane, celebrity divorce or star meltdown)*.

My daughter was talking about it in school the day we woke to the news of the Vegas tragedy. One of her friends said she believed in the right to protect herself (I’m guessing she means her family not actually 15 year-old her). Miss H looked at her startled; it wasn’t something she was expecting to hear in LA amongst her friends.

Miss H said, “If there were proper gun laws then they wouldn’t have a gun in the first place would they?”

I’m happy to say I give my kids an Australian perspective when it really matters.

Australians actually have it all wrong

But actually us Australians have it all wrong.  We do. If there’s one single thing we are polar opposites with America on it’s our attitude to guns.  And never the two shall meet.  Basically, we’re like guns suck, they kill people. And Americans (not all thank-you but the ones giving you a bad rap) are like guns are so good, I get to protect myself and it’s my right to have one. So there.

Every time there’s a mass shooting in America us Australians come out like Eddie Murphy in his classic standup routine “I got an ice-cream“.

Yeah, we go

“We don’t have guns,

“You got a problem,

“We can’t afford them,

“Cause they can’t sell them,

“You have to have a licence

“And it’s really hard.”

And Americans  go, “Oh My God I’m so sorry, how do you cope?”

Then we pull out the Port Arthur story and go, “Take that!”

Then the conversation goes one of two ways.

  1. Well it’s our right to bear arms it’s in the second amendment so there. OR
  2. You know you’ve had other mass shootings don’t you? Yeah, but you never talk about them do you?

Then we get all funny (because we like to win too). We have to concede defeat. One or two situations have tragically happened (the Lindt Cafe hostage situation freaked me out).

(BTW there were three deaths including the hostage taker and 18 injured).

Yeah, all of a sudden because we let a couple of incidents slip through to the keeper in the last 21 years, that means our rules suck.  So basically it didn’t work.

“Take that Australia. We win.”

Yep. Let’s face it, when it comes to the number of psychotic mass shootings in the last (let’s just call it 10 years) you win America.

So Australia got it wrong after all.

 

Nightly Talk Shows

But not all Americans believe semi-automatic and automatic guns should be out there for anyone to buy. And use. And kill people.

I recorded every late night show to see how the comedians handled the latest tragedy. I follow them all on Twitter and I’ve tweeted and retweeted anything vaguely intelligent on the subject.

But, the problem with the way the situation here is that these guys are preaching to the converted. We share their posts on Facebook, we tweet them and post photos on our Instagram like the Pray Policy Change for America. They unite with the Australians, we look at each other and go “yeah, exactly”, we puff our chests out and wear a grin from ear to ear.

The same thing happened before Trump got elected. They think common sense should prevail.

But change won’t happen unless we stop preaching to the converted.  And not by preaching to the non-converts either. I don’t know how to talk to these people but somehow there’s a way. And once we work out that way, then we’ll start to see a difference.

But to start there are two ways. First is through education: get into the classrooms. It’s going to be a generational change that’s needed because it will never be a mindset change. Second, stop the bloody NRA from being allowed to donate money to bribe the politicians. Actually, just disband them. If politicians aren’t being paid to keep guns legal I will guarantee you their perspective will change.  And if it doesn’t, see step one.

And, because I’m one of those “converteds” here is a story including a video with some powerful statements from said Late Night hosts. Powerful statements that will fall on deaf ears yet again.

 

Immigrants

Curve ball … empathy. As I was writing the first part of this post I started thinking.

Immigration is such a huge topic and it’s so deeply dividing (what topic isn’t these days?) An expat is just a temporary immigrant really.

When you leave your family and friends behind, move to a new country to start a “better life” (for whatever reason) it’s pretty bloody hard to start afresh. You have to make new friends, experience different ways of doing things and assimilate into your new world.  Take a US Gov class instead of Australian Legal Studies.

Many people say America and Australia aren’t that different–they’re essentially the same right? (Well, my series on the differences between Americans and Australians show just how different they can be lots of times).

So what if you move to a country that’s nothing like your motherland? How much harder must it be then? We experienced it in China as expats but not as immigrants.

Just a thought if you’re down on people for clinging to their motherland.  Cut them some slack. They want to be in your country (OK, most of them–don’t get nitpicky on me) and they want to assimilate.  But sometimes, when you move away, the bond is stronger and the memories grow fonder and fonder.

Chin up!

xx It Started in LA xx

* Don’t forget to #prayforTori

Differences between America & Australia, Posts

Corner stores or no corner stores?

The difference between my life in Beverly Hills America & inner City Sydney Australia

The second instalment in my series in the differences between America & Australia (Americans & Australians) was spurred on by a recent end-of-year sleepover. With five teenage boys in the house the breakfast request was for pancakes.

“Damn, I don’t have eggs,” I said.

In Australia …

I would have sent the boys on their bikes or skateboards down the local corner shop to get said eggs. The boys would have got dressed and practically run out the door.

“Don’t forget to take the dog,” I’d yell at them, at which they’d promptly run back, grab the dog and the lead and continue racing out the door.

Some later they’d come home with eggs (and anything else I’d requested) and a treat for themselves. As payment. Works for them, works for me.

In America …

We live in the hills of Beverly Hills—down one hill is Beverly Hills “flats” (think the mansions and palm trees) and down the other hills is the “posh” part of the Valley, Sherman Oaks.

To “rush out” just to get eggs I need to hop in the car. (Yes it’s LA, everyone drives everywhere.) There’s no corner store to walk to. I have to go down one of my two hills to the closest “market” (which makes it sound really glamorous but it’s really just American for supermarket).

It’s not too bad, a drive down the hill to Sherman Oaks is around 10 minutes (out of traffic). Except couple that with the fact that you have to park, go in, get the eggs (it’s a big supermarket and the eggs are in the far back corner—good to know if you’re in Ralph’s Sherman Oaks and all you need is eggs), get back in the car and head back up the hill. That’s 30 minutes of my life I can’t get back all because I don’t have enough eggs. Yes, yes, I know I could have given them something else but it’s the holidays and they worked really hard to stay up all night what’s a sleepover without pancakes for breakfast???

I hate the fact that there is no corner store or local “market”. We had one at our local shopping centre it closed down now long after we got here. And even then I can’t send the kids there to go on their bikes, I still have to drive.

Flashback to Shanghai

In Shanghai our apartment was across the road from the international supermarket, CitiShop. The kids were a little too young to send over at the start but towards the end they could go themselves. Plus I didn’t have to get in my car and they had all the treats (like Tim Tams) I needed if I was feeling homesick. I just couldn’t look at the price.

I may be greeted with a smile and helpful “checkout chicks” here in the US but the kids going to the corner shop for me. Priceless.

xx It Started in LA xx

 

PS: It wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t fess up to the fact that our corner store shut down shop since we left home.  BUT there is another shop a little further down the road I can still send the kids to AND there’s a new mini Grocer (IGA) that’s opened close by that I can also send the kids to. Do yourselves a favour and support the local corner store, before you need to hop in the car to get bread and milk.  Or eggs, don’t forget the eggs.

Vibiana
Posts

School Charity events 90210 style

There are two trends starting to emerge in the titles of my posts: “90210 style” and “Hollywood”.  This one is definitely 90210 style.

I have to fess up. It’s Spring break & the kids and I are away for a week. So I thought I’d pull up an old story idea from our school’s Gala Event last month.

I posted a few pics on Instagram and references to the evening if you were following along at home.

The venue was stunning…Vibiana in Downtown LA.  A former catholic church the designers had captured its essence and re-purposed it without fail. While the venue was stunning not many people venture downtown and I see why; it was a bit of a trek.pp

It was a fun night though, always interested in meeting the families from school–especially when you hit a jackpot and meet someone you’ve heard a bit (ok a lot) about.

One of the highlights of my night was seeing–and being at the same event as a mega-star A-lister & her spunky hubby.  She looked truly stunning and was just “one of us”.  I was a little disappointed Our English rocker wasn’t there but at the same time I wasn’t really expecting to see him.  Of course part of the fun of the night for me was looking around the room to see who else you could spot that you didn’t already know were parents at the school (there were quite a few).

Apart from some of the jewels hanging off some of the very elegant women (yes I did look around for their bodyguards) the obvious thing to talk about was the amount of money raised.

As usual at many of these events when you’re trying to catch up with people it’s hard to hear what’s going on.  They didn’t give us long to chat before the proceedings were underway.  I don’t know how much the American Idol final tickets went for nor the Vegas package featuring tickets to Rod Stewart and Brittany Spears or the five-night New York “experience” featuring first-class accommodation donated by one of the families plus tickets to Dr Oz and Saturday Night Live and; The Late Show tickets.

They finally got my attention when a Golden Retriever puppy came out.  I have to say I was a little shocked that a puppy gets auctioned off.  Too often dogs are purchased by families giving no thought to the concept that a dog is for life.  It’s a pretty big gamble that a family is going to want a dog let alone pay big bucks for it.  But, it’s something they do every event so I guess the word spreads (but you still have to hope someone in the community is in the market for a dog). As it was there were rumours the highest bidders changed their mind and donated the money and the runners-up got the dog.

Anyway, the reason I bring up the auction is not really all about questioning the dog but to mention the biggest money spinner of them all: a private dinner with the headmaster.  That’s right (??!) One dinner was available catered by the owners behind the fabulous “Lemonade” but three were sold for the grand total of … (are you ready?)

$13,200 each.

They made $39,600 from auctioning dinner with the headmaster.  People were buzzing the week later with news of the money raised; people were questioning why on earth they’d need a private dinner with the headmaster or what they had to get off their chests to warrant the need to secure the winning bid.

Personally I think it was a donation–albeit a very large one.  Two of the three families are Hollywood celebrities and I can’t imagine them needing to get too much off their chest.  I think it was meant to be a nice gesture to make the headmaster feel popular and wanted.  Might I add he is an extremely charismatic guy so I’m sure the dinner wouldn’t be boring.

It’s funny how all the amazing prizes and opportunities are put before us but the biggest winner is the simplest prize of all.  A bit like life really; despite living among the rich and famous it’s the simple things that are still the best.

Apart from setting eyes on the big A-lister two surreal things happened to me that night that to make the night worthwhile. One was when a former Felicity co-star & I were waiting outside for our respective Ubers. I don’t know how the conversation started but it ended with me trying to get him to pronounce our surname with gusto in an Australian accent. It took at least 20 goes & we were cracking each other up (perhaps you had to be there).

The next was ending up at some actor’s house (I didn’t recognise him but I did get the ok to post a selfie & a pic of his view on Instagram) when we met up with Mr H’s workmates at an awards night after-party. Despite having no idea who he was like I said to him, who cares? he must’ve been doing all right thanks very much because his Hollywood Hills pad with views over Hollywood was pretty amazing. How do I land me that gig? I tried to see if he knew anyone who might sign up my Blog for a sitcom but I can’t remember what he said. (Besides I’m waiting for Chuck Lorre &/or some parents at school that are the creators of a mega-successful sitcom).

Yes I was smashed, yes we’d landed in Hollywood & yes we’d only just been to the Golden Globes after party but I never expected my simple normal life to have a chapter like this in it. So forgive me if I frequently have to re tell the story to make it seem real then pinch myself to make sure it isn’t a dream after all. I joked about stuff like that happening when we moved. It we never, ever expected half of those things to come true. Yet here we are.

I heart LA.

xx It Started In LA xx

PS: A little “where are they now?” Felicity trivia for you:
http://earlynerdspecial.wordpress.com/2011/05/04/where-are-they-now-felicity-edition/

RW
Celebrity, Fact or Fiction, Posts

Fact or Fiction: I met Robbie Williams at our local Starbucks

Robbie Williams

I’m very excited about this week’s Fact or Fiction :

I met Robbie Williams at our local Starbucks.

There’s a story to be told but you’ll have to wait until next week.  So get voting!

 

Meanwhile, the answer to last week’s:

Slash came to the kids’ school

is FACT! Slash did in fact come on a tour to our school.  In fact one of my friends took him on the tour.  I know lots of my friends back home who’d be jelly jelly (a bit like I was).  Actually, she then went on to not only see him in concert but see him backstage (and he of course recognised her!) but she managed to do a deal with him to hand over his jacket.  I know!  Only in LA can one of your friends have a much-treasured jacket of Slash’s!

Anyway, eighty per cent of you were on the money so well done.

Happy weekend & happy voting!

xx It Started In LA xx

Image taken from wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slash_(musician)

NP Elle Beauty
Posts

Top four make-up trends for Spring 2014

Put your best face forward

Those of you that know me well might be thinking, “What does Gwen know about Spring 2014 Make-up trends?”  Well you’re right, except that if you follow me on Facebook &/or Instagram you might have seen my pics at the recent Napoleon Perdis / Elle Beauty Trends event as a VIP guest (shameless event-drop!) here in Hollywood.

It’s true I never really did the whole make-up thing.  I subscribed to the “natural look” long before it was invented.  And mine was more the vintage natural look rather than today’s drop-dead gorgeous natural look.

Frankly I’m not sure why I never really got into make-up.  I would sit for hours watching mum put her make -up on as I was growing up starting from when I was really young.  I remember her favourite shade vividly when I was little was green.  Very Charlie’s Angels.

My mum sent me on a deportment course where we were taught how to apply make-up (and yes walk and pluck eyebrows).  This was a big call because we were living in FNQ at the time  (Far North Queensland for you readers outside Australia and land of the thongs–ahem, flip flops).  When we returned to Melbourne from FNQ she took me on the obligatory trip to the Clinique counter at Myer to once again learn how to apply make-up, stock up and look my best.

Yet it didn’t stick.  Until now.

I was treated to a make-over session by Napoleon Perdis just before Christmas last year and I marvelled at how little make-up was used to make me look (& feel) a million dollars.  Yes, I asked for the natural look (to continue my perpetual fear of all things make-up).  Baby steps peoples, baby steps.

I was also surprised as to how much prep work went into creating my look and provide tone and creates angles on your face which were invisible to those looking but made all the difference in the world.  They’re so bloody clever!  So I became hooked, and slowly I started (and am continuing) to get more adventurous with the hues and colours and every excuse to get to Napoleon Perdis’s flagship Hollywood store I don’t hesitate!  But enough about me …

Top four trends

I believe Napoleon has just been over in Australia running a couple of sessions so you have been lucky enough to attend.  If not you’ll have to rely on me.  No drumroll, here are Napoleon Perdis’s top four make-up trends for (our-LA-our) Spring 2014.

  1. Art Pop–a pop of very dramatic colour usually around the eyes (blue, green & purple are your friends not your enemies)
  2. Natural–as the name suggests
  3. White Lines–fabulous look creating white lines around the eyes
  4. Flaming Lips–embracing bold, flaming lips.

My favourite is Natural with a touch of White Lines (I’m going back to see if it will work on me), a pop of colour and finished with Flaming Lips.  Well there’s no rule about not being able to dabble in each and every one!

This post wasn’t meant to be confessions of a make-up shy Princess but I rarely wore lipstick (I thought it made my lips dry) let alone wear anything bright.  I was given “Hara” (a flaming orange that’s to die for) to try and it’s my new go-to colour.  Not bad for someone who rarely wore lipstick or wore it as brown or nude could be.

If you’re in doubt over whether this translates in “real life” take a closer look at the make-up at the Oscars, in fact here’s a run-down of some of the best looks again at NP’s blog.  (I couldn’t agree more with the best look of the night who I gave an honourable mention to for her whole “package” in my own blog).

http://blog.napoleonperdis.com/2014-oscars-top-5-beauty-looks/

http://itstartedinla.com/the-two-things-we-talked-about-in-la-last-week-rain-the-oscars/

It’s always so much better to see what you read in Blogs and in mags translate into the real world and I think that’s what Napoleon Perdis does so well.

Anyway, I’m no Beauty Editor so if you want to see more and learn more about the night check out NP’s very own blog at:

http://blog.napoleonperdis.com/elle-magazine-masterclass/

If you click on the video you’ll be able to see me in the front row (hint: it’s at exactly the 0.27s mark)!  The blog shows examples of each of the looks.

Let me share three things with you I learnt from the night.

  1. Start with mascara.  And add a coat of mascara last.
  2. Apply lipstick from the outside coming in–and don’t forget to go all the way into the “join” of the lips
  3. Add lipliner after the lipstick.

It was such a treat to see Napoleon at work (probably even more so for me because I’ve never appreciated the art of make-up).

A flick of the brush here, a bit of concealer there, contour there, colour here … and voila! you’re transformed into a beauty.  No exaggeration, they make it look so simple.

In fact since I’ve been putting more effort into my make-up my friends have been saying I’m looking good often saying that LA suits me.  Well I’m pretty sure it has nothing to do with the fun I’m having here and everything to do with the special things I’m doing to my face.  So thank you Napoleon Perdis!

BTW here is a link to the official pics on the night:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152299782426654.1073741846.22076326653&type=1

These pics are waaay better than the ones I took.

Why not treat yourself?  Even if you’re “good” with make-up there are always trade secrets the Napoleon Perdis team is happy to share.  As Napoleon says, even if you only walk away with one thing it’ll be worth it.  Couldn’t agree more!

Have a good weekend everyone!

xx It Started in LA xx

Psst … the irony is not at all lost on me that I’ve come all the way to Hollywood to be introduced with one of Australia’s best loved brands.  Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!

Beauty editor tip: if your lips are dry from lipstick use a lip scrub (there are how-to recipes on You Tube & Lush does a good one) and get some Lip Service from Napoleon Service, it soothes and moisturises your lips.  Oh, also pop it on before your lipstick.

Furla handbags
Posts, Soapbox

Six months in: the darker side

I posted on my personal Facebook page last night that I’m feeling quite homesick.  No one could more shocked about this news than me.  It was here on this very blog that I shared my delight at reaching the six-month mark in LA with friends, fun and great experiences under our belts.  We were–are–living in the surreal world that is Beverly Hills/Hollywood and we live to tell the tale.

Only earlier that day we were having lunch at my favourite Cabana Cafe in the Beverly Hills Hotel where I missed seeing Harry Styles by a matter of minutes.  (We were already seated waiting for our friend who saw him leaving as he was coming in.  He even snapped a pic for his 11-year-old daughter.)

So why so glum?  I’m not really sure.  I miss my friends mainly.  It’s great to make new friends but it’s the good friends you leave behind that you are sad about–especially when they’re not here to share “the dream” with you.

Truth be told I think the whole “money” thing is wearing thin too.  Don’t get me wrong, we’re very comfortable and we’ve done well, we have a great little life in our corner of the world, we always try to make the most of every situation we’re put in and I don’t like to whinge about first-world (especially BH) problems.

So why’s the money thing getting me down? I think it’s because it’s hard to fight.  Just because our family doesn’t believe in designer handbags until our kids are at least 18 doesn’t mean everyone else shares our philosophy.  And not to say everyone needs to share our philosophy.  I value very much the concept that everyone is different because it makes the world go around and makes for a much more interesting place to be.  But seriously why do kids under 18 (or even 25 for that matter) have to have designer hand bags?  Will it make the world a better place and more importantly will it make the kids better people?

I say this also because my daughter and I were out shopping last weekend for a new dress for her to wear to a birthday party and to dinner when we go to Vegas next week.  She desperately needed some shoes and I said if we find a cute bag for a reasonable price I’d buy her one.  We got some cute shoes but no go on the bag.  It wasn’t a biggie because she’s only into bags sometimes and she knew she’d had enough bought for her that day and (for once!) was satisfied with her purchases.

So why am I going on about handbags?  Well because as we walked through the designer handbag section on our way to shoes at Bloomingdale’s we were looking at the new Furla handbags.  They were so cute and, with 30% off, this sweet little blue bag had Miss 11’s name on it.  We both looked at it longingly.  She wanted it.  I wanted her to have it.  But it was not going to happen and we both knew it.  I was cross with myself for considering its purchase and pleased with her at the same time for knowing she couldn’t even ask for it.  We mourned the bag’s departure never to come home with us.  We were doing what mothers and daughters should do: bond over a designer handbag.

But that’s where it ended.  Not in Beverly Hills it seems where my daughter can count on more than one hand girls she knows with designer hand bags.  Some her age, others older but none of them are over 18, or over 25.  I’m not here to judge.  Nor do I have a right to judge.  I suppose when you grow up with it you think nothing of it.

But as a family still “fresh off the boat” from Australia who comes from a(nother) corner of the world where girls don’t have designer handbags I feel sad.  I feel sad that I think my Miss 11 should wait until she has a designer handbag.  I feel sad that girls around her don’t have to wait.  And I feel sad for the girls around her because I wonder what they are going to want for their 18th birthday or 21st birthday (remembering they’ll most likely get cars for their 16th birthday).  And I feel sad because I actually contemplated buying her the handbag.  That’s not us; that’s not what we do.

They say you are influenced by nature AND nurture and there is no conclusive evidence that one outweighs the other.  One of our mottos before we came over was not to change and not to take life too seriously when we got here; to stay true to ourselves.  Easier said than done.  But we must stay true to ourselves because people will like us for who we are not what we have.  We have a lot to offer and I hope that’s what people are seeing and not the absence of a designer handbag, shoes or clothes.

Only in LA.  Watch this space …

xx It Started In LA xx

Style notes: If you’re not like me and wish to buy your Miss 11 a Furla handbag here’s the link (or of course you might like one for yourself):  Furla Candy Bag.

I’m pretty sure Bloomingdale’s ships worldwide.

Paps
Celebrity, Posts

Which one’s Craig?

We’ve got a few more friends coming in to town so I called one of my favourite restaurants–our go-to when we have friends come to LA–to secure a couple of reservations.

The guy on the phone took my details, you know? When, what time etc.  Then he said, “Name?”

“Gwen,” I replied.

“Oh Gwen, how are you sweetheart?” I knew immediately who it was on the other end of the phone.  One of my first LA girlfriends had recommended I go to this popular restaurant and was instrumental in getting my 9:30 booking changed to the more civilised time of 8:00.  She’s a regular and knows Craig well.

From that time the Matre D’ acknowledged me telling everyone I was Renee’s friend.  Then I had moved on from being Renee’s friend to being “Gwen”. I was in.

So, you can imagine how chuffed I was that even on the phone I was recognised.  I’ve made it and to no less than one of the restaurants to be seen at in LA.  I posted it straight to Facebook and was happy our transition to LA was looking very good.  I’m doing my job well: give yourself a pat on the back Gwen.

Fast forward one week to yesterday.  I looked up the website to call to see if I could get a last-minute dinner booking for my hot date with my son.  I knew it was a long shot but it was worth the try.  I clicked through to an article in the New York Times on the birth of the restaurant and how Craig had gone from being Matre D’ at one of LA’s finest to running his own restaurant.

I knew that so of course I assumed the Matre D’ was “Craig”.  That’s a pretty fair assumption, right?  Exactly what I thought.

Well that’s not what the pic on said article showed.  No, it’s the guy who schmoozes around half working, half chatting up the guests.  Well it makes sense now I say it that way–and I know who the real Craig is doesn’t it?  Duh!  Really, how could I have been so amateur?!

One of my friends I’ve taken there recently described him as the classiest pimp in town–sitting at the booths with the gorgeous chicks and hot celebs, being one of the guests.  I suppose he has one of the best jobs in the world.  He lets his (very professional and gorgeous) Matre D’ do all the hard work while he does what he does best–keep the celebs (and me) happy!

Looking forward to dinner there tomorrow night.  I’ll be careful who I call Craig.

Only in LA.

xx It Started in LA xx

West Gate, Bel Air
Celebrity, Fact or Fiction

Fact or Fiction: Bel Air

Fact or Fiction?????

Welcome back to this week’s Fact or Fiction.  It’s good to see voting increased by more than 15% this week.  Get on board, it’s a bit of fun.

This week’s item drifts away from me being centre stage to an LA Trivia question.  And the statement is …

Bel Air is a suburb of LA with its own postcode.

 

Thanks to the people who responded to last week’s Fact or Fiction.  The answer to:

Rod Stewart’s son is in my kids’ swim team.

was: Fact.

66.67% thought it was Fiction
33.33% thought it was Fact.

I am unashamedly a Rod Stewart fan.  I remember when I was younger we were on holidays staying at my uncle’s house in Wales.  He used to get The Sun daily and one week it had a Rod Stewart spotlight–a series about him, his life, his loves, his career etc.  Well I was hooked from that minute on.

So, when we turned up at the end of last year to one of the kids’ swimming finals and I glance up at the bleachers and see Rod Stewart–complete with hair and pastels–I did little to stay cool.  I couldn’t take a photo, I wouldn’t go talk to him and I was a mess.  (So much for the motto of staying cool).  I couldn’t get my words out–I was standing a few metres away from the one and only Rod Stewart. Ahhhhhhhhh indeed!

His wife, BTW, is gorgeous.  We did talk to her.  That was surreal in its own way because (apart from being a former famous model herself) she was talking about the upcoming holidays and their plans like they were normal people.  Of course they were–are–but it was totally surreal.

I heart LA.  And that’s how this blog started with simple everyday, surreal stories like that.  I can’t wait for the swimming season to start.  I just hope he’s not in Vegas for most of it!

Answer to this week’s post will come next week as usual.  Happy Friday Australia (and Asia).  UK and Europe you’re somewhere in between so happy weekend eve!

I’ll keep the link up to his Vegas concerts (and others for that matter) in case you want to fly over and see Rod Stewart live in Vegas.  I’m certainly going to try to get there.

http://www.rodstewart.com/events/

xx It Started in LA xx

 

Beverly Hills
Posts

A retrospective: six months in LA

Well I’ve made it.  We’ve made it.  I’ve been in LA six months and live to tell the tale.  Time has flown by (although not the first six weeks).  Sometimes I feel like we’ve been here forever and others I still feel like I’m finding my way around (not just geographically but socially).

I gave us 12 months to settle in given it’s not an Expat assignment and the kids are older so the school networks wouldn’t work the same.  Turns out I was wrong.

The school community especially have welcomed us with open arms.

Settling in can still be a roller coaster but when I consider all the things we’ve done in the last six months, it’s incredible.

So far we’ve:

  • Had seven lots of friends visit: either on-site at BH HQ or in LA
  • Met dozens of new friends
  • Been on the set of hit show, “Scandal”
  • Lent our foley talent to the show “Revenge”
  • Been to the Warner Bros/InStyle mag after-party of the Golden Globes
  • Spent an amazing 24 hours in Palm Springs
  • Been in the middle of several pap scenes at our favourite restaurants
  • Seen Josh Jackson & Diane Kruger escape through the kitchen of same favourite West Hollywood restaurant to avoid the paps
  • (I’ve) seen Joan Collins, Bette Middler, Gene Simmons, Jermaine Jackson Rod Stewart & too many to mention at the Golden Globes
  • Been to our first Lakers’ game at the Staples Centre
  • Been to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
  • Cruised up the Californian Coast from LA to San Francisco crossing off a major bucket-list item
  • Been thrust into the heart of Hollywood and Beverly Hills (and live to tell the tale)
  • (Nathan’s) been to his first Oscars event at the Beverly Hills Hotel
  • Grown amazingly from the experience.

Oh, and I forgot the big one: started a Blog.  Sounds surreal doesn’t it?  I heart LA.

Have a great week.

xx It All Started in LA xx

RKOBH
Posts, Soapbox

Parties 90210 style

I started watching “Rich Kids of Beverly Hills” the other day.  Seriously?  I don’t know what to think.  Apart from being hooked I don’t why on earth these kids would subject themselves to “starring” in this show.  I’m sure they think they’re so much better than everyone else and that people want to be them.  (No one is denying they’d like just a little bit of their money).  It’s really sad.  For me it always comes back to, “what do their parents think?”  Are they so far removed from the real world that they think the same way (after all the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree?).

So it got me thinking about my kids growing up in Beverly Hills. Thankfully, we’re not in the flats so our worlds are vastly different and (it feels like) the only real thing we share is a postcode.  Having said that the kids have friends that live there and they seem normal too.

I’ve mentioned that my kids go to an exclusive private school and there are a large number of uber wealthy families there.  The school is a lovely nurturing community that has welcomed us with open arms, both as a family and for the kids.  Not for one minute does this warm welcome feel put on in any way either.  So, to me my reality doesn’t fit with the premise of the Show.

In the episode I watched they were planning a party (one that hardly anyone attended I might add!).  When planning their list they named people from outside their clique “groupers” (pronounced by them groopers–as in “groupies”) yet they were planning to invite them.  I guess they need the groupers as much as the groupers need them? (Groupers are bottom feeders in fish terms lowest on the list, when translated to #RKOBH speak means those who want to get invited to the “cool” parties .  I thought things like that finished in high school, no wonder these girls don’t have jobs.

Recently my son went to a birthday party at the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel.  It was on Saturday night and the hosts had cordoned off an area for the party guests.

It was a pretty swank affair for Year 8 kids (same in Australia; Yr 9 in UK)–actually it’d be a pretty swank affair for me I have to say.

The party gave everyone lots to talk about and the girls had to decide what to wear: to get really dressed up or play it down a little and just look “nice”.  The party girl wore a designer frock and from all accounts the girls went all out to look glam.  I would’ve loved to have hosted that Red Carpet event for this blog now I think of it.

Luckily for my son “what to wear” wasn’t a big deal for him.  The big deal for us what what on earth do you buy a girl who has everything?  We decided on Pink (by Victoria’s Secret) Body lotion & matching scent plus threw in a packet of Tim Tams with instructions on how to eat them.

Maybe they’re a bit young but I’m sure none of the people at that party were thinking of whether they were an “it” crowd or “groupers” or whether their friends are uber wealthy, slightly wealthy or just rich (or heaven forbid normal!).  Sure, there’s some jockeying of positions and the size of people’s houses get talked about and where they holiday in the summer but I hope these kids don’t make it to future series of “Rich Kids of Beverly Hills”.

Maybe I’m already localised but I’m hoping these kids ham it up for the cameras.  I’m sure they do.  It’s just like none of my friends are anything like the “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”.  I think they’re more like Brandon & Brenda, Dylan, Kelly, Donna & Steve.

xx It Started in LA xx

Postscript: I saved this article to draft and went to lunch at my favourite Cabana Cafe at the Beverly Hills Hotel.  Who should walk in but the two “stars” Morgan & Dorothy.  Get out of town.  Too funny.  Only in LA!

Posts

Two degrees of separation to Hollywood

Last week my son had some mates over to celebrate Australia Day so I invited their families to join us.  It was a great day; I made meat pies, sausage rolls and pavlova and we broke out our stash of Tim Tams to share.  A fun time was had by all.

I always like meeting new people and I particularly like meeting the parents and families of my kids’ friends.  To me, a family says a lot about the kids and we like socialising as a family unit: it keeps us together and connected.

What made this BBQ different was the talk.  Being the hostess with the mostest (self-proclaimed!) I was fluttering in and out of various conversations, which sound a little like this:

“Leonardo DiCaprio really is a genuinely good guy… I worked with him on …”

“…Despite what people say about him Tom Cruise is an absolute professional and he knows what he’s doing … when I worked with him on …”

“… those hookers can tell some stories … seriously doing it in the bathroom at his own party!”

“When she quit Scientology the fallout and threats were shocking.” “She was brave to do it.  Good for her …”

“She always wanted to be an actress so it’s the next best thing…”

None of this was name-dropping or ill-timed, gossiping or even one-upping each other.  It was just BBQ talk with people “talking work” or at least talking about what and who you know.  Mr Hollywood and I could even weigh into the conversation–go figure!  There wasn’t one person that couldn’t.

Fresh “off the boat” I still find this bizarre.  I actually stepped out while I got the meat pies out of the oven and just listened, taking it all in.  When we were about to move to LA I joked we’d be exposed to all of this.  It was supposed to be a joke.  We just couldn’t imagine that would be us; it couldn’t possibly be; how could it be?  Not us, where we’d come from or who we are and all of a sudden–five seconds later–here we are.

What made it the same as anywhere in the world though was the fact that they were all normal, real-life people.

The other interesting thing is the concept that the world really is a small place.  Out of the five families here, three people went to the same boarding school.  In England.  All three people went to the boarding school from different parts of the globe (ie not all from here).  Get out of town!  Seriously?

As a wise friend said to me when we moved to Shanghai.  Never talk about anyone here.  It is a small world and no matter how hard you think you can’t be connected back to them you will be.  It’s good advice anyway don’t you think?  If you can’t say anything nice don’t say it at all.

Another friend’s husband used to cut us off if he thought we were “talking about someone”, even if we did our best to spin it that we were merely recounting a factual story.  He would just gently say, “uh …” and put his pointing figure up to his mouth to signal “shhh”.  We’d get really annoyed and try to finish the conversation before we were shh’d again (and it wasn’t a condescending shh by the way, just well-intended).  It worked, we stopped and moved on (most of the time!).

Over the years though it’s caught on so now I try to live by that motto.  Life’s too short to get bogged down by negativity anyway.

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