Restoring Order

Sometimes life sends you down to the crossroads. Twenty years ago this month, I steered a white Pontiac into the intersection of Florence and...

Land’s End: The Lost Tribe

In the 1970s, I had a boyfriend who went to UC Irvine. He was a thoughtful and unconventional guy, and I’d never met anyone with such wide-ranging interests—organic chemistry, Frank Frazetta, the rock group Genesis, the Bible. When I visited him once, on his then-new campus, he took me to what I remember as one of the world’s great biology lectures, and it convinced me that California was the coolest, smartest place on the planet.

Wild Things

My neighbor Linda has a Mexican fan palm. It is by far the tallest, skinniest, ugliest thing on the block. Also the messiest. The city may trim its trees, but hers aren’t so assiduously tended. So each time the Santa Anas blow, giant dead fronds whirl through the air in every direction. No year is complete without some parked car getting buried in brittle palm branches. What it’s doing in her yard is unclear—she didn’t plant it. It just showed up and began growing. It provides next to no shade and adds next to no value, and one of these days it’ll probably topple and knock a hole in her tile roof. But no amount of pesticide or neglect seems to kill it, and odds are if she chopped it down it would only grow back. So everyone on the block just keeps a broom handy and covers their cars when the winds come. What can we do? The thing wants what it wants.

Rituals: The Hills Are Alive

Flatlanders like me sometimes forget that mountains are part of this county, even though every day they flank us on the east and often lure me up their trails.Then one hot Friday afternoon, I stumble exhausted out the Black Star Canyon trailhead and hear the sound of fiddling. And I remember there aren’t just mountains here; there are mountain people, too. I’m inclined to expect magic.

Gifts Never Lost

I was used to getting weekly emails from Collie. As the captain of our co-ed soccer team, he’d send out game-time reminders every Thursday, making sure everyone could make it. But the email I received Jan. 20 was different. The subject line simply read: “Maddie.”

My O.C.: My Heart Transplant

“Do you think you’ll stay?”I moved to Orange County a year ago to take my dream job as digital media director for Orange Coast, and quickly realized that Southern Californians are obsessed with that question; it’s second only to “How much is your rent?”

My O.C.: The Battle Between Current and Future Selves Reaches a Tipping Point While...

She was trying to nail down whether we should be looking at one- or two-bedroom places, and if she should narrow it by school district.

My O.C.: In Praise of Indie Coffeehouses

At first, I didn’t understand it. After I married my husband, we made the 45-minute move from Harbor City to Fullerton. One of the...

Life Beyond Postcards

It has been 35 years since I first set eyes on California. I was young, and thought it was the most amazing place I’d...

Secret Lives

Here at the beach, we rise early, even in summer. Pay no attention to those tourist paintings of hammocks and unmade beds. Dawn breaks to the noise of dogs being walked and lawns being watered, streets being swept and trash being recycled.