Sunday, December 6, 2009


When the plane is landing, and I look down and see palms, highways in a curlicue design, blazing blue and white sky ... tears fill my eyes.

Yes, from the blinding brightness -- yes -- because living in Malibu for awhile was fun.

Yes -- because the balmy air says it's vacation. Nothing else in my life says "you're on a vacation," like Los Angeles, California does. Even if I'm on a no work, rest, relax sojourn, I have a project tucked away -- have papers, books in my shoulder-bag, and a plan in my mind.

Arriving in the Bahamas, or Bermuda, Israel, and Australia, I was buoyed by the warm, perfumed weather -- probably because I'd just left winter in New York. But there wasn't an inner exultation -- the "Vacation" command-- even though I enjoyed the air, as I went to work on what I had in my bag.

I'm boiling down some facts from the Center for Disease Control's research on "Frequent Mental Distress." A large group of highly accredited researchers created this map. They defined frequent mental distress (FMD) as 14 or more bad days out of 30.

Two nationwide surveys asked a total of 2.4 million people about their overall mood -- how many days in the preceding month, had their mental health been NOT good.

The 1993-to-2001 study showed 9% of Americans had FMD. A few years later, another shorter study showed 10.2%.

The gloomiest state was Kentucky, followed by West Virginia, and Mississippi. Hawaii topped the happy list, then Kansas, and Nebraska.

In the other 44 states and the District of Columbia — the number of people with FMD increased, as the economy sagged.

I love what a Time reporter who was surveying all this, said: "Never mind the Dow or the S&P -- the true national indicator may be the FMD."

Here's Em's survey-report:

'It isn't the sunshine. What makes California a "vacation" is the people, their slower-going style for work or play -- the smile on the faces, the smile in the voices of people who serve you food, gas, carry your groceries into your home, call you or answer your phone calls, fix your car, handle your cleaning, rake your yard, deliver your mail, remove your garbage.

California people -- gee, they have fearful predictions pending -- the big one -- that fault line earthquake -- their crazy fluctuating bills for electricity and water, the huge unemployment crisis, and no money to pay for government services as of January 1, 2010, says Governor Arnold.

So why do I feel like vacationing in California, with all that hanging over California folks?

The dizzying dazzle, the make-it, fame and fortune, beautify yourself baloney that emanates from Hollywood -- that relaxes me?

Well, it's part of the rainbow look of L.A. when the plane touches down -- the people I deal with -- the way they need, want, crave those expensive cars, pursue the "look beautiful forever" routines, and decorate their gated mansions -- all that triggers my Zen mode.

In California, like the other Californians -- I'm living the moment at the moment.

Can't I package it and bring it east where I live? I don't think so.

No matter where I look, there are worn-out, aging things to fix, mend, repair, rush-rush -- no languorous afternoons, no golden dawns, and incredible sunsets, just peeps at shafts of sun that disappear in the general haze of what life feels like, what it actually is on my streets.

Anyhow, New Yorkers are great, there for you in a crisis but generally focused on their own "thing."

Like I am.

I guess that's why I sort of flip-flop, float and flit around spinelessly in all that blue white and green and golden --- I don't belong there.

Gee ... well ... after Xmas, maybe I'll visit my friend Holly in Malibu, just for a day ....
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