Walking through the land of the unreal

There’s a part of me that wishes I could do something like NaNoWriMo or NaBloWriMo or Na{insertthing}WriMo – I’d love to think I had the energy to write more. Lately, it seems like most of my energy has gone into my work, which makes sense given that I was recently promoted into management, or it’s gone into my kids, my parents, and the 1001 things that we’re trying to juggle these days.

As I write this, I’m staring out the window of my hotel room onto part of Disneyland’s California Adventure. I’m in Anaheim for meetings, and it’s been 27 years since I was last here. My parents took us to Disneyland for one of the days we had in LA as part of the celebration of my sister’s high school graduation. Since then, I’ve been to LA a few times, but mostly for games at the Rose Bowl or Dodger Stadium. When it comes to California, my vibe is decidedly more in tune with the Bay area, which is part of why I had so much fun at BlogHer this year.

So it was funny when I went out for a quick trip to The Body Shop to get a makeup sponge – the one thing I’d forgotten to bring with me – and then went on a seemingly fruitless hunt for *mostly* local food. The restaurants in this part of Anaheim are so terribly generic. In a sea of hotels and motels, you can get just about any major sit-down chain meal you’d like, but the true local flavor is hidden. It’s so bizarre. I’m sure that if I had bothered to rent a car, I could’ve driven to somewhere with something different to offer than the homogenous TOURIST CHOW experience. At The Body Shop, I chatted with the staffer who shrugged at the low variety of locally-based options; she seemed numb to the fact that she was surrounded on all sides by national chain after national chain, none representing the flair or flavor of Southern California.

As it was, I finally found a small local chain – a bakery – but it was a 15-minute walk from The Body Shop. Having a little time before I had to head back to the hotel room for my call home to the kiddos, I decided to hoof it. And that’s when I realized that the bakery was in Downtown Disney. We just went to DisneyWorld this summer, so being back in a Disney environment was both familiar and incredibly jarring. A technicolor monorail whooshed overhead, and all I could imagine was how much ds would’ve had a head explosion seeing it. I managed to get a lovely caprese sandwich and fruit cup at the La Brea Bakery – my big find – and now I know that there’s plenty of shopping and other eats worth hitting tomorrow night. I may also purchase some more treats from La Brea Bakery; they had a lovely selection of baked goodies on display, and the sandwich was on delightfully chewy and crunchy fresh bread.

To be sure, there’s much fantasy to be found in the world of Disney, whether you’re at DisneyWorld or Disneyland. But there’s one thing I can definitely say: after seeing all the effortlessly bland options right near my hotel, I’ll take the deliberately comforting sights and tastes of Downtown Disney. It’s the realest surreal I think I’ll find in this part of town.

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