THE SKINNY: It’s time for my beloved Carmichael to have its own ‘Lady Bird’ moment

Chardonnay Needler
Senior Sonja Hansen crunches into a churro beside one of the many Carmichael signs near her neighborhood.

Sacramento received a nice ego boost after the release of  “Lady Bird,” an amazing movie about a girl maneuvering through her senior year in “America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital.” Director Greta Gerwig called her film “a love letter to Sacramento.”

How sweet.

But ever since the movie was released, I’ve felt a trembling in my homeland. Carmichael is deeply unsettled.

As a resident of nearly 18 years, I’ve been permitted to pass along a message from Mother Carmichael: nobody likes to be pushed aside.

Now my native land doesn’t hold anything against its neighbor Sacramento, of course. Carmichael holds grudges as often as award-winning movie crews film in this neck of the woods. So never.  

Nonetheless, I can taste her sudden self-doubt, insecurity and sensitivity to previously unnoticed flaws.

Carmichael, I don’t have a $10-million movie budget to throw around, but perhaps this will quell your fears of inadequacy, my cherished one.


Dear Carmichael,

I love you.

I’m head-over-heels crazy about you, and that’s why I’m writing to impress upon you the things that make you sparkle.

I love how you make my heart beat every time I have to spell out your name on standardized tests. This isn’t simply a product of my fear of accidentally writing “Carmicheal” yet again and being declared “a special kind of stupid” by SAT graders. It’s also a direct result of an overwhelming patriotism that takes possession of my soul.

Your parks and nature centers (which I haven’t visited in the last decade because I’m not what folk would call “outdoorsy”) sound really great.

Each of your quaint and lovely streets ultimately leads to breathtaking riverfront access from which woodland creatures like deer, raccoons and possi journey. These animals are so enamored of your life-giving air and harmonious spirit that I frequently find them sleeping in the middle of the road.

I love all your idiosyncrasies from your tasteful electrical signs reading “BAIL BONDS NOW” to the vape shops that freckle your facade.

Throughout your great expanse, I, along with thousands of my countrymen, associate dozens of memories.

The parking lot at American River College reminds my siblings and me of the first time we squirrelled around in our parents’ car during our first driving lessons.

The bushes behind the dumpster at your stunning AmPm convenience store take me back to the time I threw up after a jolty car ride with a friend.

The Sunrise of Carmichael, an assisted living facility, brings to mind the time I had a panic attack in the middle of a pre-K Halloween concert because I decided old people scared me.  

None of these memories are particularly glamorous, but that shouldn’t alter your blasé attitude, which I’ve always admired. You’ve never felt any pressure to outshine Sactown or gussy yourself up to lure in the tourists.

Oh, fair Carmichael, my sister and I drove through your avenues this weekend. We were homeward bound as the sky turned lavender and the sun set.

I’ve traveled all over the world and still haven’t found a sunset as gloriously raw and unabashed as yours.

All that remains is one question. Do you like me back? Check yes or no.

Always yours,


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