Monday, August 31, 2015

The Foot Update

Here's an updated look at my right foot. Hooray!


Sunday, August 30, 2015

What's It With Me and Feet?

Do you remember this? I stubbed my toe on the vacuum cleaner the night before leaving for my mother's house a few days before flying to Mexico. That was in July of 2014.


Then do you remember this? I vaguely remember stubbing toes on the other foot, then walking all over Manhattan right after. When I got up the next morning: ouch. This was in October of 2014. Same year, different foot. My podiatrist in Jersey City is great, and his assistant was a big fan of Iron Man. I was writing an Iron Man novel at the time.


Well, now I have a new treat to share with you. I'll try to get a Burbank podiatrist appointment in the morning, but if not, maybe my JC guy can take me when I get home on Thursday for the long weekend. 


At least this time, I know what I did. I ran across Hollywood Boulevard--not exactly against the light, but after the little countdown had started. That's technically illegal here. Los Angeles takes its jaywalking seriously. I didn't get a ticket, but I did hit an uneven bit of pavement and nearly go sprawling. I semi-recovered and continued to trip a little, and thought "Oh hell, I'm going down." I felt my shoe fighting my foot and nearly lost it.

I didn't lost the shoe or land on my face, fortunately, but I did damage a foot. I continued on to the apartment-viewing appointment I had with a sweet-as-pie former resident of Jersey City Heights. I liked her, I liked the loft-style apartment, but I ultimately decided I preferred the older places up the hill a bit and even something in Toluca Lake or Magnolia Park, Burbank. I'm a little concerned about ending up in Hipster-ville, and it's important to me to have people from different economic and social backgrounds living around me, so I think I might need to avoid newer developments with all the bells-and-whistles.

But maybe I'll think about getting a place with an elevator this time.

Addendum: Hey, wait. Looking at the photos...that's all the same foot, isn't it? I really do not want a second right walking boot. It's a shame mine is in my garage in New Jersey. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Los Feliz to Los Feliz

You know my big plan to rent an apartment?

I didn't get very far. I quickly learned that the studios I thought were acceptably priced ($1200-1400 or so) had something wrong with them. They overlooked a parking lot and were dingy. They seemed really dilapidated. I saw one that was pretty good, but was on the ground floor, and I remembered from my first 8th Street place that you can't sleep with the windows open on the ground floor.

And I learned too that no one calls you back, because why should they? There are dozens of applicants for anywhere reasonably priced. It's a seller's market, and we're all grasping at scraps.

I understand now I'm going to have to pay a lot more to live in Los Angeles, but because I haven't found the right place yet, I rustled up another sublet for a month on VRBO.com. It was a nice-looking back house in Toluca Lake, and all was going well until the owner sent me the contract.

"We do not accept credit cards at this time."

Hmmm. That's odd, I thought. The last place, the excellent place in Los Feliz, sent me a bill along with the contract and I was able to pay it online. This contract said to pay by check.

I wrote the owner back and asked if he wanted me to bring him a check the next day.

"Cash only, or cashier's check or money order."

Wha--? I was taken aback. With a personal check, at least I had a few days to cancel it if he gave me the keys and they didn't work the next day or something. At least there is a slim margin of error in case Internet guy is a con artist.

I decided not to sign it yet. I went to sleep instead.

In the morning, the owner called me at my office.

"Did you get the contract?"

"Yes, but it's a little weird you don't take credit cards."

His tone changed completely. He was suspicious. "What do you mean by that?"

"Well...just that there is security for the consumer with a credit card."

"So you'd dispute a charge."

I have no idea how we went so quickly into him thinking I'm a con artist. I thought I was talking to a man I'd never met about an Internet transaction for an apartment I'd never seen, and suddenly I'm the bad guy for trying to look out for myself.

"Well, no, but it's for my protection in case we have a disagreement."

"I don't think we can do business then."

I let him have it, saying something along the lines of "You've set this up so there you have all the power and there are no protections for me, and any business transaction is a two-way street, not about one person holding all the power."

Sunday, August 16, 2015

House Hunting

Renting an apartment in a sprawling city turns out to be a baffling experience. How did I get so far in life without ever having to do this before?

I have owned properties for my entire adult life since I left Jersey City group housing in 1992 (when I was in a three-bedroom on Mercer Street with Other Marie and Otis). I have rented sublets overseas, but that's easier. You just take what's affordable and doesn't look too gross. So the last time I rented an apartment like I'm doing now was, well, never. I've never filled out a rental application, had them check my credit, supplied two months bank statements. It's just never come up.

That's right, I've never subjugated myself to the credit check and judgment of a rental agent. I've never had to be charming and look dutiful and responsible on cue in order to get housed. I don't even know if I can do this. I'm a known eye-roller.

I'm finally starting to seriously search for an apartment today, so I might be filling out some forms this afternoon.

It all comes down to location and character. I can't—won't, really—live in a carpeted box with vertical blinds. I won't live in anything without good natural light. I won't live on the ground floor. I won't live anywhere without food and services within walking distance. And obviously, it's all about the commute in LA, so I am limited to places with easy access to Burbank. My other rule is I need access to public transport. Yes, I own a car, but it happens to be garaged in Jersey City, and I'm not sure if I want to drive my 1990 Ford Taurus across the country for a week, though I did buy it in Torrance in 2002 and drive it (with Turbo, who actually drove it for large chunks of the way while I was back East) across the country to get it to New York City between April and July of that year. I might drive it out here, but I'm not so sure it would make it. That might mean getting rid of it. Would I want to own two cars, one back East and one in LA? Well, why not, I guess. I already own a house in Jersey City and am still getting an apartment here.

I'm starting out looking at studios in Los Feliz, Franklin Village, Ivar & Cahuenga, and Burbank/Toluca Lake. But I might just need to stall for another month, getting a sublet as fast as I can, so at least I have time to consider all my options. I love the idea of living in Downtown LA, but I don't love the rents there.

I'm being flaky about this because I can't figure out what location actually has it all. Probably because there is no such thing. Where can I find a concentration of restaurants where I don't feel weird going in alone at night by myself? There are a few clusters here and there, but many clusters end abruptly and suddenly that magnificent paradise of take-out turns into oh, I didn't realize it was only three restaurants and one is burgers-only. 

My grand experiment of sublets around town has been utterly informative, and I feel like I know way more today than I did on June 2, when I arrived. But I still haven't seen the right place.

I miss my brownstone walk-up over the trees of Hamilton Park, one stop from the West Village. I need to stop pining away for what I don't have here and try to appreciate this odd sprawl for what it is.

Which I haven't figured out yet. LA regions are so disparate that it seems impossible to make generalizations about this place. I'll let you know when I sort it out.

But it might be a while.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Consuming

She quickly sewed up a satchel
for carrying my purchases home.
I'd been bombing out on finding women's clothing boutiques in L.A. I'd tried searching my favorite indie designer's websites for outlets here and hadn't had any luck. I'd found one nice thing in DTLA and the proprietor of that shop had suggested I try Silverlake.

So today I used Yelp to find a boutique at Sunset Junction, and caught the bus over. Which was dead easy. The key to the bus in LA seems to be travel-on-main-arteries. Buses run frequently on Hollywood, Sunset, and Santa Monica.

And now Matrushka is my favorite local clothing shop. The owner even tailored her shirts to fit me, on the spot.

"I think I've seen your label before," I said. "Do you sell anywhere else?"

"No, just here."

"You should sell at Flirt Brooklyn. It's a boutique where they make a lot of their own stuff and also stock independent designers."

"I think that's the one place I do sell..."






Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Urban Wildlife

There's no reason you should believe me, but last night I saw a coyote in front of the house I'm currently living in, in Los Feliz.

Really! I swear that's a coyote.

Unless it's a transplanted dingo. But I'm pretty sure it's a coyote.


Friday, July 31, 2015

Culture Shock-ish

I've hit a wall lately and been kind of blue. How blue? You know, dejected. Disappointed. Things have been drudge-y. My friends are mostly back East, and the ones I have here I haven't seen much or are out of town. The distance between the West Side and Burbank/East seems massive. And finding a place to live that is affordable, and easy commute, and not a hideous box seems impossible. I desperately miss my home, or maybe just knowing what to do.

I was feeling sorry for myself a few days ago, when it hit me.

The alienation. The uncertainty. The blue mood. Wait, I know this one! 

It's exactly what happens after the thrill of novelty wears off when I go abroad for an extended period of time. Once the sense of adventure turns into an awareness that one is isolated from friends and family and without an easy exit.

The good news is it goes away.

The bad news is it comes and goes at unexpected times for many months before it goes away.

And so I steel myself for the latest journey abroad, though this one doesn't require a passport. 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Rentable

This is probably overkill as it's quite expensive to live in...but what am I looking for out here as far as an apartment? Something with a bit of personality. No boxes with carpeting, please!


Friday, July 24, 2015

Broadway Theater District Walking Tour

I went on my second LA Conservancy walking tour on Saturday.


It was marvelous. The decaying theaters I'd walked passed and marveled at were explained to me, one by one. We were even taken into a few of them.

Look, they're no Loew's Jersey City. They were smaller, less ornate, and mostly in much worse shape. But these had history back to vaudeville, back to pre-cinema. Which was marvelous to hear about.

Here are photos of the Broadway theaters.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

San Diego Fun

Here is something required of me now that I'm back in the editing trenches--I have to go on panels at conventions.

This is one of two DC trivia panels featuring me and the Group Editors. It was a bit like Hollywood Squares or Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me in that we were charged with being funny if we couldn't pull off just the straight answer.

I didn't make a complete fool of myself. Just a partial one.