Are you still there?
My mind is kind of running amok these days. Work has been extra busy since sometime in May. As I reached a deadline of July 15th for a major project, about to breathe a sigh of relief and expecting to take just a couple of days off, my boss informed me that she needed me to write a $500,000 proposal, due in less than two weeks, on a brand new project we are developing. “You’re not going to be able to take any time off until August—like me,” she said. I was already fried then, but I sucked it up and just kept going. It had to be done, and no one else could do it. My boss has been working every weekend since March. She is a machine! (And I say this with affection. She never asks more than she would do herself.)
So: other deadline reached. While others loom, we have both cried Uncle. She is off on vacation and I am finally going to get some time off later this week (just a couple of days to celebrate my birthday. I will be 43. Ye Gods!). I will then come back, refreshed, and work a couple more weeks before I take a full week off around Labor Day, at which point we will be moving into the hypothetical new home we are miraculously going to find this week. (Yes, I agree, not much of a vacation.)
Here’s where we are with that: given our current economic status, we need to downsize. Sweet Dub, God bless him, has been out of work since April 2010. While he has been exploring various avenues*, freelancing and the like, he does not have a regular source of income. Our house, which is awesome, is a little big for us and we could stand to go smaller. While I was hoping we could find a modest house to rent in the area, here is what I am finding:
(1) small, rundown crappy houses where I would have to buy a gun and a German Shepherd 5 minutes after moving in or, if in a reasonably safe area, houses which need major home improvements/repairs which have not yet even begun but are “planned” (e.g. installation of central heat);
(2) huge, rundown houses that would cost a fortune to heat and cool;
(3) ridiculously overpriced condos;
(4) cute houses in decent condition that are a good $500-$1000 more a month than we can comfortably spend.
An added wrinkle is that to remain in proximity to our current neighborhood—i.e. within a three-mile radius—we are looking at areas that are actually not in our school district. We are on the border of Culver City, which has a really good school system, and we are also on the border of Ladera Heights, which I just recently learned is not part of Los Angeles Unified but part of the Inglewood School District (definitely NOT good schools, from all I’ve read and heard). For many reasons, this bums me out, because Viva is happy with the magnet program at her LAUSD school and I would hate to move her. As I’ve said before, we love the neighborhood we’re in and feel very much a part of the community, so we want to stay in the general area.
We have finally faced the facts and are looking at apartments (still not in our current neighborhood, because the trend there seems to be “nice little houses not-for-rent” and “kind of crummy apartment buildings.” Not sure why this is. ). I am trying to make peace with this.
I know, woe is me with my petty little problems. I grew up in a series of cramped apartments, so I know where my resistance on this comes from. But really: “Oh noes, we have to move into an apartment!” It’s not the end of the world. I am lucky, given the continuing crappy economy, to have a job. I can still feed my family. So we will have to give up our cushy house with the yard and our illusion of suburban home living. Big freakin’ deal, right?
But honestly, I am not trying to live in the lap of luxury. I just want a place that’s clean, and safe, and peaceful. I don’t want to have to spend my first few days in a new place scrubbing to get it clean. If you know me in real life, you know I am not a neat freak. Trust when I say that too many of the places we have been seeing are grubby. I can’t believe people expect you to spend hard-earned money to move into a place that is raggedy and dirty.
This weekend I saw a house for lease which, if I had been in the market to buy, I might have considered. I might have been able to live with its flaws if I knew I could fix them. It was spacious, it had great bones, and it was in a quiet neighborhood with a decent yard. The paint on the exterior was peeling, the upstairs bathroom was godawful (bright pink tile and a baby blue bathtub), and the whole interior had a feeling of neglect. Walls needed spackling and painting, carpet should have been ripped up and replaced or maybe let the hardwood floors come out to play. In any event, I knew Sweet Dub (who was off hammering out some legal issues with prospective partners in Glendale) would hate it. I had to smile and pass.
Right now it is looking like we are apartment-bound, for sure. I am less upset about that today than I was over the weekend. Stay tuned.
* Sweet Dub has really been working hard to get a number of television projects off the ground. This is an added frustration, because while he does have interest from some major players, including a cable network, things move slowly. Everyone is very encouraging; we are hopeful that he will get a deal but it could be six months from now. Or, it being Hollywood, it could be never. He now has three projects in development, one of which looks like it will actually happen (network people have been flying out from New York to talk with him, they email back and forth constantly) but not before we move. Of course. Sigh.