Adventure vs. Danger
I told Jen first thing in the morning, when she called about our Friday adventure, that we were on the hunt for a new place. Without a single thought for herself she said, “well let’s load up the kids in the van and drive around and look at places!” After I let her use our internet (she’s having earthlink issues right now) we did just that, and checked out two listings I had found that I thought could be either a great deal or a total nightmare. Neither of us are especially froufrou and we were looking forward to exploring “fringe” neighbourhoods, so we set out, plucky and full of adventure.
First we went up to Tujunga. The drive wasn’t bad but Tujunga was a more depressed town than I had thought. We turned onto the street with the apartment listing and my heart sank. One of my complaints with my current place is that the landlords are such a pain that we do all our own maintenance except plumbing. This new place looked even less-well-maintained and I just knew it would be hard to get things done. “Too depressing” we both said and drove off.
So we headed south to Glassell Park. Now, the thing about Los Angeles is that you never know what you’re going to find. You can be on one street that is very quiet, comfortable, and homey, then go one street over and find yourself in the ghetto. I know several people who live in Glassell Park and have never felt unsafe when venturing down, so I thought this listing would be just the thing to keep us close to our friends and save us hundreds (literally) of dollars a month. Besides, we’re pretty adventurous and feel safe in what many consider to be marginal neighbourhoods.
This particular area was the first time since moving to Los Angeles that I have actually been afraid. Kids supposed to be in school were loitering all over the place, looking suspicious, and as we approached the street with the apartment we passed more gang activity than you typically see in movies. Then, the street with the listing, while completely residential, was covered in Avenues graffitti (all except the building with the listing as it was a gated property, although that provided me with no comfort.) There we were, two white girls in a new minivan with three kids in the back, in the middle of one of the biggest gangs in LA. “Let’s go home,” I meekly said. Jen corroborated my emotions, and said that in all the years that she has lived here the only time she felt worse than right then, was when she was in South Central. At least now I know that what we see in movies and on the nightly news isn’t fiction! (Not worried about finding a place, though, I found many listings in neighbourhoods I know, we just headed out there out of curiosity.)
Well We Don’t Want You, Either
I was so surprised when Paul and Little Red picked me up from work on Saturday at how many landlords/managers had told my husband that they weren’t interested in us because we had children. They ranged in tact, of course, from “uh, I don’t think this is the place for you,” to, “No.” It’s completely illegal to discriminate like that but it isn’t worth persuing when we could just go somewhere else where we’re welcome. It was the wierdest thing, though, I never considered families to be rental problems because I consider us to be very responsible and courteous tenants. It was illuminating. (And again I think, people are idiots.)
Can You Feel the Love?
Yesterday my friend’s mother asked me if Little Red needed any toys as they were clearing out her nephew’s stuff and she thought of us. I was very grateful and hardly knew what to say, but did have enough lucidity to ask if there was a riding toy, as that’s something Little Red has wanted for a long time. (Of course, when I relayed the information to my husband on the way home from church he said, “you should have asked if they still had Aaron’s baby stuff.” He’s right, I had totally spaced out about Number 2.)
As I left that conversation I ran into a friend who works as an apartment manager and is pretty tied in to rentals in the area. I told her we were looking for something newer (and less expensive) and she said, “you have been on my mind so much and I know of a place. I hesitate to tell you because it’s in Monrovia and I don’t want to lose you, but I can’t get you guys out of my mind.” She also asked if she could plan a baby shower for me. (I hesitated, because I didn’t want people thinking that I was being greedy, after all, I’m having another boy, but parties are fun and Katie is definitely the one to plan a fun party. She reassured me that it would not be wierd. My husband, fortunately was with me, and piped up with all the things we needed because we had borrowed them from others when Little Red was born.)
Feeling pretty elated about the new developments I took two more steps toward the Sunday School class when the president of our women’s association pulled me aside. She said, “now I don’t want you to take this the wrong way, but you’ve been on my mind and I have some food about to expire that my husband and I are just not going to get to in time. Could you use it?”
It’s a humbling experience to be reminded that even those whom you only see weekly, and from the other side of the chapel, care so deeply and think of you often. I struggled to process this innundation of love as we walked into class for the last ten minutes.
We have a lot of thinking to do. There is a lot of promise of upward mobility in Paul’s current job, and we really like the people with whom and for whom he works. It’s a good environment. From here we think we’d like to stay in this job for a while. We think if we know we’re going to be here for a while we’d rather be making monthly payments toward equity rather than toward our landlord’s inflated egos (and frequent trips to Greece) and we’ve been getting a lot of pressure from my in-laws to get into a mortgage. Our immediate decisions depend on the future. If we think we could get into a condo in the next few months, it would be worth staying here for a little while longer rather than moving twice, but if we think it may be a little while it would be worth going somewhere else and saving our money. We’ll decide soon, and I think we’re leaning toward renting some more (the reality is, prices are still pretty far out of reach, even if we were to move to the desert and commute in.) Of course I’m dying for a mortgage but I’m excited about the idea of renting a little longer. There’s the possibility that Paul’s boss will want to expand to another location and send us to do that, in which case renting while still here would be wise. Plus, this weekend was the last straw for my patience with this place. Our landlords clearly know we are pregnant (there’s no way to hide it now!) and are completely taking advantage of our situation, thinking that because we’re about to have a baby there’s no way we’ll move. I’m so annoyed with them that I’m actually looking forward to packing (and I hate packing!) I’m looking forward to new neighbours, too. We’re pretty tolerant of apartment living and knowing that we have to hear things we don’t want to, but I’m starting to worry that Little Red is picking up language I’d rather him never use, I hate being woken by them in the middle of the night, and I hate having my pictures fall off the wall because they slam everything (actually, I don’t know what it is that causes them to knock that picture over but it’s happened more than once and there really isn’t a door near that common wall.) The last straw, however, was Saturday night, when that mangy cat peed on our door again and we spent the whole weekend trying to rid our home of the smell (and replacing it with some pretty dangerous chemicals.) I’m done with this place.
Just for You, Karen
Little Red danced vigorously to Prince’s halftime show yesterday. He tried singing along, and he walked up to the tv, said, “hi!” and waved. It was so funny, he doesn’t dance very often and usually doesn’t dance for so long.