Things I’ve Learned When Moving. Again.

We moved again.

We’ve moved so many times in the last five or six years, I’ve essentially lost count. I mean I could figure it out, but it’s not like most people where they’re like “oh, we’ve moved once in the last five years” or “oh, we’ve stayed put for twenty.” Nope, not us. It’s been like six times.

Such is the life of a Southern Californian.

(Disclosure: I am not a Southern Californian. I’m just married to one.)

Renters forever, we found ourselves with no home again this spring when we received our lease renewal, and it came packed with a whopping $485 a month rent increase.

Yeah. Fuck that. I would highly recommend to you, oh faithful blog followers, that you avoid Avalon Bay Communities at all cost (they are, in fact, national).

So we moved on June 1st, and don’t even get me started on all the frustrations that led up to it. The short version of the long story is that my husband, his brother, and their parents own a condo that they bought pre-us. At first, my husband and his brother lived in it with some other roommates, then it eventually turned into a rental unit for a family friend. Fast forward to now: we received our lease renewal notice, and decided it was time to ask that the family friend be given notice so that we could occupy the condo.

So here we are. It’s bigger and more spacious, which is OK (until it’s time to clean, which I’ll get into in a minute). There are definitely some major maintenance issues that have gone unattended to for who-knows-how-long. But it’s a place to live, and we didn’t have to move back to Los Angeles (which was ultimately what we’d have to do if we didn’t move here), so we’re all content. For now, at least.

This move was the real kicker in the pants for me, though. Mainly because I did about 98% of the work for it. I’m talking the packing, the phone calls, the house projects, the moving day stuff, the unpacking, the handy work…I’ve done it all.

As a result, I’ve learned a few things.

A Double Vanity Means Double the Sinks To Clean

11150471_834275553493_5566020635756346406_n

The bathroom in my husband’s and my bedroom has a double vanity. We’ve never had this before; quite frankly we’ve always been sharing a bathroom with at least one person, so this is a real upgrade. To have our own bathroom, free of kid’s toothpaste gunk in the sink or my elderly father’s Groom and Clean hair gel scent – well, for a while it seemed like it’d be heaven.

That was until I realized how much more work it is to clean. Not only does our bathroom have the double vanity, it has a huge soaker tub and a standing shower. If you’ve ever watched those house shows on HGTV, you’d know this is called an en suite bathroom, and it’s great and all… If you have a maid.

If you have just me, it’s terrible and a lot of work.

I should also mention that I went from cleaning two bathrooms to cleaning three and a half. This is essentially double the work for someone that can’t stand any of it.

In That Same Vein, More Square Footage

= More Vacuuming

I just really hate cleaning, and it seems like I’m doing it every day.

It seems like? What a crock of bullshit that is. I do clean every day. Every. Single. Day. Of. My. Miserable. Life.

The smallest place we’ve ever lived in was 850 square feet. We now have a whopping 2000, and I’m finding myself pining for those days that I only had 850 to vacuum.

Sure, we were basically piled in like sardines in a can, and you couldn’t do a single thing in the bathroom without the entire apartment hearing you. But it was all worth it now, as far as I’m concerned, to not have to vacuum so much.

Renters Don’t G.A.F.

Nope. Nope, they don’t.

Renters don’t give a fuck. Not. A. Single. Singular. Fuck.

Family friend or not (quite frankly, I don’t even know the guy), the guy that was renting this place from my husband’s family ran this place into the ground. Like a fuggin’ pile driver digging for the center of the planet.

Everyone keeps arguing that this is just normal wear and tear. Just the standard course of affairs for an older home.

Um, first of all this is not an older home. Second of all, no. Just…no.

Destroyed carpet requiring an emergency – and expensive – carpet cleaning is not normal wear and tear.

The smell of rotting flesh and sulphuric eggs wafting from the washing machine is not normal wear and tear.

A broken hook rack on the back of the bathroom door, literally dangling from just one, rusty screw is not normal wear and tear.

A ceiling fan falling out of the ceiling, with tape hanging from it – as if some dumb fuck actually thought that masking tape would hold the thing into the ceiling – is not normal wear and tear.

Holes in the doors is NOT…normal wear and tear.

WRITING ON THE FUCKING WALLS IS NOT NORMAL WEAR AND TEAR.

There’s only one conclusion I can come to here: renters don’t G.A.F.

Having Your Kitchen Back Means People Expect Meals Again

11377346_833984112543_3608787117151082658_n

I packed up our kitchen maybe a month before we moved. We had other plans, vacation, and I just wanted it done.

What I’m saying is that for a month before the move, and for about a week afterwards, we ate nothing but crap. Total crap. We’re talking fast food. Take out. Frozen pizzas LIKE WOAH.

In a few words: it was heaven for this lady that hates to cook. I mean, I knew I was destroying my body and the bodies of my family, but my disgust for cooking overruled that. I kept telling myself it was temporary – which it was – so everything was spectacular.

Now that I have my kitchen back, though…it’s another story. Everyone wants real food.

No, I don’t mean real food like those losers on Instagram that incorrectly refer to whole fruits and vegetables as “real food” – as if Cheetohs and Cocoa Puffs aren’t something real I am putting in my body. I just mean three, square, home cooked meals. Every damn day.

With snacks. Homemade snacks. And desserts too.

Now that everything with the move has settled down, and I’m on my way to finishing the last of the house projects before settling back into my old routine of cleaning, cooking, and  acting as a chauffeur from tennis event to tennis event, I’m certainly glad it’s over.

But we’ve moved so many times, I just feel the next one breathing down the back of my neck. On one hand, my husband works in film, so it’s unlikely we’d have to move out of the area – which is the only situation under which I could see myself agreeing to ever move again. But on the other, you just never know.

Advertisements

Now That I Don’t Live In the Ghetto Anymore, What Will I Talk About?

Those of you that have been around here for a while know that I have a history of living in ghettos.

It’s – of course – of no fault of my own. We’re renters, so there is always the gamble that comes with renting. The area could change over time. The company that manages your building could switch, change it’s policies…who knows? There is never any guarantee that you get what you are billed when renting, because – quite frankly – that is what renting business is all about. Conceal and disguise. Change and turnover to get more rents. Really there are these same risks when owning; and in fact, this is the reason why we choose to rent instead of buy – so we always have the easy out of the end of a lease.

But it’s been a challenge to find a place that is not in the heart of the ghetto. A challenge that has taken almost five years, and a familiarity with our local moving company.

The first place that my husband and I rented was in Los Angeles, city proper (outside of downtown but still a Los Angeles address). The place seemed nice enough – it was bigger than we thought we’d be able to afford, and had a gated entry to the building. I should have known something was up, though when we moved in. To get our bed into the apartment, we had to ask the neighbor to open his front door so ours could be maneuvered through the narrow hallway between the two units. Standing there in his underpants, scratching himself occasionally, we learned all about his “lady friend” who we should not be alarmed to see coming and going occasionally at odd hours.

Then two weeks later my tires got slashed in the garage. Three months later the garage flooded during a mild rain. There were also no windows on one side of the apartment, so the average temperature was somewhere between 90 and 245 degrees.

1924130_522874673353_3783063_n

The second place we lived was in Culver City. Our dog got run over outside the complex (true story, it was absolutely devastating). But beyond just bad memories, this place was so ghetto that there was a constant smell of weed smoke wafting around the courtyard; and whenever it rained the awning fell off the side of the building.

After Culver City, we had had enough of city life. We tried it. We failed it. There was no way we could afford the rents or mortgages or nice cardboard boxes in better areas of town so close to the city. So we ventured back towards where we came from – along the coast about halfway between LA and Santa Barbara.

Right back into the ghetto. We lived in our first ghetto outside of Los Angeles for almost two years. Fist fights at two in the morning outside were common place. Evictions all around us happened regularly. Someone reported a meth lab in one of the complex buildings and the entire building was evacuated for two weeks to be cleaned out. Our bedroom window faced the parking lot, so routinely we heard people’s outdoors arguments, and one time listened to a teenage girl sob uncontrollably for three, straight hours because her boyfriend dry-humped some other girl under the bleachers at school.

After that place, I thought it could not get any more ghetto on a day-to-day basis than that. I mean we had lived in the city, which was pretty bad; but it wasn’t daily. There were at least some days in the city – once in a while – that you could leave your house and not see a gang fight going on in the parking lot; days when you didn’t get held up because you were  being questioned by the police after someone had been arrested for drugs; or at the very least you could through your pathway to the parking lot without tripping over beer cans. I thought if anything, moving again would just be that same moderate level of daily ghetto we had come to accept as commonplace.

1917443_525091151513_266188_n

Then we moved to the Barranca Vista, and that daily level of moderate ghetto was paltry compared to what the Barranca Vista had in store for us.

Our lease at the last ghetto came up for renewal and they gave us a 14 month or a 16 month option. At the same time we were in the process of helping my dad sell his house so he could move in with us, so we were going to be needing a bigger place and more flexibility on our lease anyway. We looked for any place we could find that had a shorter term of lease, and we found the Barranca Vista as pretty much the only option.

I really, really wanted to love the Barranca Vista as our temporary home. It was closer to my dad’s house, which would make helping with the sale easier. We had two stories there too, so there would be more space. And there was a park – a beautiful, nice, park – in the back of the complex.

But gotdamn was that place ghetto. Most of the neighbors were unemployed, so there was a constant stream of people swearing, screaming, fighting, and letting their kids run around and terrorize everyone. There was always someone’s furniture being thrown out on the front lawn. A girl right across from us, about 12 years old, lived as a foster child with a hispanic family. They had no less than 25 people living in their unit. She would sit outside on the porch and make out with the younger boys in the house. There were gun shots occasionally down the street at night. One time we came home from the grocery store and police were outside our building. They said they were there to pick up someone on a warrant, and that we should get into our apartment and stay away from the windows.

Within about a month I felt like I was developing PTSD from being in a constant state of ghetto warfare. It was horrible, and thankfully my dad’s house sold with lightning speed and we were out of there.

Now I’m not meaning to say that all rentals in the community in which we live are ghetto. Not by a long shot – California, particularly the Central Coast (where we live) is gorgeous, even when it’s foggy and rainy and rattling from earthquakes. As with all places, there are just pockets – a lot of pockets – where shit gets real.

Now, after two months of living in our new home – which is bigger, cleaner, quieter, safer, and in a really good area of town – I can say, without a doubt, that at least for now we are not in the ghetto anymore. I have yet to see any arrests, or gang fights. No one has screamed at all hours of the night. There have been no meth labs, no drug busts, and no evictions. No furniture left on the lawn, no clothes thrown out a bedroom window by a woman named Titiana, screaming “you take yo shit to that whore’s house!” You never know, it could go downhill. But until then: now that we no longer live in the ghetto, what will I complain about? This place is so uneventful and quiet and normal that it’s bordering on boring. There’s nothing to talk about, nothing to gossip over. I almost feel a little reminiscent of the days when police reports and middle of the night arguments were common place…

1782153_741213715163_7705042662322389805_n

What, Exactly, Are Big Girl Panties?

Sometimes when I’m out to lunch with my dad, he’ll say something along the lines of: “yeez, Heather … you should probably stop woofing down those french fries like there’s no tomorrow, or you’ll have to upgrade to big girl panties.” The oddity that is our father-daughter repertoire aside, I always think of this when I hear someone say “time to put on your big girl panties.”

Of course when people say that, they don’t mean you’re getting a little hefty around the backside. Well maybe they do, but for all intents and purposes we’ll assume that what they really mean is: it’s time to act like a big kid. They mean that it’s time for you to grow up. For you to make a decision you don’t want to make. Follow through with an action you don’t want to do. It means that you need to make a sacrifice, be an adult, and act your age.

And it means the big R. Responsibility.

I can think of  a few examples in recent memory that I wore my big girl panties.

Yesterday,

in the grocery store parking lot

Yesterday, in the grocery store parking lot, a skirmish unfolded and I was confronted with the need to hitch up my big girl panties and move along quietly. A woman parked next to us as we were getting out to walk into the store, and she therefore was walking in about the same general area as us from car-to-grocery. As we all crossed the lot to the store, a car pulled up very quickly and started honking, the driver yelling “hurry up!!” Rude, I know, but having the Pookies in tow meant I needed to keep it down to set a good example.

“Some people are in such a hurry,” I said calmly as we finished walking into the store, but then the woman that had parked next to us turned around and started screaming at the car. “Bite me you son of a bitch!” she screamed, causing everyone in the parking lot to turn and look. Inside she was my personal hero; outside she really needed to pull up her big girl panties and move on.

Last Friday, over text message with my Trailer Trash Mom

I invited my mother over for dinner over the weekend and she accepted. I know what you all are thinking: I was being too kind. I was, but then I really wanted to get more dirt on what is going on with her Hillbilly Husband/New Mexico trailer-drama. What can I say, I like a good story. So she told me she’d let me know which day worked better with my grandparents’ schedule and then I didn’t hear from her for a few days.

Friday I texted her and said: “Hey, I just went and got all the food for dinner. Do you know whether Saturday or Sunday will work best yet?” and she responded that they were invited to a family tailgate party for the UCLA-Nebraska game, and had decided to (a) extend it into a whole-weekend-family-affair, that I was (b) excluded from on account of the fact that I don’t like either team. This is how that family usually rolls, so I wasn’t the least bit surprised.

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t really like my mom, so it really wasn’t that big of a deal. It was still rude that she handled it like that, though, and if I were to let it get to me I probably would have said something nasty. But did I get upset, and scream and cry about it? No. I pulled up my big girl panties and put the extra food in the freezer for us to eat later next week; then waited to smile when Nebraska got creamed.

But what if you don’t want to put on your big girl panties?

This morning when I woke up, I was immediately smacked in the face with my very real “big girl panties” problem: our rent is being increased significantly. The problem is very complex. We’re trying to move to the Midwest – something I have been waiting to do for about 12 years now. Signing a 10 or 12 month lease (the two options we were given besides month-to-month) will lock us in here for another full year. A lot can happen in a year, and as I said I have been patiently waiting and working towards this for 12 years. It will also increase our rent even at that. Another option is that we pay the month-to-month rate and starve to death. There’s also the fact that this place isn’t even worth what we pay now – we had an attempted break-in a few months ago, my outdoor vase was stolen just last week, and a child of one of the neighbors was kidnapped on the 4th of July. But moving to another place while we buy some more time to figure out the whole Midwest move thing will cost a lot of money and lock us into another lease.

Ugh, I know.

You can see why I don’t want to pull up my big girl panties on this one. We’re stuck between a rock and a hard place and in the end the only one that will really be suffering, acting like a big girl, and sacrificing for it is me. I’ll have to stretch the budget to make it work. I’ll have to go another year waiting. It’s very frustrating, to say the least.

So while I do believe that there are a lot of instances when we need to let ourselves upgrade to big girl panties, figuratively speaking of course; I also believe that there may be a time to say “enough is enough.” Is there ever a time when we shouldn’t have to put on our big girl panties? What, exactly, are big girl panties, anyway? I always thought they meant adulthood. Sacrifice. Responsibility. Stuff you do but don’t want to.

But is always sacrificing, never taking risks, and settling for less really living?