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Motel 6

Our building was built in 1987, so it’s just new enough that it lacks any of the old-timey charm our previous homes have had and it’s just old enough that everything in it is slightly tacky. It’s not that it isn’t nice enough. It’s nice enough. I thought it was really shabby when we first moved in, but now that I’ve scrubbed the whole place down – I’m not kidding, I had to use steel wool in the showers and a pumice stone on the toilet – I see that it’s not shabby, it just looks like an eighties-era Motel 6.

I think that’s what we’ll call this place. The Motel. It’s significant because this home is only temporary.  Sure, we’ll be here for a few years, three, four, five maybe, but as soon as we can buy a house we’ll be outey like gouty.  What?

We got this place for two hundred bucks below our budget, and it has nearly everything we wanted except hardwood/laminate flooring. It’s carpeted, but I think it might be the original carpeting from 1987, so when Theo rubs his ass on it I don’t feel as bad. Of course I want to get the dog butt-smear out of the carpeting, but I don’t feel guilty about it.

When we were apartment hunting we looked at this really nice condo just a few blocks from where we live now. It was only a one-bedroom and it was more expensive than the Motel, but it had a brand new washer and dryer in unit. It only had two windows, but it had a washer and dryer, a dishwasher, and a walk-in closet. We were so excited to see it. We walked in and the owner greeted us at the door, smiled warmly, held out his hand, and asked us to take off our shoes.

This is my biggest pet peeve. I understand why people want you to take your shoes off in their house, I get the logic behind it completely. But when I have had no advance warning and my toenails are all scabby looking and my feet stink because I’ve been wearing heels all day, and I walk into a stranger’s home and they ask me to take my shoes off, it is all I can do not to turn and run in the opposite direction.  Also? Mike and I and our five animals have no business renting a condo from people who want us to take our perfectly clean shoes off before we walk into the condo we are trying to rent.

If I lived in that condo I would spend the next five years having a panic attack whenever Theo wiped his ass on the floor. In the Motel I don’t have to sweat it because the landlady didn’t even charge us a pet deposit. She actually used the words, “I do not care about the carpeting,” when we mentioned our animals. Not that we’re not going to take care of the carpet, because dear me, we are, we absolutely are. I cannot live with dog ass in my carpeting. I will scrub every unsightly stain, I just won’t feel guilty over it.

Does that make sense?

Melly Klistmas and a Happy New Lease

This is probably the longest stretch of time I’ve ever gone without writing in my blog. It’s been almost a whole month, you guys. So what’s been taking up all of my time, you ask? All fifty-six and a half hours a week not spent sleeping, showering, eating, working, and commuting? First, there were the holidays.

snowy village

Christmas was lovely. I didn’t get the Sylvanian’s out of their Thanksgiving outfits until December 21st, but it was totally worth the wait.

sylvanian xmas

I didn’t bake my traditional gingerbread people this year, but I did make all my own gift-wrap.

recycled wrapping

We had a wonderful New Year. Mike had to work New Year’s Eve, but I got to spend the evening with my brother and his wife, just the three of us, and it was absolutely lovely. Since Mike and I weren’t going to spend New Year’s Eve-ning together, we spent the afternoon together instead. And what does a young starting-out for the third-time couple do on a sunny So Cal winter day? They apartment hunt.

I had been hoping for a two-bedroom apartment, some outdoor space, and hardwood or laminate floors, but two-bedrooms with all those amenities in the San Fernando Valley are more expensive than you’d think. We looked at a couple of cute places, all brand-new laminate floors, lots of sun, one-bedrooms totally within our budget.  We looked at a couple of awful places, one-bedrooms outside our budget that looked good on paper but turned out to be carpeted windowless dens of misery.

We were getting ready to wrap it up for the day when Mike convinced me to take a look at a little apartment off Saticoy he’d seen the day before. A two-bedroom with a dishwasher, a balcony, a fireplace, and carpeting, it was right within our budget. However, as far as I was concerned, the carpeting cancelled out the dishwasher, the fireplace, and the second bedroom. I was determined to hold out for hardwood floors. And by that I mean laminate flooring would have been equally awesome, but carpet was out of the question. If we had carpet I would spend the next five years scrubbing dog butt-smear out of it.

“But the landlord said she didn’t care that we have dogs, she doesn’t care what happens to the carpet, so you don’t have to worry about it.”
“Dog butt-smear in the carpet is disgusting. I’m not living with carpet.”
“I’ll buy a carpet cleaner and I’ll shampoo it once a week.”
“No.”
“There are two bathrooms.”
“Fine. But we’re only looking.”

He turned onto a street lined with 1920’s Craftsman bungalows and palm trees. “This is probably where we’ll walk the dogs in the mornings. There’s a coffee shop at the end of the block.” I rolled my eyes and coughed the words “butt smear”. He turned a corner and parked in front of a little six-unit building. There were two kids sitting on the lawn out front, playing with a puppy under the shade of a big beautiful tree.

The minute I walked into our Harlem apartment, I knew I was home. I loved that apartment from the first moment I saw it, like it was a part of Mike and me and who we are together. I loved it’s tall windows with the deep sills, the shining original hardwood floors. I loved our neighbors and our community, but mostly I loved how happy we were while we lived there.

When Michael opened the front door of this new apartment and I saw the fireplace nestled in the built-in bookcases, I knew we were home.  We signed the lease three days later and started moving in right away.  Life has been incredibly upside down ever since we left New York, but never as much as it has been in the last fifteen days. We’ve been overwhelmed and frustrated and of course there is always some butt-smear, but you know what? That’s life. And a little at a time the boxes are vanishing, our things are finding their place in cabinets and cupboards, and we’re making this apartment ours. Welcome to another new beginning. Welcome to the Valley.

welcome-to-the-valley

The sunset off our balcony

The Weekend Before The Big Move

So far we have:

  1. Found homes for the worm bins
  2. Packed everything that we absolutely can live without for the next four days
  3. Sent the cats safely to Los Angeles
  4. Built a special snake crate to safely transfer Meph across the country
  5. Packed suitcases of the clothes we’ll need our first two weeks in California, including work clothes for me and job interview clothes for Mike
  6. Secured someone to take over our lease
  7. Canceled TimeWarner and ConEd
  8. Changed our forwarding address
  9. Secured someone to take over our lease

We still need to:

  1. Purchase food for the road
  2. Find a home for our CSA
  3. Pack clothes for the road
  4. Find homes for the rest of our plants

And I don’t even know what else. There are a million other things, I know there are, but I can’t think of any of them right now. I’m a little freaked out, I’ll be perfectly honest. I’m ok, I’m fine, it’s all going to be all right, I’m just a little freaked out. Which is normal. But it doesn’t help that things are beginning to get messy. Messy makes me grind my teeth. Messy makes me want to cry.

Before

bedroom before

After.

bedroom after

***

Before:

kitchen before

After.

kitchen after

Before:

living room before

And:

studio before

Now.

cardboard nightmare

I’m totally over this.

And I am really looking forward to UNpacking on the other end.

25 Days Till

Today is twenty-five days until we load our truck. We got home from Esopus around four o’clock, dropped our stuff and headed out to scour the neighborhood for boxes. Between the corner pharmacy, the corner market and someone’s trash pile, we got us enough boxes to last through the whole dang weekend!

So now we’ve made a slightly obvious dent in the packing. I have decided it will be fun to do periodic updates, so all my Internet friends can see how the move is progressing, and so those of you who are so eagerly awaiting my return to Los Angeles (all twenty-eight of you) (what? I have an enormous family) can see how things are coming along.

There will be pictures.

living room 25 till

I loathe my little point-and-shoot camera, fantasize nightly about something decent with changeable lenses and a speed that allows for shooting in low-light without a flash, I have no idea what kind of camera that would be, but it would probably be able to perform magic compared to what my little Olympus does. These pictures are the way they are because I hate flashes and would rather post something that’s fuzzy and orange than something that has flash beams bouncing off of every surface.

We love this room. We really, really, really love this room. When we first moved in we thought we’d rent it out, someone could close the french doors and have complete privacy, you’d be surprised what people will rent in the city. But soon we were too much in love with this room. It’s been our multi-purpose room, our art studio/living space. This was the room where Michael discovered his love of painting, and where he started carving in wood. That coffee table is where we’ve curled up on blue sword-fish cushions for family dinner every night. It’s also where I spent most of my time writing. I love the space, all that room to stretch out and practice yoga in. And all the sun, perfect for our tiny urban garden.

living 2 25 till

This room has held so much happiness — this apartment gave us our first sense of home since we moved to the city. Even full of boxes and half-blank walls, it still feels like home. Which is probably because home isn’t the stuff that makes up a room, it’s the people we share the room with.

Kitchen-25-till

We’ve still got a long ways to go, packing wise. We haven’t even touched the kitchen, except to start emptying some of the cabinets and carrying their contents into the living room. Why? I don’t f-ing know you guys, I was getting tired. That’s when we decided to call it night and stuff our face with some of Mike’s Famous Fancied Pizza. Read more for Mike’s recipe for Mike’s Famous Fancied Pizza!

Read more…

Yesterday — This and That

We started packing this weekend. Not Michael and I, Adam and I. Michael is taking care of eight Alaskan Malamutes who live on eighty acres of land in Esopus, New York, and so Adam and I spent Saturday in Central Park, then we went to SoHo to do a little shopping, and then we went back to my apartment and started packing. I didn’t want to. We’d shared an idyllic New York afternoon and the last thing I wanted to do was ruin it by packing my home into cardboard boxes. I hemmed and hawed and insisted on cooking a three course meal, which is laughable considering I only starting learning how to cook within this last year, I was obviously just procrastinating. However, Adam is the kind of guy who organizes his underpants by color and cut because he thinks it’s fun, so by the time I had the first course on the table, he’d all ready packed up several boxes of stuff. And I was relieved. It was little like ripping a band-aid off a wound, but once the book shelves are empty, what’s the point in putting off the rest? So we packed and we packed, until we ran out of boxes and only then did I realize how much crap Mike and I have. Seriously. Adam and I packed twenty boxes of stuff from the living room and the only reason you can tell is because now there is a huge stack of packed and labeled boxes along one wall. Mike and I have really got our work cut out for us.

But for now twenty boxes will have to be enough, because on Sunday morning I hopped a train to Poughkeepsie and Mike picked me up at the station and drove me to Esopus, and now I am sitting on a deck with my feet up, laptop perched on my knees, a cup of peppermint tea at my elbow, and I am looking at this:

My View

I don’t know if you can tell from the crappy photo I took with my computer (I forgot the cord that connects my camera to the laptop, so had to use Photo Booth instead) but there is a lake beyond those trees. A perfectly lovely shimmering lake, full of fish to fish if you like to fish, and snapping turtles, and frogs, and all kinds of other wonderful things. There is space for the doglets to run around, so long as I keep them separated from the herd Malamutes, who, friendly as they are, see ten pound dachshunds and fifteen pound chihuahua mutts as snack foods. Of course, if I did let them mingle, we wouldn’t have to worry about driving cross-country with two dogs.

Sunday afternoon it was very hot and so I put our doglets in the air-conditioned, furnished basement and spent my afternoon like this:

P and Ish.

That’s Printer, and he probably weighs about a hundred pounds. He likes to rest his head on your knee for a scratch behind the ears, and if you don’t comply, he will take one of his giant paws, and he will place it gently on your shoulder and push a little. And then huff an exasperated sigh, as if to say, “I ask so little of you, human. PET ME ALL READY.”

This place is heaven. The space, the green, the crickets, the humming birds, the dragon flies, the wind in the trees, it’s all absolutely heaven. It’s a perfect reprieve from our impending move.

Malamute Footrest

Malamutes make good footrests.

T and TT

When Trouble wants to sit in your lap, you let her. All ninety-five pounds of her.

EDIT: This is my 100th post at A Serious Girl! (Just felt like I had to mention it.)