Monday, April 30, 2007

I'm running on fumes, so this post will be short. Big moving truck came today, picked up my life as represented by property and packed it tight to be driven across country. I'm sad as I write this. I'll miss my mom and Jack and it's hitting me just how much. I'm at their house now, propped up in bed in a guest room. I still don't feel like I'm leaving. I'm still in denial, even when two men hauled possession after possession out of my apartment. The night before my move, the things that needed to go in boxes seemed to triple. I was operating purely by will, but at 5:30 AM I gave up and laid on my mattress to try to sleep. It came in fifteen minute bouts and soon it was morning.

The movers were nice. One was a big fan of The Wire. The driver was a big burly man from Virginia who drove a massive truck. The day before I said goodbye to the Starbucks crew, got hugs and a free mocha. On Saturday I had lunch with a friend from The Wire and it was great to see her and catch up with life and show gossip. Though I know where I'm going and want to go there, it's bitter sweet. Why can't we take the things and people we like about one place with us to another?

I drive to North Carolina tomorrow. Sleep is tugging at my eyelids.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

I have an apartment in Los Angeles.

Well, almost. I have to send a check in to secure it, but it's as good as mine. I won't be posting pics of it any time soon until I move in. Mostly because I haven't seen it. The landlord is nice and we've spoken a lot on the phone. Were it not for Shannon going there in person and taking pics, and meeting with him regarding renting me the apartment, it wouldn't be happening. That, and I'm sure the fact that I didn't sound like an irresponsible moron on the other end of the line when I spoke to him. That was one thing that struck me when I was calling landlords in Los Angeles. They were pretty much willing to rent to me over the phone. One said he was sorry he rented the apartment because I sounded like I'd be a good tenant, then asked me if I was a voice over professional. I told him I wasn't and he was surprised. He was a voiceover professional himself, and told me that I should get into the business. He gave me some pointers before we ended the conversation. Gotta love Los Angeles.

Thing is, the voice over industry is very specialized, small, and cut throat, no pun intended. I don't think I'd make a good VO artist because having a pleasant phone voice is one thing, but emoting like you really care about cleaning products or pet food is another.

One man whom I met in person was ready to lower his rent $100 a month for me because he liked me right off. He had some fabulous apartments that were too expensive for me and happened to see me when I was looking at his vacancy sign. However, he didn't take pets. Even if he did, and at $100 off, it was too expensive for me this first time around. They were gorgeous places that I'd seen on the internet and near another building where I was looking.

At the place I live now, my landlord tells me I'm his favorite tenant. Perhaps I just have a good tenant vibe.

And speaking of vibes, I'm starting to get calls from recruiters in Los Angeles about copywriting jobs. This is a good thing since the last few weeks I've solely been concentrating on moving and haven't done a thing on the job search front. It just happened out of the blue. One recruiter was referred to me, and another was one I'd worked with before, but a job popped up in the last week. All good signs, even if they don't pan out.

I drove to the moving office to deliver my paperwork and deposit check, and got lost. The place was located in Jessup, MD and I wasn't familiar with the area. I called, got directions to the place from where I'd gone wrong, and while on the phone with the woman a bald eagle soared into view. Awesome! I excitedly told the woman, "Oh my God, I just saw a bald eagle!" She got excited with me. I'd never seen one in person before, and it was just incredible. No mistaking that white head and wing span. Getting a little lost was well worth that and I'll never forget it. I missed the juvenile bald eagle that visited just around the corner from me, so I was happy to see one before I left the east coast. I'm completely fascinated by birds and at some point would love to visit a falconry.

I've been unable to sleep at regular hours due to the impending move, so I use the time to quietly pack, clean or organize. I just sold some books to the used place today and gave away my ceiling tins to a wonderful man who lives a block down from my mom. I'd taken them as a freebie, so having not used them, offered them up on our neighborhood BBS. I got four immediate responses and went in the order received. The first person didn't take them, so the second guy got them. I was glad they went to him and he's promised me pictures when everything is in place. I was happy they went to a good home. I'm soon going to offer up my tall set of bookshelves for free as well. It's all about lightening the load. I can almost physically feel the weight lifting, not having so much "stuff."

The other day I had a nice blogger encounter. I was sitting here typing and Meredith, of MyBlogCanKickYourBlogsButt, recognized me and introduced herself. Very cool. Check out her blog. She lives in the neighborhood.

Just got word that the gigantic toy company wants to interview me before I get to LA. Hopefully they can arrange a phone interview or if not, interview me after I get there. Either way, nice to be acknowledged.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

I'm down to one week. Moving day is set, I have a consignment store
scheduled to pick up two pieces of furniture next Saturday. Score on
that one. My driving dates with my dad are set, and I'm pretty much a
sure bet to get another apartment that I found online. Shannon was nice
enough to visit it and photograph it for me. The apartment is near him,
and my bedroom window faces Warner Bros Studios. It has zero of the
charm that the other apartment did, but only costs five dollars more a
month and is in a safe, nice area in a neighborhood with million dollar
houses, wide streets and everything near by. While I sleep, the studios
will be making movie magic next door. Ideal would be a temping job
there while I look, as I could literally walk to work. The place
reminds me of my first apartment inLos Angeles , so there is a bit of
comfort in that. It has that "starting over" feel, and well, I'm
starting over. I've been on the phone with the landlord and am in
motion to rent it.

I'm still in denial. I shut down during major
life changes and become a robot, doing what I need to do. Selling
furniture, calling movers, canceling services, keeping an eye on my
bank account. I'm still temping, so I wake up, shower, pet and feed the
cats, go to work, do work, fill out my time card, walk to the temp
agency and drop it off, charm the 7-11 guy into selling me ten dollars
worth of quarters from his register, get on the subway. Get home, email
my dad to let him know when I'm coming. Stand up, fix dinner, eat, and
then continue to pack my things. I'm down to the last few items,
leaving my clothes for last.

Next, I decide what goes in the
car with me. Those are the things I'll need when I get to LA. Stuff
I'll need handy to get a job, go on interviews and temp assignments,
sleep. I'll get there before my furniture does so I may be sleeping on
a blow up mattress or borrowing Shannon's mat. I've kept a few
decorative items to bring so that the place will feel like home when I
get there. I'm happy that I know the area I'm moving to and that I've
found a one bedroom. I was almost so frustrated that I rented a studio,
but I knew I could find something if I kept at it and resisted that
urge. That is the one thing that's keeping me together during all this,
already knowing the city I'm going to. That and my superior talent for
life change denial.

I've also revved up the job search. I'm
determined to get a good one. I'm not after the whopper salary, been
there done that. Sure, I want a good salary and to get paid what I'm
worth, but the job has to be right. For that I have patience. I'm not
going back to LA blinded by pipe dreams. I know that anything that I do
of note will be of my own creation. It's just how I roll. I'm
comfortable up to a certain level when working within a company, but I
don't want to become a VP, even a Director of Whatever. I'm happy
writing copy and I'm good at it. I've worked on campaigns you've most
likely read or know about. Anything beyond that will be for my own
creations, whether that be writing, a product idea or whatever. I
realized I do have the potential to make it happen when I went at my sale the
way I did. All of a sudden I remembered that level of me who was
assertive in a business sense. I step up to the plate and get the
people in place I need to help me when I have something at stake in the
matter. Not only that, but I dealt well with the people who came to my
sale and knew what I was doing.

My dad has been setting up hotels for us to stay at on the way. He's good at this stuff and I think enjoys doing it. I do wonder how he's going to deal with two cats
in his space for four days straight. I'm looking forward to spending
the time with him.

Monday, April 16, 2007

I will never understand the need nor desire to kill innocent people. This includes innocent people shopping at a market in Bagdad to the people today at Virginia Tech. There is no lower level of cruelty and cowardice to kill the unarmed and unsuspecting. I'm sitting here in Starbucks, among people with different lives and goals. I could never walk in with a gun or bomb in my back pack knowing that the end of their life's story would come at my hands.

Now, parents who may have been planning for graduation will have to be picking out coffins. We don't think about that a lot. The aftermath the families must endure after someone goes on a rampage like this. Among the colossal heartbreak and sadness, the mundane, sign here please, sitting across the desk of the funeral home director. The scheduling, picking out the last outfit, boxing up rooms, sorting through photographs, turning off cell phones, and canceling credit cards, going through Blackberries and address books to alert friends and family members, and months later, still getting mail and finding items belonging to the person who was ripped from your life without warning.

My heart goes out to the families of the victims of the Virginia Tech murders today, as it does every day when I hear of one person selfishly deciding to rip holes in the fabric of a society of people who just want to live life. The families, friends, coworkers and classmates will have to endure the silent, heavy echoes from the vaccuum created by one scumbag piece of shit.

Friday, April 13, 2007

A few updates, because I just haven't been updating like a good little blogger. I had my yard sale part two before leaving for Los Angeles and it went much, much better. One, I moved a lot of stuff outside and set it up there. Two, I printed out nice color shots of the larger items that I had and made a "catalog" of them for people to look at. Three, I didn't give as much of a shit. The presentation was still nice, but I figured if I moved a fourth of the stuff that I put outside, then I was going to finish happy. I placed another ad and let a few neighborhood notices and my presence on the sidewalk do the rest. It worked. I moved a lot of stuff and got to meet a lot of neighbors that I'd only passed on the street before or never even knew lived nearby. It was an overcast day but warm enough to hold a sale. My mom sat with me, and was a doubter until she saw me doing a brisk business. It came in waves, but come it did. I fucking built it, and they came.

Now, with that over, I'm still left with some of the larger stuff that I'm going to sell on consignment. I've decided to keep my flat screen television because I just can't sell it for what it's worth. Technology changes too rapidly and is getting cheaper by the week to get what it's honestly worth. So, it's mine. So, be warned ye who want to sell electronics that you forked over a pretty penny for. They aren't worth shit anymore. So, keep them and pay the moving costs or donate them and take a tax credit. If you just want it gone, sure sell it. I'll be looking for your ad.

I had a bunch of used art supplies that I gave away to art students who were thrilled to get them. Most were hazardous materials that I couldn't transport and I didn't want them to go to waste. I sold other supplies that I wouldn't be using for cheap. One art student couldn't believe the price I was selling my oil pastels and seemed almost to come to tears. It felt good to do that, to give to people who are going to put things to good use and create beauty from them. The art students also loved my Baryshnikov books. I was pleasantly surprised at that, and they all went. Again, glad to see them go into the hands of those that will appreciate them. And, so nice to deal with people who "get it."

I've recovered from my disappointment with the apartment. Sure, I still hope that I'll get a call that they've had a change of heart and are going to rent it as is. The pictures don't make it look like much, but it was really a great place. Mostly I just want to be done with the searching process. I want an address to tell the movers to send my stuff to; an other end of the journey that I'm about to undertake. Right now, it's open and ambiguous.

Oddly enough, both times I've tried to come home from Los Angeles, the city has tried to keep me there. Though I got out of Baltimore just fine on my sister's pass, that wasn't to be on Thursday at the crack of ass in the morning. First, some idiot about thirty people ahead of me tried to bust through security at LAX and therefore shut it down. I was standing in line among 60 teenagers who were to go to Europe on a class trip when the TSA agents yelled "Bravo!" Everyone hushed, and silence folded over the thousands of voices in the airport. No one knew what had happened so we just craned our necks toward the metal detectors. I was in the zig zag line which had been moving just fine until the twatwaffle decided he was an exception to the rule. After about fifteen minutes, a scurrying of TSA agents and rumors of delayed flights, I sat on the cold marble floor and dialed Delta to see what the hell was going on. Soon, the whole line sat, and this is what it looked like.


Yeah. Did I mention that this was so early it was still dark outside? I think I did, but just in case. Finally, after twenty more minutes I got someone on the line at Delta. The woman told me what I already knew, that there was a security breach at LAX. I asked if they'd delayed the flights, and she didn't know. Two surly teenage girls dressed in black, the type who I would have hung out with in high school, asked me what they said, and I relayed the message. They called their moms, passed a school photo of a classmate whom one had a crush on, and mocked the cliquey girls ahead of them in line who were clumped together on the floor. We grumbled our distaste at the situation, and they snickered in pleasant surprise when I used the word fucktard for the offender. I laid on my back on top of my duffel bag, and just as I felt sleep laying a heavy hand across my eyes, the line started moving and hundreds of people erupted in applause. Yours truly included.

Once inside I could tell it was going to be a repeat of last time I flew on a buddy pass from LA. I wasn't going anywhere. Tempers were flaring, flights were overbooked. Gate agents yelled at other non rev travelers who didn't know the deal and had the audacity to ask for help getting on another flight. I say that in jest. If Delta wouldn't continually overbook their flights there would be a lot less unhappy customers. I teased my sister that DELTA means, "Doesn't Ever Leave The Airport." I sat and watched the ugliness for a bit and after calling Delta and waiting on hold for twenty minutes only to have a snarky phone agent tell me that the line is for paying customers only, I just wasn't up to it. Usually, the people on the phone will at least look up flight loads for you if you are nice they are nice. I was nice, she was a cunt. To explain this process to people who don't understand what I'm talking about, flying non rev is indeed a paid ticket, but it's cheap, making it non-revenue for the airline. You are last priority for standby and on overbooked days, which seems to be every day for Delta, you are at best considered an annoyance for gate agents. There's an unspoken rule that you lick the boots of the gate agents to get civility which will sometimes get them to look up loads for you. Thing is, you gotta have timing and common sense. And timing means you don't walk up to them when they are in the thrusts of loading the plane trying to get full paying for profit passengers on board. You wait, find a lull once everyone is on and then very gently plead for help. I use my sense of humor, which usually works as well. Especially when it's self deprecating.

On the good side, when it works it's the best. Non rev passengers get to fly for really cheap, and if first class is open, yep, you get it. Food, drinks, everything.

However, after the security crap and the very likely prospect of spending all day and possibly night in LAX trying to get home, I dialed again. This time, to Southwest. Within an hour I was on the first leg of my flight back to Baltimore. It came to around $350, but having a boarding pass was worth every penny. Had I wanted to buy a ticket on Delta the same day, it would have cost $900 and I wouldn't have gotten on a flight. Why? Overbooked. As for using my humor, I was tired and not feeling very funny that day.

On my way in to Los Angeles, I had an odd thing happen. I had exited my flight from Salt Lake City and was on my way to ground transportation through baggage claim. I had my carryon bag slung over my shoulder and was just about outside when I heard someone say, "Excuse me, Miss?"

I turned, and a man was quickly making his way toward me. He was in his thirties, dressed casually with a crew cut that was growing out. I looked at him, and saw that indeed he was talking to me. I stopped and he asked me if I had been on the flight from Atlanta. I hesitated because his question had thrown me for a loop, and I usually do take the flight from Atlanta to Los Angeles. Also, having just been to Atlanta for my sister's wedding reception I had to think for a second. When my head cleared, I told him I wasn't, and he looked at me. I looked at him back, confused, and wondered if he was a scam artist or something. I had a firm hold on both bags and was very aware of the people around me. That's when he pulled out a hanging badge from under his clothing. "I'm a police officer," he said. "So you weren't on the flight from Atlanta?" "No," I said, still confused, and I think he could see it was genuine. "Okay," he said, "Thank you Ma'am." He stuck his badge back in his shirt and as fast as he had materialized from the crowd, disappeared back into it. I was left bewildered, figuring I matched the description of someone they were looking for. I wondered what my doppleganger had done to warrant undercover cops looking for her at LAX.

Thing is, I had no idea I was being watched and wondered how long they had been tracking me. And, what if I had been on the flight from Atlanta, which I very well could have? What would have happened then? Would I have been taken into some room and searched and questioned? Would I have been asked if I'd witnessed something that happened on the flight from Atlanta? I'll never know.

What's interesting is that the guy was totally invisible until he approached me. Perhaps if I were worried about cops I may have been looking for people who appeared undercover, but it's just an example of the many layers of life that are happening around us at any given time. I was at LAX to catch a shuttle to my hotel. My mind was focused on renting my car the next day and finding apartments, particularly a studio that I'd seen on the Web and had an appointment to see at 10am the next morning. At the same time, the police were conducting an undercover stakeout for someone who had come to their fair city. Had our two worlds had no reason to collide, I would have never known of the much deeper drama that was in action around me.

Things like that just fascinate the hell out of me.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

I almost had a great apartment in Los Angeles. I flew down for a couple days to look and scored a coup on my second day. Since I have no idea what my income will be, I'm shooting on the low side for rent. My goal was under $1000 per month, and damnit I found it. Fantastic location, Hollywood Hills, hardwood floors, corner apartment, upper unit. Sunny. Very small, but the building was built in 1912 and had only twelve units. Impeccably kept building with wide hallways, redone plumbing, (copper pipes, I asked) installed throughout, and an on site rock musician manager that looked like he could squash skulls in his biceps, but sweet and sensitive with a heart of gold. He was more likely to use his brawn to rescue small kittens from trees, and took to me immediately. He really wanted me to rent the place and was excited when I asked for an application. The apartment had high ceilings, tons of light, and with my incredible furniture added, cute and elegant would be an understatement. Rent, $995 a month. Cats allowed, no pet deposit. Unheard of.

The downsides were that it didn't have parking and in that neighborhood that means you're walking two blocks at least. I didn't care. I could pay for a spot in a lot down the street. It was the price of starting over, that you don't get everything you want right away, especially if you are lucky enough to find the apartment that I did in the friggin' Hollywood Hills.

I applied and it was as good as done. I flew home the day after and the next day got a call from the manager saying there had been some developments with the apartment. Those developments were that the owner had decided to redo the whole apartment and rent it for over $1200. Apparently, the owner's assistant, a power hungry twat, came into the apartment and threw a hissy fit that the manager was showing it in "such condition." Huh? The condition was that the girl who had rented it before hadn't completely moved out, and in today's rental market nobody gives a shit except for people like this dumb twat who don't get it. The manager said that this hadn't happened for the sixteen years that he'd been there and that the owner had never acted like that. He told me that since the assistant had been given a little more responsibility, she was pulling power plays but nothing like this. The owner had decided to enjoy his success from afar and therefore gave more power to the twat. As I've always thought, true test of character is judged not in adversity but when one is given a little bit of power. If one had seen what I had in this building, the wonderful manager, and known the neighborhood, it would be that much more evident how clueless the twat was in her reaction.

The manager was completely devastated that I wouldn't be moving in, and felt so bad that he told me he'd give me my credit application fee back. I told him that this kind of thing happens and is beyond either of our control. I also told him that we'll get to sit back and laugh as they try to rent it for premium dollar when there is no parking to the extent that people will be walking a couple blocks. People who pay $1200 don't want to walk two blocks to their very small apartment. In east coast cities, that's expected. In Los Angeles it's a deal breaker.

So, unless the owner has a change of heart I won't be getting that apartment after all. It's a bummer because I was so ready to begin my Los Angeles life and it was looking like it was getting off to a perfect start. Now I'll have to go back and look again, and it's going to cost more money for another flight and car rental. I'll get the joy of having to endure kissing more depressing, small, cheap frogs until I find the prince.

This is the apartment that I almost called home. For those of you that don't know Los Angeles and the rental market, you might wonder what all the fuss is about. But for those of you that do, you see what I missed out on. Of course it was going to be painted, floors poly-urethaned (sp), and completely cleaned before I moved in. I invite you to join hands with me as we look and lament at what almost was.

Living room, other side
This is the living room. Ceilings were nine feet or more, I think. Just completely charming and cute as can all be. Other apartment searchers in the place. I took this photo from the kitchen area.

Living room with built in shelvesI loved this. A Murphy bed closet transformed into a shelving unit.

Living Room of the place that was almost home.Another corner of the living room showing a closet door. Bedroom is to the right.

Kitchen, with double windows over sink.This is the kitchen. Huge space and dining area behind me out of photo. The caddy on the left is furniture and would go. Original tile from the 19-teens's, and original icebox, yes, icebox was still there with heavy wood doors and the motor in it! It didn't work, but so cool. Storage and nooks galore, not represented in my horrible photos.

kitchen of the place I almost called home This is the other side of the kitchen area. The icebox and pantry are out of sight on the left, the living room to the right.

bedroom wall of the place I almost called homeHorrible shot of the bedroom. Such a bad photo, taken hap hazardly because I was talking at the same time. I had to invert it, and it shows nothing of the bedroom except the window. There was another window on my right, as it was a corner apartment. The living room was behind me from this angle, bathroom to the left.

Bathroom of the place I almost called homeWith every place there is something left to be desired and in this case it was weensy bathroom. However, there was a nice large window over the tub. I'm all for windows in bathrooms as it lets out the steam. Once again though, fixed up cute like I had in mind and with my gorgeous shower curtain in place, it would be a darling little room.