Mar 14, 2011


Here's my story. I moved to Los Angeles in 2005.

On January 6th, 2005, I was in Las Vegas, taking down Christmas decorations from Caesar's Palace hallways and cypress trees (business, not pleasure). I took the Santa hat off of the mini statue of David's head.

Just as we were finishing up, I was offered a three-month internship at a small LA management company. (Let's give them the codename Dryad Management.) All I knew about the company was the address, and that's more than I knew about LA.

Dog in Rag TopDump was in Rhode Island. She and I had been waiting for this news. I got back to New Jersey on the night of the 10th and packed. Dump arrived in New Jersey on the 12th. And we started cross-country bright and early on the 13th, a caravan composed of my car and one U-Haul, with my parents, my brother, Dump, and my dog Baker.

After a few hundred miles, Baker crawled inside the lining of my convertible's top and only stuck his head out. This is how he opted to travel the bulk of the three day journey. (pictured) He has no regrets.

My roommate Dump had collected from online several potential apartments. We had a list to visit upon our Saturday arrival, but as it turns out, it wasn't much of a day.  We walked into our first appointment, and that was the last. That was the the same apartment where I'm presently writing these words. We never bothered to look at another. It was 5 miles from my internship, and like something out of  a dream.

It has a washer and dryer in the unit. It has a balcony, a big one. It has a fireplace. It has central heat and air-conditioning. It has two-car subterranean parking. Compared to my previous pre-War building in Harlem, which barely maintained electricity and which cost exactly the same per month, this was paradise. I had never lived so high on the hog. I was pretty much on the tippy-top of the hog.  THE WHOLE HOG. ME ON TOP.

Six years later, I'm still reluctant to leave it. But I have this dang job on the other side of the hill...

The thing about LA

Here's the thing about Los Angeles. If you want to live in Van Nuys or North Hollywood, on average, you'll need to get a job in Burbank or Sherman Oaks to afford it. If you want to live in Burbank or Sherman Oaks, you'll probably need to get a job in Santa Monica, Century City, or Culver City. Of course, if you want to live in Santa Monica, Century City, or Culver City, you'll need to get a job in Beverly Hills or Malibu. And if you want to live in Beverly Hills or Malibu, you'll need to be one of those people who don't need  a job.

This is why traffic sucks in Los Angeles. Almost no one can live anywhere near where they work.

Embarrassment of American Luxuries

mystreetAll the same, I'm trying to make this happen. I'm trying to move to Culver City, or Palms, or Century City, or even Santa Monica or West LA. They make a big U around my place of employment, which would  cut my commute time down from an hour or more each way to twenty minutes or less.

But here's what I know: there's absolutely no way I can afford a washer and dryer in the unit, with a balcony, and a fireplace, and central heat and air, and two-car subterranean parking, in a building that costs anywhere near what I paid in Harlem, which is what I've been paying in Van Nuys.

I mean, I recently got a raise. Not a huge one, but by shifting my budget around, and by reducing the amount I put in savings, and by adding the entirety of that raise to the pot, I'm increasing my housing budget by 80% per month. Yet, somehow, it's still a struggle to find anything anywhere near the business that pays me anywhere near as nice as my current pad.

Seems like a bad system, doesn't it? As a society, I mean?

But, it's time for a new start. It's time for fresh surroundings. It's time to break the routine and reinvigorate my brain. It's time to live with Beezie and her kitties. It's time to have an office. It's time to have friends over to a place that's ours, as a couple. That may mean vastly curtailing my savings for a few years. That may me sacrificing central air, or easy parking, or living space, or who knows what else.

But it's time. And when it's time, you better act.