Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mrs. Pasquini's Home

Today, just one week after starting his new job, Dan is on a business trip to Arizona, attending the Republican presidential candidate debate. I am very proud of him.

Photo credit: The candidates as seen in The New York Times. But where's Dan?

Being in LA, Dan is getting to do really cool things. Like be June's godfather.

As Dan becomes more interesting, I get more boring. It was easy to hide this fact when we were staying in the back guest house at Kristin and Christophe's place, which was basically like having our very own apartment with the BEST.MATTRESS.EVER. Only it was better than our apartment because you get surprise visits from their two-year-old Will, who lights up and smiles whenever he sees me (it just melts your heart).

But now, we are staying with Chris and Cyndi, whose lovely house only emphasizes the fact that all I do is stare at my computer all day long, hoping it will conjure up some kind of magical employment or good will or fun. I sit at their kitchen island, working on things and futzing away my time. My energy level is quite low. At one point, Cyndi asked me, "Are you okay? You have been sitting there a really long time." Their own two-year-old, Sam, who is keen on repeating everything we say, makes remarks like, "Mrs. Pasquini's home." (Only it sounds like "Pasquini Home"). Yes, that conjures it up right now. I am sitting at home. I am the least entertaining house guest that ever was.

Not that I deserve a pity party. With his new job, Dan has discovered the horror that is the 405. To drive to work from where we are staying in Sherman Oaks, a distance of about 15 miles, it takes Dan about 1 hour and 15 minutes to get to work, and 1 hour and 45 minutes to come home. Once, it took him 10 minutes just to drive one block. Thus, the priority on our agenda is to get an apartment on the west side of town, near his job--stat. (I have also narrowed down my job search to only west side companies).

We started our apartment search last weekend. We looked at four spots, each of them were very spacious places with two bedrooms, outdoor space, tons of storage, a kitchen, one or two baths that ran for under $2,000 per month. If we had seen any of these places in New York--especially in that price range--we would have snapped up any of them, no question.

The problem was that none of the spaces had any character. There was carpet everywhere. The balconies were the size of a bathtub, overlooking a busy street or ugly alleyway, offering zero ambiance or room to do much of anything. Where was my adorable mid-century cottage I had been imagining this whole time, the one with the cute Spanish accents, hardwood floors and the nice yard for my barbecues and garden? Turns out they do exist -- but not on this part of town. Dan assures me that we will only settle on a place that we love, but I can't deny I am a bit crushed. Being close to the beach does offer some solace, but having the cool home was one of the main reasons I was sold on this California lifestyle.

I also feel very concerned that there when I go to any grocery store around here, there doesn't seem to be much of a deli counter. At one fairly fancy grocery I went to, there were like five Boar's Head meats to choose from, and I had to flag someone down because no one was even manning the station. I am flabbergasted that it appears most people buy pre-sliced packaged cold cuts here. (Mind you - this used to be my regular deli counter. Watching the Deli & Salumeria video brings a lump to the throat.)

At least this place might be in or near my new neighborhood.

I am trying to keep my chin up. Where there's a June, there's a way.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Dream a Little Dream

Who would have thought that Dan would move all the way from New York City to Los Angeles only to get a job with the British government? It all seems far-fetched -- consider the fact he's not British and he's never been to the U.K. before. But I knew he could do it-- I was the one who convinced him to apply for the position. And ta-da! Dan got the job, and he started today. I am crossing my fingers that this might mean future travel to England, a meet and greet with Kate and Will or maybe a ticket to the Olympics. The most likely scenario? Dan's going to come home from work inspired to play British rock tunes on the record player and speak in a fake accent.

It's such a relief that after only one and a half months, one of us has a job. (Although I have to say, the freelance copywriting work has been trickling in quite steadily from New York, so I haven't felt too unemployed as of late).

With Dan's office being in Santa Monica and the locale of most of my job prospects being close by, we are likely to live on the west side of town so we don't have a hellish commute. Everything that people say about the traffic here is true. Driving across town on a daily basis could be considered an act of torture is some countries. (Where I come from, we get traffic because there is a car accident or road work or something. Here there is traffic, I can only surmise, because people want to get on and off highway exits. It's infuriating and doesn't make any sense and it takes forever.)

What's interesting is that before Dan and I came here, we always assumed we could live in Los Feliz, Pasadena or Altadena -- where the living is cheaper, our friends are closer, and where we could get a little cottage with a backyard for barbecues and gardening. Now, in order to be close to work, we are likely to be living in the posh side of town about an hour away from our friends (except the Kunkas-though they are moving soon) in (probably) an apartment. Sound familiar? Kind of repeats our living situation on the fancy Upper East Side where all of our friends were an hour away in Brooklyn. Why did we move again?

Oh, here's why. Do you know what is on the west side? The beach! I never thought this would happen to me, given my beach-phobe of a man, but it is very possible that I might live walking distance from sandy shores and ocean waves. I never considered that we would have that kind of lifestyle, and it's like a dream come true.

Photo by Jannev.

Dan is trying to convince me that his dream would be even more "far-out." Living in a yurt in the middle of the woods in Topanga Canyon. You know my husband secretly wishes he was a hippie.

Where would you rather live?

Earlier this week, Dan and I took a hike in Wilacre Park in Fryman Canyon in Studio City.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

10 Things of Note

1. I took this amazing vegan cooking class at Spork Foods. Yes, I said vegan, as in no meat, eggs or dairy. The class was a Christmas gift from Dan. We made savory waffles, spiced cauliflower, lentil patties with a shallot topping and peanut butter pound cake. It is not my style of cooking, but the food was delicious. The two sisters who run the show are probably the nicest people ever. They actually hugged me good-bye when it was time to go. And I just met them like two hours ago.

2. Kayleen and Julien were in town for the weekend so we, along with their LA-based friends, headed to downtown LA (otherwise known as DTLA-- really?) for a trendy dinner at The Spice Table. Apparently, the cool part of town nowadays. It was a cool spot, and Dan swears it served the best ribs he's ever had.

3. At dinner, Dan ranted about why he hates New Yorkers.

"Because they say, "How you doin', good?"....Let me tell you how I am doing. What, you can't wait the extra two seconds for me to say it?"

4. Downton Abbey: Season One marathon. I now know what all the hoo-ha is about.

5. Dan and I went to the DMV to get our California driver's license, and we had to take a written driver's test. Someone got a 100% (it wasn't me, but that person will gladly gloat about how well he did). The woman at the DMV almost gave me a beat down for trying to take my folder from her desk, but somehow I managed to pass (barely!) This means I can finally get my library card. YES!


Do you remember this very important
news item that Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck took their dog on a walk in Brentwood? Yeah, well, I basically watched this event unfold in front my very own eyes, (if you turned the camera to the left, I would be right there). And yes, I am proud to be part of this monumental moment in history, wouldn't you be?

6. Job interviews. Yes, they've happened to both of us, on more than one occasion, for multiple positions. Glad to know that all this time, we haven't been sending our resumes out to a black hole. No actual jobs just yet. We're crossing fingers and toes that something pans out soon.

7. Many people think that Dan and I get along well, but we have taken a compatibility test on Nintendo Wii and we have discovered that we are not the most compatible couple of them all. That award, my friends, goes to Nate and Dan.

Let the bromance begin.

8. I don't like frozen yogurt, but Ara and Sandy took me to Menchies, where you can create your own sundaes. Besides Friendly's on the East Coast, they are the only place that offers a peanut butter sauce, which is perfectly enhanced with chocolate fudge, M&M's and pretzel pieces. You almost forget you're eating gross frozen yogurt.

9. I got my first LA haircut. It wasn't such a terrible experience, but I really missed my NJ hair dresser who I have been seeing for the last 10 years, and my hair partner in crime, Meagan. It's just not the same.

10. I really want to love it here, but I really miss home.

June Bug

Meet my new friend, June. She is the three-month old daughter of our most recent landlords, Ara and Sandy.

It may seem like all she does is eat and poop and cry and sleep. But don't underestimate her. Life is pretty hard when you're a baby. Sometimes it feels like no one understands you. I get that. That's why June and I are buds.

I have never lived with a newborn before, and I am amazed how much a baby constantly changes. Everyday, she looks different to me. Her cheeks are growing plumper. Her face is filling out. By the end of our two week stay, she had so much more to say, and she started to reach out for toys. I tried to catch some of her first smiles on film.

There's one! It's probably because her mom insisted on putting this gigantic bow in her hair.

Silly mom!

Lay of the Land

Dan: Now that we have been in LA for about a month, don't you feel like you know your way around town now?

Yvonne: No.

Dan: (incredulously) Really?

Yvonne: I mean, if you dropped me off at some random part of the city, I couldn't find my way back without a map.

Dan: Oh, wow. At this point, I could find my way back from anywhere.

Yvonne: Maybe it's because you have lived here for a total of five years, and I have only lived here for a month? And I have driven about five times total.

Dan: Hm, that's a good point. I thought you had it all figured it out by now.

Yvonne: No, I don't.

Dan: Huh.

Note to everyone: I don't know where I have been for the last four weeks. Shocker!

(image sources: one and two)