Dying For A Place to Live

‘Oh you poor thing.’

That is the expression I get anytime I mention I am looking for a place to live whether I sound chipper or if I have a slight tone of defeat. Strangers or friends, even if they don’t verbalize it in words, the sympathetic look on their face says it all.

Yes, being in Los Angeles on the hunt for a space to hang my hat, stow my stuff, rest my head, heat up discounted frozen burritos, wash off the sweat of the ‘hustle’, unwind with a glass of wine, again…still…is killing me.

What you’ve heard about finding housing out here is nothing compared to the reality. Especially for someone like me who isn’t ready to share a place with 10 recent college grads and argue over whose turn it is to sleep on the yoga mat and who gets the bathtub.

And I’m also not in a position to afford a place of my own yet, since I do not have a steady income. I tell you though, finding my own space is a motivator to keep hitting the pavement, looking for work.

The search for a place to live has been ongoing since I arrived a few months ago. I’ve been fortunate to have several places to stay in friend’s homes, or friends of friends. I figured that would give me time to find a semi-permanent or permanent space to call my own.

Everywhere I’ve found thus far though has been short term, or temporary with the possibility of long-term that ended fairly soon. So even while I have a roof for the moment, I’m spending all my time looking for my next place and not spending time on writing, creating, applying for work. Really. Trying to find a place to lay my head at night has been a full-time job.

Before I headed out here, I was fine with the idea of being “on tour”, couch surfing, as I put it in a blog post back then. But it is wearing on me. I am ready to take the next step with Siri, where I add an address to my name in contacts, and I can tell her “Directions home,” and she will guide the way to my cozy haven where I have a parking space to pull right into, and can walk into my comfortable space and be ‘home’.

Admittedly, I have had an opportunity or two that my instincts told me weren’t for me for different reasons, so they were passed up.

The main issue is parking. Wait, no, what am I thinking? Cost! That’s it! The price of rentals here is absolutely, positively, ridiculously outrageous. Everyone obviously knows it. Even landlords have gone on about how incredulous rates have become.  At the moment with just occasional background talent work, it is hard to justify rates above what I have set for my current budget (as close to $1000 as I can possibly stay with utilities and parking included).

Everyone here has warned me the cost of not having a space devoted to parking my car equals countless parking tickets. No matter how much a person swears to themselves they will be diligent and stay on top of the street sweeping schedule, it is tough, and still results in a lot of fines. I’ve missed out on some cute places in areas I really liked because there was not a parking space. I tell myself the same as other people said they convinced themselves: “This place is wonderful. I love it. I’ll be good about moving my car when I have to. How tough can it be?” But then I remind myself that for times when parking is prohibited on one side of the street for sweeping, that makes parking even more scarce. And do I really want to be driving around and around late at night after coming home from an event, only to find something blocks away and have to walk alone to my door? So I move on and continue my search.

Another huge pain in the butt are the scammers. Most of the scams I’ve encountered are from Craigslist, but they’ve wormed their way into other rental sites as well. This is no exaggeration, I have received at least 15 responses to my inquiries about an apartment like this one:

Thank you for admiring our post.My husband and I need an honest tenant to rent our property located at ### S Sycamore Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036. I am Deaconess Veronica Weisgerber and Apostle Jason Weisgerber is my husband.We are presently in Africa running a non governmental organization that educates the underprivileged ones and also leading them to accepting Christ as their Lord and savior. We decided to make our rent affordable $1050 per month (rent already include utilities; Water,Trash,Electricity e.t.c) so we can attract an honest and transparent tenant.
 
Our Previous property manager were only concern in making their money and never attends to the needs of the our tenant and property so my husband and I decided to handle the rental ourselves.
 
N:B (The document and keys are with us and i have no problem sending it to you through fedEX which will take 16hours to get to the states so you can go view the inside property but the security deposit will be put down before the keys and document be sent,the security deposit is refundable if you do not like the inside of my property after viewing.I will give you a call once you agree to my terms and conditions).
Feel free to drive by the property to view the outside.
 
Best of regards  Veronica Weisgerber
You can reach me through this number +2348126414201 or let me know when to give you a call if you can’t call internationally.
I will love to speak with you

Of course I responded immediately and not only paid the deposit but also sent my bank account number just to be sure. Yes, sarcasm!  Driven by the anxiety of what began as an adventurous search for a cozy, safe place to live turned into a battle for a bedroom.
Other than parking, another HUGE issue out here is ageism. I have been looking for people who have an apartment with two bedrooms and two bathrooms because although these places are generally more expensive, I’ve decided a private bathroom is another must for me. If someone else doesn’t care about clogs and mildew in their sink and tub, that’s their thing, but I don’t want to have to scrub up someone else’s hair every time I go to shower. So, an apartment with one other person with our own bedrooms and bathrooms, and only the living room and kitchen for common areas seems like an affordable way to go.
So, I’ll be reading a post on a Facebook LA rentals group and begin to get excited. In my budget! Private bedroom and bathroom! Parking space! Utilities included! In an area I want to live! Where do I contact them now? How do I snatch up this great space before anyone else gets it? Then, inevitably, as I look for contact information I get to the line…”Mid-20’s looking for someone same age.” Seriously. I’ve been reminded LA is a huge attraction for trust-fund babies. I am sure some recent graduates have respectable paying jobs to allow them a luxurious residence. However, it is incredible how many 20-somethings are affording $2000 rent.
It is a time-suck with all the searching online, driving around, phone-calling and emailing. My sweetheart reminded me, “You are a director and a producer. Finding a place to live is your production.” Or at least that’s what I heard through my gasps and sobs as I sat listening through my earbud, in my Subaru at the curb, sun beating down on me through the windshield, feeling sick to my stomach because I had to move in two days and I still didn’t know where I was going to go. And in the few months I’ve been here I’ve somehow managed to expand my stuff from the belongings that fit snuggly in the back of my Forester when I arrived from Colorado to three carloads! And that includes a rug I just had to buy at a thrift store when I wasn’t even sure I’d be in my last apartment for more than a month, because hey, it really pulled the room together.
Suffice it to say, regardless where I moved, it was going to be a schlep.
The time and effort that go into looking for housing have been taking up my creative energy. I don’t want to “produce” a place to live. I want a haven to appear. A simple sanctuary where I can breathe, meditate, write, read, watch movies, enjoy a glass of wine, pee when I want, not have to reach over a pile of dirty dishes to use the kitchen sink, use my blow dryer and electric toothbrush (yes, I mean my electric toothbrush!) without concern that the noise is disturbing someone.
I am so grateful for the reminders from people why I came to LA. I didn’t come out west to pursue a full-time gig looking for places to live. Besides, it doesn’t pay anything. Instead, it costs–time, money for gas, pieces of your soul.
A few people have reached out to me with connections, links, advice, for which I am very grateful. And one by-product of my hunt has been meeting some fantastic women and making friends through it all.
Last week when I began writing this post, I had no idea where I would be living this past weekend.
Finally, as I stuck with it and continued the search, through blood, sweat and tears at what I felt was the last minute, I found a place in Los Feliz where I could live for the remainder of April. The woman whose apartment it was had to leave town for a few days so I rushed over to see the place and meet her. Though she didn’t ask for any money to hold it, which was fine since we didn’t sign anything at the time, we verbally agreed I’d move in Saturday morning.
This was a relief to an extent, but I would have to lug everything I have here up a flight of steps and then schlep it all somewhere else in only three weeks later. As much as I was dreading the thought, I tried to accept it is all part of living in LA.
Living the dream!
Those arrangements made, on Friday, the day before I was scheduled to relocate, I met with another woman whose second bedroom/bathroom in her apartment would be available soon, this place in Sherman Oaks. I was hoping to get something lined up for May instead of spending the next three weeks on edge as I continued the quest.
After touring her place, she invited me to sit down on the couch. Neither of us being 20-somethings, it was nice to be in the company of another woman who could relate to the benefits of sharing a place with someone closer to her age. Eventually she asked when I was looking to move. I took a breath and said with a slight laugh though I’m sure my eyes were serious, “Tomorrow.” She wasn’t sure if I was kidding or not, so I explained that I was needing to be out of where I was the next day regardless and I had a place I could go for three weeks. Sitting here with this adult, I didn’t have to spell it out for her. Instead she was the one who said it out loud, “So, you could move there but then you’d have to move again in three weeks?” I laughed and nodded.
I could see her thinking. She was going to be renting the bedroom eventually, but it is a big deal to have someone come into your space with such short notice. Even in the best of circumstances, it changes the dynamic of how you live.
She pondered it a moment. We discussed a few matters to make sure we were both on the same page. Then she said, “Okay.”
We both were almost in shock at the spontaneity of it all. Neither of us was used to making this type of decision without long deliberation, spreadsheets of pros and cons, weighing benefits and costs.
Then we hugged on it. Wow, a kindred soul.
Her apartment is on the third floor. On her balcony she has several bird feeders. She explained that since her sweet dog and cat have passed away, and especially with the drought out here, she does what she can to take care of the wild birds.
As we sat on her couch, there was something peaceful about their chirping and fluttering. She told me the different types of birds as they’d land and peck at the seeds she had for them. Reminder, if you’ve read my blog since my time with Daddy, we often spent time in the courtyard or at the park sipping coffee and watching the birds. There was even a nest outside his bedroom where we watched on as eggs were laid, babies hatched, momma feeding them, and one by one they learned to fly on their own. so often when I see birds, especially in this type of atmosphere, I feel Daddy’s presence really strongly.
IMG_3592-1At one point I glanced out and asked her in a hushed voice so not to frighten it, what the huge bird was that had landed on her railing. She turned and was shocked. “It’s a hawk! I’ve seen them on the branches of the trees out there, but they’ve never done that before. It’s a sign.” I hoped it was a good sign, and she said indeed it is/was, it was a sign of power. Curious about the symbolism of the hawk, I looked into it a little bit, so if you are wondering too, more on the hawk below.

The decision that I would move in the next day made, I expressed my concern for how to let the other woman know. Since my new ‘roomie’ has lived in L.A. I thought she might have some insight how to respectfully let the other woman down. It is difficult for me to feel I am backing out on anything that others might be counting on. As she and I thought out loud, we came up with a text I felt comfortable sending. I received a message back, “No problem. Thank you” Whew.

So this past Saturday I loaded up my car, three times, and made the move northwest to the next leg of my journey.

My new roommate has some unknowns of her own, and might need to relocate with her job which was one of the things we chatted about beforehand. I told her this was fine with me because I am still exploring and looking for work. So ideally if I have a place to regroup as I’m now starting to make connections and learn the area without committing to a location for a long-term lease, that would be perfect. So we both know in the least we are here through the end of May.

Seven weeks. I have a ‘home’ for seven weeks.

IMG_3598-1

Sherman Oaks has a very different vibe than West Hollywood where I’ve been, and loved, the past two months. And though the atmosphere is definitely more suburban here, Ventura Boulevard with a variety of restaurants and shops is only a mile from my current home.

My “current home”. It is temporary, but that works for me. I don’t know where I’ll be in seven weeks. But I do know that for now I have time to write, attend networking events, go have a glass of wine with my new apartment-mate. And for now, finding a place to live is only a part-time job.

Below is what I discovered about the symbolism of a hawk. Nature/the universe truly steps in when we need to be reminded of our individual strengths to cope with challenges on our personal journey.

“The hawk’s gifts include clear-sightedness, being observant, long distance memory, messages from the universe, guardianship, recalling past lives, courage, wisdom, illumination, seeing the bigger picture, creativity, truth, experience, wise use of opportunities, overcoming problems, magic, focus.

Hawk is associated with the number 14, with the tarot card Temperance. The Temperance card represents the teaching of higher expressions of psychic ability and vision.”

From Hawk Power Animal

I’m here.  Now!  The adventure continues!

And by the way, ’14’ has always been my favorite number.

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