C'est Cheese!




California Dreamin'...?

Never say never, huh?

I love living in New York. I love the adventures The Husband-Type Man and I have been having. I love going out with the friends I've made here. I love my job. I love the markets and restaurants here, the museums, our neighborhood, our Purple Living Room'd apartment, the view from the Promenade, the deli across the street, Krispy Kreme doughnuts- I didn't expect to, but, man, I love living in New York!

I tirelessly told anyone who'd listen how much LA sucks in comparison to NY, and that I never wanted to move back. LA was great for Mexican food, and that was 'bout it. 

Me and THTM had planned on living here in our Brooklyn Heights apartment until the year lease was up, then looking for someplace to buy... to settle down for an undetermined length of time in The Big Apple, a continent away from our families and hometowns. It seemed like anything was possible... Upper West Side or Upper East Side? Soho or The Village? Brownstone or loft? Tiny two bedroom or airy studio? On our Adventures to this Greene Street market or that uptown park, we had all sorts of fun speculating and bouncing around ideas.

But then his place of business made him the proverbial offer he couldn't refuse. Bonuses. Stocks. Vice President status. But we had to move back to LA for at least a year.

Shit! LA? Hillster central?! I hated it when I lived there the first time around.... Go back?

The jam on the bitter pill is that we would now be able to afford to buy a house. Of course, to me, "house" in LA means crummy ranch house circa 1971 with a kitchen remodeled around 1989 and crappy carpet and stupid pressboard cupboards and "dusty rose" bathrooms and fake-oak ceiling fans all in lame-ass neighborhoods with lots of cookie-cutter families with children who would scream and run through our yard and a typical garage already rigged out with tool shelves and all that UberSuburbia stuff that scares the bejeebers out of me and gives me nightmares that I'll suddenly wake up and discover I'm making Jello molds for the neighborhood summer barbecues and my books'll've been packed up to make room for my Kristmas Krafts- Okay, so I have issues. But anyway, if there was anyplace I never wanted to buy a house, it was LA. 

Then THTM hit on an idea: why didn't we look for a house near the beach? Why not indeed!

So we got a real estate agent to help us on the Quest for Housing, and THTM schlepped out to LA on business, but squeezed in Go Sees while he was there. And after a couple days, he called me and asked "How'd you like to live in Santa Monica?" WOW! 

This woman was selling "a dollhouse" of a two-bedroom home... tiny, barely 1000 square feet, and no driveway, or even street parking, but it was totally charming. Built in 1911. Bougainvillea and other flowers all over. Wine cellar. French doors. It was also way expensive, but it was 10 blocks from the beach. And real estate in Santa Monica is a good investment, right?

We made an offer. She counter offered. We counter-counter offered. And so on. Finally, we settled on a price. THTM's dad, an architect, went over for the inspection. We hassled with permits. Her realtor kept coming up with last-minute things that needed signing "before our office closes at six"... yeah, but that's nine our time, and we don't have a fax machine at home, so we'd have to tromp into the city after THTM gets home at eight and find a Kinko's and fax back and forth and get home at midnight. "Can't we send this in the morning from work?" we asked more than once, only to be met with snippy "no"s. The owner and the realtor were being unreasonable about the smallest details. We kept asking each other "does she even want to sell this house? Does she have an ulterior motive?" Six weeks into it, and the appraisal came back valuing the house at almost $100,000 LESS than the selling price. The seller and the realtor wouldn't even give us the courtesy of 24 hours to talk to our loan officer. "We need an answer NOW." "Okay then, fuck off," we said.

Everything happens for a reason, I believe. But with little more than a month to find another house, try repeating that phrase at 2am when you're hit with a case of panic and see how effective it is.

I broke out in hives.

Luckily, our "fuck off" coincided with THTM's next monthly trip to LA. So he started the Quest anew. And every night, I'd stay up downloading pictures of the Most Promising Places he found. Mostly condos that looked like the hotel where the Bradys stayed on their trip to Hawaii. There were a couple that looked pretty good and were really close to the beach, so I used my frequent flyer miles to book a quick weekend trip. We'd go see the two promising ones on Friday, decide by Saturday, sign papers, and maybe even have Sunday to visit our folks before flying back here on Monday.

Ha. By the time my plane landed, both the Possibilities were in escrow. We kept Questing, but every place seemed uglier and smaller than the last. We filtered through hundreds of real estate printouts and expanded the search, scouring neighborhoods we didn't even know existed in LA. Beverlywood. Cheviot Hills. Parts of Hancock Park. Places off Wilshire and Melrose and Santa Monica Blvd. that I'd had no inkling were there. We saw houses that were almost perfect except for _____ and/or _____. We saw houses that were probably very nice 50 years ago but had underwent really shameful "remodels." We saw houses that were darling, but were way too small. We saw houses that already had offers, houses that were just out of our price range, and houses that were just plain really ugly! I extended my trip by two days... then three more. I went to an average of 10 houses a day. 

This wasn't helping the hives. *scritch scritch scritch*

Then we found The Mansion. (I know, it's really pretentious to call it The Mansion, but that's what our realtor dubbed it, so The Mansion it is!) The Mansion, built in 1928, has five (FIVE!) bedrooms and three (THREE!) bathrooms. It has all original fixtures, from glass doorknobs to the iron key to unlock the basement (BASEMENT?! In SoCal?!) door. The Mansion has a formal dining room AND a breakfast nook, The Mansion has a butler's pantry and a maid's room (BUTLER'S PANTRY? MAID'S ROOM?). The Mansion has a good-sized, albeit unlandscaped, backyard. But best of all, The Mansion has The Lounge! (Yes, yes, that IS pink quilted leather and black Formica circa 1940s that you see!)

I didn't expect we'd find a house that was perfect for us in every way, from the foof-ability of the house itself to the kitschy-party possibilities of The Lounge. There's even a lemon tree in the front yard. We'd been driving around the neighborhood, and DAMN if there weren't mansions -- REAL mansions -- on this street! And the one next to it. 

There was only one little problem... it's on the border between Good and Evil, less than one block north of the less-than-good area. 

But this house....

So we spent two days researching. We looked up crime statistics. We researched real estate in the area. We spend hours driving and walking around the neighborhood. Finally, we just marched up to neighbors in the area and asked them questions. By the time we discovered that the active Homeowners Association was planning on gating the end of the street next to the Very Questionable Street this summer, we were convinced. 

We're moving in a couple weeks. And we got The Mansion for less than the house in Santa Monica, too....

That doesn't mean I'm going to miss NY any less... but heck, with five bedrooms, our NY friends'll have someplace to stay when they come visit us!


Wanna see pictures of our new house?

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