The Shack Up

The Great Apartment Hunt

0a06d7ccd69fdefc_images-2For anyone who has ever been on the apartment hunt in Los Angeles before,  you know how hard it is find an acceptable place.

For anyone who has ever done this with their significant other before, you may join me in referring to this event as that time you almost lost your shit and killed a man.

It all starts off so hopeful and promising. Sky’s the limit when you’re combined income will get you an amazing one-bedroom, and hundreds of eligible options are just waiting for you to choose from.

Seven hours later you’ll be beating your head against a Westside Rentals sign and cursing each other for thier bad taste and fucked up definition of what’s livable. As I’ve recently learned the cause of this friction isn’t due to the shitty market and high costs of California living, it’s simply because, like in most cases, guy’s needs and girl’s needs are VERY different. Example:

A GUY LOOKS FOR: Location, Affordability, A roof, and A door (optional)

A GIRL LOOKS FOR: Location (clearly meaning walking distance to shopping/grocery store/entertainment), covered parking, onsite maintenance, washer-dryer, a view, a gym, pool and a unit in a large, well managed building Ok I’ll admit some of <i>my</i> “needs” may have exceeded the bare minimum but aiming high never killed anyone! (Actually it probably killed a lot of people. Many in this same scenario)

Maybe you already know the particular area to search, but we had needs in opposite directions and therefore the greater Los Angeles area to decide from. We searched everywhere from Hollywood and Beverly Hills, to Westwood and Brentwood before we finally honed in on Santa Monica as the official destination. That way we’d both be onconvenienced every morning.

Unfortunately locating a place where affordability met my wish list in one of the most expensive cities in Los Angeles was about as impossible as the fat guy ever finishing a WHIP OUT obstacle. It isn’t gonna happen. Stop trying. It’s just sad…..
While this emotionally trying search is continuing (as different as your circumstances may be) here are some sample conversation topics you may encounter on the side:

The awkward “You know this doesn’t mean I’m ready for marriage, right” convo.
The serious “No, I’m sorry,  you’re not ready for a puppy. I’ve seen you kill 7 goldfish in under a year” convo.
The typical “I can’t stand the way you (sneeze/snore/eat like a caveman), you’ll have to change so I will like you more” convo.
The “I really hope you don’t still think it’s okay to leave a (pair of boxers/hair extension chip-in/2-day-old banana peel/etc.) sitting there when we move in together” convo
And the ever popular “I hate you, I hate you, I hate you!” convo quickly followed by the “Ooooo! How about this place on 5th!/OKAY!!”

These are inevitable. But stay focused and keep your eye on the prize.

ADVICE:

  • Set a list of must haves in order of importance knowing which ones can be the first to go.
  • Make signals for, “I love this place,” “I could consider this place,” and “get me the fuck out of here now” so you’ll stay on the same page when dealing with building managers.
  • Set a price cap… then be aware you’re going to ignore it and go way over budget anyway.
  • Make a pact that when you can’t afford rent you’ll ro-sham-bo for who has to throw themselves in front of a car to collect insurance money.
  • And most importantly.. HAVE PATIENCE! Patience for the liars on Craigslist, the creative photographers on Westside Rentals, the endless driving around the block and above all, each other.

When it’s all over you’ll have an exciting new place to call home, that person sitting next to you who really isn’t all that bad after all and a fat glass of wine to wash away the memories of those rank post-crime scene apartments you saw.

 

 

The Furniture Merge

9a77b7110560ecd2_mail-22After the apartment hunt is finally over, beating around the bush is a long-forgotten concept… so assessing each other’s belongings with brutal honesty is a natural impulse.

You may find yourself hearing things like “It’s time for that Princess-Barbie vanity to find a home with a nice 13 year old and her tea set” or saying things like “If you even try to bring any of that ugly cheap-ass wicker furniture with you I’ll take it out back and set it on fire along with your weird tiki man collection.”

Don’t worry, this is a perfectly healthy way to go through the process of elimination.
In our particular case, this left us with absolutely nothing but two empty mattresses.

With a whole lot on “Go” list and virtually nothing to fill out the new place, the next task was ridding of the old and budgeting for the new!

One idea is to sell things off in the online garage sale known as Craigslist! It’s actually much easier than I thought. I received over 20 emails in only an hour when I posted two dressers and that “Princess-Barbie vanity” SOMEBODY referred to it as. Blatant proof of my great taste.

When a nice man came by to pick up all three pieces his wife claimed (clearly another of great taste), my boyfriend HAD to ask who they were for. The man responded with for his 11 and 13-year-old daughters.
A smug smile and a glance in my direction, “Yup.. Sounds about right.”
It’s still a touchy subject with me….

Important tip about selling stuff on Craigslist:
BE CAREFUL. You don’t want to forget to empty one drawer, and have that nice man drive back with a bag full of your lacy underwear and several pieces of a slutty Halloween costume you swore you never wore. The humiliation will be inevitable and that nice little family will definitely think of you as the freak they bought little girl furniture from. Just something I learned!
When the shoe is on the other foot and it’s your other half’s turn to clear out the old, move swiftly. Keep him on one task that will distract him, like a closet, while you do a quick sweep of the apartment, quietly and very considerately, trashing all things you never want see again.

Every two minutes or so you may hear, “Babe, come take a look at this.” Only go everything fifth or sixth time or else you’ll spend the entire day hearing stories of the college days and looking at old pictures with awful haircuts. Some things just can’t be unseen and that lease is already signed so go at your own risk.

I’m still not ready to talk about some of the things I saw… Okay I’ll say it.. he had ROLLER BLADES!

I guess this is what they’re talking about when they say compromise. Make a deal. You both get one ridiculous item the other has to deal with. I chose my awesome personalized license plate from my obsessed-with-the-movie-Almost-Famous-days (the 8387907023e9bd1b_mail-22-1“Almost” with an “L” was taken) and my boyfriend got to keep one of his angry little Tiki men with a face that looks like it’s crying really hard.

They sit together in a corner of our new place. See compromise!

Other than that, starting fresh is the way to go. You’ll break the bank a little but when its all set up, both of you will think it was worth it.

 

 

The IKEA Experience

 

3fbc217f5aabecf3_ikea-store.xlarge

Did you know that IKEA is responsible for 75% of break ups among couples in their 20s?

I made that up. But should that turn out to be true I wouldn’t be the first person to not be surprised.
Before you decide to make an IKEA trip, stop and ask yourself:

What’s more important… My relationship… or a tiny couch from a furniture store better known for Swedish meatballs?

It was a week away from moving day when my boyfriend (and soon-to-be roommate) and I decided a rainy Saturday would be the perfect time to collect everything we needed.

We had a long list of places to go so we figured we’d start close and work our way out. Having just gotten a Costco Card (the most exciting piece of identification since my fake ID in college) we headed south for the Costco in Venice Beach.

The picture on my card was taken only one day after I had my wisdom teeth pulled so my cheeks take up a majority of that ½ inch black and white photo, but the kind greeter who checked my card looked at me with that knowing former-chubby-girl smile and waved us in to join the crowds.

When we first entered, we paused to ask the question on everyone’s mind: If you were given a cart and 5 minutes to collect as much as you could, what would you grab?

Logical as always my boyfriend’s answer was to stack the TVs, load all the diamonds and take the cardboard print outs of American Express gift cards to the cashier. My answer was to sprint down every isle, one hand pushing the cart and one hand out stretched knocking everything in, hollering like Tarzan and pausing only for the free samples.

After pulling my boyfriend away from one of those giant TVs with a 3D glasses display, where millions of Americans are likely to have contracted pink eye, we started in on the home isles.

We spent half an hour loading up every random item we convinced ourselves we needed then finally came to a halt. We assessed the loot and one by one started taking out the ridiculous items until we came up empty and ditched the cart.

With this inspiring idea of all the fun without spending a dime, we decided we were brilliant and should do test runs at every store to compare prices and merchandise before making any purchases. Next stop IKEA!
Now, I’m a seasoned IKEA shopper but in all of my boyfriend’s 27 years of life he had never stepped foot into the giant blue cave of wonder.

For those of you traveling with the inexperienced here is what you might have to look forward to, if your experience is anything like mine:

Walking through the automatic double doors the two of you may feel excited and empowered, like all these little mock rooms are yours for the choosing!

You’ll rip off a paper measuring tape and run about the store pretending to know how long this wall is and how tall that one is. You’ll probably jot down a bunch of Swedish words you can’t pronounce, sit on every couch, and play house in the kitchens, even though neither of you plan to cook.

The fun will continue as long as possible but remember folks this isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. Towards the end of the mattress section the two of you may grow a little weary. You may start to have trouble following the giant arrows on the floor and get confused when you make a wrong turn and wind up where you’ve already been.

You can reassure your boyfriend that if you can just make it through the dreaded Kid’s section there’s a light at the end of the tunnel… but you’ll secretly know that light is still a long long way away…..

My mother once warned me she saw a women changing a diaper on an IKEA display changing table. Still, knowing things like this will never really prepare you for what goes on in there. Cover your eyes, plug your nose, hold hands and fight the urge to gag… it’ll be over soon.

When you finally emerge, beat and mysteriously sticky, you’ll see the arrows pointing down to the Marketplace and you can tell your boyfriend you’re almost home free. He may still start to complain about the lack of windows, exits, fresh air and struggle to understand which direction just means OUT, but stay the course and dodge his questions.

You’ll watch him go from the manly fix-it-man, ready to hammer and build a living room to a 5 year old who’s late for nap time, moaning and wining he wants to go home.

At this point, his eyes have glazed over, rugs are irrelevant and he may use his last bit of strength to start speed walking past everything. He’ll start knocking into carts and people with his body and pushing small children out of his way by their faces, desperately keeping his focus from one arrow to the next.

When he suddenly hits the lamps section he may become disoriented, blinded by bright lights in every direction he turns. You might be laughing hysterically ten yards back as he struggles to make his way through, looking like a mouse in a maze, hopelessly ping-ponging from wall to wall.

You’ll have the opportunity to catch up  when/if he reaches the pillow section…. If things get really bad you may even find him quietly sobbing into a plastic cover or whispering to himself about the needing to get out of here.

After a few pats on the back and a white lie that it’s right around the corner, he may take off running with a renewed sense of hope, and while you might try to keep up with him, his skinny little motivated legs will probably carry him through that jungle of plastic plants faster than your laughing will allow you to.

If you get lucky, he might politely wait for you at the beginning of the warehouse, antsy and itching to run again, but the second he sees you’re okay he’ll leave you in the dust and make a run for the restaurant past the check out lines.

This time when you find him, he’ll probably be sad, pale and standing in a crowd of people with plates full of pizza and cinnamon rolls. He’ll look down at you with big basset hound eyes and a shaky bottom lip, tell you he needs ice cream and beg you to do something about the line being so long. It won’t be pretty.
Learn from my mistakes and do the following:

- Feed your boyfriend first.

- Explain to him what going into IKEA will be like and make sure he understands he won’t be seeing daylight for some time.

- Make a short list of things you’re looking for. Without one you’ll suffer from over exposure and risk a panic attack.

- Avoid doing two warehouse type stores in one day.

- And bring something sugary in your purse. When he starts to get cranky, give him a juice box or maybe even some candy.

 

Just before my boyfriend reached for a soggy, cold meatball rolling on the ground, the crowds parted and he spotted a real live exit. He bolted out into the rain and thanked God he was free at last.

After the meltdown we walked straight across the way to a Mexican restaurant, ordered margaritas and heckled the happy couples walking towards their doom. Oh yeah, you look so happy now!

A week later we went back to IKEA. I fed my boyfriend pizza, ice cream and Swedish pear soda that was 99.9% sugar. We buzzed through in 20 minutes, left empty handed again and made our first living together rule: Never EVER enter a fucking IKEA again.

 

 

The Shower Scene

 

8016558fa22e32e3_Irish_Spring_Orginal_Deodorant_Soap_20_Bars_copy.xlargeMaybe this is all men, or maybe it’s just the one I’m cohabitating with, but something happens when he steps into a shower that seems to make dirt justEXPLODE off of him.

The walls, shower door and even ceiling wind up splattered in dirt and the spot where he stands is perfectly marked by two black, foot-shaped smudges.

This is not an exaggeration; Scrubbing Bubbles and a bucket of bleach are no match for the kind of damage he’s done in a 10-minute rinse. Trust me, I’ve scrubbed.

If you’ve just moved in with a man,  kiss your pretty white towels and rugs goodbye and plan to do a lot of replacing.

You can save money if you learn what time the mail man comes to your new building. When all the boxes are open, do a quick run through and collect all your neighbors Bed Bath and Beyond 20% off coupons. You know everyone gets them.

Hopefully your situation won’t be so traumatic. I did pause to consider maybe this isn’t normal…
Someone should really do a case study on the man who has only used bars Irish Springs soap everyday for the last 27 years.

It’s his shampoo, conditioner, body wash, deodorant, hand soap, probably detergent and I shutter to think what else.

In all seriousness, I actually worry. How he’s not growing bright orange hair and four leaf clovers all over his body is miraculous… or should I say lucky!

I understand you can get 40 bars for two dollars but… shouldn’t that in it’s self be a red flag?
Ok.. and I know this is just a weird pet peeve I have, but for whatever reason it drives me nuts when people brush their teeth in the shower.

I didn’t grow up doing it like some people and I just don’t buy the “saving water” line.
—you’ll be standing there brushing just as long as you would be by a sink but there a lot more water coming out of a shower head than a facet and I really doubt anyone’s turning it off between rinses.—
Anyway, the next thing I know I’m sharing a bathroom with a shower-brusher,  and I’m mostly just peeved that anytime I need the toothpaste I have to go reaching in the shower to find it.

Like any good girlfriend, I tried to change this habit!

I  learned my lesson when I spent the next week cleaning toothpaste spit off the mirror twice a day…splatter everywhere… like he can’t even lean over the sink a little!

Now I’m not going to pretend to be the perfect person to share with. I have a million creams forthis, ointments for that and about 15 different products I’m told a bar of Irish Springs could take the place of….plus there was that self-tanner incident…

Week-1 of living together I spilled a bottle of the goopy, brown tanning lotion on the bathroom floor. I wiped it up using toilet paper then  threw the heap of dirty crumpled wads into the bathroom trashcan.

Not realizing how it might look, I came home later to find my boyfriend standing with his back pressed against the wall starring at the trashcan with a disgusted look, debating if he should ask me about it or pretend he doesn’t see a thing.

On going list of purchases to remain hygienic and limit awkward moments:
2 tubes of toothpaste
Windex for the mirror
Shower matt
2 more shower matts for back up
A towel rack
Squeegee
Organizers for under the sink
All products by Mr. Clean, Clorox and Lysol
A Swiffer Wet Jet
And a book called Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff to help me sleep at night.

As some incentive, I’m trying to think up a monthly prize for my boyfriend if he helps keep the bathroom clean.

I don’t have any ideas yet but for some odd reason he really  responds to anything shaped liked hearts, stars, clovers…horseshoes and blue moons!

 

 

The Locals

 

8a9d7240d82168b2_3315915121_ffc65058acHelmet? Check. Gloves? Check. Spandex shorts with the padded butt? Check!

Well, I never thought I’d see thisday.
It’s not that I ever dislikedcyclists… it’s just that… yeah, I didn’t like them.

They freak me out when I’m driving. They’re unpredictable, they hog the road and go 15 mph in a 50, waving their overly-developed gluts side to side in front of your car, practically taunting you, but then when you go and hit them suddenly now you’re the bad guy!

(Not to mention that sport once contributed to me losing an intense game of Balderdash once. The card was Tour de France… I drew a tennis racket. Game over.)

Maybe the locals in your new town are mostly surfers, or hipsters, beach bums, yuppies, emo musicians, or maybe they’re gang members. Me… I’m surrounded by cyclists.

Since my boyfriend was actually already one of them (a near deal breaker in the relationship when I first saw the shorts), it would be an easy transition for him to live among the spandex people. But the next thing I know he’s trying to sell me on the idea that it would be great if I got into it too.

I think he also thought if I also had a bike I’d stop complaining about his being in the hallway blocking the front door (it’s a safety hazard!).

Decision: I could either isolate myself from the Santa Monicans and forever be rejected by society, OR I could get over my fear of colorful, knee-length leotards and get on a bicycle.
I figured I kick ass in a Spin class so sure, why not, how hard could this be?

We went to the local bike shop, had the man pull down a few bikes and went to the parking lot to try them out.

Turns out road bikes and the stationary ones at the gym… not so similar.

Who ever decided the seat should be higher than the handle bars is a nut and who ever coined the term “It’s like riding a bike” was a smug jerk.

Two falls and all my dignity later… not to mention the memory of my boyfriend holding me up while running along side the bike like a dad teaching a 5-year-old… we walked out with a shiny new bicycle and a big box of Bandaids!

I was happy to stand there in front of our building, looking the part and wave at our neighbors with that “Hi, yes, I am one of you” smile but the BF had other plans… like a 26 miles crash course.
Right off the bat, I hated how close together bikers are supposed to ride, but my boyfriend was wearing a riding outfit from an old Olive Oil sponsor, that didn’t think things through, so his butt said “EXTRA VIRGIN” which I got a kick out of.

However, when he asked if I wanted to try to make the green light, I said yes and sped up then he suddenly came to a halt, causing me to slam into his extra virgin butt … it wasn’t as funny. It’s too close. He turned around, looked at me laying on the ground under my bike and innocently asked “what happened” in his surprised-voice.

We realized in a hurry I wasn’t quite ready for the streets yet so we mostly stuck to the boardwalk.
Turns out drivers, side view mirrors, and swiftly opened car doors aren’t the only enemies of a biker….  3-year-olds on pink plastic tricycles are too… they think it’s just sooo cute to weave all over the road and ring their bell. Grow up. I’m trying to ride a real bicycle here.

So it’ll take some time. I won’t be the best cyclist Santa Monica has ever seen, it’s cool. It’s fun, great exercise and I feel like an official resident now.

I say definitely try on the local persona. Buy a guitar and black hair dye, or a polo shirt and loafers, board shorts and some marijuana, or pick whether you’re going to be a Crip or a Blood, it’ll be a good time!

If it doesn’t work out you can always pick up and move in 12 short months when your lease is up! (Unless you actually did join a gang, that’s actually for life…. my bad)

……and if you’re ever in the Santa Monica area and happen to hit a blonde amateur cyclist on the road, please inform my parents.

 

 

The Perfect Hostess

 

a6525ddc290b4177_tide-spaz-2-179x300What could be more exciting than finding out someone has picked your place to stay at while they’re in town?
Nothing!

Who wouldn’t jump on the opportunity to allow that friend who totally lost touch with you until they remembered you live in Los Angeles take over your living room?

When an old coworker of my boyfriend’s told him he was coming into town for the weekend, I happily offered up our place for him to stay.

Since it went so well, here are a few tips on how to be the perfect hostess so things run smoothly…

  • The perfect hostess always makes sure the place is flawlessly clean!

Vacuum the carpet, mop the floors and shine up the powder room!
If your guest calls before you’ve finished your housework, just don’t answer the phone. First impressions are everything.
40-some minutes later I could happily call my guest back and let him up.

  • The perfect hostess always makes sure their guest feels welcome. Offer them a refreshing drink and begin a polite conversation about how their trip was.

If this is a first introduction, like in my case, show genuine interest in getting to know them.

As my guest polished off about 11 bottles of beer in a half hour, I learned fun things like how he booked this plane ticket while he was blacked-out drunk and texting some chick, why every sports team in Boston is better than the rest of the world and how many times he’d been arrested for public drunkeness in the past year.

Side note: Don’t assume that an 18 pack will be enough for your guest to feel welcomed and refreshed.

If he’s 6’4, 250 lbs and hates sobriety, it won’t be. And that’s just bad planning on your part.

  • The perfect hostess is very adaptable.

If a second guest decides to come over while your boyfriend is still at work, be happy to have him. Sure he may be high as a kite and you find it weird that he’s not wearing any underwear with his sagging jeans, but the more the merrier!

  • The perfect hostess always prepares something so her guests won’t go hungry.

Maybe whip up some cucumber sandwiches, deviled eggs… or two extra large Costco frozen pizzas. I took the fact that they polished off, the two pizzas, rest of the beer, bag of chips, jar of peanut butter and a loaf of bread as a sign of me doing an amazing job of making everyone feel at home!

  • The perfect hostess understands the importance of male bonding time.

When your boyfriend returns from the office, excuse yourself to work out or run errands so that the old friends can catch up and do man things.

If when you come home you find empty bottles everywhere, a big, drunk, half-naked, white man in your living room wearing one of your way-too-small towels and leaning over the coffee table with a rolled up dollar bill while your boyfriend mouths “I am so sorry” and “I’ll explain” from across the room… don’t fret!

Towels can be washed, illegal drug residue can be Windexed off your glass table and your coworker who came over to see your new place for the first time will ……probably understand.

Remember what a gracious, elegant, welcoming hostess you ar—
Wait.
Oh God.
Is no-underwear guy sitting on the WHITE COUCH?!
No…NO!…AW HELL NO!
That is BARE MAN ASS CHEEK on my WHITE furniture!!
You’ve got to be f*cking kidding me! What kind of sick bastard does that sort of thing?!
THAT COUCH IS FROM IKEA!!—
(breath…….)
Eh eh em…

  • The perfect hostess never looses her cool. Instead she gets resourceful.

Suggest everyone gets out of the house! Separately. Perhaps a Girl’s night / Guy’s night out.

On girl’s night enjoy a lovely evening of catching up with friends over a martini or glass of wine then get to bed at a reasonable hour.

On guy’s night…. well you probably don’t want to know……. but should your phone ring at 3am with the number of big, drunk Guest #1 displaying, consider the following when debating whether or not to answer:
1.) They’ve left their keys and simply need you to unlock the door.
2.) They’re so drunk they can’t remember how to get home so you need to give the cab driver directions
or 3.) Everyone is in jail.
None of these were the case.

He simply mistook my number for the Hooter’s waitress he’d gotten earlier that evening when he was trying to invite her over.

Seconds after realizing what the miscommunication was and explaining who he had actually called (so please stop calling me Your Sexy Hooters Girl), the heard came busting through the door, flipping on the lights, blinding me, then screaming, laughing, knocking things over and acting like I just played the best prank ever somehow.

  • The perfect hostess never actually kicks her guest out.

She just puts his packed suitcase near the front door and tells him there’s no more food, toilet paper, running water or television left.

When that lady friend he originally came out to see decided against picking him up, we could have given him a ride, but didn’t.

When he explained the car rental place needed a credit card, which was something he no longer owned due to some past financial troubles, and asked to borrow my boyfriend’s, it was a no.

When he mentioned that even if he did have a credit card he wouldn’t have been able to drive himself since his license had been suspended in lieu of recent DUI’s that prevented him from driving in several states including California… again, it was a negative.

Instead, I turned to a little proverb I once heard…… something about giving a man a fish, feeding him for a day and teaching a man to fish, feeding him for a lifetime….. and did him a much bigger favor than any of that would have been.

I printed him out a copy of the Los Angeles bus schedule and directed him to the corner.

Such a shame he couldn’t stay longer!
Refrigerator full of beer- $45.
Month’s worth of groceries- $125.
Bill at Hooter’s and following bars- $200(+)

A lesson in the public transportation system and knowing you’ll finally get your beautiful apartment to yourself again– priceless!

The perfect hostess then changes their phone numbers, email addresses, deletes their facebooks and moves.

They can’t stay if they can’t find you.

 

 

The Man Cold

 

eb02298df64af237_pills-300x225The painful whimpering.

The agonizing moans.

The dramatic look in his big, sad eyes.

This isn’t just any cold.

This is a Man Cold.

Don’t let the lack of a medical term fool you, this is a serious and debilitating, life-threatening disease that turns fatal for any man not properly cared for.

Sure medical journals everywhere argue there’s no evidence to back up that a man’s cold is any different from a woman’s cold but ask yourself this:

How is it possible for a woman with a cold to go about her day, working, running errands and taking care of everyone ….. while a man is CLEARLY incapacitated, rendered useless, with only enough strength to eat, grumble, and drool on his own shoulder?

Okay fact:

We all know men become ginormous babies when they’re sick. Now that the two of you are living together there is no escaping the reality of the situation … He’s sick, and you’re “Mom.”

At first it’s a little fun to play nurse. We get to use those nurturing instincts we can’t help, we have a good excuse to watch movies and let’s be honest, we like it when they’re weak.

The appeal wears off in a hurry though when your apartment transforms into a muggy dungeon, with all shades drawn and the smell of sick in the air. You quickly learn how to handle this disease.

Humor him a little and let him know you care, but don’t let him milk it too long.

It’s just like when a toddler falls down. If you feed into it and act concerned it’ll freak out and start screaming. Use the same psychology with your grown up boyfriend.

Just keep clapping your hands at him and saying “You’re okaayyyyy” “You’re sooo brrraaaave!”

When he becomes the beanie, slippers, and old college sweatpants clad center piece of your living room, wrapped in a giant duvet, just let it happen.  But no matter how many times he asks you this, don’t ever say his forehead feels warm. It’ll confirm to him that he is dying.

So will WebMD so keep a computer out of his reach.

Should you find him laying in bed with his head sandwiched between his pillow and yours… don’t awaken the beast… but do spray some disinfectant on him and snap a picture while he’s in that state.
If he asks you to hand him the remote… when it’s sitting on his stomach….don’t do it. Just don’t.

During one of the many coughing spells he’s likely to have, he’ll probably keep glancing at you to make sure you’re watching and giving you a look that says “um, are you seeing this? Look at how sick I am!”

Don’t buy into it. Change the subject, he’ll eventually get bored of coughing and walk away.

My boyfriend gained enough strength to stand at one point and began this epic coughing routine, bent over with his hand on his knees, for theatrics.

I looked up right as a giant chunk of flem flew out of his mouth and on to the carpet in front of me.

My jaw dropped and he looked at me,  like a deer in headlights… but more afraid, then yelled “I’ll clean it up!” and ran to the bathroom to get a tissue.

There’s still a crunchy spot on the carpet I’m horrified by. I actually have nightmares about stepping on it bare foot. Don’t even get me started on the wall-sneeze.. I’m not ready to talk about that yet.

Desperation set in and I turned to an incase-of-emergency supply of Amoxicillin my dad picked up at la farmacia on his last Mexico adventure.

I wouldn’t take them.. but my boyfriend was “inches from death” and refusing to go to a doctor so he started popping the pills like they were candy. Why not, it’s medicine, what could go wrong here?

Well… lots of stuff when you’re taking drugs from Mexico and you can’t read the label. His condition worsened but my medical advice told him to keep taking them. These things take time to soak in right…

Yeah, I was wrong.

We learned you do take Amoxicillin if you’re looking to treat pneumonia; bronchitis, infections of the ears, nose, throat, urinary tract, or even some good old gonorrhea but Do Not Take for colds, flu, and other viral infections, such as the man cold.

I felt like the bad mom in The Sixth Sense who was secretly poisoning her kid… (the scary, throw-uppy girl in the tent).

Only Actual Cures for a Man Cold:
Gatorade
Some pricey chicken noodle soup from your neighborhood Jewish deli.
A few of his favorite movies; James Bond, Fast and Furious, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants … wait what??

And even if it makes you sick, a marathon of Two and a Half Men.

It’s a thankless job, but at least you’ll always have that gross picture of him when it comes time for revenge, or at least a good blackmail!

 

The Religion Talk

 

c580cf6f1728f5e0_buddy_jesus-300x300Shacking up, Co-habitating … what’s that other name I’m looking for.. oh right   LIVING IN SIN.

I can’t say I’ve read the thing cover to cover but I’ve heard the Bible implies something about premarital living arrangements putting you on God’s naughty list.

Granted we’re not living in Biblical times anymore and tons of people live together without angry crowds throwing stones at them, but still I’m pretty sure it was certain things in my past that led me to take this unholiest of paths.

To begin with, my mom’s whole side of the family is Catholic including all my tens of cousins…  and they all got to be named after Saints.

Matthew, Lucy, Mary, Simon, Ruthie … ok those are the kids from 7th Heaven but imagine something similar.

For some odd reason my mom decided I don’t get to have a Saint name. My sister gets Christ for Heaven’s sake… well Christ-ie… but I can’t have a Saint name. What’s worse is H-E-L-L is right there in the middle of mine.

She’d try to twist my name into sounding like I was named after one of the boy Saints but let’s just say it, I was condemned from the beginning.

We were all Baptised, had our First Communion and all but one made it through Confirmation. That would be me.

Don’t get me wrong, I tried, ooooh I tried. Let me take you back to when I was 12 and recap a little thing called Jesus Camp.

Every morning we were awoken at 6:00am by the program director’s chilling and creepy, yet perky, voice over the loud speaker.

“Good Morning Beautiful Children of God, it’s time to get up now!”

We would spend the entirety of each day sitting on the hard wood floor getting splinters in our butts if we dared scoot an inch and listening to people’s stories about how they got off the crack pipe and found Jesus.

They’d cry and we’d all sing a song called “Our God is an Awesome God” with great hand motions that went back and forth from pointing to the sky then giving a thumbs up.

On the last night they blind folded us one by one, led us around and dipped our hands in weird things while asking us multiple choice questions.

We’d all pick the most virtuous answer because frankly we were scared shitless of what they’d do if we got it wrong.

At the end of the course they positioned our arms stretched out to the sides, took off the blind folds and revealed us standing against a giant cross in front of a mirror while they held a huge, thick 12 inch nail in the air.

Some screamed, some wet their pants, but instead of murdering us out there in the woods they gave us a pat on the back and the nail take home as a souvenir.

Then they sent us back to our bunks to sleep as if we hadn’t just been traumatized. Most of us just stared at the ceiling all night clinging to our nail in case they came back or whispered to the person closest if they thought that was kinda f*cked up too.

Before the program director would let us off the bus when we arrived back home, he reminded us that this experience was very personal so not to tell our moms and dads about anything we did.

Naturally we all bolted off the bus, told them everything, and he was fired… or put in jail, who knows. The program dissolved and no one got Confirmed.
And that was my last religious experience.

My boyfriend and I had never really talked too much about religion. We didn’t exactly meet on ChristianMingles.com. We met at a bar in Hollywood called Saddle Ranch….. next to a mechanical bull.

So when the idea of going to church was brought up by a friend, there was some hesitance. Mostly triggered by the flashbacks therapy couldn’t erase.

We finally chalked it up to a networking opportunity for him and a good excuse for me to wear a pretty dress so what the Hell, let’s go to church!

We went to a place that person suggested, called Malibu Presbyterian, but mistook the time and showed up for the early mass.

The stupid Malibu roads made me car sick so I was really looking forward to taking a seat in a nice air conditioning. Unfortunately we were late and everyone was already standing listening to a band.

At the end of the song I sank towards the bench, relieved, but then a new song picked up and the standing continued. This happened 8 more times.

Everyone was singing along so we just did that like.. humming while moving your lips trying to guess the next word. People kept smiling at us.. I think they thought we were deaf.

When we finally took our seats the ushers started passing around the donations baskets for everyone to drop money in (so far the only thing similar to a Catholic church).

Not wanting us to look cheap of course, my boyfriend ripped a rectangular shaped piece of paper out of the program, folded it into the “checks” envelope and put it in the basket.
….just in case we weren’t already going to Hell.

UnknownThen then Pastor went up to the podium, greeted everyone and told us all it was time to give the people around us big bear hugs. I’m not prone to hugging strangers but oddly enough I recognized the people next to us as Craig T. Nelson and his wife Doria Cook.

We skipped the hugs but made polite small talk.

She kept asking where we went to church before and it took me a while to fumble together a fake answer.

I barely had “Our Lady…” out of my mouth before she gave an “ooooooh” followed by a long, backhanded compliment to Catholicism, squeezed my hand and turned away. Thank you?

Then the pastor began his sermon, telling us a story we could all learn from. Something about, a tenant in one of his properties who wouldn’t leave.

The only part I remember is the end when he sued the man for $200,000, so the message there is … um… forgiveness? Love thy neighbor? I don’t really know… I think we donated that page in the program.

Basically we left confused so I’m pretty worried about our eternal salvation at this point.

But currently the only beliefs I subscribe to are:
There’s no calories in a free sample
iPhone beats Blackberry
And IKEA is Hell on Earth
Aaaaaaaaamen!

(If no posts are to this follow this… I’ve very likely been struck down by lightening as a result of the above content or the rest of this blog)

 

 

The Curse

 

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I was hoping to never have to touch this subject but since it’s bound to disrupt your happy-household about 12 times a year, it’s unavoidable so let’s just do this.

First a little background on the matter….

This dates back to the first couple in history that ever cohabited. Adam was an entitled, arrogant, boy who thought the world revolved him and had no understanding of the word NO.

And Eve was a kind, sweet, patient, and strikingly gorgeous young woman, who could have done better but there weren’t a whole lot of options around so she dealt.

One day, Adam had the wise idea to take an apple from the big
Forbidden Tree, because if he wasn’t allowed to touch something he only wanted it more (and he was hungry all the time).

Eve, rational as always, disagreed with him but decided to pick her battles and just let this one go.

Thunder, lighting, and God comes out of nowhere. He asks who did it and Adam, who’s about to wet his leaf, points to Eve.  God, sticking to the bro-code, sides with Adam and poor, sweet Eve takes the fall.

So while we ladies have been forever cursed because of Adam’s dumb idea, we’ve been forced to suffer alone… until now. The day a guy moves in with his girlfriend is the day punishment is rightly shifted.

Granted when we move in together we no longer have a place to hide out, feel miserable and wear a shirt big enough to fit three people….  BUT what’s a whole lot scarier, is that they no longer have a place to hide from us ……. and our 5-7 days of violent mood swings, temper tantrums, rage black outs and tears that make no sense to us either.

Since it’s never EVER a good idea to ask a girl if she’s nearing her ‘punctuation mark’, because no matter how sweet your tone it’s not going to end well, educate yourselves. Learn the warning signs to watch for…

Example; I start to wear a lot of black in an effort to look slim and counteract the fact that I turn into the blueberry girl from Willy Wonka. It’s about as effective as an elephant sucking in but it makes me feel better. Others will have a noticeably heighten sense of smell that can detect chocolate miles away or sudden need for salt that has them putting it on everything they eat down to a lolly pop.

It shouldn’t take long to figure out the patterns but until you do you’re just walking blindfolded through a field of land mines.

Like many women out there, I suffer from a made-up medical condition called Menstrual-Schizophrenia. Thankfully we can’t die from this condition, however, our insensitive boyfriends can.
Here’s the story of one man who made a fatal mistake:

It’s Girl Scout cookie season 2011. My boyfriend sees a stand as we’re leaving the Best Buy parking lot and he asks to borrow $5 so he can get a box. I hand over the money and say “just no Thin Mints, I hate those.” He says “but they’re my favorite.” I go to the car and he meets me there a few minutes later with what in his hand? Thin Mints. Now we have an issue.

Because, in my hormonally-fogged mind, he didn’t get those cookies because ‘they’re his favorite,’ he got those cookies to say “I don’t want you to have any cookies you fat cow!” and he just used my $5 to say it.

First comes yelling (about the cookies). Then more yelling (but not about the cookies).

Then crying (about the cookies again).

Then really hard crying (about the cookies but this time they’re a metaphor for something else – his job is to figure out what).

His silence implies he did not figure out the metaphor so the crying develops into an blaring loud ambulance-siren of a wail, which in the confines of a car can be deafening.

Then I decide I’d rather walk home because I “CLEARLY NEED THE EXERCISE!”

But then I change my mind and get back in the car because it’s a really long walk.
Then I realize why I’m crying and I think it’s kind of funny.

Now I’m laughing really hard and I look over to make sure he’s laughing too but instead his eyes are just really, really big and his mouth is stuffed with a now soggy cookie that has remained un-chewed for the last 10 minutes out of fear.

Then I remember how much I hate that Thin Mint in his mouth and the laughing stops.
We sit in silence for a long time.

A few more minutes pass before he carefully whispers, “…. they were out of Tagalongs.”

 

 

Wedding Season

 

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After nearly a year of living together, a couple can go through quite a bit.

We had survived merging and decorating, sharing a bathroom, my morning appearance and frequent bouts of PMS.

But one thing we never saw coming and were completely unequipped for….. was Wedding Season.

Suddenly our refrigerator was overlapping in save-the-date magnets, the calendar was filled in with engagement parties, bridal showers, and bachelor/bachelorette parties and the confetti-filled mail kept coming.

I had no urge to join the betrothed any time soon, but I wasn’t vocal about this since I assumed my boyfriend knew me well enough to know that I’ve had enough impulse moves for one life time.

While I have a long list of well thought out bad decisions, it’s the impulsive ones that really lasting damage.

The bangs grew back but the emotional scars from the time I signed up for the school talent show in 4th grade (without having any talent) never faded.

I can still hear the murmurs in the crowd as I danced my heart out, choreography-free, to a Rod Stewart’s Forever Young.

“Psst.. Is she from the special needs class?”

“No, no… Her parents are getting… a divorce!

“Oooh gawd… she’s obviously not getting enough attention at home, poor thing.”

“Total cry for help.”

My big finale was a slow, struggling and painful (for the audience) attempt at the splits with my hands in the air.

“Tragic. But… she’s not special??”

My performance won me some regularly scheduled visits to the school psychologist. And although Dr. Tanner was a lovely old man who always let me pick out a mechanical pencil to take back to class, I figured I should probably start thinking things through from now on.

I did however still have the occasional run-in with impulse such as our decision to move into together.

It seems like a harmless idea at the time, but eventually we clued in that we put ourselves on the same track as everyone else had before they took the plunge… except we never actually had “the marriage talk.”

I know. Prerequisite for moving in together but split rent, parking spaces included with sleepovers and no roommates seemed like good enough reasons.

The night before I left for a bachelorette party in Scottsdale, the BF and I went out with a group of friends. Rings and wedding plans were a popular topic since there had been some recent Facebook status changes, so my boyfriend, assuming this is turning me into a ticking time bomb, got tanked.

We go back to our place, he passed out on the bed (shoes still on) but sometime during the night his “flight” instincts must have kicked in because he tried to make a break for it… in his sleep.

He was found the next morning in fetal position at the foot of the pull out bed where my sister and her husband were sleeping…. I didn’t ask.

My sister was in town after being in Miami for a bachelorette party, and before I left to go to that bachelorette party in Scottsdale I had to drop my sister and her husband off at the airport so they could fly to Vegas for a joint Bachelor and Bachelorette party.

With all that information we left my boyfriend to enjoy his thoughts… and hang over.

I drove 6 hours to Phoenix and meet up with my very newly-wed friends, their newly-wed-with-a-kid friends and my engaged friends, which included the honorary bachelorette. Despite how that’s jotted down, none of those circumstances affected me since I wasn’t even close to ready for that step. Again, though, should have vocalized that.

Now I’m not sure when or why the bachelorette party turned into a giant celebration of the penis but it really has become one.

The next day, I really wanted to take the giant 6-ft inflatable penis in the car with me so I could hit the carpool lane on my way back to LA. But I’ve been known to be pulled over on that route so I’d need an explanation for my passenger should the officer ask.

I considered arguing that no one ticketed me for this when I drove with my ex in the car and he was a huge dick, or pretend to have made a terrible mistake and start screaming “then who has my baby?!”

I sided against it altogether, because I don’t think they’d send me to a place where psychologists gave mechanical pencils.

I made it home and was excited for much needed sleep but the BF, who had a long time to think about things, needed to talk.

I told him about my trip, he told me about his weekend which included an all boy’s pajama party he went to in West Hollywood…. then the conversation got weird.

For a while I wasn’t sure if he was dumping me, proposing, or coming out of the closet, but I think the end result was something along the lines of the talk we skipped a while back. I’m still unsure of exactly what the end result was, but I was too tired to decode and assumed whatever he got off his chest would help him manage his alcohol intake in the future.

Boyfriends, don’t assume because your girlfriend is attending weddings that she’s dying to run down the aisle. There might still be a 4th-grader inside of her that doesn’t want to think about the future or talk about her feelings… she just wants to dance.

And parents, talk to your kids about participating in talent shows. Bad dancing is 100% preventable. Explain that one careless mistake can lead to a video tape they’ll have for the rest of their lives. (Even if you’re both scared of being the bad guy at a delicate time, someone should step up… because mom and dad, you guys let that happen.) Start talking.

 

 

The Trifecta

Screen shot 2011-11-28 at 2.43.35 PMMost twenty-somethings living in a city, like me, seem to be in a quest of three things- 1.) An amazing apartment, 2.) Their dream job, 3.) And that perfect relationship. The Trifecta!

In my life at least, those three things have always seemed to mysteriously work in rotation, never allowed to enjoy all three at once. But for the first time ever, I had it all!
A beautiful apartment, a relationship so stable I could mock it in a blog, and after a whole lot of job hunting it was my first day at my dream job (which was only a 5 minute drive— an LA urban myth)
Yup, I had it all… for 9 whole hours.
This blog was intended to capture all those awkward, unexpected and uncomfortable moments that happen when a couple lives together.
Nothing really fits that more than when you go out to a celebratory dinner and the conversation goes like so:
-Hey, sorry I’m late, traffic! How was your day?
-Great, but while I was waiting for you I realized I used to get excited to see you, but now I just don’t ……oh and also I don’t love you anymore sooo…. there’s that.
My silence was mistaken for the need to elaborate.
This even included him listing all of our friends then all of their boyfriends and explaining that they all love them but he does not feel that way about me. I’m aware of what I don’t love you means, but thanks, my ego really needed that extra slap.
I’m no expert on break up etiquette but I’m pretty sure the polite thing to do is let the other down GENTLY! Not look for ways to twist the knife.
I think he was still listing names of people who are more loved than me when I excused myself before I went all Legally Blonde at the table.
A few minutes of pacing in the ladies room, trying to swallow the baseball in my throat, and there was a knock at the door followed by my name in a sappy drawn out tone. I said I’ll be just a second and thought it was nice he was at least checking to see if I was alright.
“Ok… it’s just that…someone’s in the Guys, and I just gotta wash my hands so can I get in there?”
Did I say knife earlier? I’m sorry I meant chainsaw.
So there the former couple sat. Him enjoying his dinner and her with her face at the bottom of a margarita glass.
After pointing out I ordered the most expensive thing on the menu and didn’t touch it… but being big enough to forgive me for it……he drove me back to my car.
I jokingly said “well I had a really nice time tonight” then proceeded to get on the freeway heading in the wrong direction for about 15 minutes before I noticed.
I think that may have been my subconscious sparing me 15 minutes of the most awkward, unexpected and uncomfortable 16 hours of my life. I cried myself to sleep, woke up the next morning, got ready and enjoyed my second, and last, day of the 5 minute drive to work.
Con: I spent the second day of my dream job in a cloud of misery.
Pro: I accomplished not being the weird new girl crying in the bathroom for an unknown reason.
Con: I have to be the one to move out because I can’t afford to stay on my own and he can.
Pro: This happened now, not much further down the line when there’s more to factor in than furniture.
Con: Loss of appetite due to sadness
Pro: Looking kind of hot due to loss of appetite from sadness!
Yes this sucks but the way I have to look at it is that at least life always brings new lessons.
And this week I learned:
  • If I’m feeling angry or emotional, let someone else hold on to my phone for a little while.
  • To always take the high road and not resort to petty things like name calling…even if he is a heartless robot….and a douche bag.
  • To change my Facebook relationship status when I’m ready…. what? he already did? Oh.
  • Not to mix country music and alcohol.
  • And how much I appreciate great friends and family.
So good bye amazing, beachfront apartment and perfect relationship. Now that I’m down to one out of three on the Trifecta-quest, I figure we might as keep this blog running and find out what it will take to get from here to having it all!

Footnote: Definition of going “Legally Blonde” sited here: http://www.imdb.com/video/hulu/vi4200268569/

 

 

The Big Return

trump So here’s to my new single life! I was free, I was independent! I was making it on my own and it felt amazing!
…. Just kidding. I had to move back in with my parents. It felt like I was a loser.
How do you know you’re depressed?  itunes says You might also like James Blunt. 
uhh screw you too..
Yup, my perfect little life was officially a thing of that past. Far more than the boyfriend, I was longing for that 5 minute drive to work again thanks to the 405.Everyday I would:
-wake up at 5am
-leave by 6am
-sit in traffic
-arrive at work by 9am
-leave work by 6pm
-sit in traffic
-get home at 9pm
-pass out.
And repeat!
Along side coffee, I was averaging two 5 hours energies a day and let me tell you, the timing of those things in traffic is a science.
If I held off too long I’d fall asleep if completely stopped for more than 2 minutes, but if I drank it too early I’d burst into the Hulk trying not to punch a hole through my roof.
I spent nights suffering from heart palpitations and desperately searching for an apartment online. It seemed every click in my price range was more brutal than the last.
When I couldn’t take looking at one more gateway to hell, I’d close my laptop and tell myself staying here wouldn’t be so bad as I was falling asleep. Yet every morning brought another 5am wake up call, 3 hour traffic jam and meltdown on the side.
If there’s ever a time for tinted windows it’s when you’ve got two drivers stuck on either side of you staring with WTF?-faces as you’re beating your steering wheel screaming “Whhhhhhh-hy-hy-hy-hyyyyyy.”
Yeah, I had to figure something out soon.
The dream job didn’t exactly have a dream salary rolling in just yet and I’d done the roommate thing too many times to count.
Everyone from best friends to a randomly assigned crack addict who stole from me. So at this particular junction in my life I just wanted my own place.
I figured with my budget at least I wouldn’t have to change the name of my blog much. Just downgrade it from TheShackUp to TheShack and it would still make sense!
Then I found the most amazing building in a great location that was just close enough to my price range to be possible!
I made an appointment, saw a model of the unit and fell in love with it. I told the lady I’d take it! And she told me she would add my name to the waiting list.
Spotify Facebook update: Michelle is now listening to James Blunt.
A least I finally had some fun to look forward to. My friend’s Bachelorette party in Vegas was that weekend!
It felt like only a blip it time since I’d been brutally dumped, but I figured I’ll have to start dating again eventually so what better place to find out if I still have game than Vegas.
On the drive up everyone, who was now happily in a secure relationship, told horror stories from their dating days.  I found out everyone still on the market today is a freak and I am doomed.But I forced myself to remain hopeful as we pulled up to the strip and convinced myself there was a guy out there with a heart of gold as I zipped up my slutty dress.
After several rounds of shots I was warming up to the idea of testing out my suaveness. We started playing a Bachelorette party game that led us to getting the attention of a guy who turned out to be deaf.
My sister turned to me excited and said, “Hey you know sign language!” and in my drunk-enough state I thought to myself hey yeah I took that class in high school, I totally speak sign language!
So I confidently walk up to him, bat my eye lashes and is the suavest way possible signed….
Me:    Hello!
HIM:    Hi, what’s your name?
ME:    M-R-C-Q-E-L-L-E
HIM:   Um, that’s pretty… You been here before?
ME:    No. Raccoon. Uncle. Make coffee. You?
HIM:    What?
ME:    Haha, much funny. Karate chop!
HIM:    Um….Where are you staying?
Me:    T-R-U-M-P. Is on the stripper. I like it.
HIM:  That’s weird. Want to dance?
ME:   Yes. I eat children.
HIM:    Actually I’ve go to go…. find my friend.
ME:    Ok! Thank You!
He was totally into me…. Or maybe he’s not ready to date yet either.
Failed attempt aside I had an amazing time. But as reality came rushing back to me at 65 mpr, ok 80,  nothing but anxiety was coming with it.
I had lost my boyfriend who I thought was the one, was living out of duffle bag that fit everything I had to my name and had no place to live.
Excuse me Universe, but have I done something to offend you recently? If so, my sincere apologies!
And then a miracle happened on that drive. I got an email from that apartment building. A studio opened up and it was all mine!
This week I learned:
A Costco sized pack of 5-hour energies doesn’t do a body good.
Good things are worth waiting for.
And I don’t speak sign language.