The Shack Up (excerpts)

The Great Apartment Hunt

service9For anyone who has ever gone apartment hunting in Los Angeles before,  you know how hard it is find a decent place.

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

It all starts off so hopeful. The sky’s the limit when your combined income will get you an amazing one-bedroom, and hundreds of eligible options are just waiting for you.

Seven hours later you’ll be ripping a Westside Rentals sign from the ground, threatening your partner with the pointy end and cursing him for his 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, a man’s needs and a woman’s needs are very different.

Example:

A MAN LOOKS FOR: Location, Affordability, Roof, and Door (optional)

A WOMAN LOOKS FOR: Location (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.

Okay, I’ll admit some of  my needs exceeded the bare minimum, but aiming high never killed anyone! (Circus performers exempt)

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 would be equally inconvenienced 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 heavy man ever finishing a WHIP OUT obstacle. It’s not worth it. Just go home big guy.

While this emotionally trying search is continuing (as different as your circumstances may be) here are some sample conversation topics you may encounter along the way:

The awkward “You know this doesn’t mean I’m ready for marriage, right.”

The serious “No, I’m sorry,  you can’t have a puppy….. Because you told me how your hamster died and I think you’re a sociopath.”

The typical “I can’t stand the way you (sneeze/snore/eat without chewing), you’ll have to change so I will like you more.”

The frustrated “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.”

And the ever popular “I hate you, I hate you, I hate you!” immediately followed by “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” so you’ll stay on the same page when dealing with building managers.
  • Set a price cap… then be aware that will become the base and you’ll go way over budget.
  • 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.
  • Women, if your man doesn’t step up to take that hit, introduce them to pass aggressiveness and a life without sex.
  • 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 almost had to live in.

 

 

The Furniture Merge

9a77b7110560ecd2_mail-22After the apartment hunt is finally over, politeness is a long-forgotten concept. So assessing each other’s belongings with brutal honesty is a natural next step.

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”.

Or saying things like “If you even try to bring any of that fugly wicker furniture with you I’ll take it out back and set it on fire  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 and some hurt feelings.

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”. 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.

My boyfriend gave a smug smile and and, “Yup.. Sounds about right.” So I knocked over his tiki man collection and pretended like it was an accident.

Serious and important tip about selling stuff on Craigslist:

BE CAREFUL.

Do not forget to empty one drawer. Or that nice man will have to drive back with a bag full of your lacy underwear and several pieces of a slutty Halloween costume you swore you never wore. You will feel ashamed and that sweet little family will definitely think of you as the freak they bought little-girl furniture from. There are a lot of weirdos on Craigslist. Don’t be one of them.

When the focus is on your other half’s belongings, move swiftly. Keep him on one task that will distract him, like a closet, while you do a 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 his college days and looking at old pictures with bowl cuts. 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!

Make a deal. You both get one ridiculous item the other has to deal with. I chose my awesome personalized license plate from when I was obsessed with the movie “Almost Famous”  (the”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.

.8387907023e9bd1b_mail-22-1 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

 

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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 that sells 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 but 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 aisles.

We spent half an hour loading up every random item we convinced ourselves we needed then came to a halt. We assessed the loot and one by one took 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 28 years of life he had never stepped foot into the big 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 can cook so the pantomiming is a little confusing for spectators.

The fun can continue as long as you like. 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 it’s just the lamp section. And there’s still a long, long way to go.

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. Stay the course and dodge his questions.

You’ll watch him go from the manly fix-it-man, ready to hammer and build you a living room to a 5 year old 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 heads, 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 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 food source 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 stores in one day. Unless you’re trained suburbanites who have built up the stamina.

- 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.

We walked straight across the way to a Mexican restaurant, ordered margaritas and heckled the happy couples walking towards their doom.

 

 

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. That’s because the friend didn’t give us any other options.

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 flight 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 half an 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 I was 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 by switching the phone numbers.

  • 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!

Remember to take inventory so you can prepare for future guests…

Refrigerator full of beer- $45.

Month’s worth of groceries- $225.

Bill at Hooter’s and following bars- $300(+)

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, 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 the shades drawn and the smell of sick in the air.

You must 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 you sleep with too… just let it happen.  But no matter how many times he asks you, don’t ever, 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. Because it’s funny.

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 “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 with the speed and agility of a healthy person.

There’s still a crunchy spot on the carpet I’m horrified by. I’ve actually had nightmares about stepping on it bare foot. Don’t even get me started on the wall-sneeze. I need to work that one out with a licensed professional.

Desperation set in and I turned to an incase-of-emergency supply of Amoxicillin my dad picked up at la farmacia on his last trip to Mexico. We don’t know why he goes there so often…

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 opinion was to tell him to keep taking them. These things take time to soak in or something.

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.

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, or at all, 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 … fine, those are the kids from 7th Heaven, but same idea.

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.

So, I was condemned from the beginning.

We were all Baptized, 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 a just child and recap a little thing called Jesus Camp.

Every morning we were awoken at 6:00am by the program director’s chilling 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 when they 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.

If you see a blind old lady trying to cross the street you would…

A.) Help her.

B.) Push her into oncoming traffic.

C.) Pray she makes it and the lord will guide her.

C?

Correct.

At the end of the obstacle course they backed us up against something hard then held our arms stretched out like a T. They removed the blind folds so we could see we were against a giant cross in front of a mirror, while one of the leaders held a very thick 12 inch nail in the air as if they were about to drive it through the palm of our hand so we would know what Jesus did for us.

Some screamed, some wet their pants, but instead of crucifying us out there in the woods they gave us the nail take home as a souvenir and sent 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 incase they came back, or whispering to the person closest if they thought that was kinda fucked up too.

I got off the bus and told my mom I didn’t want to be Catholic anymore and she said, “Good timing, your dad and I are getting a divorce.”

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 … that I had just ridden.

So when the idea of going to church was brought up by a friend, there was some hesitance. Mostly triggered by the Jesus Camp flashbacks I worked hard to suppress.

We finally chalked it up to a networking opportunity for him and a good excuse for me to wear a pretty dress then get brunch, so we figured what the hell, let’s go to church.

We arrived at a place that friend suggested called Malibu Presbyterian.

But the winding 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 super cool Christie rock band. Definitely soccer dads Monday – Saturday but on Sundays… Sundays their love of the lord makes them Jesus Christie superstars.

At the end of the song I sank towards the bench, relieved, but they weren’t done yet. A new song picked up and the standing continued. Eight more times. Eight.

Everyone was singing along so we just did that like.. humming while moving your lips trying to guess the next word type of singing.

When we finally took our seats the ushers started passing around the donations baskets for everyone to drop money in.

Not wanting to look cheap, my boyfriend tore out a piece of the program, folded it in a rectangle and put it in one of the envelopes marked checks.

When I eventually get to the pearly gates, I assume this will be brought up.  I’m already debating if I should plead the Shaggy and say it wasn’t me, or if I should avoid bringing up my boyfriend so I can flirt with the bouncer to c’mon just let me in heaven this one time. Promise I won’t tell anybody. Because I’m dead now, so…  (wink).

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 guy next to me as Craig T. Nelson from Parenthood, with his wife Doria Cook.

We bear hugged then made polite small talk.

Doria kept asked 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 me for getting away from Catholicism. Then squeezed my hand. I wondered if she went to Jesus camp too.

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? Sue thy neighbor?

I don’t really know… I think we donated that page in the program.

Religion is weird. Brunch is good. I’ll probably just stick with the Sunday pancakes going forward.

(If no posts are to this follow this… I’ve very likely been struck down by lightening)

 

 

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 bursts onto the scene. 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 sweatpants 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 sounds like you’re calling us a bitch… 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 Thin Mints.”

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 LA and we don’t do that here.

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.”

And I yell, “THEN YOU SHOULD HAVE GOTTEN SAMOAS!”

 

The Shower Scene

8016558fa22e32e3_Irish_Spring_Orginal_Deodorant_Soap_20_Bars_copy.xlarge Maybe 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 just EXPLODE 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, quickly collect all your neighbors’ Bed Bath and Beyond 20% off coupons.

Hopefully your situation won’t be so traumatic. I did pause to consider maybe this isn’t normal…

Someone should really do a study on the man who has only used bars Irish Springs soap everyday for the last 28 years.

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

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 spits.

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 for this, 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.

 

 

 

The Locals

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Helmet? Check. Gloves? Check. Spandex shorts with the padded butt? Check!

I never thought I’d see this day.

It’s not that I ever disliked cyclists… it’s just that… yeah, I don’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. 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, 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 their society, OR I could get over my fear of colorful, knee-length leotards and get on a bicycle.

I figured what the hell. I kill it 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 to Manhattan Beach and back.

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 changed his mind, 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?!”

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.

Trying be the opportune word there. 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.

Try on the local persona. Buy a guitar and black hair dye, or a polo shirt and loafers, board shorts and some marijuana, or decide whether you want 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 probably more complicated)

……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 and publicly blame my boyfriend.

 

 

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.