On the Road, Day Five, SD & NE, part five

Okay, I’ve slacked on telling you the rest of this day. Here are parts


Once we left Wall Drug and the Badlands, we had to kind of figure out where we were going to go next.  This many stops in one day was kind of unheard of for us because we liked to keep cruising.  BUT we were kind of ahead of schedule and there was a lot to see over here.  We didn’t have to be anywhere particular until September 8th (tell you why later) and from checking the map, we had more than enough time to get there AND take a look around.

We happened to be in the area of another major destination and we didn’t expect the town surrounding to be so populated and touristy.  It was so cute though.

Here is where we went!  This is our first sight of Mount Rushmore from the highway.  It’s mesmerizing.

I don’t know if it’s our city showing but we were kind of dumbfounded to find this place teeming with people.  I guess it’s because you always see a picture of this quiet mountain with it’s carved Presidents so stern and majestic.  I certainly wasn’t expecting this:

But that’s silly because this is obviously a tourist destination and not a desolate forest area haha.

Anyway, it also turns out you have to pay to get in but you can only pay cash.  (WTF.)  We didn’t have any so the nice man just let us in for some reason.  It’s good to be an American?

Here is sort of a close up shot of Mount Rushmore.  Can you even imagine that someone painstakingly DID that?

I mean look at that detail?!  How can you even tell if you’re doing a good job?

Here is Kristyn doing an obligatory pose in front of Mount Rushmore, natch. Isn’t she the cutest?

And here’s my fathead posing with our Nation’s forefathers.

I’ve included a picture of the soda machine at Mount Rushmore for two reasons:

1) It made me giggle at the time.

2) I figured it’s kind of a curiosity.  I feel like it’s akin to wearing a tshirt with your own picture on it (which I have done before and totally do not judge as a life choice).

After that, we drove into Nebraska.  We wanted to cover as much ground as possible to keep on track, especially since we took so much time sightseeing.  In reality, we probably only took about an hour or so sightseeing total but we DID take a detour to get to Mount Rushmore.

Oh AND, remember how I told you that I would tell you something about Buffalo?  We saw one REALLY up close.  We got kind of lost in the woods around Mount Rushmore and ended up on sort of a rural road.  We didn’t see the Buffalo until we were right up upon it.  It was standing on the left side of the road.  A motorcyclist passed within three feet of it and swerved screaming.  We did the same.  The reasons for swerving and screaming around the Buffalo are:

1) They are like six feet tall (at least in my mind they are) and like HUNDREDS OF POUNDS.

2) Therefore they can probably kill you with their MIND if they want to.

3) There are hysterical signs everywhere warning you about your life expectancy should you encounter and piss off a Buffalo.

4) These hysterical signs tell you that in no uncertain terms, you are on Buffalo Property and if you do something to make them kill you, you are on your goddamn own because you have been warned.

That being said, ENTERING NEBRASKA!

See that sign above and the one below?  That’s Nebraska.  Open fields and flat land everywhere.  Nothing around.  Well at least where we were.  We kind of goofed and took what we thought was a highway (and was according to our maps).  It was actually like a SERIOUSLY RURAL AND DESOLATE country road.  Never. Doing. That. Again.  So terrifying.  When I say there was nothing, there was NOTHING.  No houses, no gas stations, no phones…just empty fields.  Now here’s the predicament:

1) The sun is going down.

2) We don’t know where we are.

3) Will we have enough gas to get to wherever it is we’re going? (a side note: we tried to set up hotels in advance but it logistically didn’t work because we could plan to get somewhere in time but what if we didn’t make it and ended up paying for the night in that hotel because we couldn’t cancel until the last minute?)

4) We’re in a rural area so our phones have dropped cellular and internet service.

We were really scared and pretty screwed.  We, for some reason, thought we were getting on a highway that was a more direct route to “somewhere”.  Because in NJ, when you turn off a major artery like the Parkway, there are always a lot of populated alternative routes to drive on.  BIG MISTAKE.  HUGE.

On this road you see below?  We saw a town that you could actually SEE COMING.  A cluster of houses with a sign that told you the population.  The population?  18.  Yes 18.  18 people.  And honestly I doubt that shit.  It was so abandoned looking.  And like Christine pointed out, you KNOW every single one of those bastards probably owns a gun.

But that isn’t even the crazy thing.  The crazy thing is that we came upon another town.  It had a sign that read “Population 1”.  I didn’t take a picture because I didn’t want to stick around.  I’m not trying to be city-dweller biased against country dwellers because I grew up spending my summers in Upstate NY where it is pretty damn rural.  I have nothing but love for the rural life.  But Population 1 just chills a bitch to the bone.  You KNOW that if a town has one person in it and they advertise it as such, it is because that person WANTS it that way.  Motion is not denied.

We eventually came upon a really cute little town that was not freaky at all. I guess they considered themselves a city because the rates for the hotels were outrageous for such a backwater. I could spend the same and get a cheap room in LA or NYC. But we found a clean place that I cannot for the life of me find pictures of. Shame too because it was one of our better rooms. It had a motel door opening but the room itself was gorg. The animals loved it and it was so comfortable. We were so tired and so hungry and full of adrenaline for being scared for so long that we were just excited to get the funk out of the car. We went across the street and got subs from Subway and housed them. We called our parents and siblings and friends to tell them we were definitely not dead. We gave the cats baths and clipped their nails after days of sweating in the car. We figured they would probably appreciate it once it was overwith and we were right. Everyone was snug as a bug in a rug and we were just happy not to be stuck on the side of the road in the dark.

On the Road, Day Five, SD, part four

And here we are driving out of the Badlands.  In case you’re wondering why I show you such mundane things when there are places to be seen…it’s because I know that in reading someone’s blog, it’s preferable to see the people involved rather than all places you have literally NO emotional attachment to.  Can I get a high five?!  At least can I get a “good lookin out”?  No?

Well here’s a tidbit.  We still have the Golden Girls, Frida and all of the good luck talismans everyone gave us when we left in the car.  We are now superstitious that if the are removed, the car will dissect itself and we can’t afford such tomfoolery to happen.

The interesting thing about leaving the Badlands is Wall Drug.  We passed a couple pretty urgent signs commanding us to head to Wall Drug.

The road was straight and had no turns so it seemed pretty inevitable that we’d get to Wall Drug but didn’t mind if we didn’t.

The closer we got, however, the more feverish the signage.  This upped the ante for our own level of interest.  Hmm, maybe there IS something to see at Wall Drug!

Wait, is this Wall Drug?

No this whole BLOCK is Wall Drug.  We hastily parked and hoofed it inside.

As it turns out, Wall Drug is an intense gift shop.

Well no.  Wall Drug is a SERIES of intense gift shops.  All of the shops are interlocking and you pass from one into the next seamlessly driven forward by one curiosity after the next.

Then you reach a hallway where you find more shops.  Wait, what?

Also, you find heads.  Lots more heads.

And this guy.  I’m sorry I didn’t get a clearer picture of this guy.  He was amazing, life-sized and carved from wood.

They even had a narrow, corridor of a chapel.  Interesting.

I would really LOVE to say that the crowning achievement of Wall Drug is this Jackelope.  I don’t know if people in the Badlands watched a shitload of America’s Funniest Home videos in the early 90’s or if people in this area of the country sent in a hilarious home video that resulted in creating something of a zany mascot.  We have a chicken or the egg type situation up in here.  Either way, I parted with some cold hard cash to have a fuzzy bank in the shape of a jackalope.  Yup, yup.

Probably the highlight of Wall Drug was that they offer you free icewater. The day had steadily grown hotter until it was somewhat unbearable. We zipped through Wall Drug, gulped two ice waters and brought some out to the animals which they gladly imbibed.

Off to the next stop!

On the Road, Day Five, SD, part three

Just down the road, we are met by this guy.  We basically knew we would meet him because his presence has already been documented by Katie!

We go in this store to buy “supplies” such as post cards and food for…

Prairie Dogs!  (In case you are far-sighted, the sign reads: Watch Your Step for Prairie Dog Holes.)

Here is Kristyn, ever-dutiful, watching her step.

Here I am, ever-negligent, fooling around with a camera in a jacket called “Liza!”  What?  It was chilly!  You don’t know!

I wish I could take credit for the following two pictures but alas I cannot.  Kristyn took these shots and aren’t they amazing?

Dana, we totally had you in mind because this was during the tail end of your Meerkat Manor days.  I know they aren’t the real deal but they will do in a pinch.

Here I am taking a cellie picture.  I had intended on live blogging this whole trip by taking gorgeous pictures with my camera.  BUT once we got on the road, I quickly realized that I did’t know how to use my camera as well as I thought I did AND that we never, ever had access to the internet unless the phone picked some up.  In order to rivet and excite our family and friends, we kept them abreast of our movements via Facebook via our iPhones.

Please ignore my ratty sneakers and peep how close these dudes let you get to them.  They love them a good sucker/tourist.  Funny little creatures.

At last we arrive in THE BADLANDS!!!

You had to pay a small fee to get in.  Once you’re in, you just drive through the park, stopping and taking pictures as you like.  Just don’t get hurt or like, killed.  They have a walkway out to the edge for you to gawk at the Badlands’ majesty.

These guys were just chilling off to the right.  Who cares about humans?!  Not these guys.

And here is our first real peak at the Badlands.  This is Planet Earth in the good old US of A.  Weird right?

Here is Kristyn and some Badlands:

Behold me and some Badlands:

And here we have a warning to watch out for “rattlers”.  I never thought I’d be in a land where my obsessive and irrational fear of rattlesnakes could possibly be legitimized but I digress.

I think what is going on in the picture below is that we had to kind of haul ass UP the side of a badland in order to look over said badland INTO some badlands.  Make what you will of that sentence but I think that in this picture Kristyn is trying to give me “EXHAUSTION!”

The thing about the Badlands is that every inch you walk further, there is another moment where you go, “Whoooooooooooa…WHAT?!”  If I posted all of the Badlands pictures I wanted, we’d never do anything else ever again.


I know this picture of Kristyn is WAY blown out but that’s kind of what I like about it.  It looks like something you’d see in a movie.  The protagonist has taken too much peyote the night before and is coming to in the middle of the Badlands.  He doesn’t know how he got here or who this beguiling woman in a Coney Island Serpentina shirt is nor does he remember his own name.  Only upon focusing on her can he begin to put the pieces back together.  Ya know, or something.

This part was probably my favorite part just because the colors were so rich and weird:

This is a totally separate part of the park.  It’s weird because the landscape changes in order as if it’s grouped like how things are in a museum.  “And now we enter the super weird colored Badland section!”

Here I am just fooling around with my fisheye lens and a Badland.

It takes you probably a little over an hour to drive through the park what with all of the stopping, climbing Badlands and photo snapping. But once you’re done, you just drive on out onto a road. We had actually intended on sleeping in a campground around here the night before. We took too much time in Minnesota and to make it to the Badlands would have tacked on at least three to four hours onto our trip from where we decided to stop. It was getting dark and the animals (and ourselves) needed a rest so we gave up on that plan. Sometimes I’m sorry because I had a whole photographic agenda. I brought the tripod Kristyn’s Dad gave us and wanted to set it up and take photos of the stars. Where else can you get a clearer night sky than sleeping in/around a National Park?

Mostly though, I shudder to think of how stupid that could have been. Once we were actually IN the Badlands…*shudder* No way. That place was wide open and WILD. That is a place where animals live and are NOT second class citizens. You are on THEIR turf and to stay there in a flimsy tent is to stay there at your own risk. I’m sure people do this and survive on a regular but I am not built of such strong stuff. It’s better that we went our own speed and stayed the night at a kindly, crafty nutter’s hotel where the only wild animals were hot glue-gunned to a wreath.

On the Road, Day Five, SD, part two

We drove for about an hour or two and then basically just stopped at the first attraction we saw.  I don’t remember what this place is called (let’s call it “Fossil World”) but it is right before Badlands National Park (which was our intended goal).

Here you have Kristyn being riveted by a tale of Petrified Wood.

That old trailer thing was pretty cool actually.

As was this old, beaten house!

For a nominal fee, you could select your own gemstones but we passed and instead took some pictures of them.

Inside were a bunch of fossilized sometimes-prehistoric animal/dinosaur heads and feet (etc).  It was actually pretty interesting since all of this stuff comes from this region originally.  Wait until I show you what the Badlands actually looks like and you can totally imagine dinosaurs and weird creatures wandering around.

For a vegetarian/diehard animal lover, I do love me some pictures of disembodied heads.

These pictures are actually from the gift shop.  Mom, it was in this shop that I bought you that gold-dipped leaf necklace I sent you with Nana’s Halloween Blanket!  Later on this day, we have an “encounter” with one of these guys.  Look.  At.  The.  Size.  Of.  That.  Goddamn.  Head.  Remember this.

Here I am, triumphantly wearing my Liza hoodie, armed with the knowledge that even trees are petrified of dinosaurs.  Hyuk hyuk.

I swear the pictures get a lot more interesting from here on out!

P.S. Our friend Katie hollerated at us for stopping here. She is the one who inspired us to visit the Badlands after blogging about it on her travel blog Wanderful. Give it a read! Anyway she said this place looked boring and she is mostly right. We were SO EXCITED though and ready to just take a look at everything and anything!

Moving to LA: The Saga Continues

Okay so I started writing posts about our trip moving out here but stopped mid-story. I want to finish this project (for my own memory’s sake and your own potential enjoyment/curiosity). I’m already starting to forget details and I don’t want to because this trip was a huge part of my life as well as a LOT of fun. Before I continue with the story, here is a recap of all of the places we went. Click on the pictures if you want a recap. They’ll bring you to the post they originated from:

I started by showing you the day we left and all the sad pictures of our lonely, empty, pretty apartment (that we still miss constantly since we currently live in a dank shoebox dump).

We left NJ and only made it to about the end of Pennsylvania following Route 80. I was bummed that we didn’t make it to Ohio but we were exhausted and ready to stop. Little did I know we were actually only ten minutes from OH. Haha what can you do?

We drove through Ohio and into Illinois. We stopped in Gary, Illinois to go to the Jackson Family’s original house. It was very small and very interesting.

We got a hotel room just outside of Chicago. We went to the Chicago Diner for dinner and had awesome American-style vegan food. We were dead on our feet after that and just went straight to bed.

The next morning, we drove straight into Wisconsin (cheese country) and stopped at a really cute cheese shop. We took this picture of a cow’s ass there.

We drove into Minnesota and after a few hours on the road, wanted to see something interesting again. So…we went to a taxidermy shop! It was only mildly terrifying but the proprietor was nice so that was good.

We got up in the morning and we were STILL in Minnesota.  That’s okay because Minnesota is seriously a really nice place to be.  Lord knows we spent enough time there.  Anyway here are some wind turbines for your viewing pleasure.

We found an *ahem* GIANT Jolly Green Giant Statue in Blue Earth, MN.

Then we took a detour and drove to Mankato, Sleepy Eye and Walnut Grove. LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE OBSESSED AND I’M NOT SORRY.

Here is Kristyn sitting inside Laura’s classroom/church.

Okay, so what I’ve shown you already is only four days into a nine day trip!   The USA is HUGE dudes.

I’m okay…

Just so you guys know. I apologize for getting so heated earlier, I just can’t stand this constant up and down. I wish we had some security. It’s like as soon as things start to seem up, we’re slapped by something else that comes in the form of a big fat “NO”. This week I’d gotten the foodstamps and GR and then that Desperate Housewives thing came my way (more on that later I swear). Kristyn made decent money in her paycheck and then got paid for writing and then got a little extra for Christmas from work. I got a bunch of job interviews. We got to pay off some bills that we’d been worrying about. We were finally feeling like we were getting back on our feet so we did some laundry (a big deal for us), we grocery shopped, we even went out for potato tacos at this cheap place around the corner (something we never do). And Kristyn FINALLY was able to get a haircut. It’s been almost a year. It seemed like we had some breathing room to enjoy ourselves and maybe a little bit of financial security. And then a big chunk of it is just ripped right out from underneath us. We are going to lose $178 from each month AND the government wants to take the GR money they paid me away too. It’s just too much and maybe not worth the hassle. I feel like saying, “You know what? Just take the money. You win.” Just walk away free and clear. Go home. Shiver in the cold weather. Hug my Grandmas. Start over. IDK. We’ll be okay no matter what happens because we have plans here and we have plans there but we didn’t want to have to go out like this. All is not lost here yet but I might be at the end of my rope with my tolerance of how much more disappointment I can stand out here. But then I think of everything it would take to undo this life and I get angry and forward-moving again. BUT how can we stay here if our families feel responsible for us? We can’t. There’s no way to do this where we feel good about what we are doing. There just are no easy answers. Whatever. I have more writing to do for some other projects. I just wanted to take a second to whine. Maybe I should have a meal. It is 11:34pm and my last meal was at noon. Oh we HAVE meals I am just actually too lazy/busy to make one happen. G’nite fools.

Wait before I go, here are some pictures of yesterday.  My interview yesterday was with a company on the Sony Lot (old MGM).  I took this picture from the parking garage.  It was supposed to be of that building in the distance because it has a huge red and green light up Christmas tree on it but you can’t see it.  Those are production trailers in the foreground and Culver City in the background. 

This picture is of the Hipster Snowman that was waiting for us outside of the Trader Joe’s in our neighborhood.  They are serious with this haha.

Here is some weird gel called “Snott Gorila Gel”.  When you open it, it looks like an electric-colored jar of Gorilla Snot.  Amaze. And for the low low price of $2.49. (Yes we bought a jar for Kristyn’s hairs.)

On my way home from the interview I was FASCINATED by how much the back of this car looks like a smiley face.  When things are going good I see smiley faces in everything.  Kristyn used to laugh at me when we lived in NJ because there was a section of street lights that formed a smiley face on the horizon from a certain spot in our town.  I always pointed it out because it was so cute to me. 

And this flier was in Rudy’s, the haircutting place Kristyn went to.  This “Bearracuda” NYE party is basically in our neighborhood.  It’s being held at the same place that I went to see He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister.  JD Samson of Le Tigre and Men DJ’d there last night too.  See THIS is why we love LA!  There’s no Bearracuda NYE party in Kearny!!!

Gary: Landlord of the Flies

Okay, I just found a blog that actually makes my sweetheart of a landlady look like a tall drink of water. I was reading Hyperbole and a Half (which you should only read if you like smiling and laughing at clever things) when I found this gem of a blog on her sidebar. It is called Gary: Landlord of the Flies and/or Stranger than Eviction.

In this Tumblr blog, Gabe outlines his MONTH living in a sublet in Chicago and all the things his drunken landlord/housemate puts him through. There are trips to the hospital, a felony case, police officers, harrassing emails and phone calls, emoticons, a series of court cases and even Dr. Phil gets involved. It’s incredible. I think it’s true because I haven’t found anything online to dispute the fact and the author (Gabe) has brought the landlord (Gary) to court so it is apparently publicly recorded but I have somewhere to be and don’t feel like verifying that. (Also I have a case of the sniffles due to a really sweet attempt by Kristyn to gussy my morning coffee up with some Soy Pumpkin Nog. Neither of us ever seem to remember the correlation between my ingestion of Soy Pumpkin Nog and the allergy attack that follows UNTIL I’m in the throes of said attack. And it’s not like she did it without asking.  She offered and I accepted.  Stupid, stupid, stupid.)

My favorite part of these entries are the names that Gary calls Gabe, namely that the word “squirrely” comes into play so often. In reality, I have something of a “Gary” in my own life (not my landlord) which makes this all the more hilarious. If you happen to be the “Gary” in my life that is reading this, THIS is what you sound like. Remember Gary. Keep him in your head as a reference. Pleeeeease.

Here are some kind notes that Gary leaves for Gabe in the (MONTH!) time that he lives there:

Dream House

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Here is the rest of what I was saying:

I know that we will eventually move back to the East Coast. There is a lot about the East Coast that doesn’t suit us but there is a lot about the East Coast that does (namely family and friends and some of the weather and the food and…)

BUT rather than living in NJ again, maybe we can move to NY. We’ve never lived there before so maybe we’d like that better. OR at least we can move to a different area in NJ that is still close to NYC ALTHOUGH NJ is not that big so if you are near NYC, you are basically near where we are from and therefore in a similar neck of the woods. What I DO know that I like is Upstate NY. If there is anyplace on Planet Earth that I would definitely WANT to own property, it is there. It’s beautiful, it smells good, the sky is full of stars, there is a huge amount of open space and trees and grass and hills and water…There are a lot of interesting boarded up houses and farms that are interesting to look at and photograph (and it is rumored that a lot of these properties are going to be restored to their former glory). There are county fairs, drive-in movie theaters and tons of antiquing and thrifting. It’s beautiful. BUT I have also spent two weeks straight up there and after a little while it’s like, “Okay, I feel a little too removed from the world.” So I know I can’t live there full-time but I want it as an option in my life. Also, there aren’t enough job opportunities up there for my taste.

SO the way I think our lives will go is that we will probably eventually buy a small house up there (or just land and build a small house on it) and then rent an apartment in Montclair or NYC. We want to be close enough to NYC so that it’s not a shitty commute but there are things to do and conveniences around. There are NO conveniences in Upstate. Not like in Northern NJ or NYC anyway. Shit shuts DOWN. And the area I like (The Hudson Valley/Catskills) is about an hour and a half to two hours from Northern NJ/NYC. In not much of a time investment, you really feel like you’ve gone somewhere else. It’s simple to drive in a weekend. When you’re there you actually FEEL the shackles of your life coming off of you, the little stressors you didn’t even realize were there until you don’t have them anymore. I just feel like up there, I actually sit down and read newspapers and books and kind of get up out of my chair and DO physical things. Take walks, go swimming, go biking, collect rocks, look for firewood, just kind of rudimentary things that seem like a hassle (or aren’t even an option) to fit into your daily existence but up there are ALL you have to do. No schedule or appointments, just EXISTING for a while. And you don’t have to go to bed at any particular time but you fall into bed EXHAUSTED at the end of the day anyway and wake up at the crack of dawn naturally.

We’ve always gone up there camping in the summer but can’t go up there in the winter because there the heat and electricity gets shut off in the part of the campground where we stay. I feel like if I had my own little house or cabin, it would be nice to go up there year-round. Spend Thanksgiving and Christmas up there. Have Easter egg hunts in the woods. Have a fireplace inside and outside. Maybe have a pool for the summer. It’s just a different world up there. There’s no one around to bother or to bother you either. Also the general lack of visible police is actually more comforting than you’d imagine. First of all, a visible police presence isn’t NEEDED because you’re not in any danger. Second of all, you don’t realize how monitored you feel until you are somewhere that isn’t passed by a police cruiser every ten minutes. I’ve brought people up there who get uneasy because of this. They don’t feel safe that there aren’t police around. But if you really stop and think about it, they’re not there constantly because they don’t need to be. That is nice. (And in the 30 years I’ve been going up there, I’ve never needed a police officer or SEEN anyone need one either. There is a general “live and let live” policy up there where everyone minds their own bidness and respects each other’s stuff/privacy.) Third of all, it is kind of freeing to know that, for one, there aren’t eyeballs on you other than those that belong to the people you have invited. You don’t realize what a stressor that is until you don’t have to worry about it. (Not that I do ANYTHING that is illegal. I am a girl scout but what I am saying is that it’s nice to just be away from prying eyes and left to your own devices sometimes.)

Also, when we used to go camping, we had clothes, towels, toothbrushes and just “stuff” we used there that stayed there all summer. And that “stuff” wasn’t ever pretty or stylish or anything but functional. That “stuff” was always handmade or thrifted and was always fell into one of these two categories “useful” or “fun”. Nothing was “have to”, everything was “want to”. It as a relief to have a space full of things that didn’t hold any ties to “have to”. When you only have your house or your apartment, you don’t know how relaxing it is to have a separate place where ONLY your “want to” things live. And responsibilities DO come with owning such a place because you have to clean it and weatherproof it, etc but even THAT is a “want to”. It’s like a giant craft project and if you involve your family and your friends, it can become a “want to” space for everyone and therefore a craft project everyone can get involved in. Everyone can contribute things that can be used later by everyone like games and toys and puzzles and warm blankets and books etc.

So anyway, that is what I want for myself. And if anything ever happened to my apartment in/near the city, at least I’d have a home to go to. *shrug* As much as I like people, I need a space to get away from people too. And living in such close quarters to other people on other people’s land is just too shaky for me. You never have a sense of ownership or power in your station. But buying a house in even a semi-urban area like where we’re from in NJ stresses me out because that feels like it would be sort of a kick in the ass. You OWN this property and yet you STILL can’t turn your radio up or have a party or not have to hear the person in the next house throw up. Haha. I feel like I would feel too indignant all the time if I owned a house that I didn’t have total control over.

We have to stay here for a few years and work and go to school. Ultimately what I want is to have a job where I make enough money to have an apartment on BOTH coasts. It would be nice to be able to fly back and forth for work and get the best of both worlds but I am dreaming in that respect. But I feel like if I had a house Upstate, I could move West for work if I had to and then our families could get use out of it. We all win, whereas if I owned a house in Montclair, NJ why in the hell would anyone want to take over that house when I’m not there? I mean it’s a cute town but not different enough from anywhere else so that you feel like you’ve gone on vacation. If we had a house in the woods, even when we were out of state, someone else could enjoy it and relax for a weekend or for a week.

So that’s the plan for someday. And I WILL make this happen, mark my words haha.

Unsanitary Living Conditions

For the past few days we have been up to our eyballs in bullshit (literally and figuratively). As some of you know, the plumbing in our apartment is crap and has been since the minute we got here. Always plumbers in and out of this place probably more than ten times and we’ve only been here for a year and two months. Do the math, that’s a LOT. What’s going on is that sewage (as in human waste) is backing up into our bath tub. I’ll just let you settle on that for a minute. Yes I have pictures. No I won’t post them here because I am not abusive.

The long and the short of what happened yesterday is that sewage keeps coming up in our tub and our landlady keeps blaming it on us, saying that we are causing the damage. Recently she said she was going to go after us for all the money she’s “lost because of us”. (Mind you every plumber who’s come through here has told us that the pipes are made of clay, are cracked and old and have roots growing into them. There will keep being backups until she actually fixes the system rather than just doing a patch job and snaking it out).

So when it happened again mid-last week and then all day Monday and yesterday, we finally wisened up and called the city. Kristyn’s parents have been urging us to stand up for ourselves forever but we naively “didn’t want to make trouble for her”. Stupid. We finally called the city and they cited her for a number of things (some that we didn’t even point out and turned out were health violations). So she came here ranting and screaming and telling us karma boomerangs right back at you. Yeah blahblahblah lady, had you fixed this the first time, we wouldn’t have been harrassed by this and you screaming at us for the past year. Seriously every time this happens she screams at us to the point that we are scared to even call her. And she blows off any other repairs but this because in LA (and probably everywhere) a non-working bathroom renders the apartment uninhabitable. So she sends someone out but makes sure to make our life miserable over it going so far as to tell us we can’t use toilet paper in the toilet.

The bottom line is that we are within our rights to call the city and if she had nothing to worry about then why is she yelling at us? We fell on SERIOUS hard times last month for the first time since we’ve been here and went to her for advice. We were honest with her and wanted to sit down and talk it over with her to find out what happens next and what our options are. Instead she served us with an eviction notice and then said, “Coleen this is a business. The people on the corner are moving out this month and I have to get my money from somewhere so I am going to go after you.” So, let me get this straight. We’ve always paid our rent, kept the unit clean, never had a party, don’t make any noise, don’t complain about our neightbors, never enforce that you fix things that are broken and put up with your broken plumbing month after month without reporting you to the city but we come to you with a problem and the FIRST thing you do is try to take us to court? And it gets funny because yesterday she had the balls to say to me, “Coleen we are supposed to work together. You called the city on me and that was unneccessary. I fix it when you call me. Karma will come back to you.” I said, “Well we weren’t talking karma and working together when you went for the throat last month. Then it was a business. You had no problem going after us in court or putting us on the street.” And she said, “Well I am going through financial difficulties…” and I just cut her off right there. I said, “Listen, I’ve done enough crying for your financial difficulties which is why we tried to handle this between me and you. From where I stand you’re not doing so bad if you own these five apartments, your own house, a restaurant and a surf resort while I’m struggling to pay bills and am on welfare.” Guess who didn’t have a “poor me” retort then?

So yeah IDK. I don’t want her money, I don’t even want to look at her. She told us we “just want to stay here so that we can make trouble” for her. She knows we would LOVE to move. We are DYING to move. We just can’t afford it. And so she is just going to have to keep this place clean, keep the plumbing working, accept our rent and we will give her proper notice when we do go. I’m not going through her anymore. She tried to tell me that the tree roots are the city’s problem. I said, “So then how about this? You argue with the city about YOUR property and as the tenant I will keep paying my rent like I always do. I cannot see how that 50 year old tree is a problem that falls on our shoulders at ALL.”

I seriously hate renting. I am not built for urban dwelling. I have never wanted to own a house before in my LIFE. I don’t like the idea of “settling” anywhere and for some reason I have it in my head that once you buy a house you have to live in that house forever. And I’ve never found a place to live where I can say that I never want to live anywhere else, not even here.

I wrote more but I don’t want to add it here so I will put it in another post. I don’t want that information and this information touching. This post was for “ANGER!” while the other one is for “Dreaming…ahh…” Haha.

A Touch of “Little House on the Prairie”-related Homesickness

Lately I’ve been feeling kind of far away from the world, sort of out of touch. Our cable is off so I can’t even watch the same TV shows everyone is watching as a way to stay connected. I gave up my internship for a couple of reasons, one being that we couldn’t afford it anymore, especially since we were both doing Internships. It’s better for Kristyn to do hers because I’ve had my chance. And I don’t regret that because fair is fair and I love that she is so happy.

The problem with not going to that internship anymore is that I am home alone all of the time. And Kristyn is gone and out of the house all of the time. So I have nothing to do. Ever.

But I’m sort of okay with that too. It gives me a lot of time to think, a lot of time to create, a lot of time to job hunt and clean. I’m okay being by myself most of the time. But this is a lot.

When I love a TV show, I have to buy it on DVD. I like to have the option to watch them over and over again. I know that that’s crazy in the era of Netflix but there are some shows that I just can’t get over. And I want to work in television so I think of it as a form of research. I don’t ever want to mime someone else’s work but it’s important to study the things you like to gain creative inspiration, no?

So we mostly have a collection of sitcoms…and “Little House on the Prairie”. I bought season one a few years back, got through a quarter of it, got tired of Kristyn making fun of it and put it away. During those times we worked on the same schedule so we did everything together. There was literally no time to watch a television show that we didn’t both like (even though she would fall asleep as soon as we put something on haha). Anyway, I started watching it again and just love it so much. It’s so comforting. I like that it’s so innocent. And it remindeds me a lot of my Mom and my Nana and being a little girl.

The problem is that it is making me homesick. I love LA but I don’t like the climate. Everyone at home feels like it is something to be jealous of but honestly it gets old fast. We are only truly happy when it’s “cold” (aka 60 degrees) or rainy. There’s no change in the weather ever. But IDK, I’d surely be just as sad if I were back there.

Sometimes it feels like, “Why are we even here?” We’ve been here for over a year but haven’t gotten to experience what it’s like to live here at all. There’s no room for fun or enjoyment. Any day Kristyn has off, she just has to collapse and rest because tomorrow she has somewhere else she has to be. We’re always hurrying her out the door and it stresses her out and makes me feel guilty. But I’m trying, it’s just not working. And when she has off, all I want to do is get out of this horrible apartment and into the world but she needs that time to be here. To see the cats, to lay down on the couch, to not move. And when she’s at work, I can’t take the car and go out because we can’t afford the gas. So IDK we are in a bad cycle. We have come up with a plan that will likely be more affective than what we’re doing now in terms of the quality of our lives.

Because Kristyn works late, we tend to stay up late and then sleep late and then she has to rush out the door. We realized last night that if we get up early on the weekdays no matter what time she has to be to work, she will have more time to write her blogs, call her parents and enjoy being here. And I will be able to get up, keep regular hours, spend more time with her and maybe we can even go for a walk together or something. And then we can sleep in on the weekends like normal people do. So IDK, we’re going to try it this week and see.

Another problem is that we are not in our element here. When you live someplace for your entire life, you know how to keep yourself busy. You know where to find all the things you need and want. That is a huge reason why we LEFT NJ. We were tired of not having to use our brains. We WANTED a challenge. We WANTED to have all new things. The prospect of not knowing where to find things was something we wanted. And it’s something we still do want. The problem is that sometimes you DON’T want to have to think or plan. You just want to do. And everything we want to do involves a big-ass plan. So it’s tiring sometimes. For instance, I desperately want to go to a yard sale. Not a Hollywood Hills yard sale where everything is a ridiculous amount of money. I want to go to a cheap-ass yard sale where someone’s aunt is selling all their weird crap on their lawn for a bean. I want to buy seven things, hand them a fiver and get change back. But this is fucking Hollywood. There are regular people all over the place but the odds of me finding yard sales like that around here are slim to none. I found one recently but it was seriously just JUNK. Like stuff that ought to have been thrown out fifteen years ago and not saved under any circumstances. In NJ we went yard sale-ing all the time because we knew exactly where to troll for sales. And NJ is small so the odds of you finding a little nook with a sale are great. LA is huger than you can ever even begin to imagine. You could probably fit five New York Cities in LA (or more). It’s huge. So where the hell do you start?! That is the problem with this city. It’s so goddamn big! For everything the first question is, “Where do we start?!” So then I think, “Well I’ll go to a second hand store to get my thrift on.” Wrong. Everything is priced the way it would be if it were brand new and in a store which takes all the fun out of it even if I DID have money to spare. The fun part of thrifting is the hunt, the surprise of finding weird stuff you didn’t know you wanted and the low commitment of expense. I’m not interested in ripping people off but if you are charging $50 but a point and shoot 35 mm camera that probably sold for $10 five years ago, we have a problem.

And I know I’m rambling at this point but I need a good ramble and it’s doubtful you’re even paying attention anymore so whatever. Another problem we have is that people keep giving us advice. We appreciate it but this city is way too complex for anyone to really advise us on anything. In NJ/NY everything is so close together. Our conventional wisdom that works in that area just doesn’t work here. You can’t really walk to anything here. And when people said that to me before I moved here I was all, “Malarky!” But it’s true. Everything is farther than you imagine it to be. For instance, when driving down Santa Monica Boulevard towards home, there is this fast food place that I always take as a marker that I am home…just a little bit further now. But that fast food place is actually twenty minutes from my house. The drive is just so long that my brain remembers it as “almost home” and it is in no way “almost home”. In NJ, anywhere you want to go is 20 minutes away for real. We’ve gotten so used to LA’s hugeness that a 40 minute drive (one way) doesn’t seem like anything at all. When I drive Kristyn to work and come back again that’s 40 minutes each way and then another 40 each way to pick her up at night again. So that’s 160 minutes in the car which is TWO HOURS AND FOURTY MINUTES driving time so that I can have the car to go food shopping. Do you know how much gas that is?! Haha. It’s a lot. So we FINALLY learned that it’s just best for us to run these sorts of errands when Kristyn has off or when the car is already in this area either before she goes to work or when she gets home. Which of course leaves me here babbling to you guys, watching a million episodes of “Little House on the Prairie” and thinking about all the things I want to do but don’t know how to do here but would know exactly how to do if I were home. Vicious cycle guys, vicious cycle. And the horrible part is that I KNOW that if I were home either because we left here or because we never came here, I’d be crying about the exact reverse problem. I have ACTUALLY said these words in NJ, “Even sitting in an apartment in LA would be better than having a good time here!” I’m an asshole, what can you do?

BUT on the bright side, we are going to start the process of applying to schools out here. As much as I’m bitching, we both know that this is the place we have to be right now if we want to work in this industry. Naturally we can live home and work in New York in this industry if we wanted to but we both suspect that our resumes will look shinier if we learn the ropes and pay our dues here rather than there. Nothing says “Hollywood” like a diploma from “Hollywood”. And we are smart enough to realize that while adding school onto our load is only going to make us whine even more and look back on these times as “simpler times we wish we could go back to”. Life = suffering. Once you understand what that means it actually is kind of funny. The past and the future always look rosy and the present, no matter how sweet, always looks bleak because you’re in the midst of your problems, the realities right in front of you and the future unsure. I do know that despite all my whinging, we will look back on these days fondly. We were young, we were stupid, we didn’t have anyone to take care of but ourselves (and our million pets). We were living in the city of our dreams and following the path to the careers we always wanted. And I know we’ll definitely say, “Why did we need all those crocheted blankets again?”

So anyway, I’m gonna go now, cross-stitch and watch some more (you guessed it):

P.S. Someone needs to buy me the full collection of this show. Who cares if it veered into “who cares” territory towards the end. THE COLLECTION COMES IN A GODDAMN COVERED WAGON! How lovely (obnoxious) would that look presented on a mantle? “Welcome in friends. I have a mental illness not classified by the latest version of the DSM. Please put on a bonnet and have a wheatflour cookie.”

P.S. #2 Here is the episode I am going to go watch. It is a BEAUTYFUL episode and I tried to force Kristyn to watch it last night to no avail. This clip shows all the important parts, enough to rip out those heartstrings.