The last hurrah

January 31st, 2012

I’ve never had issues sleeping, but these past few days I’ve been super restless. My brain feels overloaded with so many things that need to be done and the challenges of house hunting.

When I awake at 10.45am, I am both grateful and surprised. I’m rapidly up, coffee drained from the pot and onto the computer – my IV drip of life. Picking through Craigs List with a fine tooth comb, I wonder how many hours I’ve spent trawling this site? Phone calls across LA. I speak with Solomon in Beverley Hills who works at the plush Mister C hotel as a concierge. We have a lovely chat. His parents are looking for someone to rent a room in their home. They sound elderly and although initially an attractive offer, are perhaps not the flat mates I am looking for. ‘Regardless’ he says, ‘We should meet at the hotel for a drink. I want to introduce you to some people’. Let’s see how that one pans out!?

Today I have more house viewings and have decided to hire a car to get me around town. As I’m leaving to collect the car I can feel the back crunch of period cramps kicking in. A couple of pain killers down the hatch, and off I go with my new smart phone in hand. A local bus through Hollywood, over the hills to Burbank to collect my hire car, watching my GPS navigator all the while and marvelling over my new toy. Ahhh technology.

By the time I get to the rent a car outlet (a fair mission) and right in the middle of the customer service man explaining the 6 different lots of tax about to be charged to my credit card, my vision starts to blur. My brow and upper lip break into a sudden sweat. I feel like I’m in a street fighter video game and I’ve just received an upper cut to the jaw. Kapow! I’m light headed, woozy and can no longer concentrate – here come the cramps in full effect. ‘You looked stressed Ma’am’ the customer service man says. ‘No I am actually feeling really ill, I need to sit down’ I reply. I stumble to the edge of the reception area, find a seat, whilst desperately wanting to lie on the cold floor. He looks on alarmed, disappears and then comes back with a security guard. A few minutes later I muster my energy. I’ve signed all the forms in a haze of pain and bought 4 different kinds of insurance ‘God forbid Ma’am you should have an accident and someone winds up in hospital’. I have the keys. I make for the car. Lot 1B I chant in my mind. I’m in the car on the back seat, eyes closed, sweat now pouring off my forehead and from the back of my neck. I open my eyes and view a spinning air vent on the roof in front. I focus on the vent and deep breathing whilst meditating on the thought; I am not in pain, I am fine, I am feeling fine, everything is going to be alright. Then there’s this overwhelming feeling of being so very alone. I take my pulse. It seems very slow. I have a dramatic moment of thinking what if I die in the back seat? (I know, I know, ridiculous) followed by the more practical, I have house viewings in an hour and half – I’ve got to be fine! Within 45 minutes I’m sitting up. The back of my dress is drenched. I get myself together and head back into the hire reception, apologise and explain the situation. I reassure him, ‘I’m fine to drive a vehicle. Now could you please explain what all these taxes and insurance charges are?’. The cost of the car was supposed to be $9 a day, not $48! Californian tax, airport tax, this tax, that tax. Boom. By this point, what’s done is done, I’ve signed the papers. At best, I am no longer in pain. I hop in the car and take the 2 freeway heading east.

6 house viewings ahead of me. The first is in a great big old house in Korea town. I discover on arrival that the Russian owner is out of town and has the key to the room, so I can’t actually view the room. Great. Peter greets me. He’s 50 odd and came to LA to be a comedian. The long and short of his story is, it never happened. Peter is now a security guard in a bank. He cracks bad and slightly inappropriate jokes whilst talking in a defeated tone. Jonathan appears and kind of saves the day, simply by acting in a normal fashion. He’s a Brit actor, who has been in town many years. We share a cup of tea. I marvel at the huge yard and great space. It’s got a lot of potential, but I have a feeling Peter is going to do my head in. As I’m about to depart, I realise my phone has died and I need it to navigate my way to the next viewing. Thankfully Jonathan has the same phone. I get charged enough to find my way to Silverlake; an area I’m told was the once a hot spot to buy crack, but now a haven of trendy hipsters and cafes. The house is sat behind a big gate. A gate which is locked. I check my phone. It’s dead. Oh no! What to do? I am shouting into the darkness as dogs start barking from every direction. ‘Spencer? Spppeeeennncerrrrr?’. No response. I start wolf whistling, as you do, feeling like a right royal lunatic. A head pops from the upstairs landing as I’m giggling at how silly this all is. They live in the top half of this house and are renting out a small room for top dollar. I can do better than this, I think. Before leaving I get help directing me to my next destination. I meet two gorgeous girls, also in Silverlake and luckily just around the corner. They live in a lovely apartment with killer views. You can see the hills, Hollywood sign, and over Silverlake. One girl is an architect, the other a film producer. I take a rental form and think this could be home. More directions and paper maps drawn to get me to my next stop up the hill to Mt Washington. I’m driving round and around, but can’t find the place. I pull into a service station at the bottom of the hill hoping they might be able to help and end up using the attendants phone to call the next potential flat mate. ‘I’ve been texting you’, he says. ‘I’m not home yet. Can we reschedule?’. Moving swiftly on to the next viewing with Heiko the German from Stuttgart. He looks as if he’s been wrestling with an electricity socket and hasn’t slept in days. I am running out of time, my schedule is out after being lost. I need to be back in West Hollywood for my final viewing in 30 minutes. This has got to be snappy, but this guy does not understand my rush, even though I explain ‘I’m sorry but I have to be…’ Blah blah blah. He talks at a snail’s pace about random things. A housemate comes out, says a brief hello and disappears. Heiko is very serious, very German and there’s something vaguely unsettling about him. The room available is a dream. The closet is so large the current tenant has a double blow up mattress in there for when guests stay. If only the house wasn’t quite so far away from everything and Heiko didn’t linger in the strange department. I got the feeling he was perhaps lonely and craving a good conversation. I finally get out the door and am sitting in the car when tap-tap-tap on the window in an almost pitch dark cul-de-sac Heiko’s standing at the window. ‘I thought you might need directions’ he says. ‘Jesus, you scared the shit out of me. Sorry, no I’m fine. Thank you. See you’, I mutter feeling a bit spooked. I drive round the corner just to be away from the house. I’m sure he was watching me from the balcony. Eeeekkkkk. I proceed to get incredibly lost, drive in circles and am on the verge of tears. Exhausted, I find myself cursing loudly, before somehow navigating my way home.

When I finally arrive back in Weho it’s too late to do the last viewing. I share the day’s events with the girls and then get back on to Craigs list. It feels relentless. I get into bed hoping the girls in Silverlake come through, or perhaps the house in Korea town could be a starting point. I am so ready to move on to the next LA mission. Acting.

Craigs List – You’re a hell of a beast!

27th of January, 2012

A restless nights sleep. Tossing, turning, I’m exhausted, but I just want it to be morning. You know that feeling? Like a kid at Christmas. Excitement, anticipation. What does the day hold? I can’t wait. I want  to get the LA ball rolling. I want results and I want them now!

Straight onto the internet. FB, Twitter, hotmail, gmail, Craigs List – GO GO GO! All day at the computer, attempting to start my new life. Coffee percolates. Cup after cup, down the hatch. Furiously scribbled notes, numbers, addresses start to fill my new journal. It’s mid afternoon, I’m still in my pj’s when I realise I’ve had nothing to eat. I head up the street, now out of my pj’s and take an afternoon stroll. I’m familiar-ish with the area, as I’ve couchsurfed here 2 years back with a wonderful American girl Jen. The area is very Russian and I fill the next hour ducking in and out of Euro delis with names like Svetlana buying cheap rye bread, veggies and admiring smoked fish and olives.

Back home with a full belly I start making phone calls to prospective share houses. Frankie is sitting across from me as the hilarity begins.

First up I speak to Dana, whom I’d had contact with before leaving Oz. She seemed hunky dory via email; offering a Californian bungalow in Hollywood living with four other people working in film. Sounds perfecto, no? When I speak to Dana on the phone, she sounds like she’s from the wild west. Somehow I feel she may be missing some teeth. We make a time to meet tomorrow morning.

Next up. Skyler with a house in Hollywood. I think Skyler is going to be female, but she’s male and full of surprises. ‘It’s not a house, it’s a studio’ he explains in a slow country pumpkin like drawl. ‘You’d be sharing my double bunk boat’ he continues. ‘Your what?!?’ I quiz him. ‘It’s like a double-decker bus’ he goes on. ‘Like a double decker bus???’ I repeat somewhat confused, but highly amused. Frankie gets the giggles, then me and then Skyler. The giggles intensify to the point that I’m gasping as I continue with, ‘So what you’re effectively offering me is the top deck of your double-decker bus?’ ‘Well yeah’ he says. I am trying so hard to say thank you Skyler, but I don’t think this is going to work, but the laughter has taken control and the only thing left to do is hang up.

NEXT!

I speak to Scott. Scott goes on and on and on….and just when you think he’s going to take a breath, there it is, a little more dribble. He’s a middle-aged man who has been to Australia and stresses at least 3 times in our conversation that his one big mistake in life was not buying land in Geelong. He bores me to tears. I finally manage to get off the phone.

Maritza is my next convo. She requests we meet over Skype. She’s about 24 and starts off by telling me a little bit about the house rules!!! OMG. This is getting more and more ridiculous. Rule number one – no drugs. Rule number two – NO SLEEPOVERS! EVER. What the hell?? It’s almost insulting having this conversation but for mine and Frankie’s amusement I probe further and ask in all seriousness ‘Why, have their been some issues?’ ‘The walls are thin’ she explains, ‘It’s just an agreement we’ve come to.’ With my head almost in my hands I politely excuse myself from the conversation ‘ Thanks Maritzia, but I don’t think this is going to work’. I understand her reasoning, but house rules? Whatever happened to common sense and a little understanding?

In between I have a few normal email and phone convos, though they seem to be rare. So many ads have super specific requirements. Many include a non smoking rule, even if you’re outside! As I am currently a smoker, the thought of creeping around to have a cheeky one whilst watching guard for house mates simply doesn’t work. Another ad goes so far as to mention housemates only have occasional conversations. It’s exhausting reading such nonsense. I manage to line up a few viewings for the next day and have one last phone chat that ends on a rather abstract note.

I talk to Christina. She works for the home shopping network. It’s all fine fine fine until I query a note in the ad about not sharing kitchen bits and bobs. She explains that everyone has their own section in the kitchen with their own cups, plates, cutlery, etc. I query that as a newly arrived resident I didn’t bring such items abroad with me, would it be expected in a sharehouse to purchase such things? Sympathetically she offers ‘ Well I only have one mug, one plate, knife, fork and spoon, but I spose I’ve got some paper plates you could use’. Unbelievable. I am stunned to my inner core. Paper plates?! Get a grip woman.

I suddenly start to remember how odd this town really can be.