November 30, 2011

Looking for a place to rent is like starring in your own episode of “House Hunters.” In contrast to yuppie newlyweds sharing how much they like the fenced in backyard where all three of their Golden Retrievers can run for hours, I’m standing in a 400 square ft Hollywood efficiency saying, “I like how there is a stove.”

Most people rent in Los Angeles so there is intense competition when a decent apartment hits the market. When a less desirable unit is ready, I’m the guy that goes in to make sure everything is okay. I spend my free time chatting with apartment managers and feigning interest in studio apartments.

“I really like how it’s one big room. No, it’s great. It’s like living in a really large cubicle.”

I stop my car in the middle of a street whenever I see a sign for West Side Rentals. The Subaru behind me flicks me off and West Side Rentals tells me the unit has already been rented. It’s like I’m being told to f*ck off twice.

I keep searching and try to imagine my life inside each of these units I see like the newly remodeled top floor unit on S. Oak Knoll Ave. When I took that left onto S. Oak Knoll for the first time I envisioned growing old on this quiet Pasadena street lined with oak trees, walking distance to work. I liked the high ceilings, and the idea of Pasadena where I could wave an American Flag in the Rose Parade and vote Republican.

My co-workers Stacey, Kimi and Matt all approved when I took them for a visit.

“It’s super nice.”

“Oh, and there’s a pool too.”

“And you can walk to Panda Express!”

I didn’t mind that Evan, the apartment manager kept calling me Elias since she was now taking me to see #14, the only available upstairs unit. When I walked in Evan’s office a girl was filling out paper work.

“She’s interested in the downstairs unit. ” Evan told me. “She will take a walk with us upstairs so she’s not just sitting by herself.”

We entered #14 where the current tenant left boxes and dirty towels on the floor.“Are you ready to put down your deposit?”

“How about I let you know after the weekend?”

After driving away, I received a phone call from a 626 number.

“Hi, Elias. This is a courtesy call to let you know that the girl is going to be taking that apartment.”

I expanded my Craigslist search to other parts of Pasadena. One ad appeared daily in different forms: “Garden Apartment!,” “Ready Now,” and “Your New Home Awaits…”

Each time I clicked on the ad I felt empty inside. I flagged the user for abusing his posting privileges, but figured I might as well at least see this 750 square ft unit on S. El Molino, close enough to El Paseo in Old Town.

I met the older gentleman in his 70’s whose craigslist ads I despised. I shook hands with this soft spoken individual who led me towards my new home, an unimpressive, outdated brown carpeted one bedroom apartment.

“So how’s Craigslist working out?”

“I’ve posted a little bit on there.”

“So I’ve seen,” I said to my new friend whose ad now has more flags than the Rose Parade.

My co-worker Andrew suggested I consider Highland Park which he described as “Up and coming.”

I drove through York Street at night and seemed to pass an endless strip of liquor stores and guitar shops. It didn’t seem like this area was up or close to coming. Andrew asked me what I thought.

“It’s not for me,” I replied politely.

“Why? Are you too good for our neighborhood.”

“It’s not even like that. I just would just never ever live there.”

Over Thanksgiving weekend I took my parents on a driving tour of Silverlake around the reservoir and down to Franklin through Los Feliz until we landed on Rodney Street, a pleasant side street situated between Hillhurst and Vermont. As we waited to get buzzed into a three story building we looked through the names on the intercom and identified Wasserman and Isaacs, nearly one Jew per floor. Brenda, the friendly Romanian apartment manager showed us a beautiful studio with hard wood floors, new kitchen tiles, a large walk-in closet and a balcony with views of Wasserman’s apartment.

“What do you think?”

“It’s great. What do you guys think?” I asked my parents.

“We both like it,” my mom responded. “But, it’s up to you.”

Brenda invited us into her home to discuss the terms of the lease. I asked about the utlities as grown men were getting wacked in the nuts with whiffle bats on “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”

“Im about 90% sure I want to live here,” I told Brenda who I’m sure was thrilled I still possessed a good 10% of self doubt.

Imagining late night meals at Fred 62, hikes in Griffith Park, and living in an area as fun to pronounce as “Los Feliz” compelled me to forward my Sports Illustrated subscription to Rodney Street.  I’m excited to invite people, or a person to start with, and see how much room there is with my bed, couch and record player. My mom suggested purchasing a divider to make the studio seem like it has two rooms. I’ve looked at dividers on Overstock.com, but not sure how I feel about the idea of a giant Tetris piece next to my bed. Meanwhile, my mom is busy researching historical facts about Los Feliz.

“Did you know that Walt Disney created Mickey Mouse while living in his uncle’s house in Los Feliz?”

“Yes because I too read the Los Feliz Wikipedia page.”

I also know that “Rebel Without a Cause” was shot at the Griffith Observatory and “Swingers” was shot at the Dresden Room. It’s a shame my episode of “House Hunters” will not cement itself in Los Feliz cinematic lore. If Walt Disney can sketch the beginnings of Mickey Mouse in Los Feliz I too can thrive here, or at least continue blogging for the Jewish Journal.

There is much to discover in Los Feliz and much more to learn about the new studio and how it will smell since I’m the only one living there. If the place smells I cannot blame anyone else. It won’t because Los Feliz will be a fresh start. I just know it.

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