The New Pad

I’ve finally pulled up stakes after living in the same apartment community in the Inland Empire for two and half years and moved just a little closer to Los Angeles. I’ll at least be within the county; so while I can’t enjoy all that the actual city has to offer, I can at least enjoy its exorbitant 10% sales tax. The next time I move, which could be as soon as a year, I’ll definitely hire movers to do the entire job – no matter the cost.

My old place was awesome. I had 800 square feet, a large bedroom, a palatial bathroom (no joke, it was big enough to rent out to a lodger), washer and dryer in the unit and a garage. The community was fairly new – built in the last decade – so it had the little features that modern day, misanthropic, individualist Americans don’t realize that they want, like a built-in alarm system and double pane windows that virtually keep all noise from penetrating into the living space. After having lived in an apartment next to the freeway and having to hear every highway patrol stop at the ungodliest hours, double pane windows are an amazing thing. Also, my kitchen was decked out in black Whirlpool appliances, complete with full-size gas range, microwave and dishwasher. As the cherry on top, I also got access to all the amenities offered by the adjacent apartment community that was managed by the same company. That community was much more expensive and offered a 24-hour fitness center and a mini movie theater.

And I only paid just over a grand for all that. Amazing, right?

That’s because the management company also offered a program for low-income renters. If your income was below a specified amount, your rent was cut by a third. When I saw the amount online I figured that there was something very wrong with the unit, like maybe it was missing a wall or a roof or maybe someone had died in there recently. But when the leasing agent explained to me their program I was sold. I’d be living there still if it weren’t for two drawbacks: distance from LA and some of the slowest Internet known to man.

When I had moved there in 2007, I was still struggling as an entertainment journalist and so wasn’t making too many trips to LA. (Yes, I’m still struggling, but less so.) Now that I’m heading that way at least once a week, you can’t imagine how valuable saving even half an hour of drive time is to me. And that’s just when traffic is clear. Less time on freeways means less chance of running into accidents or lane closures due to construction. Also in 2007 I was only blogging on Working Author and didn’t really need to do too much in the ways of uploading or downloading files for my site, so slow broadband Internet was OK. Now that I’ve gone full-on webzine with the site and am in the habit of pulling trailers, images and other media off random servers, it’s important that I’m able to get the updates done as fast as possible so that I can sleep as much as possible. For everything my last apartment had going for it, the Internet they had available was garbage. If I wanted to watch a Youtube video I was better off streaming it on my smartphone. No joke.

This begs the question then of why I didn’t just move to Los Angeles. Well, to add to the “still struggling” admission earlier, I still have to maintain a day job to make ends meet and I had to factor that location into my choice of places to live since that’s where I’d be driving to primarily. The other two deciding factors were rent and washer and dryer in the unit. Living in LA can be pretty expensive, especially if safety is a concern. Furthermore, after having lived with the convenience of a washer and dryer in the unit and being able to do laundry at 3 a.m. if I so pleased I simply couldn’t go back to the communal laundry facility. The apartment I moved into was the best choice that matched my criteria.

My new place is garbage by comparison to my old place. It’s smaller and much older. I think it was built in the 70s. The paint on the walls is uneven and raised in spots from where a hundred coats were applied over the decades. There’s no balcony so there’s no quick relief from cabin fever; I actually have to venture out of my cocoon if I want to get some fresh air and clear my head. The carpet hasn’t been replaced and still carries the stains left by the previous occupant, including some kind of glue material that’s hardened a portion into steel spikes that my bare feet love to step on. No central air or heat. I have a loud wall unit AC and an archaic heater that makes a loud propane gas sound whenever it’s on. Also, no refrigerator and no microwave. Oh, and those much ballyhooed double pane windows? None here. Whatever happens outside might as well be happening in my living room. Not to mention how easily the cold seeps inside as well.

I’m not sure if people were just shorter back in the 70s, but for some reason my showerhead is uncomfortably low. I’m one of those people who enjoys standing facing away from the water and tilting my head back into the stream. When I do that in the morning, the base of my skull is impaled. Yet my toilet seems to be made for tall people or at the very least people with long legs, because when I sit on it I can’t have my feet flat on the ground. I have to tippy toe while s(h)itting.

Despite all this, my washer and dryer work well, the apartment is remarkably quiet when I need it to be and the drive time to work is nearly non-existent. Even the drive home from an LA event was less of a trek. So far the compromises are manageable and having fast broadband Internet again is an amazing feeling.

Tonight, I’m enjoying my first stormy evening at the new pad. For rainy weather with strong winds, rickety single-pane windows cannot be beat for ambience.