Archive for August, 2010

4:43 and Sleepy Time Tea

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

I have been having trouble sleeping.  I have been having trouble sleeping for on and off several decades now, but the past ten days has been a pretty consistent battle.  I was in LA for a week and never quite got the hang of the time change and am back in TO having the same trouble.  I have little issue dropping off, but I awake in the middle of the night more alert than I could ever hope during the day.  I wish I could harness my brain power at the instant I surface – I am convinced the answers to world peace and the Caramilk  mystery lie somewhere in the post ethereal moments before I launch into reluctant consciousness.

I used to rail against my sleeplessness until my (excellent) doctor told me to stop fighting it.  I still have bouts of irritation as I watch the clock tick by, knowing the chances of me presenting a reasonable facsimile of a functioning being ebb with every sweep of the watch face, but I try to roll on.  I have stopped lying in bed, tossing and turning and  have been finding some solace in the aforementioned Sleepy Time Tea administered in the wee hours of the morning.  Occasionally I watch TV but have been struck by, nay veritably haunted by the omnipresence of a show called “Murdoch Mysteries”.  This little opus is a Canadian production, on every channel at every hour it would appear.  It is truly dreadful.  Yannick Bisson plays some Olde Tyme detective (honestly, I can’t tolerate more than a minute of this drivel so I am just guessing at the content).  The acting is wooden and the costuming is so bad I suspect the make up artist was hired straight from a 1982 RATT tour.  I am plagued.  And (god save me) I just looked up Yannick Bisson and discovered he previously starred in yet another CBC abomination called “Sue Thomas, FBI” about a deaf chick detective.  I used to do the most appalling and politically incorrect imitation of the “star” of that little treasure.

Is my sleeplessness driving me to madness?  Or just to CBC Drama series exposure, proving once and for all I must go West and seek my fortunes there?


Friday, August 20th, 2010

I have oft mentioned my friend Jessica in posts past.  Jessica and I met when we were about 12 at UTS, a school for the gifted from which she matriculated and I did not.  We remained friends, lost touch for a good many years, and reacquainted ourselves a few years ago.  She has been a wonderful guide and support here in Los Angeles.  The other day her friend was doing a reading on her recently published book on mindfulness.  Mindfulness involves adhering to the idea of living life in the moment – not dwelling on the mistakes of the past, not anticipating the hurdles of the future.  In this area as you might well imagine, I suck.  I thought it would be a good idea to give such a practice a whirl as it is supposed to result in a calmer stress free life.

I was at the rental the other morning when suddenly my screen was taken over by the Roadrunner from the Bugs Bunny cartoons, who is evidently the mascot at Time Warner cable and internet.  I was instructed to key in specific information and reboot the modem.  I called the on screen number to explain that I was just a tenant and had no access to said information.  The operator asked for the home telephone number of the apartment.  There is no phone there, everyone has a cell so I explained that I was just a tenant and had no access to said information.  The operator then asked for the account number associated with the apartment.  I explained that I was just a tenant and had no access to said information. The operator then asked for the last four digits of the landlord’s drivers license.  I explained that I was just a tenant and had no access to said information.  How, if I cannot ascertain the telephone number of the unit I am sitting in I would be able to conjure up the landlord’s drivers license I cannot imagine.  I also wonder if it is possible to practice mindfulness whilst releasing a volley of expletives that would curl the hair of a hardened sea captain.

I joined Jessica and her friend Lou at the beach later in the day and took my inaugural plunge into the Pacific Ocean.  It was very cold and very determined to rather violently remove my bathing suit, but it was a great experience.

That evening I popped down to Amoeba which is a fantastic record store in Hollywood reminiscent of a big, open Sam The Record Man (RIP).

They do in store concerts and Crowded House was performing.  I was somewhat dismayed to discover Neil Finn has grown a porn-stache but the band sounded great.

They mixed material from their new album in with some classics (“Locked Out” was the encore).  I slowly lost my heart to the lap steel player as he sang some truly haunting back up vocals on “Fall At Your Feet”.  All in all a good end to the day.  Perhaps I can get a handle on this mindfulness thing after all.


Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

Having some spare time sprung on me I thought it would be wise to walk around the new environs to get my bearings.  On the way there I walked past more of the dread shutter murals that I notice on my previous trip.  They continue to be of dubious quality and I suspect the artists possibly had little clue as to the identity of their subjects.

Peter Lorre is an odd looking fellow, but not THAT odd.

The cast of Star Trek may have had a word or two on the subject as well, although from a distance it works.

And although I know the tag says Orson Welles, I think Rip Torn is a solid guess on this one too:

In my travels I ran across the following food cart.  I know Toronto has been undergoing a perilously long debate about the trucks and have been considering an effort to expand from ice cream and hot dogs to more healthy, varied and ethnically diverse fare.  If they can pull THIS off, I am behind them 100%.

Added bonus:  what may pass as a (rare) photo of me in the reflection.  In a taco truck.  Perfectly fitting, really.

I found a Ralphs just around the corner from the new pad which will most likely serve as my new grocery store.  It appears that not only will I have to familiarize myself with some new geography, but some new terminology as well.

This burrito looks perfectly dry to me.  An education is in order!

Day 3

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

I had set up a couple of appointments for today to see other places in the event my Formosa cottage rental fell through.  I managed to see the outside of two dreadful buildings before I needed tea fortification.  One of them was further east that I have been looking at the border of the Thai Town and Little Armenia areas.  Bodes well for restaurants, bakeries and sex tape starlets, not so much for apartments.  The rule of thumb is that the further west you go (towards the ocean), the nicer the area.  There are exceptions – Silver Lake is lovely and the further UP the hills you climb the higher the ticket value.  But the Starbucks at Western and Hollywood was no charm, though I did turn around to be startled by Thai La Toya Jackson.

I then went to a local T Mobile to test my theory that all cellular phone provider stores are staffed by disaffected youths whose determination to remain engrossed in conversation with their coworkers seems to grow in direct proportion to the amount of customers they can ignore at any given time.  So far, the theory holds.  I was biting my nails waiting for the call from Judy to let me know the Formosa apartment was mine (I erroneously called her Jean in a previous post).  I should learn how to be patient, which seems about as likely as my learning to be tall.  Or Norwegian.  Finally I called her and she assured me all was well and that we could connect tomorrow to go over the details about deposit and first months rent and to square away when I could officially take possession.  Relief.

I didn’t want to go back to the rental as my landlord was cutting hair there today so I went in the later afternoon to the California Science Center (didn’t know there was one) which is next door to the Museum of Natural History (didn’t know about that either) to see the Mummies of the World exhibit.  Quite interesting, and more that a little macabre.  Surprisingly so for a museum with a directive to lure in the kiddies.  There was one display where you could spin a wheel and watch the carcass of a rabbit rot down to the bone.  Actually, I think the adults were probably more grossed out that the kids – the place was oft punctuated with cries of disgust in deeper tones followed by the high pitched giggles of their offspring.  All in the name of science.

I am chock a block from Wednesday through to my return on Saturday, but tomorrow I may have free so I intend to hike up Runyon (though woefully unprepared clothing wise to do so).  Wednesday and Thursday are reserved for the potential quest for a car, though I saw THIS little honey outside Whole Foods. 2001 Porsche Boxter convertible, anyone?  Tonnes of miles, not tonnes of money?  Anyone?

More tomorrow.


Monday, August 16th, 2010

I have come to the conclusion that every house in downtown Toronto is pretty much the same.  Victorian in construct, about 100 years old.  Enter the front door and immediately be faced with the stairs going up.  To your left (or right, depending on the orientation) you will find the living room, then the dining room, then the kitchen.  If you go up the stairs there will be a small bedroom directly at the top of the stairs, the bathroom off to the left (or right, depending on the orientation), a smallish second bedroom and the master bedroom at the front of the house.

There is a similar pattern to all apartments in Los Angeles built after about 1960.  Living room with an “L” alcove that functions as a dining area with the kitchen attached.  Bedroom off to one side, bathroom off to the other, usually with a small area that houses an ENORMOUS amount of closet space.  Some are carpeted.  Some have hardwood (those that do boast about it).  Some have parking.  Some do not (those that do boast a great deal about it).  Essentially you can plunk this floor plan down anywhere and charge a varying amount of rent depending on area and the presence or absence of hardwood and parking.

These are fine.  There are exceptions, like the little cottage versions I have mentioned before.  The first appointment of the day was one such example, and it was a real contender.  Fantastic area, beautiful floors and windows plus a nice little pond/fountain area.  The pond at first viewing was that cloudy colour that happens when you pour Mr Clean into water, but I optimistically decided that it indicated the pond was  disinfected.  Either that or someone was doing their wash.  There was also a good chance that the fountain feature would keep me in a constant state of having to go to the bathroom but considering I am pretty much like that all the time anyway I didn’t think it would make much of a difference.  No parking, but I was sure I could find a local spot to rent.  This just off Melrose, and a block north of the two bedroom I camped in for a weekend the last time I was here.  “Buchan’s” to those of you paying attention.

All in all it was a good day.  I saw a couple of nice singles right on Fairfax that would have done in a pinch.  Parking, hardwood and unusually large kitchens and bathrooms.

I am slowly learning the lingo.  A 1 bedroom has, as one might expect, a separate bedroom.  A single has one living space but the kitchen is a room on its own.  A bachelor is a single room and the kitchen occupies a portion of the one living area.

Some of the places were nice, some kind of boring.  There was one awful exception.  A one bedroom with what was described on the listing as hardwood.  It was laminate.  There was supposed to be a parking spot, but the agent told me there wasn’t.  The rooms were a good size but the views were of walls, the elevator was run down, creaking and terrifying, the halls smelled like old cooking and the “courtyard” was a concrete space that looked like it would best be served as an exercise yard for some prisoners of the Gulag. AND it was expensive.

The last appointment of the day introduced me to my new digs.  A little one bedroom cottage.  Lots of light, lots of charm.  Hardwood floors, a gas stove in a little kitchen.  Both the kitchen and the bathroom had the vintage tiles I am so fond of.  A fantastic area, four blocks from the local Farmer’s Market.  A walk to the local Target.  A walk to the local grocery store.  A walk to the local Trader Joe’s where one can obtain the best guacamole ever.  Notice the “walk” trend?  Could I be happier?  There is no parking, but Jean the landlady has a friend four doors north who rents spaces and she was pretty sure I could get one.  Jean and I got along like a house afire.  SHE didn’t have an issue with my Nationality.  She told me she could guarantee the place was mine.  We hugged when I left.

And did I mention the place is cheap?  A little less that $500 cheaper per month then the place I got kicked out of yesterday that I was willing to sell my soul for.  I am going to have to start putting more stock in this Karma thing, methinks.

I am delighted. 1314 North Formosa for those of you with an affinity for GoogleMaps.

Time to say goodbye to this part of Hollywood. I may find I miss the crazy mannequin army that guards the place, but I do know where to find it.

I’ve been profiled!

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

Day one of looking an apartment in Los Angeles.  Remember when looking for an apartment was fun?

No, you don’t.  Because it never was.  Looking for an apartment blows.

It is tiring.  There is endless running around.  There are hours to be spent discovering how many euphemisms for “tiny and dark” there really are in the English language.

The places can be pretty banal.  There was a whole bunch of boring.

This one was charming but TINY and no parking

This one is a small single.  Once the construction finishes it should be nice.  The woman renting it seems to think I am some kind of long lost sister – she called it “kismet” that I came to see it and seems to think it is destiny that I am to live there.  I am not so sure.

This one, curiously, has captured my interest a bit but it needs some TLC.  I just don’t know if I am the gal to give it.  I am not entirely sure, for instance, what would inspire someone to whitewash over all the interior windows.  I mean I like my privacy and everything but this is a bit much.  The space is cool though & very convenient.  No parking, alas.

That fridge is scary.  My small-but-impressive collection of ex-es with be VERY happy they don’t live near me if I lose my nugget and take this one on.

Nothing really struck me as the place I MUST live until …

I was driving on my way to an appointment when I espied an open house sign on a little courtyard complex.  They are quite common in West Hollywood – a series of little one bedroom or bachelor units strung together along a central path.  They are often Spanish in style and I am utterly charmed by them.  So I pulled over, and walked into the most beautiful little 1 bedroom cottage.  Newly refinished hardwood floors, big sunny kitchen with vintage tile and plenty of cabinets and counters. Lovely tiled bathroom, airy and bright plus a beautiful little patio framed in bamboo reeds.  There was even a single car garage out back.  It was a little too expensive.  I didn’t care.   I was home.  I started chatting to the leasing agent holding the open house.  She asked what I did for a living and I told her proudly I was opening a branch of my Canadian company in the US.  She said “that’ll be a problem”.  I asked why and she informed me that she couldn’t run a credit check on me.  I assured her I could provide her with a Canadian one and that my credit was impeccable. Not good enough.  I told her I would pay her the full year rent up front. Not good enough.  I later thought I could have my friend Anny cosign like I am some crazed college student but A) that’s a tad humiliating and B) it didn’t come to me as I have not had a cosigner since I was about 18.  If then.

Let me just go over a few things.  I am a 44 year old single Canadian female.  I am white (who is kidding who, it matters).  I have been an owner/partner in my own business for 12 years.  I have owned my own home for 9 years.  I have been consistently employed since my late teens.  I have never bounced a cheque.  I have (to date) never killed anyone.  And I can’t rent my dream home because: I. Am. Canadian.

Who knew.

Home Office

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

The House Walrus and I have differing opinions on the concept of working at home.

Shameful Confession

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

I recently moved into the 6th floor of an apartment building on Queen Street.  I share my new abode with my far-too-smart-for-his-own-good tabby, Liam.  I call Liam “monkey” when I am feeling fond of him, and “rancid little shit” when I am not.

In my new digs I have a small balcony off the living room and have spent a great deal of time and effort creating an alcatraz-like environment so the aforementioned housemate cannot escape.  I am not so much afraid of him plummeting to his death (he is far too clever for that) but rather that he will squeeze his bulk under the divider between my balcony and my westerly neighbours.  I can only imagine him breaking in to their space and committing some kind of evil feline sin that would necessitate my immediate and permanent departure from the building.  He is exactly the kind of animal that would find a way to make friendly cohabitation impossible, like smothering their child or consuming an entire roast beef dinner.

The irony is that when I first moved in I left the balcony door flung open all the time with just the screen closed.  I often left the apartment completely to run short errands in the neighbourhood.  Never a problem – the cat showed precisely zero interest in the great outdoors.  Until I made the mistake upon my return from California to actually have the gall to SIT on said balcony without allowing him equal access.  Then it was war.  Yowling, scratching at the screen, constant protest. I tried yelling “No!” (frequently and loudly) to no avail.  I tried to McGyver a piece of dowel between the doors.  He figured out how to hook it out.  Then I recalled that I had in the past bought a plant sprayer purchased for precisely these punitive purposes.  I searched high and low for it in the very limited number of places it could be hiding with no luck at all.  (Remember I have a one bedroom condo, no chance of having stored it in the West Wing).   The scene in my home ran to the following:  Scratch scratch rummage yell (cat), scratch scratch rummage yell (me).  Repeat.

I couldn’t take it any more.  Finally I went to the sink, got a big mouthful of water and, in the full view of the Queen Street Coolerati, I spat it on him.

Juvenile?  Embarassing?  Effective.

He skulked away and performed a full body assault on his scratching post (which I suspect he was imagining as an effigy of yours truly).  I may have won the battle, but I may have just started one hell of a war.

Epitaph – July 2010

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

I have been home for a week now and I am still trying to find my head.  (I am sure at least one of you is thinking I should check with a proctologist).

When I left Los Angeles I felt a growing rise of panic that there were so many things I didn’t do.  I never made it to LACMA (LA County Museum of Art).  I never saw the collection at the Getty Villa.  I missed the Hollywood Fringe Festival.

Well, here I am back in Toronto and yesterday I manages to extricate myself from the folds of the couch to go and see a few productions at the Toronto Fringe festival,  en route I passed by the Bata Shoe Museum.  Never been in it.  Nor have I been to see the Gehry reno at the AGO (across the street from Deschamps, of course).

I guess the point is no matter how busy are and how many things you try to do there will always be things that fall by the wayside and it’s all about where you put your effort.

I’ll be back to LA soon enough.  Maybe I will get to the Bata before I go.

Naysayers – June 30, 2010

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

It’s official – Carol Burnett.

Discovered after phone calls to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, who put me on to the Hollywood Beautification Team.  They are a group of volunteers who commandeer school kids to paint these murals, plant trees etc in an effort to improve the Hollywood environs

I leave it to you to determine if they have achieved their goal, but at least now we know.