[ Excerpts ] 

 

The Hunt

For anyone who has ever gone apartment hunting in Los Angeles before, you know how hard it is find a decent place.

For anyone who has ever done this with their significant other before, you may join me in referring to it as that time you realized you knew absolutely nothing about the person you've been dating for years.

Like the entire time you were together he was the kind of guy who would be okay with linoleum floors and plastic blinds and you had no idea and now you're questioning everything about your relationship in front of a broker you just met.

It may have started out hopeful, with your combined income making you feel like you can live like kings in a one-bedroom... but it will only be a matter of time before you’re ripping Westside Rentals signs from the ground to use as weaponry in a frustrating fight over affordability and the other's definition of what's livable.

As I learned, though, the cause of this friction isn’t due to the tough market and high costs of California living. It's simply because, like in most cases, a man's needs and a woman's needs can be very different.

Example:

A man looks for: location, affordability, roof, and door (optional).

A woman looks for: location (meaning walking distance to shopping/grocery store/entertainment), covered parking, onsite maintenance, washer-dryer, a view, a gym, pool and a spacious unit in a large, well managed building.

Alright. Fine. Maybe not all women. Maybe just me. Because I'm 23, I've just graduated college, I'm an unpaid intern and work front desk at Equinox basically just for the free membership. The world hasn't beat me down yet and I haven't developed a realistic view of how life or money works.

Anyway ...

Maybe you already know the particular area to search, but we had needs in opposite directions and therefore the greater Los Angeles area to decide from. We searched everywhere from Hollywood and Beverly Hills, to Westwood and Brentwood before we finally honed in on Santa Monica as the official destination. That way we would be equally inconvenienced by traffic.

While this emotionally trying search continues (as different as your circumstances may be) here are some sample conversation topics you may encounter along the way:

The awkward “You know this doesn’t mean I’m ready for marriage, right?”

The very serious "No, you can't have a puppy..... Because you told me how your hamster died and I think you might be a sociopath."

The frustrated “I really hope you don’t still think it’s okay to leave a [ pair of boxers/hair extension chip-in/retainer ] sitting there when we move in together.”

And the ever popular “I hate you and we can't move in together.” immediately followed by “Ooooo, but how about this place on 5th!"

These are inevitable. But stay focused and keep your eye on the prize.

ADVICE:

  • Set a list of must-haves in order of importance knowing which ones can be the first to go.
  • Set a price cap… then be aware that will become the base line and you'll go way over budget.
  • Make a pact that when you can’t afford rent you’ll ro-sham-bo for who has to throw themselves in front of a car to collect insurance money.(Ladies, if your man doesn't step up to take that hit, introduce him to pass aggressiveness and a life without sex.)
  • And most importantly... HAVE PATIENCE. Patience for the liars on Craigslist, the creative photographers on Westside Rentals, the endless driving around and above all, each other.

When it’s all over, you’ll have an exciting new place to call home, that person sitting next to you who really isn’t all that bad after all and a fat glass of wine to wash away the memory of those rank post-crime scene apartments you almost had to live in. Instead, we scored a beachfront unit in a high-rise building with a doorman, valet parking, a gym, an ocean view, and a roof AND a door. Like I said, the budget became the base.


The Merger

After the apartment hunt is finally over, politeness is a long-forgotten concept, so assessing each other’s belongings with brutal honesty is a natural next step.

You may find yourself hearing things like “It’s time for that Princess-Barbie vanity to find a home with a nice 13 year old”.

Or saying things like “Then that fugly wicker furniture needs to find it's way into a bonfire with your weird tiki man collection.”

Worry not! This is a perfectly healthy way to go through the process of elimination.

In our particular case, this left us with absolutely nothing but two empty mattresses and some hurt feelings.

With a whole lot on "Go" list and virtually nothing to fill out the new place, the next task was ridding of the old and budgeting for the new!

One idea is to sell things off in the online garage sale known as Craigslist. I received over 20 emails in only an hour when I posted two dressers and that “Princess-Barbie vanity” on the site.

Blatant proof of my elegant style.

When a nice man came by to pick up all three pieces his wife claimed (clearly another woman of great taste), my boyfriend just had to ask who they were for. The man told us they were for his 11 and 13-year-old daughters.

My boyfriend gave a smug smile and said, "Yup.. Sounds about right." So I knocked over his tiki man collection and pretended like it was an accident.

Serious and important tip about selling stuff on Craigslist:

BE CAREFUL.

Because if you're not careful, you may forget to empty all your drawers. And that nice man will have to drive back with a bag full of your thongs and several pieces of a slutty Halloween costume. You may experience feelings of shame and embarrassment and that sweet little family will think of you as the freak they bought little-girl furniture from.

There are a lot of weirdos on Craigslist. Don't be one more of them.

When the focus is on your other half's belongings, move swiftly. Keep him on one task that will distract him, like a closet, while you do a sweep of the apartment, quietly and considerately, trashing all things you never want see again. Like his roller blades. 

.... he had roller blades.

Every two minutes or so you may hear, "Babe, come take a look at this."

Only go everything fifth or sixth time or else you'll spend the entire day hearing stories of his college days and looking at old pictures with bowl cuts, frosted tips or ponytails.

... he had a ponytail.

Some things just can't be unseen and that lease is already signed so go at your own risk. 

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Make a deal. You both get one ridiculous item the other has to deal with.

I chose my awesome personalized license plate from when I was obsessed with the movie "Almost Famous"  (Almost with an "L" was taken) ... (shut up it was a gift). And my boyfriend got to keep one of his angry little tiki men that looks like it's crying really hard.

They sit together in a corner of our new place to remind of us that one time we tried compromise. 


The IKEA Experience

IKEA is responsible for 75% of break ups among couples in their 20s.

I made that up. But before you decide to make an IKEA trip, stop and ask yourself, what's more important? My relationship... or a tiny couch from a furniture store with meatballs?

It was a week away from moving day when my boyfriend (and soon-to-be roommate) and I decided a rainy

Saturday would be the perfect time to collect everything we needed.

Having just gotten a Costco Card (the most exciting piece of identification since my fake ID in college) we headed south for the Costco in Venice Beach and start there.

The picture on my Costco card was taken only one day after I had my wisdom teeth pulled so my cheeks take up a majority of that ½ inch black and white photo. But the kind greeter checking my card looked at me with that knowing former-chubby-girl smile and gave me a wink then waved us in to join the crowds.

Upon entering, we paused to ask what's on everyone’s mind in Costco: If you were given a cart and 5 minutes to collect as much as you could and score the highest amount of loot, what would you grab?

My boyfriend’s answer was to stack the TVs, load all the diamonds and take the cardboard print outs of American Express gift cards to the cashier. 

I called him a sucker and said I'm going around and collecting all the tiny free samples because I can fit a million in my cart.

And he told me if all the items I grabbed were free then I wouldn't win the game.

And I told him he was being competitive and mean and ruining Costco day.

We spent half an hour loading up every random item we convinced ourselves we needed, then came to a halt. We assessed the loot and one by one took out the ridiculous items until we came up empty and ditched the cart.

With this inspiring idea of all the fun without spending a dime, we decided we were brilliant and should do test runs at every store to compare prices and merchandise before making any purchases.

Next stop IKEA!

Now, I’m a seasoned IKEA shopper, but in all of my boyfriend’s years he had never stepped foot into the big blue cave of wonder.

For those of you traveling with the inexperienced, here is what you might have to look forward to, if your experience is anything like mine:

Walking through the automatic double doors the two of you may feel excited and empowered, like all these little mock rooms could be yours!

You’ll rip off a paper measuring tape and run about the store pretending to know how long this wall is and how tall that one is. You’ll probably jot down a bunch of Swedish words with the tiny pencils, sit on every couch, and play house in the kitchens even though neither of you knows how to cook so the pantomiming is a bit confusing for spectators.

The fun can continue as long as you like. But remember folks, this isn't a sprint, it's a marathon.

Towards the end of the mattress section the two of you may grow a little weary. You may start to have trouble following the giant arrows on the floor and get confused when you make a wrong turn and wind up where you've already been.

You can reassure your boyfriend that if you can just make it through the dreaded Kid’s section there's a light at the end of the tunnel, but you'll know it's just the lamp section.

My mother once warned me she saw a women changing a diaper on an IKEA display changing table. Still, knowing things like this will never really prepare you for what goes on in there.

Cover your eyes, plug your nose, hold hands and fight the urge to gag... it'll be over soon.

When you finally emerge, beat and mysteriously sticky, you’ll see the arrows pointing down to the Marketplace and you can tell your boyfriend he’s almost home free. He may still start to complain about the lack of windows, exits, fresh air and struggle to understand which arrow just means OUT. Stay the course and dodge his questions.

You'll watch him go from the manly fix-it-man ready to build you a living room, to a 5 year old late for nap time, moaning he needs to go home now.

At this point, his eyes have glazed over, rugs are irrelevant and he may use his last bit of strength to desperately speed walk from arrow to arrow pushing women and children out of the way.

When he suddenly hits the lamps section he may become disoriented, blinded by bright lights in every direction he turns. You might be laughing hysterically ten yards back, but you’ll have the opportunity to catch up  when he reaches the pillow section.... If things get really bad you may even find him quietly sobbing into a plastic cover or whispering about why anyone would come here.

After a few pats on the back and a white lie that the exit is right around the corner, he may take off running with a renewed sense of hope through a jungle of plastic plants.

Once in the warehouse, he's been reduced to a mouse in a maze with the scent of cinnamon rolls leading him to a source food past the check out lines.

This time when you find him, he'll probably be a sad, pale shell of a man, standing in a crowd of people with plates full of pizza and Swedish pastries. He'll look down at you with a shaky bottom lip and tell you he needs an ice cream but the line's too long and he doesn't know what to do.

It won't be pretty. Learn from my mistakes and do the following:

- Feed your boyfriend first.

- Explain to him what going into IKEA will be like and make sure he understands he won't be seeing daylight for some time.

- Make a short list of things you're looking for. Without one you'll suffer from over exposure and risk a panic attack.

- Avoid doing two warehouse stores in one day. Unless you're trained suburbanites with a built up stamina.

- And bring something sugary in your purse. When he starts to get cranky, give him a juice box or maybe even a piece of candy.

Just before my boyfriend reached for a soggy, cold meatball rolling on the ground, the crowds parted and he spotted the exit. He bolted out into the rain and thanked God he was free at last.

Then we walked straight across the way to a Mexican restaurant, ordered margaritas and heckled the happy couples walking towards their doom.


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The Perfect Hostess

What could be more exciting than finding out someone has picked your place to stay at while they're in town?

Nothing!

Who wouldn't jump on the opportunity to allow that friend who totally lost touch with you until they remembered you live in Los Angeles take over your living room?

When an old coworker of my boyfriend's told him he was coming into town for the weekend, I happily offered up our place for him to stay. That's because the friend didn't give us any other options.

Since it went so well, here are a few tips on how to be the perfect hostess so things run smoothly...

 

  • The perfect hostess always makes sure the place is flawlessly clean!

Vacuum the carpet, mop the floors and shine up the powder room!
If your guest calls before you’ve finished your housework, just don't answer the phone. First impressions are everything and they'll be fine out there for an hour or two.
Three hours later I could happily call my guest back and let him up.

  • The perfect hostess always makes sure their guest feels welcome. Offer them a refreshing drink and begin a polite conversation about how their flight was.

If this is a first introduction, like in my case, show genuine interest in getting to know them.

As my guest polished off about 11 bottles of beer in half an hour, I learned fun things like how he booked this plane ticket while he was black-out drunk and texting some chick, why every sports team in Boston is better than the rest of the world and how many times he’d been arrested for public drunkeness in the past year.

Side note: Don’t assume that an 18 pack will be enough for your guest to feel welcomed and refreshed.

If he's 6'4, 250 Lbs and hates sobriety, it won't be. And that's just bad planning on your part.

  • The perfect hostess is very adaptable.

If a second guest decides to come over while your boyfriend is still at work, be happy to have him. Sure he may be high as a kite and you find it weird that he’s not wearing any underwear with his sagging jeans, but the more the merrier!

  • The perfect hostess always prepares something so her guests won’t go hungry.

Maybe whip up some cucumber sandwiches, deviled eggs… or two extra large Costco frozen pizzas. I took the fact that they polished off, the two pizzas, rest of the beer, bag of chips, jar of peanut butter and a loaf of bread as a sign I was doing an amazing job of making everyone feel at home!

  • The perfect hostess understands the importance of male bonding time.

When your boyfriend returns from the office, excuse yourself to work out or run errands so that the old friends can catch up and do man things.

If when you come home you find empty bottles everywhere, a big, drunk, half-naked, man in your living room wearing one of your small towels around his waist and leaning over the coffee table with a rolled up dollar bill while your boyfriend mouths “I am so sorry” and “I’ll explain” from across the room… don't fret!

Towels can be washed, illegal drug residue can be Windexed off your glass table and your coworker who came over to see your new place for the first time will probably understand.

Remember what a gracious, elegant, welcoming hostess you ar---
Wait.
Oh God.
Is saggy-jeans no-underwear guy sitting on my white couch?! There's cheek to cushion... 
No...NO!...AW HELL NO!
BARE MAN ASS CHEEK on my WHITE furniture!!? NO! 
You gotta be f*cking kidding me! What kind of sick bastard sits his bare ass on a white couch?!
Mother @$&*%!!
(breath.......)
Eh eh em…

  • The perfect hostess never looses her cool. Instead she gets resourceful.

Suggest everyone gets out of the house! Separately. Perhaps a Girl's night / Guy's night out.

On girl's night enjoy a lovely evening of catching up with friends over a martini or glass of wine then get to bed at a reasonable hour.

On guy's night.... well you probably don't want to know....... but should your phone ring at 3am with the number of big, drunk Guest #1 displaying, consider the following when debating whether or not to answer:
1.) They’ve left their keys and simply need you to unlock the door.
2.) They're so drunk they can’t remember how to get home so you need to give the cab driver directions
or 3.) Everyone is in jail.

None of these were the case.

Big, drunk Guest#1 simply mistook my number for the Hooter’s waitress he’d gotten earlier that evening and he was trying to invite her over.

Seconds after realizing what the miscommunication was and explaining who he had actually called (so please stop calling me Your Sexy Hooters Girl), the heard came busting through the door, flipping on the lights, blinding me, then screaming, laughing, knocking things over and acting like I just played the best prank ever by pretending to be the Hooter's girl.

  • The perfect hostess never actually kicks her guest out.

She just puts his packed suitcase near the front door and tells him there's no more food, toilet paper, running water or television left.

When that lady friend he originally came out to see decided against picking him up, we could have given him a ride, but didn't.

When he explained the car rental place needed a credit card, which was something he no longer owned due to some past financial troubles, and asked to borrow my boyfriend's, it was a no.

When he mentioned that even if he did have a credit card he wouldn't have been able to drive himself since his license had been suspended in lieu of a recent DUI... again, it was a negative.

Instead, I turned to a little proverb I once heard...... something about giving a man a fish, feeding him for a day and teaching a man to fish, feeding him for a lifetime..... and did him a much bigger favor than any of that would have been.

I printed him out a copy of the Los Angeles bus schedule and directed him to the corner.

Refrigerator full of beer- $45.

Month's worth of groceries- $225.

Bill at Hooter's and following bars- $300(+)

A lesson in the public transportation system ... priceless!

The perfect hostess then changes their phone numbers, email addresses, deletes their Facebooks and moves.

 


The Curse

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I was hoping to never have to touch this subject but since it’s bound to disrupt your happy-household about 12 times a year, so let’s just do this.

First a little background on the matter....

This dates back to the first couple in history that ever cohabited. Adam was an entitled, arrogant, boy who thought the world revolved him, and Eve was a kind, sweet, patient, and strikingly gorgeous young woman, who could have done better but there weren't a whole lot of options around so she dealt.

One day, Adam had the wise idea to take an apple from the big Forbidden Tree. Because if he wasn't allowed to touch something he only wanted it more. Plus he was hungry all the time.

Eve, rational as always, disagreed with him, but decided to pick her battles and just let this one go.

Thunder, lighting, and God bursts onto the scene. He asks who did it and Adam, about to wet his leaf, points to Eve.  God, sticking to the bro-code, sides with Adam and poor, sweet Eve takes the fall.

So while we ladies have been forever cursed because of Adam's dumb idea, we've been forced to suffer alone... until now.

The day a guy moves in with his girlfriend is the day punishment is rightly shifted.

Granted when we move in together we no longer have a place to hide out and feel miserable in our M.C. Hammer sweatpants .... BUT what's a whole lot scarier, is that they no longer have a place to hide from us ....... and our 5-7 days of violent mood swings, temper tantrums, rage black outs and uncontrollable tears that make no sense to us either.

Since it's never EVER a good idea to ask a girl if she's nearing her 'punctuation mark', because no matter how sweet your tone it sounds like you're calling us a bitch... learn the warning signs to watch for.

Example; I start to wear a lot of black in an effort to look slim when I'm feeling bloated. It’s about as effective as an elephant sucking in but it makes me feel better. Others will have a noticeably heighten sense of smell that can detect chocolate miles away or sudden need for salt that has them putting it on everything they eat down to a lolly pop.

It shouldn't take long to figure out the patterns, but until you do you're just walking blindfolded through a field of land mines.

Like many women out there, I suffer from a made-up medical condition called Menstrual-Schizophrenia. We can't die from this condition, thankfully ... but our insensitive boyfriends can.

Here's the story of one man who made a fatal mistake:

It's Girl Scout cookie season 2011. My boyfriend sees a stand as we're leaving the Best Buy parking lot and he asks to borrow $5 so he can get a box. I hand over the money and say, "Just no Thin Mints. I hate Thin Mints."

He says, "But they're my favorite," and I give him a look that says yeah, but I don't care about that, then go to the car. He arrives a few minutes later with what in his hand? Thin Mints

Now we have a problem.

Because, in my hormonally-fogged mind, he didn't get those cookies because 'they're his favorite,' he got those cookies to say "I don't want you to have any cookies you fat cow." And he just used my $5 to say it.

First comes yelling (about the cookies). Then more yelling (but not about the cookies).

Then crying (about the cookies again).

Then really hard crying (about the cookies but this time they're also a metaphor for something bigger - his job is to figure out what).

His silence implies he did not figure out the metaphor so the crying develops into an blaring loud ambulance-siren of a wail, which in the confines of a car can be deafening.

Then I decide I’d rather walk home because “I CLEARLY NEED THE EXERCISE!”

But then I change my mind and get back in the car because it’s LA and we don't do that here.

Then I realize why I'm crying and I think it’s kind of funny.

Now I’m laughing really hard and I look over to make sure he’s laughing too, but instead his eyes are just really big and his mouth is stuffed with a now soggy Thin Mint that has remained un-chewed for the last 10 minutes out of fear.

Then I remember how much I hate that Thin Mint in his mouth and the laughing stops.

We sit in silence for a long time.

A few more minutes pass before he carefully whispers, “…. They were out of Tagalongs.”

 


The Man Cold

The painful whimpering.

The agonizing moans.

The dramatic look in his big, sad eyes.

This isn’t just any cold.

This is a Man Cold.

Don’t let the lack of a medical term fool you, this is a serious and debilitating, life-threatening disease that turns fatal for any man not properly cared for.

Sure, medical journals everywhere argue there's no evidence to back up that a man’s cold is any different from a woman’s cold. But ask yourself this:

How is it possible for a woman with a cold to go about her day, working, running errands and taking care of everyone ..... while a man is CLEARLY incapacitated, rendered useless, with only enough strength to eat, sneeze, and drool on his own shoulder?

Okay, we all know men become ginormous babies when they're sick. Now that the two of you are living together there is no escaping the reality of the situation ... He's sick, and you're Mom.

At first it's a little fun to play nurse. We get to use those nurturing instincts we can't help, we have a good excuse to watch movies and let's be honest, we like it when they're weak.

The appeal wears off in a hurry though when your apartment transforms into a muggy dungeon, with all the shades drawn and the smell of sick in the air.

You must quickly learn how to handle this disease.

Humor him a little and let him know you care, but don't let him milk it too long.

It's just like when a toddler falls down. If you feed into it and act concerned it’ll freak out and start screaming.

Use the same psychology with your grown up boyfriend.

Just keep clapping your hands at him and saying “You’re okaayyyyy”, “You’re sooo brrraaaave!”

When he becomes the beanie, slippers, and old college sweatpants clad center piece of your living room, wrapped in a giant duvet you sleep with too... just let it happen.  But no matter how many times he asks you, don't ever, EVER say his forehead feels warm. It'll confirm to him that he is dying.

So will WebMD so keep a computer out of his reach.

Should you find him laying in bed with his head sandwiched between his pillow and yours... don't awaken the beast... but do spray some disinfectant on him and snap a picture while he's in that state. Because it's funny.

If he asks you to hand him the remote... when it's sitting on his stomach. Don't do it. Just don't.

During one of the many coughing spells he's likely to have, he’ll probably keep glancing at you to make sure you're watching and giving you a look that says “are you seeing this? Look at how sick I am...”

Don't buy into it. Change the subject, he’ll eventually get bored of coughing and walk away.

My boyfriend gained enough strength to stand at one point and began this epic coughing routine, bent over with his hand on his knees, for theatrics.

I looked up right as a giant chunk of flem flew out of his mouth and on to the carpet in front of me.

My jaw dropped and he looked at me like a deer in headlights... but more afraid. Then yelled “I’ll clean it up!” and ran to the bathroom to get a tissue with the speed and agility of a healthy person.

There's still a crunchy spot on the carpet I'm horrified by. I've actually had nightmares about stepping on it bare foot. Don't even get me started on the refrigerator sneeze. I still need to work that one out with a therapist.

Desperation set in and I turned to an incase-of-emergency supply of Amoxicillin my dad picked up at la farmacia on his last trip to Mexico. We don't know why he goes there so often...

I wouldn't take them but my boyfriend was "inches from death" and refusing to go to a doctor so he started popping the pills like they were candy. Why not? It's medicine! What could go wrong here?

Well... lots of stuff when you're taking drugs from Mexico and you can't read the label. His condition worsened. But my medical opinion was to tell him to keep taking them. These things take time to soak in or something.

Yeah, I was wrong.

We learned you do take Amoxicillin if you're looking to treat pneumonia; bronchitis, infections of the ears, nose, throat, urinary tract, or even some good old gonorrhea. But Do Not Take for colds, flu, and other viral infections, such as the man cold.

I felt like the bad mom in The Sixth Sense who was secretly poisoning her kid.

Only Actual Cures for a Man Cold:
- Gatorade
- Some pricey chicken noodle soup from your neighborhood Jewish deli.
- A few of his favorite movies; James Bond, Fast and Furious, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants ... wait what?

- And even if it makes you sick, a marathon of Two and a Half Men.

It's a thankless job, but at least you'll always have that gross picture of him when it comes time for revenge, or at least a good blackmail!


The Shower Scene

Maybe this is all men, or maybe it’s just the one I’m cohabitating with, but something happens when he steps into a shower that seems to make dirt just EXPLODE off of him.

The walls, shower door and even ceiling wind up splattered in dirt and the spot where he stands is perfectly marked by two black, foot-shaped smudges.

This is not an exaggeration; Scrubbing Bubbles and a bucket of bleach are no match for the kind of damage he's done in a 10-minute rinse. Trust me, I've scrubbed.

If you've just moved in with a man,  kiss your pretty white towels and rugs goodbye.

You can save money if you learn what time the mail man comes to your new building. When all the boxes are open, quickly collect all your neighbors' Bed Bath and Beyond 20% off coupons.

Hopefully your situation won't be so traumatic. I did pause to consider maybe this isn't normal...

Someone should really do a study on the man who has only used bars Irish Springs soap everyday for every single day of his entire life.

It’s his shampoo, conditioner, body wash, deodorant, hand soap, probably detergent and I shutter to think what else.

I understand you can get 40 bars for two dollars but… shouldn’t that be a red flag?


And I know this is just a weird pet peeve I have, but for whatever reason it drives me nuts when people brush their teeth in the shower.

I just don’t buy the “saving water” line. You’ll be standing there brushing just as long as you would be by a sink but there a lot more water coming out of a shower head than a facet and I really doubt anyone’s turning it off between spits.

Anyway, the next thing I know I'm sharing a bathroom with a shower-brusher,  and I'm mostly just peeved that anytime I need the toothpaste I have to go reaching in the shower to find it.

Like any good girlfriend, I tried to change this habit.

I  learned my lesson when I spent the next week cleaning toothpaste spit off the mirror twice a day … splatter everywhere. I mean, lean over the sink a little!

Now I’m not going to pretend to be the perfect person to share with. I have a million creams for this, ointments for that and about 15 different products I'm told a bar of Irish Springs could take the place of.... plus there was that self-tanner incident.

Week-1 of living together I spilled a bottle of the goopy, brown tanning lotion all over the bathroom floor. I wiped it up using toilet paper then  threw the heap of brown, goopy wads into the bathroom trashcan.

Not realizing how it might look, I came home later to find my boyfriend standing with his back pressed against the wall starring at the trashcan with a nauseated look of horror, debating if he should ask me about it or pretend he doesn't see a thing.

 

On going list of purchases to remain hygienic and limit awkward moments:

  • 2 tubes of toothpaste
  • Windex
  • Shower matt
  • 2 more shower matts for back up
  • A towel rack
  • Squeegee
  • Organizers for under the sink
  • All products by Mr. Clean, Clorox and Lysol
  • A Swiffer Wet Jet
  • And a book called Don't Sweat the Small Stuff to help me sleep at night

The Locals

Helmet? Check. Gloves? Check. Spandex shorts with the padded butt? Check!

I never thought I'd see this day.

It's not that I ever disliked cyclists... it's just that... yeah, I don't like them.

They freak me out when I'm driving. They're unpredictable, they hog the road and go 15 mph in a 50, waving their overly-developed gluts side to side in front of my car, practically taunting me, but then when I go and hit one suddenly now I'M the bad guy?!

(Not to mention that sport once contributed to me losing an intense game of Balderdash. The card was Tour de France... I drew a tennis racket. Game over.)

Maybe the locals in your new town are mostly surfers, or hipsters, beach bums, yuppies, emo musicians, or maybe they're gang members.

Me? I'm surrounded by cyclists.

Since my boyfriend was actually already one of them - a near deal breaker when I first saw the shorts -  it would be an easy transition for him to live among the spandex people. But the next thing I know he's trying to sell me on the idea that it would be great if I got into it too.

I think he also thought if I also had a bike I'd stop complaining about his being in the hallway blocking the front door (it's a safety hazard!).

Decision: I could either isolate myself from the Santa Monicans and forever be rejected by their society, OR I could get over my fear of colorful, knee-length leotards and get on a bicycle.

I figured what the hell. I kill it in a spin class so sure, why not, how hard could this be?

We went to the local bike shop, had the man pull down a few bikes and went to the parking lot to try them out.

Turns out road bikes and the stationary ones at the gym… not so similar.

Who ever decided the seat should be higher than the handle bars is a nut and who ever coined the term “It’s like riding a bike” was a smug jerk.

Two falls and all my dignity later - not to mention the memory of my boyfriend holding me up while running along side the bike like a dad teaching a 5-year-old - we walked out with a shiny new bicycle and a big box of Bandaids!

I was happy to stand there in front of our building, looking the part and wave at our neighbors with that “Hi, yes, I am one of you” smile but the BF had other plans… like a 26 miles crash course to Manhattan Beach and back.

Right off the bat, I hated how close together bikers are supposed to ride, but my boyfriend was wearing a riding outfit from an old Olive Oil sponsor, so his butt said "EXTRA VIRGIN" which I found to be hilarious.

However, when he asked if I wanted to try to make the green light, I said yes and sped up. Then he changed his mind, causing me to slam into his extra virgin butt ... it wasn't as funny. It's too close.

He turned around, looked at me laying on the ground under my bike and innocently asked, "What happened?!"

We realized in a hurry I wasn't quite ready for the streets yet so we mostly stuck to the boardwalk.
Turns out drivers, side view mirrors, and swiftly opened car doors aren't the only enemies of a biker....  3-year-olds on pink plastic tricycles are too.

They think it's just sooo cute to weave all over the road and ring their bell. Grow up. I'm trying to ride a real bike here.

Trying be the opportune word there. It'll take some time. I won't be the best cyclist Santa Monica has ever seen. It's cool. It's fun, great exercise and I feel like an official resident now.

Try on your local persona! Buy a guitar and black hair dye, or a polo shirt and loafers, board shorts and some marijuana, or decide whether you want to be a Crip or a Blood, it'll be a good time!

If it doesn't work out you can always pick up and move in 12 short months when your lease is up!

Unless you actually did join a gang. That's probably more complicated


Wedding Season

After nearly a year of living together, a couple can go through quite a bit.

We had survived merging and decorating, sharing a bathroom, and a toe nail clipping that hit me in the face.

But one thing we were completely unequipped for..... was Wedding Season.

Suddenly our refrigerator was overlapping in save-the-date magnets, the calendar was filled in with engagement parties, bridal showers, and bachelor/bachelorette parties and the confetti-filled mail kept coming.

I had no urge to join the betrothed any time soon, but I wasn't vocal about this since I assumed my boyfriend knew me well enough to know that I've had enough impulse moves for the time being.

While I have a long list of well thought out bad decisions, it's the impulsive ones that really have lasting damage.

The bangs grew back but the emotional scars from the time I signed up for the school talent show in 4th grade (without having talent) never faded.

I can still hear the murmurs in the crowd as I danced my heart out, choreography-free, to a Rod Stewart's Forever Young.

“Psst.. Is she from the special ed class?”

“No, no. Her parents are getting a divorce!

“Oooh gawd! She's obviously not getting enough attention at home. Poor thing.”

“Total cry for help.”

My big finale was a painful (for the audience) land in the splits with my hands in the air.

"Tragic. But... she's not retarded??"

My performance won me some regularly scheduled visits to the school psychologist. And although Dr. Tanner was a lovely old man who always let me pick out a mechanical pencil to take back to class, I figured I should probably start thinking things through from now on.

I did however still have the occasional run-in with impulse - such as our decision to move into together.

All we saw was split rent, parking spaces included with sleepovers and no roommates to care if you have sex in the kitchen.

All other people saw though was the newest members on marriage track.

The night before I left for a bachelorette party in Scottsdale, the BF and I went out with a group of friends.

Rings and wedding plans were a popular topic since there had been some recent Facebook status changes, so my boyfriend, assuming this is turning me into a ticking time bomb, got tanked.

We go back to our place, he passed out on the bed (shoes still on) but sometime during the night his "flight" instincts must have kicked in because he tried to make a break for it... in his sleep.

He was found the next morning in fetal position at the foot of the pull out bed where my sister and her husband were sleeping .... I didn't ask.

My sister was in town after being in Miami for a bachelorette party, and before I left to go to that bachelorette party in Scottsdale I had to drop my sister and her husband off at the airport so they could fly to Vegas for a joint bachelor and bachelorette party.

With all that information we left my boyfriend to enjoy his thoughts... and hang over.

Now I'm not sure when or why the bachelorette party turned into a giant celebration of the penis but it really has become one.

The next day, I really wanted to take the giant 6-ft inflatable penis in the car with me so I could hit the carpool lane on my way back to LA. But I've been known to be pulled over on that route so I'd need a prepared explanation for my passenger should the officer ask.

I considered arguing that no one ticketed me for this when I drove with my ex in the car and he could be a huge dick. Or pretend to have made a terrible mistake and start screaming "then who has my baby?!"

I sided against it altogether, because I don’t think they'd send me to a place where psychologists gave mechanical pencils.

I made it home and was excited for much needed sleep. But my boyfriend, who had a long time to think about things, needed to talk.

I told him about my trip. He told me about his weekend - which included an all boys pajama party he went to in West Hollywood. And then the conversation got weird.

For a while I wasn’t sure if he was dumping me, proposing, or coming out of the closet, but I think the end result was something along the lines of checking in to make sure we're still cool.

Boyfriends, don't assume because your girlfriend is attending weddings that she's dying to run down the aisle.

There might still be a 4th-grader inside of her that doesn't want to think about the future or talk about her feelings ... she just wants to dance her heart out and be forever young.

And parents, talk to your kids about participating in talent shows. Bad dancing is 100% preventable. Explain that one careless mistake can lead to a video tape they'll have for the rest of their lives. (Even if you're both scared of being the bad guy at a delicate time, someone should step up... because mom and dad, you guys let that happen.) Start talking.