beer and awkward pie

This morning, bleary eyed and rushed, I made myself lunch. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich and an apple–so very first grade; we’re running low on adult-type groceries–and grabbed a diet coke can on the way out the door. Later: lunch time. I retrevied my brown paper sack from the fridge and discovered that I had not, in fact, grabbed a diet coke but a similarly silver can of Miller Genuine Draft 64 Calorie Beer.

Though it had been chilled nicely in our mini work fridge, next to everyone else’s sack luches, I used my best judgement and removed it from my cubicle desk, where it sat next to my PB & J and sliced apple, and slid it back in my tote to be returned to my mother’s new and improved beverage rack, where light beers cozy up to diet sodas in deceptively neat rows.

Speaking of addicting things (beer or PB&Js), apartment hunting has been the oddly frenetic obsession of my month. Craig’s list is almost as addicting as Facebook. I’ve spent a nearly equal amount of too much time driving up and down the freeways of Los Angeles as I have clicking links on Craig’s list under housing/westside/rooms/shared.

Looking for shared apartments—finding roomates—on Craig’s list is like match.com meets speed dating over awkward pie. But, after a few descriptive emails and quick meetup for a slice of awkward pie (so… where are you from? …Do you clean up after yourself? Have frequent visitors?), you run the risk of a year’s commitment.

I found a few things out during these ramblings. I found out that many places billed as studios, in the pay range I find appropriate for a studio apartment, are in fact closets with bathrooms and occasionally kitchens (and occasionally the two combined, as I found in one particurlarly dashing unit). I found out that I can rent a living room for as little as $400 a month. In fact, I found an ad for an amazingly affordable room for rent ten blocks from the beach: utilities included, hardwood floors, private bathroom. The current tenent, a female graduate student at UCLA, described how easy-going and clean she was. And also—the ad mentioned at the end of its five paragraphs—there’s a guy who lives in the living room, but he’s very neat.

I found my way around Los Angeles with, and then finally on a proud day, without a map. It’s been interesting to see the various neighborhoods and nooks of this splattered and sprawled city, to see who has chosen to inhabit these nooks—and how much they pay to do so. To see how a map so very difers from a real street. Each neighborhood has it’s own personality, it’s reputation and stereotypes, and it’s odd to try to place yourself in such contexts.

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