Men must’ve been walking on the roof, and I said as much. “What are they doing up there?” I asked when the building moved.

The night before the earthquake D and I were driving back up to L.A. from Newport Beach after spending Sunday and Monday in the O.C. with best friend L and her boyfriend JT. Saturday night offered a birthday party at D’s house up in the Hollywood hills for a roommate; spending the night at JT’s aunt’s home — a big-whig CBS person; a Sunday brunch with JT’s sister and brother-in-law — a studying architect and a cinematographer; a Sunday afternoon lounging on JT’s grandma’s deck in the Newport Bay while watching JT windsurf; a Sunday night snuggling on the couch to the romantic-est of romantic movies, American Psycho; a Monday driving around Newport in a 1970s convertible Volkswagen, license plate similar to but not exactly THE THING, with a surf board sticking out the back; and a Sunday early evening watching JT, L, and D surf (and attempt to surf) in our very own little section of the ocean.

In the car, on the drive home, we were tired. And satisfied. We love our friends. In the quiet satisfaction of the drive, I sang aloud the song that has been stuck in my head for days and days now, Natalie Merchant’s “San Andreas Fault,” a song I put on a mix CD for D before we started dating. It is off the album Tiger Lily, an album that has been somewhere in my head since I was 14. I know every lyric on it. When I was 14, I almost wished I had a broken heart so the song “Seven Years” could be true of me. It was that lovely and tragic, and I was that masochistic. Still, “San Andreas Fault” is my favorite on the album:

Go west
Paradise is there
You’ll have all that you can eat
Of milk and honey over there

You’ll be the brightest star
The world has ever seen
Sun-baked slender heroine
Of film and magazine

Go west
Paradise is there
You’ll have all that you can eat
Of milk and honey over there

You’ll be the brightest light
The world has ever seen
The dizzy height of a jet-set life
You could never dream

Your pale blue eyes
Strawberry hair
Lips so sweet
Skin so fair

Your future bright
Beyond compare
It’s rags to riches
Over there

San Andreas Fault
Moved its fingers
Through the ground
Earth divided
Plates collided
Such an awful sound

San Andreas Fault
Moved its fingers
Through the ground
Terra cotta shattered
And the walls came
Tumbling down

O, promised land
O, wicked ground
Build a dream
Tear it down

O, promised land
What a wicked ground
Build a dream
Watch it all fall down

For as long as we’ve known it, the West has beckoned people with dreams; first those literal gold-diggers with their shovels and pans, those unsinkable Molly Browns. Then Hollywood boasted gold, a Golden Era where riches dwelt not in rocks but in pictures. It is that gold that people come with their pick-axes to claim now-days. There are so many people here, so many, many people who are fighting for that gold, like Esther Blodgett/Vicki Lester in A Star is Born. One must wonder if this role resonated a little too deeply with Frances Ethel Gumm/Judy Garland when she played it. Like me, she was born in Minnesota. She crossed the fault line into Hollywood. Perhaps she wouldn’t have died of a drug overdose or attempted all those suicides without all those insecurities about her appearance, exacerbated by studio execs pushing her to be a skinny woman. She might’ve had a long and happy life in Minnesota. Perhaps there really is no place like home.

Sad songs are always the best songs, and I never really understood “San Andreas Fault” until I moved to the wrong side of the actual one. At 14 I didn’t know much about youth even though I possessed it in abundance. Now that youth is ticking away, it has become a precious commodity, more precious than the number in any bank account — even William Randolph Hearst, circa 1928. I moved here not for a dream of wealth, but for a dream of youth. I came here to spend my years of sweet lips and fair skin in a land of water and seemingly endless sun.

You would think that a City of Dreams would offer its residents lovely neighbors, that the opportunities would abound like the pigeons, and all the people would drown in gold and get grills for their teeth. But maybe L.A. is called the City of Dreams and not the City of Successes because so may come here with a dream and leave without it. It doesn’t slip through just any old crack. It slips in the San Andreas Fault. That’s why we have earthquakes: All those orphan dreams are rolling around down there.

When the earthquake happened I stood up. Others I know dove to the floor. Apparently the plastic electrical plates burst off the walls in office buildings close to the origin of the quake. D’s sister E had an awkward moment with her boss under a desk. In my office, we stood in the hallway, each in a respective doorway, watching the juice our company manufactures slosh in the bottles to see if the building was still swaying and that it wasn’t just our scared little knees. A California-native hugged me. This was my first quake, wasn’t it? Was I scared?

Scared? No. So thrilled I felt it through my whole body? Yes.

It isn’t really the San Andreas Fault that scares me, even though my new homeland will supposedly someday fall into the ocean. My own faults scare me much more… faults like financial irresponsibility, worrying so much about my life that I fail to live it, the ways that I take my anger out on the people I love, the inability to figure out what I’m really doing with my life, my tendency toward depression. Meanwhile, youth ticks away. My birthday is next month. My twenties are more than halfway over.

The earthquake didn’t really scare me because the ground did not jump or shake here like I expected it to. I expected it to shake us like pennies in a jar. Instead it moved like the L.A. traffic does when you watch it from the Hollywood Hills at night. All those lights snake up the hills, in a choreography of curves and different sounds. Sometimes when I’m driving home I listen to the classical music station because its like we’re in an orchestra. Enter Ford F150 with your booming tympani; come gently little old Volkswagen Beetle with your flighty piccolo; El Diablo, bring your classical guitar; don’t forget your French Horn, Mercedes Benz. When you’re in it, it can feel jerky and unpracticed — some people play the wrong notes. But when you look above and see it happen with a different perspective, all of it works together. You see the beginning, and you see the end and all the lights and buildings and hills in between.

And when those faults do act up as they inevitably do — the Angelinos have been expecting The Big One for years now and are relieved this small one came to relieve some pressure — perhaps it truly is the best idea to run to the first doorway and stand in it until the swaying stops, and on scared little knees, take a new step.

The Weekend Recap

July 6, 2008

Fourth of July weekend was a busy weekend, indeed, and I most certainly welcomed a paid holiday, a little bit o’ rest, and some great memories made with wonderful friends. I told someone over the weekend that L.A. feels a little bit more like home each day, with a few exceptions, and the time off afforded me a chance to get to strengthen some great friendships. It was a busy, busy weekend. This morning at 11 a.m. I had brunch with the Ladies Who Brunch from my church small group at the lovely friend K’s home. Since then I have spent the entire day in my apartment resting, reading, and eating, save the 15 minutes I spent only a moment ago at the gas station. I filled my entire tank for $50 at $4.55 per gallon. My goal is to make this tank last for 2 weeks. Let’s see how I do.

Thursday D invited me to the wrap party for the film he and his brother G have been working on. D has been working as the producer’s assistant, and G is some type of coordinator. They have been working long, hard hours for the past several weeks, and the wrap party provided them the opportunity to bring their very supportive girlfriends to hear some good music, eat some good food, and schmooze with the Hollywoods. And, thanks to the fantastic outfit suggestions of several friends, I purchased this dress at Forever 21 before the event. It was cute, vintage-ey, cheap, tasteful, hip, and  fit me perfectly. Unfortunately, Forever 21 makes crap clothing, and the zipper broke while I was frantically trying to get ready after work. Hence, I had to throw together a different outfit with stuff I already had. But this conundrum afforded me the chance to wear my new hat. Also, at the wrap party, Tea Leoni touched my shoulder. I was pretty un-star-struck about the whole thing. She was trying to get people who were standing outside to come in and hear Billy Bob Thorton’s band play. I heard one song, and it was great, but I was there to hang out with my friends, and it was too loud in the room to really talk.

All dressed up and ready to go, but apparently D is sulking. Perhaps he wanted to wear a hat too.

Galen ruins everything.

Billy Bob Thorton’s band provides the entertainment for the evening.

We like each other. Sometimes.

After all of this, I realized that I didn’t get any pictures of me with G’s girlfriend N, who is an awesome little lady, and I had such a fun time with her.

Friday the four of us went to a pool party hosted by a co-worker of our friend AB. It was a great time and the perfect setting for a hot day. Yay, hamburgers! Yay, America! Happy Independence Day! Afterward D and I both took naps because we were exhausted from our cavorting, and then we watched one of my favorite movies, a little-known Steve Martin film called Lonely Guy.

Saturday a whole cohort of D and G fans (not Dolce and Gabbana — D and his brother) came over to my apartment to read through the script of a little project they are working on. The friends gave feedback on it, and the boys got some very helpful critiques. Again, I was so busy hosting that I totally forgot to pull out the camera. Another great photographic opportunity is lost for the sake of etiquette. That evening the boys, N, and I went to a new favorite restaurant, Natalee Thai on Venice Blvd.

Today I had the aforementioned brunch and have been lazy all day. It’s been a welcome break. I wish the time didn’t fly by so quickly.

And while we’re in photo-posting mode, here are a few photos from last weekend, when D and I went to his former roommate C’s wedding. It was an outdoor wedding at a country club, and I most certainly wore a hat.

D found it so attractive that he had to try it on himself…

…and again. notice the finger he recently slammed in a car door.

And here is Blue-Eyes looking a little more masculine.

I’m so California.

Gone in 60 Seconds

April 6, 2008

Friday night held the birthday party of the millennium at my apartment, during which around 20 people came over to pay their birthday respects to D and his brother G. Much merry-making took place, much cake-eating from a marvelous cake G’s roommate A made, and talking, laughing, etc. It was a good time. Toward the end of said party, friend DH told a story of how has car had been stolen two weeks before and returned a few days later. It was stolen right out his apartment garage, which was not locked, but the door was closed. The police picked it up a few days later, and while it was not harmed, DH received the bonus of drug paraphernalia and actual methamphetamines stashed in the car. At one point in the conversation, my D made the comment that he always tries to park near Lexi (the plural of Lexus) and Mercedes so if someone decides to run off with a car, that someone is more likely to choose the luxury option.

The party went late, so D crashed on my couch that night rather than driving 45 minutes south to where he lives. The next afternoon he went out to get something out of his car, but returned to ask, “Did you move my car this morning?” I shook my head. “No, I didn’t.”

He pointed out the window to the empty curb space not fifty feet from my bedroom balcony. “It was right there last night.”

“Are you sure you didn’t park it somewhere else?” I asked.

“I don’t think so.”

We went outside to survey the situation further. We walked around the block but didn’t see his car anywhere. We looked around the vacant space for evidence of broken glass. Nothing.

We were supposed to go on a long fun date that afternoon, taking the bus to the Grove mall and using our free movie vouchers to see Leatherheads, after which I was going to take D out to dinner. We were supposed to go to the Laurel Canyon General Store way up in the winding Hollywood Hills to see the special mystery guest who would show up… alleged to be Joni Mitchell but not for certain. Instead, we spent the afternoon waiting for phone calls and sitting in the police station, working on filing a report and feeding change to the parking meter outside every half hour. I was pretty upset about D losing his car all day, and I was amazed at his positive attitude all afternoon. “We’ll get the car back,” he said. “It’ll all work out.” He was so positive that if he hadn’t started getting a little upset about it right after I took him out for dinner, I was going to tell him straight up, “It’s ok to get mad, D.”

We are sad that his car is missing. I am disturbed that it was right outside my house and angry that people can be so selfish. D is a student. He doesn’t have any money. And one of the worst things about the situation is that his school books and information he needs for his job as a Teacher’s Assistant are in the car. Now, not only does he not have wheels, but he also does not have the stuff he needs to function in his life.

That sucks. D’s brother G is boycotting society. And I’m just really, really sad.

If you see a Suzuki Verona in the LA area with Texas license plates and a dent in the driver’s side door, call it in. It’s probably D’s car.

All of you who are praying people, please pray that something good will come out of this. Please pray that if the car doesn’t show up abandoned somewhere or if the police don’t catch the people who took it, the insurance money will cover it.

And please pray for my boyfriend.

The sappy, disgusting series continues: Why I Like My Boyfriend. I promise, PROMISE, friends, that this pointed affirmation of D will only last until the end of this week. After that, I fully intend to berate him in every way possible.

Another reason that I like my boyfriend is because he helps people who need help. I’m not just talking friends and family here, though many, I’m positive, could give a huge shout-out to how D has helped them. He’s the type of guy who would give you the shirt off his back. So, please, everyone, ask D for all his shirts so that he will be left with none and forced to wander this barren earth topless for the rest of his days. D (and his brother G as well) is so cool about helping strangers. I can’t tell you how many stories he’s told me about helping break up fights, or helping drunk women on the streets of Hollywood get home, or standing up to stupid guys who are hassling girls. In a more self-centered light, I like this about D because I feel safe when I go places with him. He’s aware of the surroundings, and I know that if anything strange happened, he’d have my back.

Sometimes I think chivalry in the 21st century has become somewhat superficial. So many guys will be chivalrous with ulterior motives… not for the sake of doing the right thing or treating a woman with respect, but for the sake of impressing girls, and in the secular culture, getting into that proverbial pair of pants. There’s a sort of expectancy or arrogance that can easily accompany it, not the sense of humility that Sir Gawain the Green Knight displayed with those wily Medieval women who would as easily tempt a man to sin as braid their hair.

What I like about D is that the chivalry is part of his character. I know he’s not faking it because he still does rude things around me :). But it’s normal and natural and he doesn’t make me feel like I have to put on some type of show to impress him. That is why he is one of my best friends. And even though I have feelings for him, those feelings never conflict with this amazing sense of belonging that I have with him.

He’s never wined and dined me. I mean, we’ve gone out on some pretty neat dates, but never anything where he was trying to impress me with material things. And while some girls like the romance and the carriage rides and the candlelight, I can only take a little bit of that. My feelings toward that type of stuff are like Carrie Bradshaw in the sixth season episode “The Ick Factor” of Sex and the City, where the Russian tries to sweep her off those Manolo Blahniks with poetry and operas and dancing in the park, and then she faints. “It’s too much!” she tells him when she comes to. And then they go to McDonalds.

I like it that D sees me at my worst and not only likes me anyway, but tells me when I’m being my worst. I like it that I have the freedom and trust in our relationship to say the same thing to him. I like it that we can fight without worrying about breaking up. And I really, really like it that he lets me cry without calling me overly sensitive and laughs at my jokes… or tells me when my jokes aren’t funny.

He is the most chivalrous man I know, and that is because I am not the only person he is chivalrous toward. He treats everyone with the same respect — it’s a respect toward the dignity of all people, not just me — and the honesty and truth and acceptance in that make me feel like the most lucky girl on this dying planet*.

*Thank you, G, for being just about as amazing as your brother (as his girlfriend I have to say “just about as” when I really mean “WAY MORE THAN”); dividing those cells so long ago in your mother’s womb to create D; and for originating the phrase “in all my days on this dying planet,” which is really just as amazing as D’s existence.

Hip Hop Hooray!

March 28, 2008

First of all, thanks for your suggestions on a gift for D. I’m still accepting them, so please send them my way. 

Last night, my roommate J had me sing the chorus of a hip hop song he is working on. Now, I have two Roommate J’s. One is Girl J and one is Boy J. Boy J is also known as J-Ray, and he records his own hip hop music on his lap top computer. It’s a pretty neat little gig he has going on there, and last night I found myself singing into his hand-held video camera where I held it vertically in my left hand (the microphone), holding a notebook with a brief pencil-written chorus on it, and wearing a giant pair of foamy headphones which even Princess Lea would envy.

Yes, folks. I have officially done the girl-voice on a hip hop song. I even spoke the chorus over a track of my own “aaaahs.” When Girl J arrived home a few hours later, I told her about our shenanigans, and she had a hearty laugh when I re-spoke the chorus to her, just as I had spoken it into the video camera. “What? And I missed it?!” she exclaimed.

Boy J will show us the finished product when he is done mixing it. Perhaps, if he doesn’t mind, I can figure out a way to post it on here. No promises. I’ll have to get permission first. And I’m not exactly the most tech-savvy person in the world.

In other news, this evening I am going hot-tubbing with D and his roommate B. It was between that or going dancing in Hollywood with Girl J and her friend H. Though dancing in Hollywood sounds fun and exciting, especially with these two girls, I chose the former. I can’t think of anything more scintillating than spending a Friday evening in a hot tub with two guys.

Promises, Promises.

March 23, 2008

Ann has just parked her car on a street parallel to Fairfax Avenue in Hollywood. She is going to a thrift store to purchase a few more dishes to use for the Easter Feaster she is hosting the next day. She has just gotten her hair cut, the temperature is in the mid-seventies, and she is feeling relatively good about her appearance and about life.

Enter Young Gangsta Gentleman in a pimped out, black car in the Starbucks parking lot, which Ann is cutting across to arrive on Fairfax. Young Gangsta Gentleman is sitting in his car, listening to music with the windows rolled down. As Ann approaches, he glances out the window, stares at her, smiles, flexes his massive tattooed muscles, adjusts his backwards cap, shines his gigantic gold cross necklace and calls out, “How you doin’… Baby?”

Now, Ann, being of the somewhat quiet and intellectual sort, usually blows off politely ignores guys who not only drop “g”‘s from their verbs, but also give her pet names. Some examples from her Arkansan past include “Honey,” “Sugar,” and “Sweetie.” Up until this point, she has never heard “Baby,” except when she and her boyfriend are being facetious.

But on this particular afternoon, Ann is having such a good day that she stops, turns toward Young Gangsta Gentleman, smiles, and exclaims, “WON-der-ful!” with palms up and head tipped back toward the sunshine.

And then she keeps walking.

Now what, you may ask, caused Ann to respond in such a delightful manner?

Saturday felt like a day I’ve lived before. The sun was out, the weather was AMAZING, and the freedom of a Saturday fell on my shoulders like the sunshine. I got my hair cut, I went to some new thrift stores, and I went grocery shopping for items to create a special Easter Feaster meal for a group of terrific friends who came over today.

As I was driving on Venice Boulevard, the day suddenly felt like a moment I’ve lived before. It felt exactly like an evening I spent in Mexico seven years ago where this boy I’d just met and later dated showed me his first little step of affection. We’d talked on the drive down to Mexico, and I had a giant crush on him, but I wasn’t sure what he thought of me. One night our whole group was walking back to base camp from a Mexican restaurant, and this boy caught up to me and walked beside me the whole way. He gave me a piece of gum, which is still my favorite gum to this day, and the wrapper is glued in my journal from March 2001. That was the beginning of something very sweet, and very special. That is why this exact memory hit me with its overwhelming deja vu while I sat at a stoplight on Venice Boulevard seven years later with my windows rolled down.

The only real contact this boy and I have anymore is through Facebook, and even though nothing came of that, I still remember how full of promise it felt to be his pursuit.

Saturday felt like that: Full of Promise. I am finally feeling healthy even though I’m constantly exhausted, and I’m starting to explore more and develop favorite things about this new place.

L.A. is a harsh city. Once you start loving it and feeling at home and feeling like you belong, it will turn around and bite you in the assembly line. But perhaps people stay here because it’s called the City of Dreams, and we all know that dreams can also be crazy and scary and baffling. So, in the midst of all this complaining I’ve been doing about being here and how difficult it is and how my perseverance has endured some heavy testing in the past few months, let me tell you, some of the things I have heard and seen and felt since moving here have left me speechless. Here are a few things that I’m LOVING:

1. Getting to know my old friends better and making new ones. I LOVE being around creative, ambitious people and am honored to call many of them my friends. So many people have shown me true kindness since I arrived, and I am very thankful.

2. The writing inspiration that a city provides, especially in a place that is supposedly the creative capital of the world.

3. Walking to Whole Foods grocery store on my lunch break to eat fruit and nuts for lunch and sit outside, in my patch of sun, on their huge wooden bench to watch people walk by. (Yes, my eating habits are beginning to turn slightly granola… there are just so many good foods here that are all natural, and the fruit here is like candy.)

4. Getting involved in a church again, which I plan to do much more now that my health is returning to me.

5. Being young in a big city with my whole life ahead of me…. and the beach five miles away while I still look fabulous in a bathing suit… white pasty skin and all.

Living In a Movie

February 11, 2008

On the way home from work today, I was waiting at a green light for a homeless woman to cross the street so I could make a left turn. She stopped in the middle of the street, reached down, and picked up something, while I was waiting for her with a line of cars behind me, unsure if I should just go around her, lest she decide to run right in front of me. I figured she must’ve stopped to pick up some change, but I realized I was wrong when a thunk hit my roof, and I looked up to find her waving her hand dismissively and glaring at me. All I was doing was waiting to make a left turn. I didn’t even honk. There’s a reason Los Angeles’ largest industry is film: More often than not, living here feels like living in a movie.

Yesterday, while searching for a specific apartment in the Los Angeles area, I realized that in the past three weeks, I’ve learned a ton of stuff. It hasn’t been the book learning that college gave, but a multitude of city smarts that have rained down on me because I’ve had to use them. They always say the best way to learn something is to immerse yourself in it.

So, without further ado, here are a few things these last weeks have taught me:

– Where NOT to look for an apartment in LA. Before this, I had a general idea, which basically came down to NOT COMPTON. There is a certain rapper that Roommate J uses as her guide. “In one song, he does shout-outs to different parts of LA,” she says. “Any place he shouts out to, we should not live.” Just the same, I have a much better picture now of what is shady and what is acceptable from actually driving through the places.

– How to use a Thomas Guide. Before coming out here, many people recommended that I purchase a Thomas Guide for both Orange and Los Angeles Counties. I did so. At first it was quite confusing, but I figured that there must be something to it because everyone loved it so much. Gradually I am learning how to use it. A Thomas Guide is a huge book with maps in it of every street in LA, even the little itty bitties. My recommendation to any LA newcomer is now, also, to get a Thomas Guide.

– The directions of each of the highways and which are the worst for driving. (I’ve even begun placing the Californian “the” in front of highway numbers, as if each highway is an entity unto its own.) Stay away from the 405 and the 5 as much as possible. The 10 West turns into the Pacific Coast Highway.

– Parallel parking. I’ve always known how to parallel, but man I’m good at it now. I can even do it on the left.

– Excellent interview questions to ask. Roommate J’s aunt gave us advice on this, and so far it’s worked — I got called back for a second interview at a job where I asked the following questions: What process are you using to choose the candidate for this position? What does the timeline look like? Where do you see the company going in the future? Based upon the qualifications, experience, and skills we’ve discussed today, how do you think I fit into this position? That way if they are hesitant to hire you because of something, you can answer their fears right in the interview.

– The general commute time for most LA people is about 45 minutes. It’s rarely less. I can do this. I’ve done it before.

– Don’t try to get anywhere when it’s rained. Any type of weather will freak out the Californians. Accidents will occur. After work, go to a restaurant and wait it out, otherwise it will take you one hour to drive three blocks on Santa Monica Boulevard.

– If you go in to Westside Rentals to start an account, be sure to speak of your financial situation loud enough so that an innocent bystander will hear your plea, slip you a note, and offer to let you use his account free of charge. Then quietly sneak out a few moments after him, meet him up the street, and have a new contact in a guy who has lived in LA for the past seven years and is in a band that once opened for Alice in Chains. And as a thank you, give him some publicity on your blog. Click here.

How amazing would it have been to live in Hollywood during its golden age, back when it was all about fur coats and glamor and long cigarettes and coifs, before people acknowledged that Frank Sinatra was a jerk and Bing Crosby beat his children, before Marilyn Monroe committed suicide (or did the Kennedys kill her to prevent the scandal of her involvement with their sons?) and before Lucy and Desi split? Now it seems odd to think of this place as the setting of what went before it. It is about dollars and producers and shallow connections, connections you could later shove downward to elevate yourself. The street cleaners don’t really clean the streets anymore. They just give the city an excuse to hand out tickets.

This morning the street sweepers came between 8 and 10, so I got up early to move my car from its parking spot on the left side of the street to the right side. A tree had dumped woody gunk all over my windshield. It rained last night. I looked in the back seat of my car to pull out my planner – I have to call the Director of Human Resources at that museum today to see what the next step is in the job process – and had to dig through a bag of stuff. Yesterday roommate J and I became nomads.

Though living in suburbia was quiet and calm and clean, it wasn’t the Los Angeles that J and I sought. Now that Hollywood Boulevard is just a block away (I had to park about a half mile away from the apartment where we’re staying) the city has emerged all around us. We’ve already been advised to purchase safety clubs for our cars. We will take the advice.

The area we are in is residential and full of well-kept houses with middle- to upper-class cars out front, so it doesn’t appear to be dangerous. Still, we adhere to the street smarts we know: try not to go out alone at night, call to check in, lock your car doors while you’re driving, bring a boy. D encouraged me to get some pepper spray to carry in my purse, just as a precaution. Perhaps I will go on a safety shopping spree and get the club, the pepper spray, steel knuckles, chaps, protective glasses, a gas mask, a flame thrower, and a helmet all in one trip. You can never be too safe.

Today is a holiday for many workplaces, so plans are on hold. I spoke to the landlord of the apartment we are dying to have, and I negotiated a little. I’m a good tenant, I told her. Just call my references. I have plenty of money in my checking account. I will soon have a job. I have never paid rent late. I have excellent credit. I can give you additional rental references and even character references if you need them.

Last night before J and I left my relatives’ home, where we were previously staying, they told us that if we really wanted the apartment, we should pray over it when we handed in our paperwork and claim it. “Have faith that God will give it to you,” they said. “You have his favor.”

They made the distinction between faith and hope as if hope is a fleeting, ungodly thing, and faith is complete trust in God. I could’ve prayed over that apartment when I was there. I could’ve claimed it. But what if God has something else? I am not putting my faith in that apartment. I am putting my faith in God, and I will not set up limitations for him in my mind. It seems like the perfect place, but in the past, many things have seemed perfect that weren’t: that guy I hoped to someday marry, that make and model of car I really wanted, those plans I had in college. Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. I hope that we will get this apartment. I have faith that God will take care of us, even if we don’t get this apartment.

And the same goes for this job. This museum job would be amazing. Every time I’ve mentioned to someone that I had a phone interview there, they blink a few times. “Seriously?” I was shaking with excitement when I got a call to initially schedule an interview. There? You’re calling me from that place? Seriously? Roommate J’s mouth dropped when I told her. “Ann,” she said, “that’s prestigious!”

I hope for this job. I repeat, it would be uh.may.zing. But my faith doesn’t lie in a job. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.

Yesterday J, her friend A, and I went to First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood. This is the fourth church I’ve been to since my arrival here. Each church has been distinct. First there was the sparkly, white-toothed, high-fashioned church that I will not go back to. I left disheartened that a church could focus more on the accumulation of things, on judging God’s love according to his bestowal of material wealth, than on the sacrifice of Christ.

The church of yesterday was a complete 180. Amid Hollywood’s moral crumbling, all the drunkenness and prostitution and dishonesty and violations and selfishness rests a church that is dynamic because it has to be. The homeless use its steps to sleep. This church is attractive because yesterday we applauded a woman who had attended a Martin Luther King, Jr. march in 1965 and helped one of the first African American families find a home in the area. It’s about doing more than talking. It’s about building a future that exemplifies the innate dignity of all people, home or no home, wealth or no wealth, and it builds that future in the name of Christ.

In every church that I have attended so far, in some form or another, a lyric has shown up on that big screen, a lyric that became part of my legacy back in high school, back when I was deciding if I was going to really pursue this belief in God or turn the other way: This is my story, this is my song. At this time in my life, when I am untangling all these unknowns, it is good to know that all this is my story, and all this is my song, and I am praising my Savior all the day long.

…patience and diligence.

Definitely patience and diligence. I keep reassuring myself of that truth because I just need to be patient and wait because the right job and the right apartment will come. They just may not be as soon as I’d like them.

Today we handed in paperwork for an apartment we really, really want. It’s in the perfect location, at the perfect price, with the perfect amount of character and the perfect amount of closet space. The only problem is that I don’t have a job yet, so the landlords, understandably, want a co-signer. It’s a three-bedroom apartment, so Roommate J recruited her friend, who is also a J, to fill the third spot. The only problem is that the co-signer has to agree to pay the full price of the apartment, not just the chunk of money that would cover one person. We could all get our parents to co-sign for each of us. But none of them, understandably, want to sign for all of us. So, that’s where we’re at. I just keep praying that something will happen, and happen quickly. On Monday, I will find out if I made it for a second interview at one of my original interviews, and I am also calling back the Human Resources Director at that art museum to see where we’re at. If those fall through, it’s back to square one.

Patience and diligence. Patience and diligence.

And naps.

The cool thing is though that Roommate J and I are moving up to Hollywood this weekend to couch surf until the jobs and apartment come together. Roommate J got a job in Santa Monica, so she needs to be close to it (it’s a 2-hour+ commute to Santa Monica from here) and because I need to be close to her so we can make plans, I decided this would be a good time for me to move up there as well. I will probably be better able to search for a job from Hollywood.

So, that’s that. I’m about to pray for more patience and diligence (and for that apartment), and then I’m going to take a nap. Then pack up my stuff. Here we go again on another step of the adventure. Sometimes I wish I weren’t so cautious because I am often filled with anxiety, but I just have to keep reminding myself that doors have been opening from the beginning, and any time a door has closed, another has opened.

Darn cliches.