What it's like living in an apartel

It was 9 degrees when we boarded our flight from O’Hare. Disney’s marketing ninjas exploited this everywhere with giant cut-outs of Olaf peddling Frozen merch all over the airport. I mean, if eternal winter is going to come to life anywhere, it’s Chicago, right? My husband threw his snow boots in the trash and got on the plane.

Four hours later we landed in Los Angeles and it was like walking into technicolor Oz. The sun! The palm trees! In & Out! SHORT SLEEVES. Well, that last part about the sleeves just applied to us because hilariously, Californians wear North Face coats in 65-degree weather. By lunch, I saw someone in Uggs and a tank top. It’s downright theater, guys.

We were like refugees who floated in on an icy raft. We marveled at the beautiful people. Our baby shat herself and clung to my breast like a baby orangutang. I bet people looked behind us for a pack of goats. I could have unwrapped handmade cheese from my gypsy bag and brought my own milk to a restaurant and nobody would have batted an eye.

Our first stop out of LAX was a real estate showing our agent had mined during our flight. A gem! A real secret on the market! So we plundered in, all five us of looking one hundred years old. For 1.6 million dollars (ONE POINT SIX MILLION FUCKING DOLLARS) it had three tiny bedrooms, a nasty little bathroom with a single shared sink and a $50,000 septic tank problem. No thanks. I’ll take my box under the freeway.

Next, we arrived at our hotel. We were essentially homeless and looked it. The technical term for this type of dwelling is an “apartel” because it’s an apartment you rent nightly. Get it? Apart-el? These people are so clever. I wanted to live in it forever. They do your laundry, they grocery shop for you. I swear I saw this place in a dream once.

I felt like Buddha. Why yes, you do only need six forks in your life. A simple loveseat is the perfect amount of furniture. It felt so free! You live your life on very simple terms and your mind space is opened up to focus on other worries (finding a real place to live, scoping out a preschool, armwrestling my way into a private school in the second semester, removing my atrocious manicure that looked like shredded cheese after that move).

A fast word on private school in California: When the admissions director says getting in is about “the right fit” it is code for “you need to know someone and they need to call the school right away to say you are not a sociopath”. While name-dropping may seem disgusting to my midwestern prudence, I am trying not to judge the culture out here. These are the same people who invented popsicles and pet rocks so let’s do it their way until we know more. /fastword

It only took me two days to become disenchanted with the apartel. Do you know why you need more than two coffee cups? It’s so you don’t have to wash them twice a day. Why do you need more furniture than a love seat? Because you are a family of five and it’s nice to have a place to sit. And by the way, I hate carpet more than I hate the term Libtard. The zen was over. Get me the Jeff out of here*.

And so, on Sunday, the giant 26-foot truck we said goodbye to in Chicago will arrive at a perfectly nondescript rental I signed sight-unseen in California. That’s right. I never even went to another showing. I signed a lease based on size, price and proximity to the school I jimmied my way into. Maybe it has termites! Maybe it has a squatter in the guest room! Well, it has just a good of a chance of those things as it does to have a serendipitous wishing fountain.

I’m taking my chances on the rental not having windows or heat. The cold never bothered me anyway.


*I meant to write “get me the eff out of here” but Jeff was the autocorrect I’m keeping. Expect to see it often.

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My Target has palm trees!



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