Millennial real estate trauma-rama 😱 & bougie munchies 

Celebrating 4/20 at home.

Hi friends!

How are you? I am doing pretty swell! A true miracle has happened: my husband Ross and I signed a lease on a new apartment!! It’s spacious, and QUIET, and recently renovated, and it comes with a walk-in closet in the bedroom and a washer/dryer IN UNIT. And we didn’t have to downsize or move out of our neighborhood!!

Chicken Boy Highland Park Los Angeles

The famous Chicken Boy of Los Angeles, who now resides in Highland Park

Longtime readers will recall that we have had, ah, just a few issues with our current apartment:

  • One time someone broke into the mailboxes and they didn’t fix them for FOUR MONTHS. So if we wanted to receive mail, we had to go to the post office to pick it up. For four months.

  • We’ve had issues with other things breaking or needing fixing in the apartment (one time our fire alarm wouldn’t stop beeping), and the management is super slow to respond, but if they need something from us, like a document signed or a fee collected, oh boy, now THAT’s an emergency! Get it to us yesterday!

  • We have awful termite swarms in the summer that, despite treatment, come back every year. I cannot understate how gross it is to have bugs crawling all over your floor and then dying en masse.

  • We have horrible, noisy, inconsiderate neighbors, and the building is centered around an open parking garage that they love to utilize. These neighbors range from the guys who are always clanging away working on their cars (do they have a business or just own a bunch of lemons?), to the one dude with a motorcycle who loves to rev his engine repeatedly (stop making me so horny!), to the dude who owns a train horn and loves to honk it for no reason, startling the shit out of me.

  • But the worst neighbors of all are the family that lives in the corner. The parents constantly scream at each other in the hallways and in the front of the building, bring a bong out to the sidewalk and wake and bake in the front entrance, and blast bad music and don’t even pay for Spotify Premium, so we hear the ads. Embarrassing!! One time they had a barbecue in the parking garage on the Fourth of July, because that seems safe. And their children treat the building like their personal playground every night, running around screaming and playing with loud machine gun toys and bouncing basketballs and ding-dong-dashing us. A couple times, they’ve asked us for money. Look, I know it’s not the kids’ fault that they’re obnoxious, but it doesn’t change how annoying they are!

Victorian house Highland Park Los Angeles

One of the famous Victorian mansions of Heritage Square in Highland Park

So, why have we stayed for three years? Well, because when we first moved in, in 2021, we paid $2200 for three bedrooms and two full baths, which was unheard of in this neighborhood, and honestly most of Los Angeles. We had previously only lived in one bedroom apartments, so for the first time, we each had our own home offices, and that was such a game-changer while the pandemic was still raging and we were working full-time from home. Our rent has gone up over the years and is less of a bargain, but still under market value, I would say. For years, moving would have meant downsizing, so we stayed put. But not anymore, baby!!

I know that I am not the only Millennial who has had real estate blues as an adult. A few months ago, I was talking to my mom about the holidays, and she said she felt like now that she’s well into her seventies, she is getting too old to host Thanksgiving. She would really like to pass that duty on to the next generation, but none of us have homes with enough space in them to host 10+ people for a big dinner (and, of course, one of us 😇 lives on the opposite coast from everyone else). 

And it’s not an individual issue, it’s a generational one. I have very few friends who have been able to buy property. One friend was only able to buy his house because he got hit by a car while he was riding his bike and broke his nose and arm and got a settlement. That’s the price of real estate in a major city these days: breaking your face.

Highland Park mural

Famous Highland Park mural “Tenochtitlan — The Wall That Talks”

But still, the other day, when I was on a call with both my parents and telling them about our new apartment, my dad had the nerve to ask me why we weren’t buying a place instead. “Probably because she’s not a millionaire, Joe,” my mom said, and I had to laugh and sadly agree.

“Maybe one day,” I said. I’m not sure how… but maybe?

The thing is, MAYBE we could afford a condo or modest home way out in the ‘burbs… but we don’t want to live there. We don’t have kids who need good local schools or dogs who need a yard. We want to live in a cool, walkable neighborhood with good restaurants and bars and things to do, that won’t be an hour plus to commute to work or do anything fun in the city. So, why not continue to rent?

Anyway, now we have to pack up a cluttered three-bedroom apartment, and the stress and anxiety has descended upon me like a gauzy yet spiky blanket. I know it will be worth it, but woof.

The ironic thing? We think our worst neighbors might actually be moving out. “Wouldn’t it be funny if they moved into the apartment across the hall from our new place?” Ross said. I laughed and then I shivered with fear.

Let’s get into some things:

Death of a Cheerleader Lifetime movie

- On 4/20, Ross and I were supposed to go to the Alamo Drafthouse downtown to see a screening of Death of a Cheerleader (1994), my favorite Lifetime movie of all time, but he woke up that day coughing and feeling like shit, so we streamed it at home instead. It’s available for free with ads on Prime Video and without ads if you have a Lifetime Movie Club account. This movie has everything: cheerleaders. Goths. Murder. Tori Spelling being a huge c*nt. Uncle Phil from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air playing a cop. John Locke from Lost playing a pervy principal (that’s not an official storyline, more my head canon). I think my favorite line is, “C’mon, Angie, you know yearbook editor is nothing but a popularity contest.” Yearbook editor! If you want to watch something silly, I highly recommend it! And the 2019 remake isn’t bad, either.

- I don’t think I’m especially outstanding at it, but I really respect the art of hosting friends and family, whether to dinner or to stay over. I hope to be able to host more in our new place, so: what are your best hosting tips? What are ways in which people who hosted you went above and beyond? I was thinking about this the other day because I was telling Ross about how one time, when a friend’s parents graciously had me over for dinner, by each plate, they set down a glass of wine with a tiny little carafe filled with more wine. “That’s so that we don’t have to get up from the table if we want a second glass of wine later,” they explained. I love that! The luxury! And so much more chic than just plopping a bottle of wine on the table!

I also remember this dinner because their dining room was filled with antique chandeliers that they’d made a game out of collecting from antique and secondhand stores. You know how being in a lighting store makes you happy? (Okay, well, it does for me.) That’s what the ambiance was like. Stunning!! In terms of friends’ parents, these were quite aspirational. (Except for, ya know, the whole “being parents” part, lol.)

- Another thing I’ve been thinking about lately is language and how it changes over time. In particular, the word “condescending.” Today, it has a negative connotation, but I’ve read older books where it was used in a positive manner, even though it meant the same thing, someone lowering themselves to your level. Like, “the queen was so lovely, very condescending.” I wonder if that change has to do with how we view class now, or how manners have evolved, where it’s imperative to maintain the pretense that there is no class, and everyone is on the same level.

- Cooking. One thing I made recently were seared ahi tuna rice bowls. They were super easy to make! I marinated the tuna in a bottled sesame ginger dressing for a few hours, then seared it, and chopped it into bite-sized pieces. Meanwhile, I cooked some white rice in the rice cooker, and tossed some shredded carrots and red cabbage in a bowl with the same sesame ginger dressing. Steamed some edamame in the microwave and chopped some scallions, and served it all together with a sprinkle of sesame seeds and a generous drizzle of sriracha mayo. It was kind of like a poke bowl, but warm. Delish!

pasta primavera

A non-disappointing pasta primavera

Then, I wanted to make a pasta primavera* with asparagus, since it’s in season now, but I only like asparagus charred to shit, either roasted or grilled. Steamed asparagus can go to hell! So, I tossed a whole bunch of chopped green veggies with olive oil and salt and pepper and roasted them on a sheet pan: broccoli, zucchini, and said asparagus. Meanwhile, I cooked down some pancetta in olive oil until it was crispy and then added a bunch of minced garlic for just a second, then took it off the heat. I cooked and drained some orecchiette and added it to the pancetta-garlic pot, threw in the roasted veggies, and added loads of pesto, some shredded pecorino, and a little pasta cooking water. It was delicious! And so green, but with a little salty umami from the pancetta and pecorino.

* As a former vegetarian, I have had so many disappointing pasta primaveras in my lifetime. (Pastas primavera? Hm.) People apparently have no idea what kind of vegetables go with pasta: carrots? Green beans? Corn? Sure, why not! It’s terrible.

Last week, I made two recipes from Ina Garten’s website: lemon chicken breasts and roasted cauliflower snowflakes. I have no idea why my brain did this to me, but even though that recipe is for chicken breasts, I was convinced it was for thighs and didn’t realize my mistake until I was in the middle of making them. There is no reason why I should have made this mistake, as I looked at the recipe multiple times before making it: when I was brainstorming what to make for dinner, ordering groceries based off the ingredients, etc. At one point I even thought, “Huh, that’s funny, it’s a recipe for chicken thighs, but the picture looks like breasts.” What. Have you ever had a mental block like that where something just. Didn’t. Click?

Anyway, thighs actually subbed in pretty nicely here–I kept the skin on but deboned them, though my technique could at best be considered “sloppy” (and at worst, “Jack the Ripper-y”). They were great! I love a good pan sauce. And the roasted cauliflower was crunchy and cheesy and snacky and delicious. I served it with a quick red potato mash, but I also think some crusty bread would’ve been a nice accoutrement to sop up some of that sauce.

lemon chicken

Lemon chicken thighs… that sauce tho

This year, 4/20 also happened to fall the day before I started my period, and by dinnertime, I was really craving cacio e pepe, so I made cacio e pepe. Oh man, did that hit the spot! I know it’s a bit bougie for munchies, but sometimes you just need to eat a whole bunch of pasta to the face, you know?

Finally, in honor of Passover, I made matzo brei, which, if you’ve never heard of it before, is kind of like a delicious pancake or omelet made out of matzo sheets and eggs. Ross ate his with heaps of white sugar on top, while I ate mine with maple syrup, and we both judged each other’s choices. To be fair, he is the Jewish one in the relationship, but I am the cook. Is it horribly goyishe of me to put maple syrup on matzo brei? I thought it was mad tasty!

Alright my dears, that’s it for me this week!

If you have a second, I’d love it if you’d like or comment on this post–just click this link to go to the post page.

Until next time—if anyone has any extra cardboard boxes, send ‘em my way, please.

Love,

Liz

XOXO

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