negative dumpster diving
Sunday, April 23 2000
Throughout the day, as Kim unpacked boxes of our stuff, it was my job to dispose of the boxes and packing material any way I could. The easiest way was to sneak off to various dumpsters in the nearby alleyways and discretely stuff the cardboard into them. This is exactly the opposite of dumpster diving, something I used to do all the time back when I had limitless storage space and limited funds. Actually, though, with a mostly-vacant house in need of all sorts of things, I kept my eyes open for valuable trash, particularly anything useful as a storage container. My only score of the day was a strange multi-colored milk crate with collapsible sides that may or may not be useful for holding multimeters, mice and odd pieces of my Hewlett-Packard printer. It occurred to me that the process I'm going through right now is the flip side of what I was doing four weeks ago, when I was rescuing cardboard boxes from the dumpster and throwing away things which I didn't have the time and motivation to pack.
My condominium complex is small, consisting of only four units. One of the units is currently vacant, meaning that only three residences are occupied. Earlier we'd met the nice Arab woman from the family living to our south. Later today, while I was carrying out empty boxes that had held my paintings (bearing such labels as "Original Sin" and "Fashion Victim"), I met the other condominium neighbor, a rather schoolmarmish middle-aged woman who serves as treasurer. She came bearing a housewarming present, a lightbulb for our outdoor lamp. When she found me, she must have been taken somewhat aback. I was, after all, several days unshaven, shoeless, and my toenails were still partially-painted with metallic green toenail polish that I'd applied as part of my final socializing with the girls of the Ocean Beach courtyard complex back in San Diego. I hardly looked like a West LA homeowner, suffice it to say. But still she asked if perhaps I was interested in being condominium treasurer. My response: "I have enough trouble keeping track of my own finances to keep track of the finances of others."
In the evening, Kim and I did Easter dinner at the Bicycle Shop up on Wilshire. The most entertaining thing about our meal was watching the mostly-Jewish customers. Halfway through their meal, this one older couple nearby had a huge argument over money in a way that confirmed the very worst of Jewish stereotypes. It was hilarious. At one point the woman said, "I don't even know you very well!" As they departed, she walked briskly 20 feet ahead of her date. There was another couple dressed up in the most geeky Easter outfit you can imagine. The woman was wearing a stiff pink dress and the man an ill-fitting little suit. His courtship was adorable in a painful way that had Kim laughing hysterically. By the time we left, we were powered by four glasses of champagne each.
After dinner, we headed north on foot to explore the upscale neighborhood of Brentwood. Only blocks from our townhouse, it was an entirely different world from all of the rest of LA we've seen up until now. In Brentwood, every house is a mansion, each with unique architecture, and all the mansions are surrounded by genuine yards with genuine landscaping. It sort of put our "we-own-a-townhouse-overwhelmed" feeling in perspective.
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