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March 14, 2006

Los Angeles, Crazy-Adjacent

Last week I decided in no uncertain terms ... it is FINAL. The time has come. I HAVE GOT TO MOVE.

Now ya'll know I love my little house, and I love the Valley, and I love my yard and even my crazy neighbors, and best of all I love that my real address is not actually in Encino, California, but is Encino-Adjacent, as if that were a real place. And yet in Los Angeles, it is perfectly acceptable to tell people you live in Encino-Adjacent, because people get it. They, after all, are living in Sherman Oaks Adjacent, Beverly Hills Adjacent or Hollywood Hills Adjacent.

But this was IT. I'd just had enough and I HAD TO MOVE.

Because of traffic.

After spending TWO FULL HOURS commuting the 20 miles to downtown on one rainy day, I was FED UP. Done. Ready to pack up and haul all four cats and a disturbing amount of Patons Up Country to an overpriced loft in downtown.

But then on Saturday evening I came home to the sounds of my neighbors to the left having a backyard boogie with a pinata, while my neighbors directly behind me were playing the soundtrack to "Hair" and loudly discussing their DOG'S agent. No. Really. Their DOG HAS AN AGENT. And I looked around my yard, and I decided, once and for all again, to stay at my house for the rest of the year for three very compelling reasons.

1) I am lazy.

2) It would be fiscally irresponsible of me to move when I am trying to dig myself out of debt. Moving = first month's, last month's, deposit, pet deposit, moving expenses, new stuff from Ikea, new shoes to match the new handbag I bought while on my way to Ikea, etc.

3) And, finally, the primary reason to stay put is that I have become completely and totally OBSESSED WITH GROWING A SQUARE WATERMELON and to achieve this goal, I must have a place to grow said watermelon. Such as my back yard.

That's right, you heard me. I HAVE GONE INSANE. And now, apparently, square!

It all began innocently enough. I was having lunch with three of my coworkers, all of whom are Asian. We were talking about... I have no idea what. Because what sort of conversation naturally segueways into square watermelons? Oh, I remember! One of the guys was telling me about his most recent trip to Japan and about the expensive cantaloupe he'd eaten there.

Me: How expensive is 'expensive' in melon dollars?

Coworker A: It was about $100 for the cantaloupe.

Me: For how many cantaloupes?

Coworker A: One. $100 for one cantaloupe.

Me: Did you feel really dumb after you bought a $100 cantaloupe?

Coworker B: Was it square?

Me: Now that's normally the sort of cracked-out question I ask! Way to go, Coworker B! I've rubbed off on you!

Coworker B: Well, they do have square watermelons in Japan, you know.

Me: They DO NOT. Stop fibbing. This is just like the time you told me that all cellphones have a GPS locator in them!

(All three coworkers at the same time): They do.

Me: I do not believe you and your square watermelon story.

So, of course after lunch we all returned to Corporate Job, Inc., and focused on the important and dedicated task of ... researching the existance of square watermelons. And happily I report to you that I WAS WRONG, because they do exist, and I completely stole this image from the internets to show you:


The Japanese are magic people. They manage to invent the most extraordinary things, and now I have become obsessed, OBSESSED! with growing myself a square watermelon. I have discussed with every engineer at work the possible growing/shaping container options and what the building materials may be, and what will be hinged or removable and I have decided to set out on a path of SCIENCE and also, probably drunkenness, because nothing goes better with gardening and mad science experiments than a nice cold beer! And I am going to make the backyard in a growing wonderland of square fruit.

I feel I may have finally found my life's calling: Drinking beer and writing about failed attempts at gardening. Because already this little adventure of mine is starting out on the crazy foot, and the crazy foot leads to funny stories about stuff I have messed up, usually while drinking.

Exhibit A: My Gardener Laughs At Me

As I have mentioned somewhere else in this website, one of the inneresting quirks about people in L.A. is that none of them do their own yardwork. No one mows their own yard (no one washes their own car, either, but that's a whole nother column) and so my little rented piddlysquat house in Encino-Adjacent comes with a gardener, who is named Francisco.

Francisco and I have talked about my desire to create a garden, and also how I don't want to cut off my foot with a roto-tiller while digging up the back yard. He suggested creating raised beds for the garden and offered to bring me some scrap lumber and dirt which he will sell to me for "muy cheap."

Me: Ok, so we're all set on the dirt?

Francisco: Si, el fin de semana... el ocho de abril?

Me: Thanks, sounds great! Oh! Francisco? Um ... is it organic dirt?

Francisco: ...?

[Long pause.]

Francisco: Si ... sure, miss ... es organic dirt.

And we looked at each other for one long moment while Francisco studiously tried not to burst out laughing. Then I walked inside and as I closed the door I heard his helper say, "ORGANIC dirt!" and they had a hearty little chuckle courtesy of one crazy white woman.

I can only imagine the conversation that Francisco will have, maybe forever, with other gardeners in the Greater Los Angeles and North Valley region. And the laughter. OH THE LAUGHTER.

Francisco: And then this crazy ass white lady asked me if the DIRT was ORGANIC!!

Gardeners from across Los Angeles: Hah hah!! You should charge her more for it!! Crazy white lady and her ORGANIC DIRT!!

And to you, Francisco, and to all gardeners who have heard the tale of the Crazy White Woman And Her Organic Dirt, all I have to say is ... WAIT UNTIL YOU SEE THE WAY I GROW A WATERMELON.

Posted by laurie at March 14, 2006 7:23 AM