So Long, Montrose

If you’ve all been intrigued by my proximity to raging fires, mysterious mountain ranges, and the occasional bobcat, it’s because almost exactly 1-1/2 years ago I moved to Montrose. It’s a sleepy little town just north of Glendale on the lip of the Angeles National Forest. The main drag is Honolulu Street, a scenic strip that’s the heart of a quaint shopping district and home to a charming farmer’s market I’ve walked to almost every Sunday morning.

We had dinner with the fabulous screenwriter, Joe Reinkemeyer, the other night. He lives, here, too. We ran into him on Honolulu one night, just strolling. He agreed that it’s not on anyone’s mental map. He said that the usual reaction he gets is along the lines of, “Montrose. Is that, like, in Bakersfield?”

Although perilously awash with Prop 8 supporters and hippies who vaguely protest something or other on a regular basis at the Vietnam memorial at the Honolulu and Verdugo intersection, it’s a beautiful, quiet place vibrant with both the “local color” and mountainous scenery. Best of all, it’s just a few minutes from Downtown Los Angeles, Glendale and Pasadena. I picked this place precisely because it doesn’t look at all like Los Angeles. It was the perfect place to retreat, regroup and rethink my life. And, man, did some thing come together while I was here, both in my writing and in my perspective.

When I decided to trod on the backs of the less fortunate and get into the real estate market during the downturn, I quickly discovered that you had to be stinkin’ rich to infiltrate the housing here. I was willing to buy a cracker box if necessary and shoehorn myself into it. I absolutely didn’t want to leave. But leaving was precisely what I had to do in order to get my foot in the door. So, I found a sweet condo out in the Valley turned out to be my ticket to the next level of investment.

After 7 months of swashbuckling in a crazy market, I seriously thought towards the end of my search that I was going to have to poison or take out a contract on some of my competition. (I still wish I’d gone Femme Nikita for that on one place I lost that I was really in love with.) Buyer’s market? Yeah, it’s a buyer’s market — if you’re a freakin’ investor with wads of cash lying around begging to be thrown at every random condo in Pasadena. (Pasadena was the biggest bloodbath of all.) The rest of us little people were scrambling in the face of massive competition. Every damned property was a bidding war. Buying a home was never nuttier, from what I hear. Once I found this place, the sellers turned out to be the nicest people you could ever hope to deal with, especially considering they weren’t leaving under the best of circumstances. I really lucked out. (The biggest downside has been that this prolonged house hunt has eaten into my writing time in a major way. I plan on recouping that time mightily once I get into the new place.)

Montrose, I love you, but you can’t marry me because we are socio-economically ill-matched. So be it. But let’s not say this is “goodbye.” Maybe it’s more of a “so long for now.” When I build my fortune, I’ll sweep back like Heathcliff to Wuthering Heights and position myself to inherit all. Bwahahaha!

Or something like that. Anyway, here I go…

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