"Is that all you got, LA?"

my initiation

Mom and Dad, it’s probably best not to read this entry.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: my life is never boring.

I think, after this weekend, I’m officially a resident of Los Angeles. Words don’t really describe, so luckily I took some pictures.

Friday night I held a party at my house for my comedy class. Everyone had a great time, and people were standing on the porch, complimenting the view. I have often stood there, looking over L.A. and thought, “Man, if there was ever a big fire out there, I’d be able to see it from here.”

As the party was winding down, I walked a couple of guests out the back porch. There, five people were standing in the street, asking if my car was the VW outside. Mine was the car behind the VW. Turns out a car had swerved down our street and hydroplaned. It slammed into the car, backed up and hauled ass. These people got the plates and were leaving the information. I checked my car and things looked fine. I didn’t know who owned the VW, but it was smashed up pretty badly. It was hit so hard that it was knocked up onto the curb.

The next morning I woke up and ordered tickets for the Festival to End all Festivals. I know you’re jealous.

It’s been raining like crazy around here, and another storm was predicted, so it was Movie Rental Day. Walking to my car, I found out that I was, actually involved in the hit and run.

That’s actually before I started rubbing the scratch on my car. It’s not actually that bad. There’s a small scratch on the bumper, but mostly the license plate took a bit of damage. I was immediately pissy though, and left my information on the VW.

I talked to the police as a witness to the witness on the police report. According to LAPD, I don’t want to file this because the damage isn’t enough for it to be required by law, and my deductible probably wouldn’t cover this. So, in order to keep my insurance record clean, they suggested I didn’t do anything if the damage wasn’t too bad.

I had to hack into my Playstation 2 to watch the Bring It On DVD. It had no problems playing The Sopranos, but a PG-13 movie is off-limits. I’ll save you some trouble: you can delete any parental password on a PS2 with the code “7444.” Don’t say I didn’t teach you anything today.

There are always sirens outside my house. All the time. All the time. I don’t know if I live near a fire station or what, or if it’s just that I live in a pretty busy section of Hollywood. Saturday night the sirens started close to midnight. The difference was they didn’t fade out like they usually do. They just got louder. And louder. And then there were more sirens. And more. And more.

I walked over to the porch window. That’s when I saw the flames.

A fire had started in the strip mall underneath my street. This is the view from my porch.

My initial reaction was to grab my camera, as the flames looked pretty contained down there underneath the street. I stood on the wall of my porch and watched.

Okay, so that’s when I got nervous. The fire started to spread and get higher. Right above this building is the apartment building across my street. There are very tall pine trees on my porch. If it was windy, the flames would have been angled right towards my house.

Some friends are good in a panic. Some run around and flail their arms and make grand declarations and predictions of mass destruction. I am very lucky that stee is one of the first people. He kept me from being one of the second. He went outside to check on things while I stayed inside.

Since they hadn’t asked anyone to clear the area, we felt like we were still okay.

I think this is where I got brave and decided to take a closer picture.

Yeah, that’s where I freaked out and ran back inside. I think stee took the next couple of pictures while I paced on the porch.

That smoke started pouring right over my house. The porch was thick with smoke, and I we got wet towels for our faces, still waiting to see the flames start to die.

The fire was spreading across the roof of that building, and there were so many fire engines below the street, we realized that this might get worse.

stee came back into the house and told me that I might want to keep calm, but gather a few things together in case we have to evacuate.

I ran into the back room and grabbed both cat carriers. Taylor and Cal were already nervous, and were watching me run back and forth. They let me pick them up and toss them into their carriers. Cal wanted to stand, but eventually I got him to duck his head long enough that I could zip the bag.

I used the couch as the holding area for my things. I grabbed my computer, the adapter, my wallet, purses, medications, and my box of receipts. I ran to the back bedroom and grabbed a box of photographs, some things of Eric’s, and changed my shoes.

That’s when I froze. I looked around my apartment and tried to figure out what I should take and what I could replace. I knew the CD’s could be replaced. We have renter’s insurance. The cats were contained. I looked around at all of my things and tried to figure out what I might not need anymore.

I called Eric in case he had heard about the fire on the news. I told him I was okay for now, but I didn’t know if we were going to stay in the apartment much longer. Smoke was starting to come into the house, and it was hard to breathe.

I called Ray and asked what he wanted me to take if I had to evacuate. He directed me to a medal in his room, and asked that I save an elephant foot stool that’s been in his family for years. This would have been fine, if the elephant foot (it’s a real elephant foot with hair and is so gross to the touch) weighs about fifty pounds. So, I’m standing there with a medal around my neck, two cats mewling, a box of pictures, some tax forms, an iBook and a huge remnant of a dead pachyderm and all I could think was, “This is my life.”

This is a shot of the apartment over the fire. If you look into that window you can see the woman that just kept standing there, watching the flames get closer and closer to her and her cat until the police told her to leave. After she left, you could just see the cat standing in the window, watching.

The heat from the flames could be felt on my porch. I was pretty fucking scared.

This is the last moment before things got to be too much to be outside. The smoke was forcing people to leave the street, and the sound of more sirens was approaching.

They used the hydrant in front of my house. This is pretty much when we couldn’t go outside anymore. The smoke was too strong, and we kept getting dizzy from breathing the smoke. I realized that the living room was filled with these fumes, so I moved the cats into the back bedroom.

The fire engines kept coming up my street and blocked off my entire area. Now, if we were going to have to evacuate, we’d have to do it on foot, as my car was in between two fire engines.

I ran from window to window in my house, trying to get a better view. I kept running outside quickly to check the fire.

Three hours had passed. The firemen were drilling holes into the roof of the building. Everything was loud and intense.

I do love that it looks like the Evil Tommy Hillfiger sign has caused all of this chaos.

Once the fire engine next to my house was winding up their hoses, we walked closer to the building again. There were still flames, but they were small. There were only a few engines left, still pouring water onto the building. Others were ripping up the ceiling, stomping on flaming bits of tar. There were cars parked in the parking lot, completely soaking wet.

A neighbor stopped us to say how amazing it was that the firemen stopped the fire from reaching our buildings. We stood outside and watched, hoping that the worst was over.

It was. We were exhausted, coughing, and a little bruised. I put Ray’s things away. I let the cats out. Both of their noses were a little swollen, I think from the smoke. Taylor’s nose was red, like he had been pushing his face against the carrier. They seemed nervous, but not ill.

Lucky. I’m lucky. If it was windy, it would have been much worse.

The fire went on past four in the morning. There were still sirens and lights outside when I finally passed out.

I think it was my nail place that caught fire. That was my big concern during the fire. I knew there were lots of chemicals in that building, including a dry cleaners and all of the chemicals needed for a salon. The onlookers had said that it was the pizza place on fire, but it looks like the fire either started in the pizza kitchen, or on the second floor.

I guess I’m going to have to find a new place to get my nails done.

Oh, I shouldn’t laugh at that, but falling letters are funny. There used to be a pyramid on top of that tall section, and that was where the biggest flames were. They were the ones licking up to the building above, threatening to spread to us. That entire top section is gone now.

That’s the roof on the ground there in front of the balloon place. Directly above that, where the building corners, is in front of where I live. That fence is where we took some of the pictures.

Again. I’m very lucky.

And the end of this story? I got a parking ticket. I forgot to put the permit back on after I moved the car.

It’s been raining ever since, and I’m still a bit tired from all of that. Taylor’s nose is back to normal. I love the Los Angeles Fire Department.

I think this is a proper initiation to LA. I hope that getting it all out of the way in one weekend makes my life here pre-disastered, and I don’t have to go through anything like this again.

So, how was your weekend?

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