I have a granddaughter who is a dear, dear thing. I’ve been present at every major life event from colic to quinceañera and have made an earnest effort to not let my all-around generational terribleness rub off on her too much. Mine is an epoch that has swindled hers. A hit-and-run bamboozlement. I live off the fat of the land whilst her frail Millennialness holds but a lifetime of spotty employment, uncertain retirement, and diminishing dreams of homeownership. Yet any guilt ricochets off me like reason and logic in an intelligent dialogue on rent control ordinances. Pew, pew, and kerrang.

She and I were at the Wende recently and I was struck by an all too stark comparison in characterization: My grand-progeny works relentlessly like Soviet-era farm equipment — without pause, praise, and rigorously with diesel-like efficiency. It’s a hard-knock life for her. Yet her salary is a pittance and I fear she’ll never have the monetary momentum to cobble together something like a down payment for her own place. Most certainly not in L.A., more so ever the Westside — not even with the succor of FHA loans or first-time homebuyer programs. I don’t think she’d even qualify for unscrupulous subprime-lending. That’s just how dire her straits are. She couldn’t gentrify anywhere if she wanted to, woe.

Lo, my dust bunnies have been displaced. After she finished graduate school, she made a beeline to my basement and has been living with Nana Noreen in perpetuum. She’s kin and can have a kidney anytime, sure. But at this rate, I’ll never get that perfectly good basement space back. Gadzooks and hark, where am I to store the Thighmaster I never use? Or the carefully curated collection of seashells I’ve amassed over a long and largely uneventful life? Shed a tear and have surplus sympathy for this Westchester windbag without a place to deposit her giant blue exercise ball that the elderly always seem to have.

But foremost proffer a degree of pity for my granddaughter. These Westside real estate prices water her eyes every time she cracks open the listings in your fair paper. And something like condolence wells in my callous cardiac. Enough to squelch a half-emotion from my subzero South Bay veins. If she’s inconsolable now, just wait until she finds out about the rent increase next month. And that she’s not in my living trust.

Everything’s going to my cat. Seashells and all.

Yours in inextinguishable outrage, Noreen “utilities not included” Petrichor


(Notes from Noreen arrive occasionally in the editor’s inbox. She may be fictional, but nobody’s perfect.)

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