birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Give Me a Break (Water)

It's easy to see why L positioned her writing desk here. And why the previous tenants set up their computer table in the same spot.


Around me on every side except the left, it's just basic condo walls, circa 1972, when the building was built, mostly kitchen space, and too little of it. The drop ceiling has the original tube fluourescent lighting. The cabinets are the faux-wood particle board of the time, the laminate peeling from the sun. A smallish stove, electric, with those funky coils, not a sealed rangetop. The flooring is the same standard-white 6-inch tiles that were used for the walkways and balconies throughout the building. 

But off to the left, that view. That's why I came here in the first place.


From the side window of my kitchen, the three quarters view from the balcony encompasses the beachside brewpub below, the pier frequented by local fishermen, the sandy beach and bike path protected and made gentle by the breakwater and, if you tilt your head and look to the horizon, the Queen Mary.

I'd looked for starter houses in Pasadena. I'd scouted bungalows in the older section of Long Beach. And I was willing to make my first home purchase a condo, as long as the place had some character.

So when my real estate agent walked me through this older prospect in much need of updating, I knew I'd found my home.

That beach view was the culmination of every aspiration this Chicago transplant brought to the move to California. Every inspiration I'd had since arriving one January after leaving minus ten degree temperatures and trading them for sunny Southern California.

Today, looking out that balcony, past the shelf where a small wooden box memorializes C, the magic kitty who made this place her retirement villa, in the 649-square-foot unit where L and I set up in cramped quarters to make our first foray at a life together, I connect every day with why I picked this place. 



Under Glass