Here I am, Van Nuys.
Our pockmarked street isn't fixed, our driveway is turning into an arena for two orange tabby cats to square off in a turf war, the only vegetables doing well in the garden are ones that sprouted on their own, we still have housepainting to do (the project began last October), I still need to call the city for a bulky-item pickup to get rid of my water heater (which we replaced ourselves, thank you), and I've entered the kids-birthday-party zone.
Yep, went to Chuck E. Cheese last Saturday and Sunday for birthday parties. It's not as bad as I thought. There is a stage with animatronic Chuck E. and his pals singing an endlessly rotating string of summer-related songs, and a rat-suited employee does come out to help the birthday boy/girl celebrate, dancing in step with one of the other Chuck E. employees. Refreshing: our 3-year-old Lulu loves it, the whole damn place is pretty clean, and all the games and rides go for one token, i.e. a quarter.
And the pizza isn't artisanal, but it could be a lot worse. And there's a real salad bar for those who crave something less greasy. Don't know if they had coffee, but Starbucks should do me a solid and open up next door.