Apartment hunting is always fun. I think that I am going to be in a perpetual state of movement because I love apartment hunting THAT much. Yes. I want to be a nomad. Constantly in search of the perfect apartment.
I think that’s what homeless people say? Probably. Whatever.
In this hunt for the perfect apartment (and when I say perfect I mean an apartment that has come to rest on what I have determined as the equilibrium between cheap and cute … but maybe still leaning more toward the cheap side, I’m not a perfectionist … I’ll let it do its gangsta lean) I have learned a LOT of valuable lessons. But first, let me point out that when I say cheap I mean: expensive as fuck, in the true sense of the saying. Nobody in SF writes their rent check, smiles, and says, “Yeah, I feel good about that.” I mean cheap *for SF*.
Cheap ≠ Cheap in SF. The two are not synonymous, they are not equal, they are not the same thing. In fact, Cheap in SF is a synonym for Expensive. You get the point.
What is cheap is living in Oklahoma. (And before you start pointing out why it’s expensive to live here and not there and blabber on about the quality of life and all the things to do, let me just stop you and say I know. I’m the one who lived there. You are not pointing out anything new to me. Back to real time) You can pay rent on a god damn castle complete with a moat and albino alligators for what you can get for a spacious two bedroom apartment with a view. Or a cramped two bedroom apartment with a view. Or a shithole with a view of the side of the apartment building next door. That’s a view too. Right … right? Someone define “view”. Actually, on second though. Don’t. That’s *not* the point.
Okay, you might not be able to get a castle for the same price, but Oklahoma would be the first place you could afford a castle. In fact, you can get a bedroom with a private bathroom in a huge apartment with a brand new top of the line kitchen and oh, hey, don’t forget the gym, swimming pool, Jacuzzi, volleyball courts, basketball courts, and FREE (duh) parking for $300 a month. Bills included. That is not a joke. It exists. See?
Back to San Franci$co. I have learned many things whilst apartment hunting but the most important is this: Location, Location, Lofuckingcation.
I would pay $2000 (well not really, but for dramatic effect, just go with it) a month to live in a shoebox in North Beach/Nob Hill/Marina/Russian Hill than pay $300 to live in (Oklahoma) The Tenderloin (and who are we kidding … there is nothing less than $900 per person in The Tenderloin). But of course, I didn’t know this before I went to The Tenderloin.
How did I learn this? I’ll tell you. So, I am perusing Craigslist and I see all these pretty nice apartments that are actually relatively reasonably priced. What’s the deal here? I bet the pictures are really misleading … I bet there are really loud neighbors … Maybe the apartment smells like cat piss. Insert optimistic side—No, I bet the place is great, and this is a good deal. Yeah, I’ll go with that. So I call two leasing agents and set up appointments to go see the apartments the next day. I wonder what The Tenderloin is like? I’ll google it later. All I’m thinking is that its close enough for me to walk to work and not have to take Muni … those bastards … I’ll show them.
Next day. Lunch time. Sunny … well kind of, we are in SF. I embark on my journey. Walking. This is great. As my walk progresses, the scenery slowly begins to change. Suddenly I have found myself right smack in the middle of “Where I DO NOT Want To Be”. Am I lost? Consult Google Maps. (Google is capitalized when it is used as a noun, not capitalized when used as a verb. You’re welcome.) Nope. I am right where I am supposed to be. I feel VERY uncomfortable. I can’t tell if there are more pieces of trash or homeless people littering the sidewalks. The sweet aroma of stale piss and people who haven’t showered … probably ever … starts wafting up to my nostrils. I pass a group of men who are, presumably, up to no good, and one of them mutters, “Little blondie is lost, I think we should show her around.” Another says, “I’ll show her somethin’ alright.” Dear. God. What do I do? Call someone. Nobody will talk to me if I’m on the phone. Right …right?!
“Hey mom.” Don’t judge me.
I get to the apartment, there is someone waiting to let me in. Dear. God. What have I gotten myself into (I know it’s a sentence ending in a gd preposition … what did I say about that … and HA! by inserting this unnecessary comment, I have succeeded in not ending the sentence with a preposition after all, suck it Word)? At this point I have already firmly decided that I will NOT be living in this neighborhood even if they offer it to me fa FREE. I do a quick tour and tell the guy I’ll think about it, the apartment was okay but like I said, fuck no, and I head to the other apartment.
More catcalls, people ask me for spare change, one guy is throwing up into one trashcan while another is picking aluminum cans out of the next one. Sweet. I get to the next apartment. I buzz the unit I am supposed to be viewing. As I wait I am thinking, why am I even wasting my time? I will NEVER live here. Waiting. Someone taps me on the arm. I jump. I turn around and see that a man in a wheelchair wearing a bike helmet with no teeth has approached me. No reason to be alarmed …
“Scuse me. Do ya hav an exter needle on ya?” What. The. Fuck. Turn promptly and walk away. No, sorry sir, I don’t have a god damn needle. I call Sarah. And as I am walking away as fast as humanly possible with every attention of never returning, I give her a rundown of what just happened. Mid-rant, as I pass a particularly heinous smelling building, something liquid drops from above … and lands … in my mouth. IN MY MOUTH. MY MOUTH. IN. MY. MOOOUTH.
When I return to my office, I go straight to the bathroom and rinse my mouth for ten minutes. But then. Then. Then I google “The Tenderloin”.
The Tenderloin is a high crime neighborhood, particularly violent street crime such as robbery and aggravated assault. Seven of the top ten violent crime plots (out of 665 in the entire city as measured by the San Francisco Police Department) are adjacent plots in the Tenderloin and Sixth and Market area. The neighborhood was considered to be the origination of a notorious Filipino gang Bahala Na Gang or BNG, a gang imported from the Philippines. In the late 1960s to the mid 1970s, the gang was involved in extortion, drug sales, and murder for hire.
Murder for hire. Sweet. Thanks, Wikipedia.
BUT on a positive note. I did get an apartment! And it IS cute! And it’s in The Haight:
The area still maintains its bohemian ambiance, though the effects of gentrification are also apparent and continually changing. The neighborhood remains a thriving center of independent local businesses. It is home to a number of independent restaurants and bars, as well as clothing boutiques, booksellers, head shops, and record stores including Amoeba Music. The cohabitation between throw-backs to the Fifties lounge scene, organic and spiritual New Age ambiance of the Sixties, punk-rock politics and computer culture is one of the neighborhood’s most interesting and endearing aspects socially and artistically.
Awesome. But for real this time.