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May 27, 2006

Home, Sweet Home

I never really wrote about the horrid experience I had trying to find a place in California for the summer. Google didn't offer much guidance on how to get out here or how to find housing. It was more like, "Here is a big bucket of cash. Go figure it out." I thought it might be fun to live in San Francisco and just take one of the free, wifi-enabled Google shuttles to work every day. My friend Dan does this commute, so figured it couldn't be that bad. Around 30 emails through craigslist later, and I started realizing how hard it was going to be to find something in the city. The number of places that were at all promising is small enough to document:

1. Lost in Translation: an efficiency in Lower Nob Hill. The girl was Chinese and leaving the country for the summer. Unfortunately, she didn't have grand mastery of English and I don't think she understood one word that I said to her on the phone when I called to ask about the apartment. She sent me an email that said, "You nice girl. I call you tomorrow when I less busy." I never got a call.

3. The Interview: one bedroom in a four bedroom apartment with girls from the University of San Francisco. I got a call shortly after I expressed interest in this place. A chipper girl said, "Hi Parisa? Is that how to say your name? Well, we wanted to know if we could interview you to see if you will get along with all of the roommates. Is that ok?" I'm thinking this is a little impromptu, but I can understand wanting to know how clean I am or if I smoke, so fine, ask away. Question 1: If you could be any celebrity, who would you be and why? Now, this completely stumped me. Ask me the state changes in TCP or any United States capital and I got it. But what celebrity I would want to be? The questions went downhill from there, and needless to say, I did not get a second round callback.

3. El Photog: A "personal space" in the Civic Center. This one sounded pretty shady from the start, but it was really cheap (less than $700/month) and a good location with respect to the shuttle stops. In the original posting, it claimed a one bedroom apartment attached to a photo studio that would be occasionally used during the summer. After getting a bit more information, the renter said it was more of a "personal space" than a separate room. Since I couldn't come to actually check out the apartment and meet the renter, he suggested I get a webcam to "bridge the distance". A webcam?! Is there anyone out there that is not affiliated with the pr0n industry and actually uses one of these? I took a look at the kind of photography he offers (specializes in "intimate" photos) and after seeing some pictures of the place, realized the "personal space" is only a loft separated from the studio by a ladder. Pass.

4. Money Matters: A single apartment in Diamond Heights. This apartment actually had the most potential. It was a mostly furnished apartment, but had no living room furniture because of a recent robbery and I would have to pay extra for access to the mailbox (?!?), but other than that, seemed decent. Unfortunately, the lady was a bit too shady for my tastes. She refused to sign a sublease agreement and said it would be better to say I was just visiting for the summer if anyone asked. Also, I wasn't allowed to have any "discos". I decided that I could probably last the summer without throwing a disco and was almost ready to go with this offer, but then she said I'd have to pay in cash via mail. As in, mail over a grand of cash each month to wherever she was located. I told her that I had found another place before we got to the part where I'd be instructed to send the money in unmarked bills to a remote P.O. Box in Nebraska.

5. Lost in Translation II: who knows what. I didn't even bother responding to this...

Date: Thu, 20 Apr 2006 19:08:12 -0700 (PDT)
From: Add To Address Book
Subject: are you only look for civiv center, van ness? if not
I have place for you smile///
To: hous-153073520@craigslist.org


So I gave up on San Francisco.

Now, don't get me wrong. I really like the apartment I have in Mountain View. All of the apartments sit on the ground level and are spread out across a large complex. There is all of this awesome landscaping that makes it feel like each apartment is a tiny bungalo separated by wild flowers and lush vegetation. The kitchen and bedroom is spacious and we even have a tiny, enclosed patio with wild flowers in the corner near a tiny outdoor shed. There is also a nice pool, hot tub, and picnic area in the middle of the complex. But even this place is not without drama.

First, we are really close to a CalTrain station. Not really a big deal to me because I'm a deep sleeper (when I do sleep), and don't really mind noise. It's not as bad as in the movies where all of the walls shake when a train goes by, but it's actually pretty close. Also, all of that exotic flora doesn't come without the critters. I've already found 3 different types of spiders in this place along with a tiny lizard on the wall near our patio. The lizard scared me, but was pretty cute upon closer inspection.

I got all settled in on Sunday and went to take a shower, but couldn't figure out how to turn the faucet on to actually get water out. I know these things can be confusing, but I tried every possible push, pull, and turn combination, in addition to asking nicely and looking for a magic button under the kitchen sink. I ended up taking a mock-shower from just sink water. As a less pressing issue, the sink faucet has hot and cold marked opposite to the water temperature that comes out; this is minor. Since I was in Berkeley from Monday to Wednesday to attend a conference, I didn't really get a chance to call maintenance until Thursday. The maintenance guy came over, fixed the faucet, and I was happy. I hadn't bought a shower curtain yet, so I decided to take a bath instead, and what of course doesn't work? The drain stop. So I lit some candles, put on some slow jazz, and took another luxurious wash in the sink. The maintenance guy came today to fix the drain stop. All bathroom problems are currently solved, but there is still more water drama. When I went to find the maintenance guy today, I saw that the pool was all taped up. I found out that someone died in the pool last Friday, but wasn't able to get any more details on what happened or who died. I was assured by the office that the pool would be open in a couple more days. Because my main concern is getting a dip in the pool over knowing why people are dying in it.

But no honestly, I do like my apartment. I've been camping out solo because Stephanie is in Hawaii for the week. Just me, my thoughts, and possibly a lizard or two.
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