Two weekends ago I began The Great San Francisco Apartment Hunt. I’m leaving sunny (and sometimes downright hot as hell) Los Angeles for foggy San Francisco in search of a less trafficky-lifestyle (and thus reducing the chances that I commit a road rage-induced homicide or suicide). I also wanted an escape from gaggles of women who speak with a Kardashian-perfected vocal fry, ending declarative statements with like, a questioning, inflection? Who spend more time talking about their manicures and expensive designer handbags than the current Presidential election.
The “why L.A. is making me grossly unhappy” list is a lot longer, but again, I’ll save that for another post.
Having had not much luck the first search (that kiss-ass girl with the yappy dog got the apartment in the Marina, boohiss!), I flew up this weekend armed with a new strategy and attitude: I’m here to find a place and I will cut a bitch for an apartment. My Asian-American friend (why I’m mentioning her ethnicity will become clear shortly), V-, who is also lucky enough to be looking for an apartment, suggested we create bios. For all my moral grandstanding and highfalutin’ attitude I was willing to amp up my sales tactics to secure an apartment.
I created a flyer, hoping a photo of two cute kitties and my obvious pandering for sympathy due to our impending homelessness would soften the hearts of sittin’ pretty managers and agents.
V- and I met up for an early breakfast at Golden Coffee Shop to power up for the serious business of the day. I was armed with the listings for seven open houses, three of which started at 11am. Do I look like I can be at three places at one time? What is up with 11am?
I asked my friend, “How many Blasian friendships do you think there are in San Francisco? I mean if we go to open houses together with our ‘we are the world’ friendship, that should help us stand out more, right?” As awesome as trading on our beautiful Blasian friendship sounded, we both had open houses to see in different parts the city. I did, however, join her for one open house at 9am.
We took a taxi to Noe Valley, as we’d lost time by getting on a BART train going in the wrong direction (the joys of being a city newb). Our taxi driver was quite chatty and upon finding out we are relocating to SF, informed us that the rents are steep (what? no way!) and asked if we’d considered the East Bay? What about Oakland?
My brain heard: “You won’t be able to find an apartment in the city!” Why do so many people seem to think I should give up before I even start? Sounds like a…CHALLENGE! A challenge I accept!
The apartment was on the bottom level of a Skittles-purple Victorian-style duplex with pink trim. An “in-law” unit, they call it. It was carpeted (blech) and on the darker-side due to its near-subterranean location; a place well-suited for a vampire. If I thought Ian Somerhalder might visit me there, I’d have applied.
The owner seemed stunned when my friend, after looking around and asking a few questions, said a quick “Thanks,” indicating she was done and not interested. Yeah, that’s right, SHE turned YOU down, buddy. The listing had “charming” in the title. We should have known. She said ultimately it bothered her that the manager would be living right above her.
We parted ways and I killed time at a Noe Valley Starbucks while I waited for an 11am open house nearby. While there I spotted more baby strollers and mini-people (you might call them toddlers) than I see in a year in L.A. (I’m convinced children are zapped when they try to enter urban L.A., ’cause they are a rare sight.)
The clientele was mostly white. It reminded me of Santa Monica: clean, yuppie-tastic, populated by people with punty-dogs, teeming with families and monochromatic.
I loved the apartment I saw at the open house. 750sqft., lots of light, beautiful new hardwood floors, balconies, a bedroom that didn’t double as a cave, and parking for a small additional amount. I was second to arrive after a white guy who appeared to be in his late 30s. I looked at him and thought: stability.
When I met the manager, I was secretly thrilled to see that he was a black man. Generally, I don’t try to cash in on shared ethnicity, but
all most bets were off during the hunt. Sometimes it can work against you if you encounter a self-hating Negro who wants nothing to do with you and your Negroness. I thought I had an in until the stable white guy said, “So, my partner and I…” Dammit, he’s gay! And I’m pretty sure the manager is gay. Gay trumps black! Gah!!! Go away with your stability and your black-trumping card!
I amped up the charm and told the manager I’d love to apply and tried to hand him my carefully compiled application packet, with fancy bio, but he turned his nose up at it. “I’m sure you can understand that we’d prefer to have tenants fill out consistent applications.” Well, I, understand that. Tell that to your comrades who seem to foist all the legwork on their potential residents.
This was apartment choice #1.
I then had to cab it a couple of miles north and west, for an 11:45am showing. I arrived early and took a short stroll around the neighborhood. My assessment? These motherfuckers are rich. What the hell am I doing here? By 11:45 there was a crowd outside the building where the OH was scheduled. %#^#$*%#^& Where did these assholes come from? There were a few single folks and two couples. Oh lord, now I’m competing against people with TWO incomes?
I liked this apartment too: a 1-bedroom, corner unit, lots of light as it faces south, and…and…and a WASHER AND DRYER IN THE UNIT! The only downside? It’s a junior 1-bedroom, meaning the bedroom fits a bed and not much else. I’d emailed the listing agent beforehand, including a little jazzy info about myself and my moxie. She replied the morning of and directed me to download her company’s application.
Unfortunately, no one has invented a printer that prints from thin air, so I didn’t have time to print the app. Instead, I handed her my rental packet of winning and she smiled and said, “Oh, how cute is this?” Noticing the cats: “Oh they are so cute!”
The 20-something girl in front of me, trying to shoehorn her way into my performance time, gave me a look of death. Yeah, bitch, I did that! Whachu got? From the looks of her bare hands – nothing. I thanked the listing agent and moved on to the next, shooting daggers of hate at the vultures congregating outside the building. This was apartment choice #2.
A few open houses later, I had applied for two apartments, opened up a P.O. Box where I could forward my mail in case I am still homeless by the time I move up. I felt dejected and in great need of some spirits. I sat on the bus feeling sorry for myself and wondered just how far I am willing to debase myself to find an apartment in this city. However, I didn’t have much of an opportunity to wallow as I was more entertained by the antics of others on the bus.
An older, molestor-looking gentleman, boarded the bus with a white cat in a fabric carrier, who was howling, “Goddamit asshole, let me out of this before I scratch the crap of you!” I’d howl too if my owner sat his molester-looking self down and put a duffel bag on top of my carrier, essentially smushing my mid-section. A hipster girl sitting beside me looked apoplectic and whispered to me, “That poor cat.” To my other side, an adorable 6-month old babbled in-between cat howling.
On a second bus – I had to transfer – I overheard the following conversation between two men whom I was scared to look at due to the content of their chat:
Man 1: “Man, you ain’t go to worry about it. Just pee on anything!”
Man 2: “But…”
Man 1: “No man, just pee on anything! A stick, a piece of paper, a bag of chips…”
Man 2: “But, I walked in and he said, ‘I am not your parole officer.'”
Man 1: “Man, fuck that. Those POs are all the same. Assholes.”
Thank you, sketchy gentlemen who have parole officers for reasons I don’t want to find out, for keeping me from spiraling into an apartment hunting depression. I returned home to Los Angeles and the obsessive checking of my email and phone began.
Update: Ladies and gentleman, I am happy to announce that I was offered an apartment in the city of San Francisco. Not East Bay, not even Oakland, but in actual San Francisco. This will soon be my living room. Challenge complete!