Monday, May 10, 2010
I know I said I'd post the kidney infection/stone episode next... and I'm sure I'll get to it. But I figured I should also post the apartment search.

We got back to Seattle late Monday night, which I guess is actually Tuesday morning. It was about 4am, and I was driving while Boyfriend manned the iPod and G and D slept in the back. (Boyfriend and I had slept all day in the van.)

Once we woke up Tuesday afternoon, I began my hunt. We originally wanted to find a room in someone's house. We figured we'd have to share a bathroom, but we'd also have use of a real kitchen and living room. We're also terribly shy, so we figured if we could find some cool housemates, it would be built in friends, and then we wouldn't feel like such anti-social losers.

But the recent turmoil with G and his wife made me want something a little more secure. I crunched the numbers between what I have in savings, and what Boyfriend usually makes in a month, and decided that if we could find a studio apartment under $500 a month, we could afford to keep it while we were away on tour. That way, the few possessions we have (as well as G and D's) could be kept somewhere safe, and be there when we returned from the next tour (which is slotted for August-October.)

I kept looking for both rooms and studio apartments, because I also figured if we had cool housemates, we could afford to keep the room over tour, as well. By Wednesday evening every inquiry I'd sent out about renting a room to a couple had come back negative. Of the dozen or so I'd sent out, every one said single occupancy only. Most of the ads flat out state as much (I didn't email those.) I stumbled across an ad on Craigslist for a studio apartment for $401 a month, with free parking in their garage if you signed a twelve month lease.

I was IMing my dad on Facebook at the time, and told him about it. Within a minute or two he had done the dad thing and looked up reviews and whatnot. It wasn't the greatest neighborhood, not surprisingly, since it was smack dab in the middle of Chinatown. Ok, well, fine. It's $401 a month, and the 'shady people' that live in or around the building (as it criticized in the review) may very well be what a lot of people think of Boyfriend and I at first glance. Long shaggy hair, mostly black wardrobe, not used to sunlight... I could see how people would interpret us as threatening (as very many people in MidWestern WalMarts did.)

And one of the reviews of the building said that the former owner (an ex-Nun) was murdered by one of her own employees. That sounds so Days of Our Lives-ish that it made me want to see the place even more.

Honestly, I wouldn't mind living in a bad neighborhood, as long as I wasn't living next door to a methlab that might blow me up at any given moment. I'm not stupid enough to go out alone late at night, or pull wads of cash out of my purse in plain view. I realize that we're poor, and 9 times out of 10, Poor = Bad Neighborhood.

I called and made an appointment for us to go look at the apartment for Thursday afternoon, before Boyfriend had to go to work. We arrived in Chinatown, found a parking space about a block away, and arrived just in time for our 4:00 appointment. The air was drenched with delicious smells, and my stomach took no time in reminding me how terribly hungry I was. My craving for Lo Mien was almost debilitating.

The building itself was a little over 100 years old, but didn't look to be in poor condition. The red brick exterior was obviously aged, but looked awesome. I have a soft spot for historical buildings, though, so I'm probably a little biased. All of the windows in the front were whole, none broken or boarded. There was an electronic key pad by the door that you had to use to open it. The neighborhood may not have been the best, but at least the building knew it. We were let in by who I assume was one of the managers, and asked to wait for the woman we had our appointment with. No big deal.

Boyfriend and I did notice, however, that the residents coming and going did look a bit shabbier than we usually do. But hey, who are we to judge? Maybe they're awesome people, just down on their luck. Maybe they're starving artists, living on as little as possible to do what they love. You never know. The idea of spending our first lease together in a shabby, historic apartment building in Chinatown was starting to become a little romanticized.
The woman we had our appointment with finished showing around the people she was with, and took us up the tiny, rickety elevator to the third floor. The halls were a creamy colored plaster, with dark wooden doors and frames. The floor was the same dark wood, but had obviously lightened from decades of foot traffic. A long stretch of carpet ran through the middle of the halls. She opened the door to the first apartment and the first thing I saw was what looked like a spacious bathroom. I thought it might not be so bad after all. Then I saw the rest of the studio 'apartment'. It was about the same size as the spacious bathroom. The toilet and shower were on the immediate right, but with no separation from the rest of the room at all. There was a bit of open space between the door and the 'bathroom', but it seemed gargantuan and out of place when compared to the tiny bit of actual living area. I would have guessed it to be about 8' x 8', but my brain may be shrinking the dimensions retrospectively. It might have been as large as 10' x 10'. Regardless of the dimensions my memory gives it, it was still a very tiny room with a full sized refrigerator, cabinets, a sink, and a hot plate crammed into it. Probably the same square footage of the van we were just living in, sans benches and two other musicians. And it was tile. All tiny, varying shades of brown tile throughout the entire 'apartment.'
As Apartment Lady was pointing out the amenities, she mentioned the price as $425 for that unit. We made small talk about the small apartment, but she was perceptive enough to realize that we weren't really digging this unit. Maybe she looked at the size of the room, and at the size of Boyfriend and I (6'3" and 5'11", respectively) and guided us to a second unit down the hall.

No, our hair is not tangled together.

This one was visibly larger, but still far too small. The 'bathroom' area at least didn't waste space, but there was what looked like a big water heater on a shelf over the toilet. If we did live there, I would be constantly imagining the apparatus crashing down on me and smooshing the life out of me while I did my business. Not cool.

This is what toilets look like in Chinatown. Shut up.

Then, while Apartment Lady was talking about this one, pointing out the view from the window (which made the rest of the room look smaller by comparison), mentioned that this unit was $525 a month. Boyfriend and I made nice, but got out of there as quickly as possible. Obviously, the ad on Craigslist was referring to the broom closet on the fifth floor, not any of the studio apartments left for rent.

We decided not to waste the 45 minutes we had left on the parking meter, so went to Uwajimaya, which is apparently a world famous Asian Supermarket I'd never heard of. (Thanks, homeschooling.) We got the ingredients for dinner, poked the funny looking fish in the seafood section, and splurged on some Red Curry in the food court area.

The first looksie at an apartment might have been a dud, but at least the afternoon wasn't.


Sara Louise said...

Oh how I am feeling you right now. And the being tall in short ceiling apartments. Who are they designing these places for?! Hopefully we'll both be someplace we're happy with soon xo

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During this course of study, you will come to learn much about the strange eating, sleeping and mating habits of the Instrospective Lori under stress. We will observe as she moves halfway across the country to start a life with her own Captain Wentworth, takes a year off of work to pursue a writing career, and incessantly references Jane Austen.
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