Monthly Archives: November 2010

waiting silently for me

As many of you know, we are living rent-free. I hope this makes you very happy, and you don’t want to poison us out of pure spite. Our days of milk and honey are drawing to a close, though, as we have to move out by February 1st. And most places in this city charge rent.

I remember when I was living in Western Mass. and found a deluxe two-bedroom apartment for a whopping $600/month. Even split between two people, this seemed pretty exorbitant at the time. I spent several days hemming and hawing before I decided- “Hirsch, you’re worth it!”

Seven years later, $600 seems like poppycock, a down payment on half a San Francisco closet.

I’m still trying to piece together how people here do it. Besides a smattering of wealthy venture capitalists and Google techies, this city doesn’t seem to have the big-money industries to sustain the eye-gouging rents. $1500 as the starting price for a one-bedroom? “Maybe in Dubai!” I say, to no one in particular.

So that’s the situation SK and I face for our next step. We look through page after page of Craigslist ads that are seriously overpriced or overflawed. “$3,500 fixer-upper in the Outer Mission. Stoop guarded by five-headed demon dog and living room is underwater. On-street parking!”

That’s why we’ve started to be captivated by the siren song of Oakland, San Francisco’s rough-and-tumble neighbor across the bay. Reports are conflicting.

Some say Oakland is like Brooklyn circa 10 years ago, an up-and-coming city where all the real art and innovation is happening. Others say it’s an isolated crime-ridden cesspool with almost none of San Francisco’s charm or culture. One way or another, rent prices are about half what they are here.

SK sent me an Oakland listing this week with tons of space, sunlight, hardwood floors, washer/dryer, and a backyard garden with chickens. She was all aflutter at the possibilities, so I got caught up in the enthusiasm. I pictured a home office, which led me to think about quitting my job and freelancing full time, which led me to think about drinking coffee with chickens in the middle of the day…

Then I plugged the apartment’s address into Google street view. Apparently we are not the only ones interested in this place.

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wine, roses?

The cops shoveled dirt on my birthday party.

I had one of those teeth dreams the other night. Where it starts with a loose tooth and all of a sudden you have a handful of tooth and blood. My hands were so full that the teeth started falling into my friend’s shag carpet. I woke up disoriented.

Dream nerds will tell you this signifies feelings of chaos:  In general, dreams about losing one’s teeth are common and suggest the dreamer feels powerless or out of control in a real life situation.

Hm. In all the major categories, I’m not feeling out of control. My day job pays the bills, my side job is fulfilling, and my girlfriend is a picnic in the park. So what’s the problem?

San Francisco. Well, let’s not frame it as a problem. After all, this is a place where it smells like eucalyptus and woodsmoke every day when I get home from work. Where every turn in a road can lead to a stunning vista or a charming slice of Candyland. Where people work to live, rather than live to work. The list goes on for miles. So it’s not like San Francisco sucks. It’s just…different from what I know. And it’s leaving me a bit unsettled.

Let’s look at some examples.

-Everyone is high. The other night, I went to a comedy show with a small group of people. We showed up and my companions joined the long line stretching around the corner. I asked somebody, “Is this the line for people buying tickets or picking them up?” They looked at me blankly and shrugged. One of my companions said, earnestly, “Dude you gotta mellow out and stop being so New York.” We ended up late for the show.

-The weather is schizo. Things change from minute to minute and from block to block. Everyone likes to blather on about the “micro-climates” but it’s legitimately jarring to stand in the sun and see rain across the street. Or to start a hike in hotpants and need a parka 30 minutes later.

-Sexual freaks abound. My friend DeWayne, an East Coast transplant like myself, says that if you look around this city, even the Number One Nerd is Rick James behind closed doors. In my limited experience, I can only find evidence that supports this. People go to swinger parties and farmer’s markets interchangeably.

-My deskmate is terrifying. She won’t talk to me for three days, staring ahead blankly if I ask her a direct question. Then, out of the blue, she’ll say, “You need to get more exercise!” and give me a cookie (true story). I bet CIA agents endure this type of sh*t to make sure they are psychologically resilient.

-My alarm clock is haunted. It goes forward 10 minutes, then back two minutes, then stays in place for an hour. It’s like Willy Wonka’s most boring dream. SK and I watched it for half an hour the other night, barely talking, absorbing all the metaphorical implications.

I am happy to be here, I truly am. I just need to pick my teeth out of the shag sometimes.