May 11, 2006

Put in place in the space as they were shuffled and dealt.

My first-ever apartment-hunting experience occurred, probably like everyone else's, at the end of my freshman year of college, when a friend and I decided to move out of the dorms together. I already knew her to be mentally unbalanced and so should not have moved in with her, but that's another story. The point here is that, at the tender and formative age of 18, I discovered that apartment searching in Berkeley in May or June is a knock-down, drag-out, hair-pulling marathon of chicanery, assholery and backstabbery that I had previously only associated with housing searches in, say, Manhattan. Or Communist Russia. "Look, bitch," said a girl to my roommate in the very first apartment we went to look at, "I'm writing a check to the landlord right now, so there's no way you're moving in here." She was, in fact, all talk, and she didn't get the apartment, but neither did we. I have approached every subsequent apartment search as though I would probably be killed in the process, and have therefore adopted a consistent set of tactics. For one thing, I start looking wayyy too early, so that I can pace myself: grim and plodding at the beginning, saving up my energy for the burst of panic and impending homelessness and fisticuffs (or abject begging) that will surely hit at the end.

It is important to note that, in practice, no apartment hunt has turned out as badly as I've expected. The worst thing that usually happens is that a landlord looks at me and says, "You're not moving until June 1st? But this is January! Why don't you chill the fuck out for 4 or 5 months?" The last two times I've moved, I've pretty much had a really nice place to live handed to me on a platter. Nevertheless, by my count, I have lived in 7 apartments in the last 10 years, and that includes two separate 3-year periods of staying in the same place. So that means it's also like I've lived in 5 apartments in 4 years. That's a lot of moving, especially when you own approximately 5000 books.

The point this time around is to find someplace I think I can stay for the next few years. That means (a) someplace I will be able to fit my stuff and the 5000 more books to come, and (b) someplace, unlike Terror Shack, where I will not go insane.

I've looked at four studios this week, not including Terror Shack. The majority of studios, I've discovered, fit into two very similar catergories:

1. A tiny square room with a bathroom and some size of kitchen stuck on.
2. A slightly less tiny rectangular room with a "kitchen area" incorporated into the room itself and a bathroom stuck on.

Mutatis mutandis, allowing for the presence or absence of such things as closets, carpets, and light, three of the four studios I have looked at will fit into the two categories above.

The fourth is much more interesting, and that is part of why I will be moving in there. Oh yes, because, one week after sheepishly announcing to my Delightful still-Housemate-for-a-few-weeks that I would in fact not be moving to Berkeley with him, I have been offered three places and am signing a lease on one tomorrow. Why do I persist in thinking that apartments are impossible to find? I mean, OK, I failed to find something right in the middle of downtown with 400 square feet of livable space for 12 dollars, but I bet if I was willing to keep looking for another week, I could have.

The place into which I will be moving has cunningly taken the normal elements of the studio apartment, listed above, and deconstructed them. Since I am a grad student in literature, a deconstructed apartment seems like a good fit for me. That was a joke, but not a very funny one. The one large-ish room has been taken apart into a tiny little front room (sort of like an ante-hallway) and then a tiny little back room (sort of like a bed nook very barely bigger than my bed). These are separated by a kitchen and a hallway, into both of which I can fit some bookshelves. Then the bathroom, which is my favorite part, is the only one I've seen where the three main components of the average functional bathroom (shower, toilet, and sink) have been taken apart and put into three different places. I have seen bathrooms split into two pieces before (toilet and shower, sink; toilet and sink, shower) but never three. One door leads off the hallway straight into the shower; another right into a tiny room with a toilet in it; and the sink is set into the hallway wall on the other side. I am so charmed by that.

A tiny little room, the size of a broom cupboard, with just the toilet in. Finally, I have a water closet!

I am attempting to upload my version of a floor plan, for the edification of all. This looks like a regular big-people apartment, but it's crafted in miniature, like a playhouse, and ends up occupying the same amount of space - or slightly less - than my current bedroom. I think part of the reason this tickles me so much right now is that my students have just finished reading Gulliver's Travels, and when the landlady was showing me through the apartment, I was having fun tromping around in it like big huge Gulliver in Lilliput.

Charmed, I'm sure.

Posted by katie at May 11, 2006 11:32 PM | TrackBack

Dude, congratulations and good job! I choose to believe that apartment-hunting is terribly difficult, but you are just extremely gifted and your incredible skills have landed you on your feet again.

Is there at any point a door which separates the general bathroom area from the outer room/s of the apartment? So that, for instance, if you had someone over you could step out of the shower to get dressed instead of choosing between trying to put your clothes on in the shower or flashing your guests? If not, that seems silly and a little bit mean. Then again, I suppose the whole point of a studio is that you'll never have anyone over ever because it's way too small and so the only person you'll have to worry about hanging around in your outer rooms is you.

Is this also the one with a nice big kitchen, or was that a different strangely-bathroomed apartment?

Posted by: Dianna at May 12, 2006 11:43 AM

Your comment has given me pause, because I don't think there is anything between the shower and the hallway except a shower door. I can't remember if that's right. Well, I mean, I can't remember if it's true, because it's pretty self-evident that it ain't right. Perhaps I will have to look at putting up a curtain or some kind of screen, contingent, of course, on the possibility of fitting two or more people inside my place at the same time. I am so thrilled about my little dollhouse. A friend of mine has already started planning my moving-in shindig, but I think I'm going to have to explain to him that it's going to have to be a buffet-style party: people can line up to shuffle inside one at a time, have a drink, and then go to the nearest bar and wait for the rest of us there.

Hee hee.

Oh, and it has some manner of kitchen that seems to be a decent size, and is at least kind of cheerful. Yayyy!

Posted by: katie at May 12, 2006 09:54 PM