apartment roulette

After living in Chicago for three years, and in Minneapolis for eight years before that, when I came back to Minneapolis I was kinda freaked to realize that I had turned into—a midwestern guy. Sweet Jesus at the State Fair! Grew up in SoCal, always loved New York, and apparently finding my true home simply required splitting the difference, geographically.

By the way, I loved Chicago. It had everything I liked about New York, but was cheaper and had nicer people. Granted, I could never find a decent deli that knew how to make egg salad like Murray’s, but Chicago has a heart and a soul that feels just about right. Besides, my two favorite spectator sports are baseball and politics, and there ain’t nothin’ like Chicago for sheer surrealism in both. Following the Cubs AND livin’ in the land of Daley—now that’s a veritable carnival of weird, and as a writer, it was like gold.

I was a bit put off by the notion of settling, once and for all, in Minneapolis. I don’t mind Minneapolis, in the way one doesn’t mind eating a casserole (sorry–‘hot dish’), or a comfortable pair of Dockers—they serve a purpose, they won’t annoy anybody, but they won’t ever thrill you, like lobster bisque would, or…whatever the thrilling analogy to Dockers would be.

And yet, I’ve decided I’m good with ‘comfortable.’ Sure, as a writer, I wanted the diversity of New York, and in Minneapolis, a diverse neighborhood means a mix of Norwegians AND Swedes, (it’s not so much a melting pot as it is a nice layer cake). But trying to find a place to live in New York was like trying to find Middle Earth on a map.

The Girlfriend and I might be looking for another place here soon, and I am so glad I don’t have to look alone, because that process can kick your ass. When I last tried to move to New York, I realized I probably wasn’t gonna find a place I could afford in Manhattan, so I started looking at Craigslist for roommate listings near New York that might be affordable.  Now I hadn’tt spent much time in the Outer Boroughs (which always sounds like where you’d get exiled to in Soviet-era Russia), but I had seen a couple of Spike Lee films, so I figured I’ve got a handle on the area, and as far as knowing my way around Jersey, I have “Clerks” on DVD.

There are some phrases you see in more than a few roommate ads, and I guess it’s been a while since I’ve looked into shared housing, but some of them seem a little strange. I think my favorite is when the person posting asks for “no drama,” which puts me in a bit of a quandary as an actor. Does that mean I can’t rehearse at home, or just that I can’t actually mount a full production of “Death Of A Salesman” in the common area? And I’m a little put off if all the roommates in the place are described as mellow, or as the kids say, ‘chill’–I’d be worried I’d be walking onto the set of a Judd Apatow movie. Do I watch too many movies? Anyway, if a couple of the guys living there were a little less ‘chill,’ they probably wouldn’t have to look for a roommate. I also saw a variation of this (which I hope was a typo) that described two ‘chilled’ girls…

I was actually offended by one ad. Guy in his twenties, great place, great location, and right as a I was visualizing moving my suitcases in and learning the schedule of the J train, he writes “please be around my age, older people tend to be set in their ways, and that’s a drag to live around”…I was actually gonna send him a nasty email, but I remembered my tv shows were on, and I never miss my “CSI.”

There was also a listing which might be the best example of ‘TMI’ I’ve ever read. Spent a little time looking at the Philadelphia listings (hey, it’s only an hour and a half by train), and was really tempted by an apartment that was listed right in the heart of the city. Free internet. free laundry, five minute walk to the commuter train, and this:

A cat lives there already that will fight other cats. A former roommate once took heroin and passed out in the middle of the night with the oven on. For obvious reasons, she’s been replaced.

First, note that the cat WILL fight other cats. Not ‘might.’ It will–as if, that’s what they have it for. Secondly…the roommate. Couldn’t just say she’s moved out, no, we needed the pulp novel, Billie Holliday visual. Yeah, she was replaced, but it doesn’t say whether they replaced her with another junkie who just doesn’t attempt any baking. While you’re at it, you might want to replace the cat. Oddly enough, this ad didn’t say ‘no drama.’

On a lighter note, I’ll share my favorite typos. One place seemed charming, and I think they meant ‘large’ furnished apartment, but the headline clearly said the apartment was ‘MARGE FURNISHED.” I imagine moving in, and there’s Marge–because, well, nobody had the heart to ask her to leave.

And my favorite–an apartment that conveniently has a ‘laundrymoat.” I’m thinking this may not even be a typo, but some medieval-inspired building feature, designed to prevent tenants from other building from taking your stuff out of the dryer. And that really couldn’t be a typo–I mean the ‘o’ isn’t near the ‘m’ or the ‘a’ on the keyboard!  They must actually have a ‘laundrymoat‘! I never pursued it, though–they might have a laundrymoat, but unless they have a security drawbridge, I wouldn’t have felt safe. It was New York after all.

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nice work if you can get it

Although I’m not in crisis mode any more, financially speaking, I would still like to find a…and I forget what they’re called…that’s right–a job. But it’s proven a bit daunting.

A while back, I was quarter-heartedly looking for a soul-sucking, mind-numbing underpaid office job with no benefits, and though I  emailed over two hundred resumes,I got exactly zero responses. Admittedly, my resume is a bit thin. I’m fifty-one and have worked exactly three real jobs, totalling maybe five years in the ‘real’ world. The kids on ” Real World” actually have better job prospects than I do.

Combine my scant experience with the fact that I can only take jobs I can do sitting down due to my mysterious hip/knee/leg enfeeblement, and the fact that (though I’m no expert) the economy seems to be…less than booming, making my job prospects about as good as those of a Republican running for mayor of Chicago.

Friends suggested I pad my resume. Get creative they say, which in my case would essentially be making shit up.  So I tried to think of things that couldn’t be checked on easily.

2001-2006         Missionary Work             Ulan Bator, Mongolia

Some people have said “But what about your years of work as a comedian? There must be a way to use those skills in the workplace.” Yet oddly enough, very few companies seem to need someone who’s good at mocking authority and insulting drunks.

Still others have said I should emphasize my life experiences. I’m just not sure that in my case that constitutes a marketable ‘skill set.’

1991-2011

  • watched television
  • developed contacts in the marijuana industry
  • gained proficiency at moving, especially on short notice

The other bit of advice I got was to not limit myself. Instead of applying for only those jobs for which I think I’m qualified, cast a wider net and apply for anything. “You can learn on the job” , they’d say. “Any job will train you if they like you.“ I must admit this was kinda fun. Just to see how far into the process I could go applying for a job as, say, a radiologist, or senior hydraulics engineer. Or, from a Craigslist posting on August 19th–

“Yes, I’m interested in the position of regional osteo biologics specialist. Now I think I’m pretty familiar with with the whole osteo biologics thing–did a little googling–just wondering…what region are we dealing with here? This is some sort of bone thing, right? Hello? …Hello?”

I’ve actually seen job listings on Craigslist for doctors. How many bridges have you burned as a doctor if you’re looking for work on a free ad site? Is that the standard career path for physicians? But the problem with looking for work on Craigslist is that Craigslist has all these other categories that suck you in and you never get to the job listings.

Craigslist is like this primordial soup of human randomness, neatly categorized. ‘Lost and Found’ is a great example–there are actually ads where people are saying they lost a wallet–and believe that someone will actually see the ad, and return the wallet! People who lost–other people! “Yeah, I think I found your cousin Ed–you wanna meet somewhere so I can return him?”

But my favorite is in the ‘For Sale’ category under the heading ‘Free.’ People giving away gerbils. Toilets. Yarn. A fifteen foot live birch tree. It’s the cyber equivalent of throwing shit in the alley.

Someone actually posted an ad offering a goat. This begs so many questions. Why does someone in Minneapolis have a goat? If someone in Minneapolis has a goat, they obviously didn’t get it ACCIDENTALLY, so why don’t they want it anymore? What’s wrong with the goat? And if someone needed a goat, would the first place they checked be Craigslist?

Anyway, if anyone knows some place that’s hiring middle-aged pot-heads who can type a little, let me know. I’m willing to relocate.

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