Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Apartment Search Begins: Is This a Crack House?

Today began with two meetings at the BCSP office, where all of us met Andrea Ricci (the coordinator) for the first time. Homeboy looks like he stepped out of a GQ magazine ad. He was wearing a khaki colored suit that was tailored and very expensive-looking shoes that clicked lightly when he walked—you know that shoes are expensive when they click classily like that. The second meeting was all about housing, which is one aspect of the program that scares the crap out of me.  The meeting was all about how to find an apartment and the logistics of signing a contract/paying rent when you do get one. One kid already has an apartment, which he found the day he arrived. Such an overachiever.
Here is a picture of a random snoozin' pigeon for your enjoyment! 
 After the meeting, several of us when to the Paninoteca nearby to grab lunch before heading to Via Zamboni, where people staple apartment ads everywhere. It’s like a sea of dirty white paper on walls, garbage cans, random posts, the ground… so overwhelming.

I finally mustered up the courage to call the number listed for an apartment that seemed nice enough, but when the guy answered I totes freaked and only managed to stutter something like, “Sto chiamando per l’apartamento,” to which he responded, “Non e’ ancora libera” and hung up. So… that went well. I made 2 more calls, set up 2 appointments, and commenced freaking out in terror. One appointment  was to see a single, and the other a double. While I would love to have my own room (most people know that I’ve had terrible roommate experiences in the past), I think I could live in a double if the roommates were amazing. Also, with a single, I feel like I’d be more tempted to hole myself away in fear of making an ass out of myself—which I manage at least 12 times before breakfast on a good day. We have 10 more days to find something, and there will be many appointments to see many apartments. I’d prefer to find one soon rather than later, but whatever. I probably won’t sleep anyway because, you know, I’m a nervous freak like that.

So I trah-lah-lah-lah-lahed all my way to the first appointment on Via Gugliemo Marconi… and let me tell you, it was a freaking NIGHTMARE.  Honest to God, I would rather go home than live in that first apartment. Here’s how my meeting went: the landlord, who has a glass eye that points in the wrong direction and is missing a tooth, let me in to go up to the apartment. When I got there, this cute Italian girl was waiting for me… and then I entered Hell. The apartment was a complete dump. Without exaggeration, there were at least (AT LEAST) 100 empty bottles scattered throughout the relatively small space—Heinken bottles, hard liquor bottles, vino bottles… lots of bottles. There was also smoke wafting around, and it was about a million degrees in this apartment because they had the windows closed. What Italian in his/her right mind would leave the windows closed in an unairconditioned apartment in the late summer? Much less smoke with them closed. When I asked the girl if they opened, she looked at me like I was stupid and said, “Si, certo.” Yes, of course… they open, but you choose to keep them closed. Weirdos. It also looked like the place hadn’t been cleaned since the Bush presidency… and that’s G. Bush Senior, people. It was disgusting—there were dishes heaped in the sink, dirt caked to the floor, wads of hair in rando corners… it was so, so gross. As if that wasn’t enough, the girl smiled and said to me, “All of the roommates are here right now but they do not want to come out and talk to you.” And that’s when she offered to let me have the apartment if I wanted it… uh, no thanks. I’ll pass and get the HELL OUT OF THIS PLACE. I swear on the Bible, I think they were running some kind of crack house or something. I am not even kidding you. Another kid from our program saw it, and he totes agreed with me. This first apartment is now referred to solely as "The Crack House."

Thankfully, the second place I saw restored my faith in this lovely city: it was a small house with two rooms, one of which had 2 open beds. It reminded me of the cottage in the movie The Holiday: a very sweet little place that’s very old but has a lot of character. It was practically ideal… except for the fact that the double I’d be in was small as shit AND the other two girls living there wouldn’t be back until mid-to-late September, so I wouldn’t get to meet them. It was so sad leaving that place behind… and the landlady, Angela, was so nice. Sad face!

To date (today is September 2nd-ish), I’ve seen 7 or 8 apartments… and would only consider living in 2 of them. I’ve visited a few doozies, but none worse than the aforementioned crack house. This afternoon I saw one on the Via delle Lame, and as soon as the guy opened the door, I was ready to peace-out. He had tribal tattoos up and down both of his arms (he was, of course, shirtless), and you could see his ass crack because his pants were so low. While he and the other roommates were all very nice, only 1 out of the 5 looked relatively normal (piercings and tats galore!). It wasn’t crack-house bad, but more like, “We do crack recreationally but don’t make or sell it” bad. All in all, I was very underwhelmed. Of course, the lovely Jessica—a lovely lady in the program with me—found the ideal apartment, and I hate her for that… because I went with her and am supes jealous I didn’t find the place first.  Bitch (kidding! I love you, the future Mrs. Abu!)

Then there was a pizza party at the BCSP office, which is the first time I’ve seen boxed, pre-sliced pizza since arriving in Italy. It was delicious. After a few (and by a few I mean 20) of us went out for drinks, but ended up splitting up within 10 minutes. I had the good sense to return to the hotel soon thereafter, mostly because I was tired but also because I don’t have the money to be spending on drinks that weigh in at 5 Euro ($7.50 USD). Although the gin and tonics are about 95% gin and 3% tonic and 2% fancy orange slice, I’m not shelling out 20 Euro in one night for things that disappear quickly and give me hangovers. I’m not stupid, you know… although lately I’ve been questioning my own mental capacity, as have many around me. How is it that I can score high on the GRE, but I can’t read a map? Did I miss that day in 7th grade geography class? Apparently I did. Whoops.
The main square, where prospective apartments reside... just waiting to underwhelm me.

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