Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Do I really miss Des Moines????

The short answer to that improbable question is, sussinctly, no. I don't miss sub-zero weather nor the 200+ mph winds. I don't miss the smell of cow crap everywhere. I definitely don't miss restaurants like Red Lobster being termed "exotic."

What I do miss (short of Cajun Prime Rib at Buzzard Billy's and super markets the size of Boston) is the affordability. I had a 2 BR, 1 BA apartment in a fairly pricy part of Des Moines in 1998 and `99. I paid $575 a month for it.

My fantastically cheesy rowhome in Canton (Baltimore, Not Ohio), circa 2001, was $675 a month. Other places in Canton (Baltimore, Not China) were renting for 800 to 1100 a month. Some fantastically-restored places were 1300 a month, but were usually 3 bedrooms.

I haven't found A SINGLE PLACE in DC or Northern Virginia less than $800. That was for a basement apartment. Slightly damp. The rental home's washer and dryer are located IN the basement apartment, meaning the other housemates need to walk through the basement apartment to use the laundry. The house is shared by two women, and we all know how the ladies are prone to doing a load of laundry every day. So...hmmm...I can smell the privacy concerns from here.

A single bedroom place can be found for 900-ish, but, here's the kicker - they have MAXIMUM INCOME REQUIREMENTS...so, if you make more than, say, 38k a year, you can't have this place. Where in any mathematical sense does this make any sense? Wouldn't a HIGHER income make it more likely for the tenant to be able to afford the rent? If somebody's making 38k a year, they're actually making 26k a year - let's be honest. And 900 a month is really 1000 a month. 12 thousand a year in rent, leaving 14 thousand for things like car, insurance, food...that's not much in an area where gas is almost as much per gallon as a Frappucino.

So far, I have not turned my status as a new Washingtonian (and my complete and utter lack of shame or self-awareness) into himboness. Though it would be fun. The embassies alone churn out enough single lasses to keep any self-respecting American male in the gym 20 hours a day to work off our diet of burgers and beer. And there's so much more - I could sleep my way through Washington's female power structure, from lonely Hill staffers to middle-aged lobbyists who realize their child-bearing years are fading away faster than the viability of Skeet Ulrich's acting career. The man's a dead ringer for Johnny Depp, people - somebody give him a role, please!

I'm not sure when DC became Midtown Manhattan, but it seems to have happened when I wasn't paying attention. It wasn't that long ago when people were moving out of the District faster than U-Haul could get trailers to the city.

DC's traffic sucks so bad because so many people couldn't even dream of living in the city, so they need to move 60, 90, 120 miles away just to afford a decent place at an affordable price. You wanna clean up the traffic and the environment in one fell swoop? Knock down 3 dozen strip malls and replace them with housing. With the multi-billion projects going on the Beltway, with the new bridge and the regroom of the infamous Mixing Bowl, couldn't a bit of those funds go to improve conditions WITHIN the Beltway? Try knocking down a crackhouse and putting up a townhouse.

And get rid of that stupid rule limiting building height to that of the Capitol Dome and the Washington Monument. That law may have been all cute when the area had room to sprawl. This is the 8th biggest metro in the US, and Madison, Wisconsin has taller buildings. Build some skyscrapers, put in 80th floor condos, and increase the population density. Voila' - problem solved.

You may say I'm a dreamer. But I'm not the only one.

It's not like DC is *THAT* glamorous, either. New York, LA - they're both expensive, but you actually get something you pay for - in NYC, you get the joy of living in a city that never sleeps, with unparalleled culture, entertainment, excitement, Woody Allen and 2 baseball teams. LA - you get a chance to drink chai with George Clooney and be discovered while stopped in traffic. People are really pretty out there, and most of us would be willing to pay for better scenery. DC - let's see...you might run into a page from the junior Senator from Montana at a softball game. If you're lucky, you might get cut off by Alan Greenspan. You will be cut off by a bike messenger.

New York was home to Sex in the City. LA is home to Vivid Video. Washington has crowded Metro cars where you *might* get an accidental grab-and-poke, but it's even money if it's from a girl or a guy.

There's lot of single women here, no doubt, and many of them are foreign and spectacular. Here's the J.Lo - BUT all the hot ones have boyfriends back home. The ugly ones gripe about the lack of single men. The slutty ones write about their hook-ups on their blog, and turn their cut-rate trollopness into a book deal (this means you, Jessica Cutler). Every one of them fashions themselves as a policy wonk. The ticking of the DC area's collective biological clock is amazing - deafening, omniprecent, tangible. So many women concentrate on their career that they forget about social lives. They all wake up at 38 and go "CRAP!"

Their first question to a potential mate is "What do you do?" which is answered in Denver with "skiier" or "hiker" or "kayaker" and in Austin as "guitarist" or "drummer" or "acoutstic singer-songwriter." None of those would get you anywhere in DC., boys. The correct answers here are "lawyer" or "doctor" or "lawyer." Men in those professions are considered "good husband material." Anything is worthy of only contempt or a pity one-night stand.

Much like "Dr. Strangelove," Pickens is Slim.

The town is so pent up, so me oriented, so lost-in-its-communal-iPod that Craigslist's Missed Connections gets more hits than Elle MacPherson's webcam. Read the posts - I double dog dare you - you will see a town that thinks it is so powerful in its worldview, but powerless to say hello to an attractive stranger. Put down The Examiner and Examine her, Washington!

If I could work my mojo into free lodging, you know I would. When I find "Bitter Divorcee Night" at the Bethesda Yacht Club, I'm all over it. Otherwise, I'll just scan the rental ads like the Zapruder film and hope I fall into a dog-friendly place to live, close to work. And if that cute brunette I made eye contact with at Zola's the other night reads Craigslist's MCs, too, and recognizes herself, all will be glorious.

When it gets down to it...I just really miss Skeet Ulrich.

telecomic out.

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