Thursday, September 27, 2007

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

It's just about one month down, three months to go on my sublet, and it's amazing how much my perspective has shifted on what I want to do next.
First of all, there's the neighborhood dilemma.  I had decided that given my current workplace is in Oakland, that there was no way I'd want to do the two-part commute, the bus to BART.  This basically means living in the Mission or Noe Valley (since I don't want to live downtown, in Glen Park, or in the East Bay), and I preferred the Mission because the park is so much better for dogs.  And in fact, the park has exceeded my expectations.  I was a bit concerned that the Mission's rougher vibe would have my little 14 pound dog running from pit bulls, and I would have to pretend I was really cool with it or risk shunning from the dog community for being anti-pit bull (only ones I don't know) for being nervous about it.  Well nothing could be further from the reality of Mission Dolores Park: there are plenty of small dogs, many of them fancier breeds than my pseudo-mutt.  Also, there is a very strong society going on up there with rules and etiquette, and unsupervised big dogs hassling the smaller dogs is a widely accepted no-no.  A husky apparently bit a pomeranian a couple of weeks ago, and it's all anyone talks about.
However, I have ultimately decided that the Mission is no longer where I want to live.  I lived there for five years before school, so it's not like I didn't know what I was getting myself into.  But I'm apparently getting older (shock!), and my tolerance for certain things has diminished.  The night I took Satchel out for a walk and could not get into my apartment without either stepping over the homeless man sleeping on my front steps or going around the homeless person going through my trash at my back door was not one of my favorites.  The day a man lunged at me and Satchel on the street while yelling about whatever demons are in his head was another low point.  I hate to use him as an excuse, but I do think that what I can accept in a neighborhood is different when I walk around with a small dog.  I by myself am very good at evasive maneuvers when it comes to undesirables on the street, and I generally project a sort of badass vibe that makes my encounters few and only verbal and thus easy to ignore.  But when you walk around with a dog (not an intimidating big dog, but a little cute one), you are more open to all sorts of encounters, and the ones in this neighborhood are generally not good.  Also, Satchel seems to lack the evade-the-crazy-person skill (he even seems to not be racist any more, which is a good thing), and I can't scurry away quite as quickly when I have him with me.
I love the restaurants in the Mission, but can't even get into Tartine on a weekend or Delfina Pizzeria ever, and I can come back and visit whenever I want.  As for my commute, it takes me 15 minutes to walk to BART, and an extra 10 minutes to get downtown.  So if I were to bus to BART, operating under the assumption that the buses have many more stops and so are closer to wherever I might live next so I lose the long walk part of my commute, and it takes me less than a half hour to bus downtown, I think it's almost a wash on the commute. 
So where do I want to live?  Well Russian Hill was where I fled the last time I got tired of stepping over drug addicts as part of my daily routine.  And that would definitely be a good option.  I really like what my friend Matt said about Russian Hill, which is basically that it's a really nice neighborhood with no personality.  When you tell people you live there, it says absolutely nothing about you.  Marina means frat guy, and Pac Heights means super yuppie, and Russian Hill means you like Okoze and Swensen's.  It somehow flies under the radar of San Francisco stereotypes, and I like that.  It also has Greens (my favorite sports bar except during baseball season because it somehow has become San Francisco's Yankee bar), the Buccaneer, Nick's Crispy Tacos, and Polkers. 
Another thing I like about being in Russian Hill is it is in the northern part of the city, which makes it easier to walk to all the other cute safe neighborhoods up there and makes it a lot closer to my new mecca, Crissy Field.  Given that, I am broadening my search area to include a few neighborhoods I formerly ridiculed and now would feel priveleged to live in, namely the Marina, Cow Hollow, and Pacific Heights.  I also am putting North Beach on that list, though it is not a neighborhood I ever knew enough about to malign, except for the fact that it has too many strip clubs and tourists. 
So the second thing is that I don't know any more if this means buying or renting when my sublet is done.  The market shift is technically good for me because everything is slowing down and if you have access to capital, you're in a very good position.  But this also means that inventory is not coming on the market, and I have not seen anything I'm interested in putting an offer in on in many many moons.  So taking on a year lease is a definite possibility as my next step.  I want to get my stuff out of storage, and I don't know if a home is going to be mine in the next three months.
But I do know that I will be done with the sunny, beautiful, ethnically diverse, culinarily blessed Mission I have called my home for five years formerly and now these three months, and will be moving to quieter more boring pastures.  I guess I've officially become a yuppie, and it feels so good.


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