Hills, That Is

The thing about hunting for a one-bedroom apartment (especially in this city) is that you have to go see them. There's so much doublespeak and obfuscation going on in your average classified ad that all you can really take from is the price (and sometimes not even that). Most ads around here don't list square footage, hardly ever show addresses -- it's a huge crap shoot.
Your only real bet is to make the phone call, set up a time, and go see the place yourself.
So I found this one place in the paper and went to check it out. It was a complex, so my radar was already up -- but it's been a tough apartment search, so I've had to open myself to things that I normally wouldn't consider. So I get there, sign a piece of paper, talk to the dude for a second, and we head out to the model.

One of the things I find annoying about looking at complexes is that they always have a furnished model. That one pristinely-clean-overfilled-with-rental-furniture-and-throw-pillows-unit that represents a standard of living that I don't think anyone could ever survive in. There are tons of chairs and couches, but with all the pillows and stuff there's nowhere to sit.
Seriously, who lives like that?
So we tour the rooms (which is always awkward when you're looking at 1-bedroom places, because as considerate as you're trying to be, there's only so much to look at). The kitchen has all the appliances I'm looking for, but it's really cramped. There's hardly any counter room to cook on -- which for me is a negative, but it's much more functional than my current kitchen, so we'll call it a push.

Then we go into the bedroom, which is unbelievably small. They've got one of those half-beds in there to try to make it seem larger, but there's no hiding the fact that it's really not that comfortable a room at all.

I guess the apartment guy picked up on my apprehension -- because he quickly moved over to the window in a hurry and pulled back the curtains to let some sunlight into the room, which gave me my first chance to get a look at the view I would have from this place.
Outside the window, framed by the curtains -- was a Wal-Mart.
"So," he says, "What do you think?" I tried to be pleasant about it, saying friendly things without professing any false love for a place that I already felt wasn't right for me -- which he took as a cue point in his sales pitch timeline, and instantly started talking amenities and features of the community (I had to swallow a chuckle when he mentioned how close to local shops and merchants the place was).

Now what you need to know here is that depending on the part of town you choose to live in and the kind of place you're willing to accept, a one-bedroom apartment in Jacksonville will cost you somewhere around $400-$800 a month (you can find places for less -- but trust me, if you sign on to live in one of those 2-bedroom apartments listed in the paper for 300, be prepared to have uninvited roommates smoking up all your stuff whenever you're not home). My personal range is somewhere in the middle of that -- but I haven't been having a lot of luck lately, so I've been considering higher numbers and a radical re-shifting of my budget.

Dude keeps droning on and on, and I decide to jump in and cut to the chase. I ask him how much a place like this runs for -- at which point this guy lights up, looks me in the eye, and holds his hands up in front of him palms up so that he can literally push each syllable out while he speaks -- as if he were somehow helping the deal move through the air towards me through the air while he says,
"Are you ready for this? $1100 a month."
At which point I can't help but look out the window at Wallyworld, busy as ever.
[Listening to:    Taproot"Lost in The Woods" ]