Friday, July 2, 2010

Two Weeks Down, Decades to Go

Driving up, up, up a hill, noting the sign "Abrupt Grade Change" and then driving down, down, down a hill, I suddenly realized where I"d seen all this before. Weren't some of the best car chases ever seen on screen filmed here in San Francisco?

No surprise -- everyone here drives as though they were chasing someone or being chased. Hurry, hurry! Pass that car, go around that taxi, dare that old woman to open her car door and try to get out before zooming past her! After just two weeks, I get the intensity, the purpose, the sense that time is passing us all by and life is short, so we should all drive fast. I can drive like this, too, and I admit it's fun, especially on the outrageously steep hills.

But how big a hurry must I be in to get to Pier One? Yes, I was eager to see the $129 chairs on sale for $89, but I took my time, savoring the quality of light over The City, noticing the flash of the sun off the water -- what a beautiful place this is!

As it happens, I was given the gift of a dining room table. I checked Craig's List for dining chairs. Hmmm...not surprisingly, most people seek to sell chairs along with the matching table, not individual dining room chairs. One listing mentioned Brand New Chairs, $50 each. They looked nice. One listing offered just three, and I was in the market for four. A couple of listings advertised chairs for $10 each, and well -- you get what you pay for.

I emailed the person with Brand New Chairs. Then I found a nice-looking chair on the Pier One web site. The store on Geary had three. The downtown store had one. I was in possesion of a splendid parking place, and the time was 6:30 p.m., a time after which there are no available parking spots on any streets in San Francisco. Or so I have been told. Was I going to let the fear of never finding a place to park keep me at home? Or was I going to boldly go to Pier One and stare at chairs?

Off I went. As I pulled into a splendid parking spot outside Pier One, my phone rang. Or more accurately, quacked. I have set my ringtone on "Duck" and I find it highly amusing. Calmly, I parked. I listened to the message. It was the young woman advertising the Brand New Chairs, inviting me to come by. First, I visited the chairs in the store. I liked them, but with tax, four would cost over $400. I drove to the Marina to see the four chairs that would cost a flat $200.

The young woman's mother had bought the table and chairs for her daughter, and she didn't want them. She was willing to keep the table, but she wanted something entirely different in a chair. "Did your mother buy you a tv stand that you would like to sell as well?" I asked politely. She had not,though the young woman was thinking of selling all her bedroom furniture.

I bought the chairs, which will serve me well. The I drove them to the apartment. I unloaded them one by one, I took them inside one by one and I carried them up my seven steps one by one. I put them in the living room and ran out the door -- dusk was fast approaching and I had to get home and find a parking place!

This morning, I had three people lined up trying to sell me the same bookcase, a modest piece of low-end furniture from Ikea. One woman wanted $10. A man wanted $35. Another woman was asking $40. Joel rented a truck and off we went in search of the $10 bookcase. Is it in perfect shape? No, but it is perfectly serviceable and will do exactly what bookcases are required to do.

We (mostly Joel) got the bookcase up the steps and into the apartment. He installed a curtain rod and hung my sheer panels. He hung up the new shower curtain -- I got white fabric, to cut down on the overall pink mood of the room. And he constructed and installed the hanging file apparatus for my file drawer in the office cabinet that goes with my splendid new (used) desk.

Here's what else I have in the apartment: A kitchen cart, a microwave, a wicker etagere for the kitchen, baskets for the etagere, four bamboo placemats, the perfect white plastic trash can for under the sink (that took some doing), two big storage bins, six small storage bins, a Brand New Digital Television Set, a handful of new clothes hangers, a shower caddy and miles of shelf paper, just waiting to be installed. Oh, and ice cube trays.

My goal from the beginning was to get what I needed in advance so that on the day the Stuff arrives from St. Louis, I can devote my time to unpacking and start to actually live here inhstead of living any longer in limbo. Living here got easier this afternoon when I discovered the little shopping plaza near the apartment has a huge Safeway, a decent-sized Walgreen's, a Post office, a Pack and Mail, a dry cleaner, a hair salon, a branchette of my bank and a veterinarian's office. And plenty of parking! This area is different from what will become my hanging-out neighborhood, which is Cole Valley, just six blocks down a steep hill from the apartment. But how nice to know that both are near.

Now all that's left to look for is a tv stand. Maybe a rug for under the dining room table. And a compost bin. That's a short list, and does not call for fast driving!

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