The First Two West-Coast Weeks

In some ways I can’t believe it’s been only two weeks since I relocated to San Fran. It feels like longer because of all of the running around I’ve had to do it. And that’s meant I’ve been bad at returning emails. No time! So here are a few updates.

The office is the antithesis of the Toronto one. Somehow we got an open area amongst a sea of cubicles. And though, thankfully, there are many windows, florescent lights still hum above. Ugh. I feel like we’re kids in detention hall. I miss the Toronto space – the warehouse full of pictures and toys and people, all to the soundtrack of Mike’s or Cas’s DJing.

Apartment Hunting
Sigh. I’m not sure I can adequately describe how frustrating it is. It’s so insane here and it’s getting quite competitive because of the bad housing market. One night I looked at a shoebox place with six other people! I’ve looked at eight places for $2400+ a month and only one of them, in my mind, was perfect. (My application is in and now I wait and wait.) All places have quirks. For example, if they have laundry—in the building!, not the unit—then something else really lacks, like closet space…or character.

I’ve been going with an employment letter and a Canadian credit report in hand because I don’t have a Social Security Number (SSN). More on that. Now I see apartment searching as a cat-and-mouse game. It’s not like Toronto where you usually know on the spot or sometimes a day later if you have the place. So I feel like I should be still looking, even with an application in. It’s like the lottery. But I’ve decided to take a break until I hear about the great spot. I’m really tired.

Good news. I’ve finally settled on a neighbourhood: Pacific Heights. It’s yuppie and kind of like Toronto’s Yorkville, but it’s the place with the hills and fire escapes and sometimes views of the ocean. I can walk to its edge if I want. I want quintessential San Fran if I’m going to be here.

Money, Money, Money
I couldn’t even start looking for an apartment during my first week because of my banking woes. Banks here are at least five years behind Canadian ones. Everything depends on cheques. Email transfers?! Light-years ahead of the American systems.

Of course my bank forgot to tell me a very key thing when I called to say I was moving; I should have signed a form in order to initiate transfers via telephone or fax. They wouldn’t wire money from my Canadian account. I pointed out there was a 4.5-hour flight between me and the original form. Then I had to deal with forms and more forms and running around and faxing ((Who faxes anything anymore?!)) and Fed Exing.

It took a week of craziness before I got money wired into my brand-spanking-new American account so I could write a cheque for an apartment. I can’t get paid yet because I don’t have a Social Security Number. That takes 20 business days after entering the country!!! Immigration doesn’t even enter legal aliens (Yes, that’s me! Makes me smirk when I have to check it off.) for 10 business days. Huh?!

Oh yeah, the office I went to, to apply for my SSN was…I’ll say, entertaining. The guy behind me was boasting to his friend how he just got out of jail the day before. There were cracked-out trannies. I had dutifully left my mother’s name off of the form since the written instructions had said only to list it, if I was under 18. However, the attendant informed me that I was in “…the United States of America and in the United States of America I need to confirm my mother’s name!” I didn’t know whether to sing the national anthem with her or run back across the border, away from the attitude.

Yes, I’ll stop whining and admit that I have been having some. I’m lucky to know great people here. I’ve been to BBQs and out for dinner and to yoga class and to the MOMA.

A Reminder
I remind myself that the beginning often has shitty times. I recall that from living in Australia long ago. However, this time I have more running around to do. The good thing is that I’m so busy apartment-hunting and stressing-out that I haven’t really had time to be homesick. Small blessings! And when I pause and actually look at the city rather than plow through it, I’m so taken with how pretty and diverse it is. I expect (I hope.) things will even out.


About gwenamon

bookworm, confidante, creative director, cyclist, global wanderer, music lover, shutterbug, shoe shopper, snowboarder, writer, yoga geek. i'm also a very proud mama of a lil mister named james.
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