Ilamas?

When I was back in California, I made a couple trips to San Francisco’s Mission District, home of Imagiknit, the coolest yarn store ever. My goodness, they had all of my favorite yarns and even the priciest skeins are out there in the open, free for you to molest! In Taipei, most yarn stores keep their merchandise bundled away in plastic bags. It’s so mean. If you want to touch anything, you have to haul the bag up to the cashier and ask them to open it. I love feeling up yarn, but having someone stare at you, silently wondering if you are going to leak your nasty finger oils all over their wares, is kind of a buzzkill.

When I wasn’t picking up skeins of merino and lovingly rubbing them against my cheek or burying my nose into knitted cashmere samples and inhaling deeply (hmmm… I’m kind of seeing now what Taiwanese yarn store owners are trying to protect their stuff from…), I was enjoying the gorgeous murals that are a Mission District trademark. All of these pictures were taken in or around Clarion Alley:

Cacti
Big bird
I wonder if there really is a car in that garage
I love the colors here
Mural
Head exploding

Aren’t they gorgeous? Street art is one of the things I miss most about living in New York City. There were some wonderful examples in Long Island City and I enjoyed a breathtaking view of Five Pointz every time I took the 7 train into Manhattan.

You know what I don’t miss about living in NYC, though? Freakin’ apartment hunting! Out of curiosity, I looked up Craigslist apartment listings for the Mission District and, oh my goodness, it is just as bad as it was in NYC. A typical listing asked potential renters to fill out an application and supply a credit report, their last two paycheck stubs, two letters of recommendation, a deposit equal to two month’s rent, their most recent pap smear result and a sample of brain tissue for analysis. I’m kidding about the last two things, but just looking at that ad gave me harrowing flashbacks of my NYC apartment searches. I’d spend entire weekends trekking through several neighborhoods, seeing hellhole after hellhole, talking to one dicey roommate or landlord after another, freaking out that I wouldn’t be able to find a place within a month and be forced to put my stuff in storage and crash with friends. It was extremely stressful. NYTimes.com recently asked readers to submit their own apartment stories and I was tempted to roll my eyes at some of the comments (“I pay $5,000/month to sleep in a bathtub in Chelsea. It’s claw-footed bathtub. I keep all of my worldly possessions on a vintage Bauhaus soap rack I rescued from the curbside of some Philistine who clearly does not have an eye for beauty. Their loss was my gain. My laptop doubles as a sandwich press, when I can afford to eat. I’M A REAL NEW YORKER DAMMIT!!!”) but I can remember when groveling and submitting a pile of paperwork for a chance to live in a mold-infested “semi-basement” (and by semi they mean only half of it is technically a dugout) dump for half my income each month seemed like a perfectly rational thing to do.

I do have to say that my last apartment was pretty awesome, though. It was a studio with a separate kitchen and dining area just a two-minute walk from the Broadway stop in Astoria. I had these amazing landlords who brought me delicious Greek home cooking from their family gatherings on Easter and Christmas and gave me a huge bouquet of flowers when they heard I’d gotten engaged.

Anyway, I have one more post about California coming up… with photos of food! Heeyay!