I have just spent two of the longest days of my life looking for housing. Apartment hunting is horribly draining, and I only really officially took off one morning to do it–the rest of the time I was dashing off to appointments between highly stressful interludes hunched over my laptop in cafes or the car, trying to get my work done. I should have taken the entire two days off, but I had a ton of stuff to attend to and the project schedules couldn’t wait.

It was really sort of interesting at these showings seeing how other people live, and discovering what’s become more and less important to me in the past few years. For example, apparently many people live with dirty laundry covering almost every inch of their bedroom floor. (I pride myself on at least leaving walking trails through my dirty laundry.) Many other people enjoy flannel sheets pinned haphazardly over the windows to block out their enemy Mr. Sunlight. I felt like I was a pretty slovenly person, but going on these house tours made me feel way better about my housekeeping skills. Maybe about five years back, I was happily living in similar conditions, but somehow my tolerance for such things has gone down. It’s still not that I’m neat or clean by any stretch of the imagination, but I guess I was just surprised at how much my standards for housing have definitely gone up since my undergrad days.

We saw probably 20 properties in the past 48 hours. There were some really nice ones, some really bad ones. Some of the most interesting points of the tour included:

– the house with a billion animals. Actually, a very nice house with an affordable price tag, but I was distracted by their creatures–a black love bug of a cat who kept following us around and crying to be petted, a puppy and a large adult dog in crates, 4 turtles in a foul-smelling aquarium, and a ferret (possibly two) in another cage. That’s a lot of pets!

–  the House of Filth (Stoner Edition). The real estate agent actually warned us about the conditions before we went inside. This was around noon, I think. He knocked on the door, and a few minutes later, a scruffy-looking hippie white guy in some kind of shapeless, stained sweatsuit stumbled to the door and mumbled “sorry, dude, I just woke up.” He looked incredibly hung over, or possibly just stoned out of his mind. He collapsed in a heap on a couch by the XBox and watched us as we tiptoed around the house. The kitchen was empty except for a giant hookah. We opened one bedroom door and the floor was completely covered in beer bottle caps. Not in an artistic way, just in the way of someone who drinks a hell of a lot of beer. A mattress and box spring were stacked in one corner by way of a bed. No sheets, no blanket. “I told him to clean his room, man, it’s kinda gross in there,” mumbled the guy in the corner, apologetically, as we peered gingerly into the room, horrified.

– The house with a pantry that opened behind the stove, so the stove was set about 3 feet out from the wall and you had to walk around behind it to get into the storage space.

– The house that had a urinal in the bathroom, and smelled very strongly of garbage. (Actually, this is the one we’re trying to get. I have to assume the garbage smell is temporary and linked to the current tenants. We’re considering the urinal a feature.)

– The house with the shagtastic attic getaway. Brown and orange shag carpet with a 2-inch pile led up the stairs and carpeted the attic floor, and the walls were painted yellow. I thought the space was really cool, though I didn’t care for the colors.

– the House of Filth (Indian Engineer Edition). Bizarre. We walked in and the house was nearly empty of furniture, and the heater was going at full blast but the windows were open. Entering the kitchen, we were aghast. Everything–counters, floor, sink, stove–was caked in a thick brown sludge, as though they had been mud wrestling in the kitchen and hadn’t really cleaned up afterwards. It went above and beyond the normal grease and dust and grime from cooking–it was serious, hardcore dirt. You could have planted flowers in it. The same dirt coated the bathroom floor. It was like some creepy crime scene where they had been murdering golems or something. The 3 tenants were all Indian engineers and/or mathematicians, judging from the books in their rooms. It actually would have been a nice, spacious, sunny place once cleaned up, but the kitchen was too small and out of date for us to consider it.

The worst of it all is that I drove most of the way up, and have been subject to the tyranny of my early-to-bed-early-to-rise, please-turn-off-the-lights-i’m-trying-to-sleep significant other in the evenings, so I haven’t knit more than a little swatch in 7+ hrs of driving time; and I can’t tell you how many times we’ve passed the Knitting Tree without finding time to stop in–always too busy looking for addresses, food, or a coffee shop with wi-fi. The one thing I look forward to during long car rides or plane trips is the chance to knit a LOT and that hasn’t happened yet on this trip.

We extended our stay another day. We’re hoping to get our housing taken care of by the time we leave. So tomorrow we may go to the Farmer’s Market and the Wisconsin Brat Fest, and I’m hoping to wheedle Rahul into going to Lakeside Fibers or the Sow’s Ear with me.