Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Welcome to the Beehive

I need to start this story with the Bungal-ette. I moved into it in 2003. Imagine a wood-frame bungalow, built in the late 30s. Imagine wood floors and tile in the bathroom and kitchen and windows everywhere. Imagine it shrunk down to 500 square feet. Imagine it convenient to bike lanes, bus routes, coffee shops, and a body of water. It was a little piece of rental perfection, and was thus my home for the dozen or so years between when I was hired at Grit City and when I went off to my divine year at Fancy-Pants U. And though the owner and I got along famously, "no sublets" was a hard and fast rule. Thus, I knew that I would have to find someplace to live upon my return. And I was pretty sure that I'd get less and pay more -- prices are high here, and Bungalettes are hard to come by.

I am here to tell you that I had no idea.

In the scant year I was away, rental prices went up about 15%. In a single year. And the vacancy rate fell to below 3%. I looked and looked. One place wanted a two-year lease. Another didn't come with a refrigerator. Another was a whopping twenty-five percent more than I had paid only a year ago, for a smaller and less desirable place. And just about everything already had five applications in.

And then I found the Beehive.[1]

Here's how it went: my former Pilates instructor asked the owner of the studio who had a friend who was moving from one unit to another in a subdivided house, and so the small upstairs unit would be available, and might I be interested? Well, it was indeed small -- 410 square feet, including the closet. And certainly a little more chaotic than my previous place, what with everbody living on top of each other. And there were a few things that Did Not Work that I knew I would have to fix myself or just learn to live with. And the previous tenant had done only a desultory job cleaning. It was not promising at first. But... it was next to the neighborhood I was hoping for. And both the co-owners (one of whom lives in a back unit) seemed pretty cool, and happy to have someone mostly self-sufficient and quiet, as well as to knock off over half of the deposit in exchange for the full day of pre-move-in cleaning I did. And though the unit kitchen can only accommodate one butt at a time (and that only if said butt is not dancing), and a living/dining room that could not fit an actual dining table, it also had a little corner nook under the eaves for an office and my bike. It was still biking distance from work,if in a neighborhood a bit less well maintained. There were wood floors. The other tenants were friendly, and the resident co-owner built conceptual art out of reclaimed wood in the backyard, and was the kind of person who would eventually offer to swap her preserved meyer lemons for my cranberry-apple chutney. The bedroom got tons of morning sunlight. It had a little working gas fireplace in the corner to provide the heat in winter. It rented for 50% below market, enabling me to put well over a third of my take-home pay towards my ever-optimistic house fund. And it was available.

Reader, I rented it.

[1] "Why 'The Beehive?'," you may well ask. Well, in large part because, with four units in the house plus two stand-alones and the owner's workshop/studio -- did I mention she's a conceptual artist? -- in the backyard and half of the units taken up by people who either are related to each other or have known each other for ages, all kind of on top of each other, it's a hive of seemingly chaotic but perfectly cheerful activity. And also, because there is an actual colony of bees that has taken up residence in the exterior wall just below the gorgeous bay window in my miniscule living room. The screens, fortunately, are sound. I checked.


Susan said...

The bungalette was splendid. But this is quite charming!

Lise said...

I will miss the bungal-ette.

Inquiring minds want to know: how is the coffee scene at the beehive neighborhood?

heu mihi said...

Hey, small kitchens are more efficient! And the living room is cute. Well done!

B Lynn said...

You've done a very nice job of maximizing the small space. While tiny, it doesn't feel as tiny as it actually is, and I'm not just referring to the bedroom. Speaking of which, I think the wall showing in the picture is deserving of an over-sized piece of art. It will really bring a nice focal point into the room. Perhaps, do I dare say, a beehive? :)

Notorious Ph.D. said...

Hi all! So, in answer:

Susan: I remember that you are one of the only blog readers (along with Squadrato & Historiann) who had seen the Bungalette in real life. I do miss it, and its neighborhood.

Lise, you know me: Do you think I'd really move into a coffee desert? It's a five-minute walk from one coffee shop, and an 8-minute walk from another.

HM: the problem is the lack of counter space. And the stove is a three-quarter sized, which means that I can't use more than two burners at a time -- and only one if one of them is the wok. And my fall stew is most efficiently created with three.

BLynn, you're absolutely right. I actually have some of my own photos that I'm thinking of blowing up and framing.

Anonymous said...

Since I believe I am the only reader who has had the honor of staying overnight in the Beehive, I can verify that it is, in fact, quite charming and close to an excellent coffee place where Notorious and I had breakfast. (Still thinking about that almond croissant, actually, paired with a rich deep brew.) Also nearby a superb thrifting street (where your humble squadrato acquired a sharply-fitted double-breasted jacket embroidered all over with tiny crowns) and a cool art theater. And the artist landlord is super sweet.

Our Notorious is well-placed.

~squadrato magico

Flavia said...

Heh. My first association with a home named "the beehive" is the one in SLC. But I guess there's not enough space in yours to stash a bevy of spouses.

(And congrats and good work!)

Notorious Ph.D. said...

Squadrato was a real sport, staying on an air mattress in that basically transformed that tiny front room into a bed with walls. She reciprocated by hosting me for a night at the she-shell, which is *much* more spacious and beautiful.

Flavia, I haven't found any sister-spinsters stashed away, but I'll let you know!