Why "Why I Hate DC?"

I've lived in Arlington, VA since August 2001. My wife and I moved here from Atlanta, after she decided to pursue a master's degree, so we moved to Arlington, a close-in suburb of Washington, D.C.

I could tell that any chance of happiness in Washington for me was doomed from the start. Driving up to D.C., I was first introduced to the Washington highway infrastructure, which is apparently designed to confuse the fuck out of me. Driving north on the George Washington Parkway, I quickly learned that the 40 m.p.h. speed limit is actually more of a speed "suggestion." Sixty m.p.h. is more the norm, which would be fine, if the Parkway wasn't so confusing for newcomers. I missed the left exit for Spout Run Parkway, so we decided to turn around and catch it going the other way. Sadly, the exit isn't available going to other way. No problem, I figure, just get off at the next exit and turn around again. The next exit is for Key Bridge, which doesn't allow you to turn around. So I was forced over Key Bridge into Georgetown, which is not a place you want to take your car. Ever. After finally getting through the traffic light at M Street, and turning around on some weird cobblestone road, we made our way back to the parkway and missed its entrance ramp. Fortunately we lucked into finding the right road, Lee Highway, and were able to find our way from there.

My reward for escaping the infinite loop of being lost in Washington? Getting to feast my eyes on the Revolutionary War-era building that is our apartment: "Howard Manor" (emphasis on the quote marks). Nestled cosily next to I-66, and within convenient walking distance of both a skanky-looking 7-Eleven AND a psychic palm reader, our building is a lovely... um... cube of bricks. They broke the mold when they made this place: squeaky hardwood floors, tiny kitchen with no dishwasher, three pairs of oft-broken washers and dryers in the basement of the building next door, an electrical system with those ancient round fuses, and... best of all... door that DON'T ACTUALLY CLOSE. Some of the doorways are crooked; others have been painted so many times that they will never close properly ever again.

How much would YOU pay for a dream apartment like this? But wait, don't answer yet, there's more. The building has no actual heat. Oh, there are "radiators" that supposedly channel heat from the boiler downstairs. But there are not effective, and there's no way to increase the flow of heat. This is especially fun when the temperature drops to 20 degrees outside. Did I say fun? I meant blow me, apartment.

Top it all off with what I'm finding to be typical Washington residents: surly people who would rather fuck an ice pick rather than make eye contact with a stranger... and you have a masterpiece of tenement living, all for just $1,035 a month. And granted, this is an apartment within five minutes of D.C.'s border, within walking distance of Metro... but over $1,000? A friend of mine lives on Biscayne Bay in Miami for as much or less in a nicer apartment. Our previous apartment in Atlanta was similarly situated, but nicer (with appliances) and bigger, for less rent. I wouldn't mind it so much if our current apartment was up to modern living standards or a vibrant neighborhood. It is neither.

Even if I had wanted to move into a nicer apartment in August '01, there's no way we could afford it in a decent location in Washington on (at the time) no income, just our savings. We may move into a smaller place soon, although the rest of our moving adventure keeps us from wanting to move ever again. This has nothing to do with D.C., but the moving company we used, Miami-based "Advanced Moving Systems", arrived three weeks later than they were supposed to, would not answer the phone or return our calls, and charged us twice what they quoted us in their estimate (something like $3,500 instead of $1,750). You can find out more stuff about them on the web (apparently they were arrested for fraud recently; big surprise). I hope, and I mean this in the most sincere possible way, that they all die from SARS.

So, here we are, living off our savings in a shitty, expensive apartment. We've given a good chunk of money to the movers. And I have no job in a declining job market (despite having looked for one for several months prior to moving here). But at least I live in the nation's capital, right? A famous, vibrant city, with lots of fabulous sights to see and things to do, right? Blah.

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