I’ve lived in a lot of places. More than I can count without sitting down and considering it for more time than I’m willing to consider it. “Live” is a slippery term, of course, because I’ve “lived” in lot of places simply because I didn’t live anywhere else at the time. For 14 or so uninterrupted years, I lived in a house with my family in Lawrence, Kansas. I got mail there. I did laundry there. All my stuff was there. If I made a trip elsewhere, it clearly wasn’t “moving,” it was a trip. For one night in 1998, I lived in the back of my car in the parking lot of the Hilton (if you’re gonna sleep in a hotel parking lot, why not stay in the the best in town?) in Grand Junction, Colorado. I didn’t do laundry or get mail there, and lots of my stuff was elsewhere. However, I didn’t live anywhere else but that parking lot at that time, thus I lived there. By this logic, I’ve also lived in tents, airplanes, and a questionable part of Hong Kong. For the sake of this particular project, I’m going to keep Lawrence and ignore Grand Junction, but I’m not exactly sure where the line will be.
Anyway, I’m bored with the real life sports world right now, so it’s bracket time. I’m no stranger to farcical tournaments, such as my annual road trip bracket. Since I recently moved to a new neighborhood, I want to see how it stacks up. Up for grabs tonight - the mythical “home” champion. Yep, I’m setting a number of my former abodes up against each other in a winner-take-all clash to the finish. To spice things up, I’m adding pictures. To avoid this post going on for 740,000 words, I’m starting at 16 rather than 64. Breath out. Trust me, if Grand Junction counts, I could get to 64 no problem.
First, the honorable mentions. These are places that I simply don’t have pictures of, or my pictures only include people. This ain’t FB, so I don’t want to include people in my pictures unless it’s completely unavoidable. Also, these places don’t have a chance in hell of winning anyway, so no reason to advance them to the large tango.
Rockford, IL - I lived there 3 years, but I was really young. I do remember that I had a 9 year old girl friend when I was three, so I was pretty awesome.
My buddy Doug’s house, Lawrence - I lived there immediately after the night I spent in Grand Junction, and stayed there a few weeks. I moved out the day that Mark McGwire set the home run record.
Tennessee Street converted garage, Lawrence - I lived there during the month between my California days and my Euro days, and then again during the winter after my study abroad. This was a horrible apartment, literally a former garage. My buddy/roommate Dylan chose it because it was the cheapest apartment in town. This apartment was famous for housing an amazing bender, when I would drink 18 packs of Milwaukee’s Best while watching The Price is Right rather than going to class. Nothing good came of this place.
Rhode Island Street studio, Lawrence - I actually liked this apartment. It had a great location right by the Replay Lounge. Unfortunately, I took 0 pictures of it. Also, when I lived there, I was working the morning show for Channel 49 and got up at 4:18 a.m. every day. It may have won a round, but it never would win it all.
Don’s Apartment, Bundang, Korea - this was a math thing. It didn’t fit into any regions well. Also, I didn’t have a bed. Don’s place was actually alright. I had my awesome Philippines trip while I lived there. I didn’t work. We went out every night. It was convenient to a lot of transit and restaurants. If Don’s made the field, it may have done alright.
Now, to regionalize. Nothing worked on a purely regional basis, so I ended up going with C1 (exotic college-era homes), C2 (less exotic college-era homes), M20 (places I lived in my mid-20s, largely Chicago-era), and K (guess). Seeding will be base on the amount of time I lived in each place.
Let’s meet the contenders.
1 - Dorm - This was my one and only college dorm, located in Tacoma, Washington. I lived in it for 8 months, making it the least accomplished 1 seed. My dorm was, predictably, close to all campus amenities, though not close to anywhere interesting in town. It was small. I had a roommate. We eventually built a coffee table out of spare bed parts and duct tape. We frequently drank boxed wine and smoked weed, but never had any trouble from the RA since I paid him off with a burger from Jack in the Box.
2- Seal - This was my studio apartment for a summer in Seal Beach, California. Downside - I had a 30 mile commute to Hollywood. Upside - I lived at the corner of Ocean and Main. The beach and every bar in downtown Seal Beach was within 5 minutes walking. I lead a dichotomous life, split between my college-aged Hollywood buddies and my 30-something beach bum surfer buddies. Closest place to get a world-class burrito - 10 feet away.
3 - DuMonde - This was the hotel that I lived in during the Parisian leg of my study abroad. My room was tiny, and I shared it. It was in the far-flung 11th arrondissement of Paris. My roommate Cree and I had the only smoking room in the hotel, which meant we had far and away the most social room. Though it was a bit far from the Eiffel Tower, it was still in Paris, and it was close to two Metro lines.
4 - Casine - This was my apartment in Florence. Cree also lived there, as did my buddy Jack. Of the Florentine apartments in our study abroad group, ours was the least convenient location-wise. We had an unexplainable fresco above the window. Though it was far flung, Florence don’t sprawl like Houston, so this shot of central Florence is only a 10-15 minute walk away.
C1 will be brutal, that’s a murderer’s row. Any one of those places could win the region and win the whole shebang. None of these places had anything to do with living a real life, all of them are pretty much fantasy. I miss them all.
1- 3005, Lawrence - This was my childhood home. This was the only picture I could find that didn’t include people. When I was 14, I moved into the basement. Throughout late junior high and all of high school, I had the best room of all my friends. I had my own bathroom, a spare room (generally flooded) and a huge main room with a couch. I even had my own door that was unattached to the rest of the house. Needless to say, my friends came and went as they pleased at all hours of the day and night. So did I. Sorry Mom.
2- Michigan Street - I lived in this Lawrence apartment during the end of my college career, then lived here again after my Florida sojourn. I lived with my friend Ashly. Like 3005, my friends came and went as they pleased. Somehow, everyone had a key.
3- Ridge - Ridge Court is not going to win this tournament. This was my first real non-dorm apartment. Yes, Lawrence landlords are actually stupid enough to rent to three 19-year-old dudes. This apartment was famous for our love of Jerry Springer and Goldeneye on N64. Ah, the late 90s.
4- Florida - Wow, an actual house! How did I fall into this? My dad owned it, of course. Also, it’s not the best neighborhood around. One night, some crackheads knocked on my door late at night. For some reason, I answered it. I guess they could see I was there. They asked me if I had any Pepsi. I looked in my fridge, and was shocked to see that I did, as I never buy Pepsi. I gave it to them. I lived here while writing a 30 page paper for a college incomplete.
1- Chi Studio - I was famously, historically poor when I lived here. This was my first place in Chicago. I had a great location, right by the Sheridan El stop, 5 blocks from Wrigley.
2- Argyle - This was my largest apartment in Chicago. It was also my least convenient Chicago location, a 10-minute walk from the Argyle stop with nothing in between. I lived there with my brother. I spent a colossal amount of money on rent, more than I should have. This apartment had more furniture inside than I’ve owned before or since.
3- Hermitage - This was the last place that I paid rent on, over five years ago now. The final 4 months that I lived here, I didn’t have a job. I went to Florida, Kansas, and Europe. During my last month, I launched a bender to rival the converted garage ordeal.
4- Balto - Living at my mom’s house in the Baltimore burbs was never an ideal situation. She lives a million miles away from anywhere, so it’s impossible to go out or have any kind of life. If avoiding life is a prerogative, and you know with me it is, then it’s not so bad with its awesome cable package, hot tub, and easy library access. Both times I crashed there, a shipping container in a parking lot where I slung fireworks was often "home".
1- Starville - I lived in Starville in Eunhang Sagori, Nowon, Northeast Seoul for most of 2007 and 2008. My buddy Don lived two doors down the whole time. McDonald’s is around the corner. For a reasonably long period of time, everyone I knew in Korea lived within 3 minute walk. Starville was kinda like Dorms 2. I think 6 or 7 friends of mine lived in the building at one point. Work was a 7 minute walk away.
2- Doota - Doota-ville is two buildings away from Starville. My Doota apartment was far better than my Starville one. Better couch, better bed, better A/C, more channels, and with a convenience store right in the building. This was my home as recently as January. Of course, by the time I lived here, my social circle in Korea had grown much more complicated, and suddenly my friends lived all over town, neh, all over the country, rather than just in this little hood.
3- Now - My apartment is smaller and less equipped than my Doota home. I don’t even have a TV, so I feel like I’m in danger of being one of those guys who talks about not having a TV. I don’t have a McDonald’s nearby. That said, I have a far better selection of restaurants and bars in the immediate area. The subway is a 72 second walk from my house. Perhaps more amazingly, as of this week, Subway is also a 72 second walk from my house. I can walk downtown in less time than it took me to get there on the subway at my old place. All of the advantages of Seoul urban life are nearby.
4- Banpo - My first apartment in Seoul. Technically, as of this writing, I lived here for a longer time than I have in my current place, but only by a couple of days. In theory, this should be the 3 seed, but unless I get hit by a bus this week, it would move to the 4 in June. I didn’t have a bed, I had a mattress that I had to lift up in order to open my front door. This apartment did have a great location. I lived by the main bus terminal. I could walk to Gangnam in 20 minutes, or taxi to Itaewon in five. Since I left, this location has only gotten better, as the Central City Mall at the bus terminal is now one of the best in town.
That's long enough for one go. Coming up in a couple days - The apartments square off, a winner to be declared. Plus, I'll post pictures of all 16 contenders. This will prove to the internet once and for all that I don't just talk the talk when it comes to living like a cartoon character, I walk the walk. I'll also continue to write the hell out of some cliches like they're going out of style.