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life in the "frathouse" 
by Michaela 
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When, several months ago and just after graduating from college, I made the move to Washington, D.C., I couldnít wait to begin my life in this exciting city. Full of thinkers and do-ers and pushed forward by ideals, D.C. is a near-ideal environment for those recently out of the ivory tower. Besides the monuments, the proximity to the political process, and the endless hordes of photo-snappers, thereís a huge young, social crowd that surges, each weekend and after work, towards the bars and clubs, eager to add a little drinking and dancing to their daily politicking. As a recent college grad, I was eager to become part of the social network, to involve myself in the community, and to explore, explore, explore. What I didnít realize was that before I could make a life here, Iíd go through such hell just finding a place to live.

Vacancy rates in this city are currently less than one percent, meaning that housing is as tight as it could possibly be. Open houses turn into Miss and Mr. Eager Tenant contests, where hordes of people, all searching for a place to call home, train themselves to elbow a little harder and smile a little brighter, in the hopes of winning that coveted big prize, a roof over their heads. Needless to say, many of those places quickly crossed themselves off my list. So I stayed with a friend for awhile, and then got briefly stuck in a bad apartment situation that ended with me nearly taking it to court. I tried a sublet next, in a house full of medical students, and two dogs that ate several pairs of my shoes. Then I found my fourth, now  permanent, living situation, one that tries my self-understanding and sometimes my patience. Home these days is a turn-of-the century rowhouse in an up-and-coming section of the city. With four guy roommates.

The room actually proved incredibly difficult to obtain (see house-hunting, above). Thanks to a single ad in an alternative DC newspaper, the boys received over one hundred calls about the room. A semi-cheap rent and a large house near the fun sections of town will do that. This time, I had the brightest smile and the sharpest elbows, plus the best jokes (if I do say so myself). After surviving two different interviews, numerous phone conversations, and a coin toss, I was offered the room. (It was only later that I learned about the coin toss, a method that has also been used by the members of this house to decide which toppings to get on a pizza.)

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