The Roller Coaster That Was 2007

Abingdon Square, in my new nabe, the West Village

I haven’t been very good at posting here lately, and to be honest, I question even more my commitment to this blog. I am simply not a writer by nature, and the amount of time it takes to write posts, and then review them for grammar (of which I am terrible at), is more than I find I am willing to do. I have thoughts, I want to put them out there, but It always seems like such a task to do so. That said, I write this post not knowing what the future of TNNY is, but for now… I am doing a post.

2007 will go down as one of, if not the most pivotal years in my adult life, and since starting TNNY at the end of July, I have kept up with the ups and downs of my experience since arriving in New York. What I haven’t gone into much is what happened the first half of the year that led up to me making the biggest leap of faith in my life. The year started out with me living my life in Chicago. And a good life it was (at least by outward appearances)… I had a good job, I owned a very nice little loft in the heart of the Loop, and I was in a relationship that had lasted nearly two years (that happened in March), and things were pretty easy… Or so it seemed.

There were some rumblings under foot that things weren’t quite as rosy as they looked…. In November of 2006, my former employer (Equity Office Properties) announced that they had accepted an offer to go private, and since I managed all of the administration of our employee stock plans, I knew my position was going to vaporize. I was also having deep questions about my relationship with Michael. I had not been happy in my relationship for a while, and I felt so very much pressure to try and make it work. But every time I tried to convince myself that I was happy and in love, I came up feeling as though I was trying to achieve the impossible, and it wasn’t fair to Michael. But I kept trying any way, hoping, just hoping I would cross that final hurdle.

Still, if you had asked me in early April about my plans for the future, they were simply to let my job end, take my severance money, and find a new one… I was also planning my future move into the giant (by my standards) condo I have under contract in Printers Row (Oh, I guess I have never mentioned that…. Long story, but back in summer of 2006, I signed a contract on a really nice place currently under construction on Clark and Polk. Know anybody that wants to buy a condo?) I also began to feel more confidant that my relationship wasn’t going to last the year.

It was about the third week of April, Michael was in NYC, reconnecting with old friends, that an idea popped into my pretty little head (OK, maybe not so pretty or little). Since I had to look for a new job, and since I had a tidy severance package, and since I also had equity in my home… Why not live out my lifetime dream and move to NYC? I knew that Michael would be amenable to the idea, as he was from New York, and quickly reconnecting with old friends. I also created the illusion in my head that if he and I moved there together, we could make this work. So, in the matter of literally two or three days, I made the decision that I was going to do it, and when Michael came back from his visit to NYC, I stunned him with my suggestion that we move to New York together. He eagerly accepted.

The next couple of weeks was a brain softening whirlwind of chaos and activity as I(we) began the plans to make the move. Within a very few short days, I began to realize what I was about to do… I was about to move to New York with a man that, while I very much cared about him, I couldn’t help but feel deep down he was not the man I wanted to spend my life with. The stress of it all started taking a toll on my well being. I found myself waking up in cold sweats at 3am, my stomach was in knots most all of the time to the point of vomiting on several occasions, I had strange rashes developing on my body, and I realized that the biggest mistake I could make would be to continue to try and keep the relationship going. It was doing neither of us any good to keep the charade up.

It was the second weekend in May when David, a dear old friend (of 21 years) flew in from Phoenix for a trip we had planned in March. I felt awful that he was coming at that moment, but at the same time, I also felt the timing couldn’t have been better. It was during David’s three day visit that the stress of everything exploded like a volcano. We had all gone out on Friday night to experience the first annual Looptopia during which time Michael proceeded to do his best at making the experience as miserable for those around him as possible. I was angry beyond belief, and that was the final straw... I was done at that point. I hadn’t planned it, but having David there as a sounding board, gave me the balls to finally end what should have already been ended. I had no choice but to break Michael’s heart and put an end to my personal misery. It was one of the most painful and difficult things I have ever had to do. He didn’t take it well; it was not a pretty sight to behold… But I knew that I had to stand by my decision and stand up for myself. I could not back down any longer. It had boiled down to self preservation. It was fight or flight, and I had fought long enough…

In spite of the normal residual aftermath of a two plus year relationship, within hours I felt as though a ten thousand pound weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I still cared very deeply about him, but I no longer loved him. I felt tremendous relief and was able to finally let go of the stress. (shortly afterwards, the rashes ended)

With that decision behind me, I found myself only a few weeks from the end of my six plus year job, and still very much decided, that I was going to proceed with my move to NYC. My time-line was very short. I had to finish out my final weeks at work, ready my apartment to sell, and prepare for how I was going to make it happen in New York City. By the beginning of June, I was officially unemployed, my home was on the market, and I decided to take June as a goof off month. I pretty much did nothing and had a great time doing it. By mid July, I flew JetBlue (plug) to New York and officially began living my dream.

It was shortly after arriving at the end of July when TNNY came into being, and if you have done any reading of previous posts, you can fill in the blanks from then till now. So as this year comes to an end, I can say that the roller coaster ride has certainly been an adventurous one. I have had some of my highest highs and lowest lows in my 42 years of living. But ultimately at the end of the year, I am in a better place than I have ever been. As for the relationship… I was pushed into breaking all ties with Michael at the end of June, but I harbor no ill will towards him, and I hope he finds the happiness he deserves in life.

So back to the status of TNNY… I am still undecided on what to do with this site. For now I will try to make more efforts at posting and keep it alive… I guess time will tell. To all of my readers out there, I want to thank you for taking the time to visit, and I wish all of you the very best in the New Year!


A Holiday Story for You...

OK, so I haven't been doing so well at posting... I came across the lovely story below and wanted to share the holiday cheer.

Merry Christmas
Happy Hanukkah
or... Joyous Holiday of Your Choosing


I'm Still Here...

OK, so I haven't posted since November 9th, and so very much water has flowed under the bridge since then... Where to begin? First, let me say... "I'm still here". I question my ability to keep up with my writing on this site given that this site is secondary to my other site, 24gotham, and the time commitment of writing new posts (My other site takes only about ten minutes a day.), I am much better at taking pictures than writing... But I am not giving up.

I began my new job Thanksgiving week, and while it has been fairly good so far, it has been a real adjustment getting used to being away from home 10 hours a day. I was unemployed for six months, the longest time in my life in which I was not working or going to school (since early childhood), so it has been a real adjustment. And as I suspected, I do detest the 11 mile commute (underground the whole way), but I will get over it soon enough. Unfortunately, now that I my time is even tighter, it will be even more difficult to keep TNNY alive...

So... I ask for your patience, bookmark me, add me to your Google (0r other) reader, or just check back, and I will do my best to keep posting.


I Heart New York...

The cliché is so overused, it almost has no meaning any longer... But it does. Just as the Empire State Building is likely the most worn out and tired of New York City Tourist Attractions, it is still the Empire State Building, and the view is still one that must not be missed (although Top of the Rock is good too).

So, I will say it... I Y New York!

And I am not alone! Looking at a map (below) of where my last five hundred page loads on this site have come from, I can clearly see that there are plenty of others out there that also love New York and are curious about it it (OK, and they are also curious about me, but most of my readers don't know me personally).

(click on map to make it bigger)

As I begin to establish my life here, and day to day routines begin to develop, I fall deeper and deeper in love with my city. My closest friends have become weary of the constant text messages I send such as... "I love it here!" or "Did I mention how much I love NYC?". But they don't know the half of it.

When I leave my apartment, walk down the block and turn the corner on 8th Avenue, the Empire State Building comes into view and my heart flutters a bit, I feel the rush of Endorphins running throughout my body, and I utter an inward sigh of joy. The same thing happens as I wander the streets taking in all that is around me, I get these overwhelming emotions of happiness about where I am and all that has happened. At times, I am absolutely giddy like a schoolgirl with a big smile on my face as I push my way through the crowds in Midtown. But of course it isn't all cupcakes and candy...

As I quoted on my sidebar "One must learn to live in New York on New York's terms, not ones own." There is nothing truer to be said about New York, even the ultra wealthy must accept the city on it's terms and not theirs (although they certainly have more options). On an island of 1.53 million residents (and a daytime population of 2.87 million) all crammed together on just under 23 square miles, you must accept that you are not going to have much say in how things are done.

To pull another quote from my sidebar: "New Yorkers have a highly evolved, unrivaled knack for glossing over limitations, absurdities and dubious habitability of an unforgiving metropolis." (source) There is perhaps nowhere else in North America (maybe San Francisco) where the dwellers of a city are willing to tolerate as much crap as we must endure on a daily basis, just for the opportunity to live there.

I have come to learn that there are three types of opinions held by outsiders.
  1. I love New York, if only I could live there.
  2. I love to visit New York, but could never live there.
  3. New York is an awful filthy rotting den of hedonism filled with liberals, a place I would never want to go and hope I never have to.

For the majority of my life, I wavered between the first and second opinion. I always wanted to live here, but couldn't see myself actually doing it. I didn't think I was up to the task. As for the third opinion... I never held it, and those that do live a pretty pedestrian life. It is sad that they are unwilling to open their minds to the world around them. They just as well stay away, lest I bump into them on the sidewalk and tell them what I really think.

OK, now back the point of this post... I love New York. I love it more than any other place I have ever lived. It may have taken me 42 years to get here, but until now, the time wasn't quite right. I had to wait until all of my ducks were in a row, until I had the liquidity, and the maturity and wisdom to make it happen. It finally did... After patiently waiting a lifetime, I am finally in my homeland. My rightful place in life. Don't for minute think I am not grateful. My gratitude runs deeper than any I have ever experienced. I am eternally grateful. Thanks be to the guy upstairs.

Now, if I have it my way... I will grow old here. Looking at all the fashionable clued-in seniors wandering about, I just can't think of a better place to live out my days.

(About the map... Not to worry, although I can see where you are coming from, I don't know who you are... except for Mom and Dad, I know your ISP and nobody else has it.)


The Chickens Have Hatched!

On Monday's post I made a small mention about having a final interview on Tuesday (yesterday) and that I didn't want to expand until I knew more. As the old adage goes; "Don't count your chickens until they've hatched".

Well, yesterday, I had my final interview and in the late afternoon I received a phone call letting me know that they were offering me the job.

Since I do like to keep a few things to myself, I will tell you that the position is exactly what I was after, a Compensation Analyst. The company has over 10,000 employees, is traded on the NASDQ, they are in the business of transportation, and unfortunately not located on my beloved island (Manhattan). The details such as my actual start date are still being worked out, but I have officially accepted the position.

The benefits are decent, and I have a few huge perks which I won't go into, but lets just say that I will be able to travel for pleasure quite easily now. The only real downside... The commute... They are located in the city, but I will have a 45-50 minute commute door to door, although it is on a single train that I catch three blocks from my apartment. I was spoiled by a 7-10 minute, 8 block commute when I lived in Chicago, but at least know the iPod on my iPhone will get a good workout. And maybe I will begin to read again.

This makes for the final major piece in completing my move to New York City. Although there are lots of small gaps that remain to be filled in, and I am sure new larger gaps will appear as time goes on... The hardest of the hard is now out of the way. Now if I could just find a place to unpack all the crap I moved into my apartment...

I will post more as I know more.


How Monster Earns it's Name

(If only all Monsters were as cute as this laptop sleeve.)

Something I haven't written about here is the fact that I am currently unemployed with no source of income. My job ended at the end of May, and my severance ran out last month. I am living off of savings at the moment, although I have decided that I will give in to my pride and file for unemployment this week. To be truthful, I haven't spent the entire last five months looking for work; I took some time off to enjoy the fact that I simply could do such a thing. And during that time off, I've accomplished a few small little things... such as sell my home, pack up my life, move it 793 miles to a storage locker in Brooklyn, crash at my BFF's place for two + months (for which I am eternally grateful), experience the realities of finding an apartment in Manhattan, landing a tiny apartment in Magicland, and then moving in. Like I said, a few small little things.

As far as job-hunting, I have been working on it... My resume is all spiffed up, I bought a new suit, I am active on Monster, I have met with half a dozen headhunters, and been out on a few interviews. (In fact, I have a final interview tomorrow, which I will expand on should it turn into something. I don't count my chickens until they have hatched.) Now that I have the apartment, and can finally settle in, I can focus much more on the job hunt.

As fantastic as it would be to live a carefree life doing nothing but artistic endeavors, I accept certain realities and do what works best for me... The corporate gig. I enjoy the benefits, the stability of a consistent payday, along with a good 401k matching plan far too much to risk living from paycheck to paycheck. I could certainly never work on a commission basis; I simply couldn't handle the stress of not knowing how much income I would have from month to month. I have enough drama in my life as it is, thank you.

My career goal is pretty specific; I want a position within the compensation/benefits area of an hr department at a sizable corporation, focused on comp analysis or the administration of comp plans. That is what I want, I am qualified to do it, it actually interests me (I know, pretty geeky huh?), I know that I can earn a decent living doing it, and as long as it's a good work environment, I won't hate going to work each day.

The last time I was looking for work, Bill Clinton was President (good times, good times indeed), newspapers were a primary source of job leads, and to apply for a position, you would fax your cover letter and resume from the corner store. Now a days, when looking for a job in the modern world, one must accept that by far the best way to get your name and resume out there is to post it on Monster (and CareerBuilder, but they're pretty lame). Now, Monster did exist back in the days of dial-up, when I was last looking for work. But times were much simpler then... The economy was swimming along, you could meet people at the gate at the airport, and the country was nearly debt free. Unfortunately, in the intervening years, as we have given up privacies and freedoms, signing up with Monster has resulted in severe side effects. Doing such an action now results in long lasting repercussions.

In spite of my best efforts to minimize the crap-storm that comes flying back at you when you sign up with Monster, I spend several minutes each day fielding phone calls from recruiters trying to get me to set up interviews for jobs doing anything but what I am looking for, as well as deleting the sometimes dozen or so spam emails telling me about all sorts of opportunities to earn big bucks part-time while working from home. Here are a few examples of actual emails...

I could work in the Healthcare Industry and earn a $1,000 a month:
Hello Devyn,
This is Jackson Andreea, assistant staff manager from Top Healthcare. I had the pleasure of reviewing your recent resume posted on www.monster.com, right now we have open vacancy in your local area. Your education and experience really interested me. As far as I understand, you are most interested in customer service area. Today Top Healthcare has a vacancy in your state. We are a company based in Europe.
We receive orders from US and we need a representative to process the payments due to the delays in clearing checks in Europe.

-Flexible program: two hours/day at your choice, daytime and evening time
-Work at home: checking e-mail and going to the bank
-Monthly salary: $1,000 per month
-Commission: 10% of every check that clears, instantly cash in hand that you will deduct from the cashed amount.
I could be a Children's Hair Stylist:
Dear Devyn,
The qualifications and experiences you've listed on your resume prompted me to contact you regarding an available position we are attempting to fill for a client. Pigtails & Crewcuts is looking for a Stylist and I feel that you may have the attributes they are seeking.
When it is time for a haircut, it is time for Pigtails & Crewcuts. Why go to an ordinary salon or barbershop? Make it fun! They don’t just specialize in children; they cater to them. They have specially designed chairs and movies that play throughout the salon. At the end of the client’s experience get a lollipop and pick a prize from their treasure chest. They strive to make every visit exciting for children and relaxing for parents.
Pigtails & Crewcuts is always looking for qualified individuals who are creative and patient with the younger set. Part time and full time employment opportunities are available for stylists at this time. Did we mention that Pigtails & Crewcuts stylists are paid hourly, how great is that? They have everything you need; just bring your scissors and a great attitude.
If you are interested in joining Pigtails & Crewcuts as a Stylist, please click the link below and fill out the online application.

Or I could simply front for the Russians:
Hello Devyn,
My name is Vladimir Ivanov. As EroPayNow’s Corp top manager I am in charge of our performance control and further business development in the US. I am also involved in advising and attracting new employees. I have reviewed your resume on www.monster.com and believe you have a good chance to receive the position of a Financial Manager. Please read below for more information on our company.
EuroPayNow is one of the leading developers of complex payment solutions targeted at facilitating funds transfers from various regions of the world including those which are difficult of access. We have a great number of companies and businessman who refer to our services to expedite their funds flow. Having highly qualified and trained couriers all over the world allows us to successfully eliminate incompatibility of various payment systems and make transfers cost effective. The company has its headquarters in Moscow, Russia. For more information please visit official site of the company: www.europaynow.us

This is but a small sample of how my personal and private information is being made public with no thanks to Monster or CareerBuilder. And quite honestly, I don't like how my name, and home address are so very public that spammers in Russia (the global top spam producer) now have a direct line to me. I find it pretty disturbing (although not nearly as disturbing as the thought that people actually respond to these hoaxes, thereby fueling them to send out more).

Fortunately, I was smart enough to obtain a free New York area phone number from Grand Central that isn't my home or cell number, so when they call, they aren't calling my actual numbers. Unfortunately, I didn't think to create a special job-hunting email address for Monster and CareerBuilder until a week after I first uploaded my resume. Even with my real email being up for only a week in July, I still have crap coming into my regular in-box, although most of the crap-storm now comes into my job-hunting in-box.

I haven't even mentioned the barrage of crap trying to trick me into signing up for a degree from the University of Phoenix, or some other educational opportunity every time I log onto Monster. Or the constant feed of ads placed on the sight.

There are other options for job-hunting to be sure (Craigslist being one), but the reality remains that in order to get your name out there, you need to rely upon Monster and it's ilk. It has ultimately been Monster that has garnered me phone calls from legitimate recruiters. Whether I like it or not... That is how the game is played now.


Forgotten and Taken

Yesterday I experienced one of those moments where a quick decision was in order, but I felt frozen in my ability to make one, which has resulted in this post. As anybody in the city yesterday can attest, it was pretty wet outside in the morning with a consistent drizzle. I needed to head to Brooklyn to take care of some business so I caught C Train at 14th Street.

When I boarded the train, the car had about 20 people on it, including a businessman dressed in his fancy suit and tie sitting across from me. At the next stop, West 4th Street, most of the people left the car, many of which walked across the platform to board the A Train which pulled in to the station at the same time (The A Train runs express). The gentleman in the fancy suit got up and made his way to the A Train across the platform, at that moment, I saw that he left his umbrella behind. I had such a split moment to call out to him to alert him of his umbrella sitting on the bench across from me, but instead I froze. Seconds later the doors closed, and both trains left the station. I sat there with only about three people on the car thinking to myself that I should have taken action, and now this poor gentleman is going to get to his destination and come up the the street with no protection from the rain. When the car reached Spring Street, it completely emptied out, and I sat there riding in the empty car thinking about what I had done. Riding to Canal street alone, I pondered the situation, thought about the realities of Lost and Found at the MTA, and knew there was no chance that he would ever see his umbrella again. I felt sadness and guilt for not taking action, real guilt. But then as the train pulled into Canal Street, I decided I had to not beat myself up over it and let it go.

At Canal Street, the car remained empty until a brief moment just before the doors closed when a nicely dressed woman got on the train. She looked at the umbrella then sat next to it. Having decided to move on, I felt compelled to pull my camera out and take a picture of the emptiness (above) of the train car, which is somewhat rare at 10:45 AM on a weekday in Manhattan. It was as I was taking the picture above when the woman across from me noticed what I was doing and immediately said "This doesn't happen often, does it? I can see why you want to capture it". I looked over at her, smiled and nodded. She picked up the umbrella and began looking at it. She then said to me "Do you need an umbrella?" I replied "No thanks, I have one in my bag". She then promptly looked it over again (it was a pretty nice one), and then put it in her bag, even though she was already carrying her own umbrella.

I immediately though, you thief! That's not yours to take!

I was truly shocked for a moment. While I had no idea what I expected to actually happen to the umbrella, it hadn't even occurred to me that somebody would come along and take it for themselves. Perhaps some of the reason I felt that way was because I had seen the actual owner. Or, perhaps it was because I continued to feel as though I should have done something. Then I thought about times in the past when I have encountered items left behind, and how I reacted.

I remember several years back, coveting a lovely stripped scarf at The Gap, but being on a tight budget, I had to pass it by ($30.00 is a lot of money to me for a scarf). A week later, walking along a downtown street (in Chicago) after a snow storm, there was the same scarf hanging on a fence. It looked as though somebody dropped it, and then somebody else picked it up and put it on the fence to be found. I could tell by the mud on it, it had been there for hours, and thought to myself... Now I get to have that scarf I couldn't afford. I took it home, washed the mud from it, and then every time I wore it, I felt a tinge of guilt because I couldn't help but think that somebody was wandering up and down the street looking for the scarf. I ended up not wearing it after a couple of weeks, and later it wound up being donated to charity.

I am not saying that the woman was wrong for taking the umbrella, if she didn't take it, somebody else would have. Or, it would have ended up with tens of thousands of others in some lost and found somewhere. But for myself, I know it is not a choice I would make. Like that scarf, I would always know it really wasn't mine.

I didn't write this post to be all uppity and moral, because I have had my fair share of failings in life. But I do find it interesting that I can observe how I feel about something when such a quandary arises. I also know that I shouldn't feel guilty about not speaking up when the gentleman left his umbrella behind, it all happened so quick, I just froze. While I cannot be responsible for everybody else, that doesn't mean that I shouldn't try a little harder.

Oh, and about that woman that took the umbrella... I felt a tiny bit of schadenfruede in the matter. After crossing under the East River and arriving at High Street in Brooklyn, she realized she was no longer in Manhattan and panicked to jump off of the train so she could catch a train back. I hope she enjoys her new umbrella.


A Sea of Cardboard in an Ocean of Joy...

Well, it has been nearly a week since five hunky (OK, two of them were hunky) movers carried all of my boxes up four flights of stairs to my fifth floor abode. And, as you can see, I am still in a sea of boxes with a path down the center leading from my bed to the front door and bathroom. But I am also in an ocean of joy being in New York.

Many people downsize at some point in their lives... Usually when they are over the age of 70, and are going from the big family home to a townhouse. For me, it was going from an already small 530 sq ft loft in Chicago to a space half that size. It is but one of the many compromises I've had to make to live in paradise, and thus far, I have zero regrets.

I have actually never had the privilege to live in a lot of space as an adult, with the one exception of my first apartment in Chicago. It was about 800 sq ft. But I didn't live there really. I slept there for one year, boxes mostly unpacked, until I bought my first condo. Otherwise it has mostly been apartments under 600 sq ft in Seattle, Portland, and Chicago. I have learned that (for me) location matters much more than space. After living in the center of all that is Seattle (Broadway and Pike) for much of the 90's (and never living more than a mile from downtown), I thought it would be nice to be more residential when I moved to Chicago. I started in Rogers Park because it was inexpensive, pretty, and quiet, yet still near the lake. As I noted above, I never actually lived there. The neighborhood was so very block by block, gang bangers on the corners, hoods smokin' weed at the playground... I knew early on that I didn't want to stay there, and I never finished unpacking.

One year to the day, after arriving in Chicago, I moved into my first condo. A studio on the 29th floor of Park Tower, a high-rise on the lake in Edgewater. I bought the place because at night, I could lay my head on my pillow and look out at the Sears Tower, seven miles to the south. I thought I would be happy there. But within a year, I began to feel restless, and cut off from the world by being in the hinterlands. My neighborhood was pretty... Pretty boring that is. I even began seriously contemplating leaving Chicago. Until one day, less than two years after moving into my condo, I saw an ad for a loft conversion in the Loop with prices I could afford. Less than two hours after seeing the ad, I had signed a contract, and then waited 15 months for the place to be completed.

Literally from day one in my loft on State Street, I knew that location was indeed what was most important to me. I fell back in love with Chicago again, and spent the next three and a half years celebrating all that Chicago is. That is when I began to be serious about my photography, and when I started my first photoblog "Looper". I was in a relationship, and my career was going well. By all outward appearances, my life was the best ever.

Well, appearances can be deceiving, and as good as everything was... I still yearned for a life in NYC. I had put my New York dreams on the back burner for the past 20+ years, and it wasn't until this past April when my world began shake all around me that I realized no matter how good I had it in Chicago, it still wasn't New York. No matter how good a location the Loop was, it wasn't Manhattan. It was the crumbling of my relationship, being downsized at my job, and the fact that I was past the age of forty that made me realize it was now or never. Initially the decision to come here was made with my ex boyfriend, but I also knew that our relationship could not stand the test of time, and moving here with him would have only worsened my dissatisfaction. I knew that it was time to go.

As I wrote in my Farewell to Chicago post, "But while I owe so very much to you (Chicago), all along you have known my secret. You were not alone in my urban love; there has been another…", the yearning had always been there, I had just chosen to ignore it.

Word of advice to all you youngsters out there... Live your dream... even if it takes a really long time to get there.

Well, I wasn't expecting this post to get quite this deep... I started out writing about living amongst a sea of boxes, and look what it has turned into...

OK, back on task... For the record, my 274 square feet isn't the smallest place I've ever lived (for six months in 1989, I had a basement apartment on Queen Anne Hill in Seattle that was all of about 200 sq. ft. and all of about $200 a month), and I am pretty confident that my next place, whenever and where ever that may be, will be bigger... But for now and the foreseeable future, this is what I have. A big part of how I will make this work is that this place has character. The fireplace, beamed ceilings, arched openings, casement windows, and herringbone laid oak floor all add up to character you don't often find in such a place.

But even at that, moving from my 530 sq ft loft in Chicago (which was a small place by most peoples standards) to a space half the size has presented a very long list of challenges. Not the least of which, what to do about my furniture. As I stated in a previous post, I was not able to bring my sofa, desk, bookcases, or my side tables to the new space. I am selling them off out of the storage locker over the next couple of weeks.

I have come to accept that it will be at least three months until I have "installed" myself into this tiny space (it will never really be completely finished, but I expect to be at least 80% of the way there by the end of the year). I have ordered a murphy bed from a company in Indiana and it will be here around Thanksgiving. I have planned out storage, storage, and more storage. I am getting rid of stuff that I really don't need with each garbage pick up day (no worries, garbage day is a scavengers payday here). I am mounting the LCD above the mantle on the fireplace. I am adding new bookshelves, and am searching for the right small sofa (love seat really). In the meantime, I will just have to accept that I will be living in a sea of boxes.

Fortunately for me, that sea of boxes is located in the best location I could dream of, and I can say that for the first time in more than a dozen years, a sense of joy is returning to my life.


Ten Days of Verizon Hell...

(Updated: See bottom of post.)

Today is day ten of my "The customer is the least important part of the equation" experience with Verizon Telephone. On Tuesday, October 2nd, I waited five hours for the UPS man to deliver my Verizon DSL modem and was anxious to get it set up and running in my new empty apartment. It was going to be nearly two weeks until I had furniture so I figured, at least I will have my internet. So I thought...

As I have written over the past week, I have had nothing but empty broken promises from Verizon to fix my phone and DSL problems. Every day they promise it will be fixed by the next day, and the next day it isn't. Finally after more than twenty phone calls speaking to computers, customer assistants in Bangladesh, and finally a local person, I was able to, after nine days, get a human being to come to my home to help figure out the mess.

That was yesterday. My repairman, Lou, was the first nice intelligent person I came in contact with. I will admit that I had a person scheduled for Wednesday from 3-7, but couldn't gain access to the basement after 5pm, so I cancelled and rescheduled for yesterday. That said... Lou and I went down to the basement (where I discovered my entire apartment is on a single 20 amp curcuit, ouch!) and he went to town working on my phone connection. The wires date back to 1934, but that wasn't the problem. The problem was between my building and the mythical "Central Office" I keep being told of when I call (Just where is this "Central Office"? Is it even an office at all?). After about half an hour of futzing with the wires, he tells me that he will have my regular phone working correctly within an hour (did I mention that I have had intermittent dial-tone for the past ten days?) and he will put in a ticket to have my DSL fixed by late afternoon.

Finally... I feel that I may be getting somewhere. Sure enough, he called me on my home phone within the hour and told me that it had been rerouted and was working correctly now. He also told me he put a ticket in to have my DSL rewired and it should be working within a few hours.

Wishful thinking... At 4:45 Lou called to let me know that he checked on my DSL and the inept folks at "Central Office" had closed the ticket but did not make fix. (Why should I be surprised at this point?) He said he put another ticket in to do the same thing, and that it should be fixed by today. (Well Lou, You are a very nice person, but I have heard that same song and dance so many times over the past ten days, I am suspicious that it won't be fixed.) Being the nice person that Lou was (and the only person that seemed to actually care that I existed), he informed me that he would not be in today, but was going to leave notes of my problem for the person that was doing his job today. He also gave me his name (I will call him Steve) and direct phone number (a Manhattan #) to call and follow up on the problem.

So, I spent another evening at home with no TV or high speed internet watching You-Tube on my iPhone. A slow and arduous task, but short of reading, there really isn't much else to do on a rainy evening.

This morning at 8:15, I was jolted by the nasty ring on my $6.00 temporary telephone (My real one will be here this weekend), by an automated call from Verizon informing me that my High Speed DSL Service has been repaired and thank you for choosing Verizon. Looking over at my modem, I can tell you that... No, it has not been repaired. Again, I am not shocked by the inept folks at Verizon. When Lou gave me Steve's phone number, he asked that I wait until 10:00 to call to give him a chance to follow up with his notes. Well, after getting the automated call, I decided I was not going to wait, and called.

Steve wasn't completely aware of the problem (He had just gotten into the "Central Office") but said he would work on it and I should have it fixed by tomorrow. At this point I very nicely explained to him that I had been told that it would be fixed "tomorrow" more than ten times in the past ten days, and it appears that Verizon has a different definition of what "tomorrow" means. Apparently it isn't the same as it is for the rest of the planet. I then explained that while I have no ill will toward him, it will be fixed today. No questions, just fix it. He said he would see what he could do.

So, as I sit here at 'sNice, having my coffee and Irish cut oatmeal, I am developing a deeper understanding of why people can go postal. Fortunately for the incompetent folks at Verizon, I am not the kind of guy that would do such things. Their service is absolutely inexcusable, and once it is finally up and running, I will then have to call and battle for credit for the down time. Of course, they won't reimburse me for the minutes I had to use on my cell phone, or the $6.00 I spend on a coffee or latte and a snack, each time I have to haul my laptop to 'sNice. (The WiFi may be free, but sitting there without making a purchase is lame.) That amounts to well over $30.00 of which I will not recover, no thanks to Verizon's stupidity.

Hopefully, I will have good news to share soon, and I can finally move on to other topics (like the job interview I had this week).

EDIT: I am happy to report at 3PM Friday, I finally have DSL Service in my home. I only had to make two additional phone calls, and pull the "Let me speak to your supervisor" trick again (it didn't help last week), but finally it worked, and I am online. Now that it is here, it is pretty damn fast for DSL... See for yourself:


Verizon Still Sucks, Now With Extra Unpleasant-ness

Its Monday night, and lo and behold my phone has no dial tone again. I have called customer service at least a dozen times on the past week, and all I get is promises that it will be fixed and shallow apologies for my inconvenience.

It makes no sense, I had phone and internet for one day, and now no Internet for a week, and only occasional phone service. What is more frustrating is that it is nearly impossible to talk to a person, and when you call, all you hear is prompts telling you to log on to their website for further help. As if I can...

I will write more later... Blogging from my iPhone is tedious at best.


Verizon Sucks and I am Pissed!

I am writing on my iPhone because Verizon has screwed up both my phone and DSL service. I don't want this site to be nothing but a bitch fest, but sometimes one needs to unload a bit. So here goes (it will be short since I am henpecking on my phone)...

I placed my order for phone and DSL service last Friday and was pleased that my phone was hooked up by Tuesday. I even had my DSL modem on Tuesday, and after an hour of futzing, I managed to get my Internet up and running.

Then yesterday, when I got to the apt, the Internet was gone. I called and they are sending me a new modem (I am actually waiting for UPS to deliver it now).

OK, so I am moderately annoyed at this point... The thought of not having Internet for even a day is an absolute horror. So, as I sit here waiting for Mr UPS (I am assuming a he, but I could be wrong) I decided to make a phone call.

No dialtone! I used the phone yesterday, what happened overnight? I had a friend email me customer services phone number and found out there is a problem with the line. Now after waiting all afternoon for my modem, I have to wait for a repairman in the morning.

So to put mildly, I am pissed at Verizon. Of course when all this is
done, I will have to call and demand a credit for the service I am
paying for and not getting. I think whenever a service provider screws
up, they should credit you double the down time.

I will post again when I have service. Thanks for reading my bitch post.

UPDATE: Saturday evening... Still no DSL Service, I am updating this from a cafe. I am keeping my fingers crossed to have service by Monday.

UPDATE #2: Verizon is still sucking.... Three more phone calls, it is Monday morning and still no service. This after being told it would be fixed by yesterday. Fortunately, I have a nice vegetarian coffee house nearby, 'sNice.


Still Settling In... The Thought, That Is

I still find myself in a state of somewhat disbelief and a bit giddy about the new place. After all it only just a single piece of the puzzle that makes up my life in New York dream. but it is a gigantic piece, and one that will affect all of the rest of my New York dream. After all I just couldn't imagine that dream from (insert any place other than Manhattan below 59th St). This is what I came here for.

I still have to figure out how to get all my stuff in there (and then do it), and settle in... And oh yeah, I still need to get a job. I suppose once all my stuff is in there, and I have emptied the boxes, I will be able to actually allow myself to "settle in" in my own head.

I won't be actually moving in until a week from Saturday, but I plan to start staying there on an air mattress in the next couple of days (Stefan wants his apartment back). A few harsh realities have begun to settle in... First and formost is that I cannot keep most of my furniture. I had expected that I wouldn't settle for an apartment under 350 sq ft, and I got rid of all of the furniture that wouldn't fit before I left Chicago. Well, location trumped space, and I have always been about location. So, I will adapt to my 274 sq ft. As for all my furniture I brought from Chicago? I have no place to put my book cases and don't really need them with the built in shelves, My beautiful stainless steel desk is too big, and while my sofa may technically fit, it would look as though it were wedged in. As for my bed, I am going to invest in a Murphy Bed because I cannot accept living in a bedroom. I don't want to see the bed unless it is time to use it.

I am not quite sure how I am going to get rid of the excess furniture just yet... I will probably leave them in my locker, and sell them via Craig's List. The only furniture I am moving will be my Aeron Chair, my rug, my mattress, and coffee table. That and about 140 boxes of which I will have lots of other things to sell and get rid of. But they will be easier to sell off from the apartment rather than schlep to the locker in Brooklyn for each transaction. I plan to use the proceeds to defray the cost of replacing my sofa and buying the Murphy Bed. I am also going to do an Ikea trip to get a desktop and one of those small fold up tables and two chairs for dining.

I have thus far spent about six hours at the new place (part of it waiting for the UPS delivery of my DSL modem) measuring, thinking, and figuring out how I am going to make it work. It will... I feel pretty good about that.


The Hunt, Part VIII (Beyond my Wildest Dreams)...

Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that I would be able to move to New York City and get an apartment in Magic Land. If I had been told back in April, when the first serious plans to move to NYC began to form, I would have never believed it.

On Friday, I signed a lease and got the keys to a 274 square foot rent stabilized fifth floor walk-up studio in what is arguably the most important cultural neighborhood in North America, the West Village. This is significant in more ways than can ever possibly be described here, and to be honest, I am not sure where to begin.

I guess, I can begin by explaining how I got a rent stabilized apartment in one of the most coveted neighborhoods on the planet. After working with Camille, Maria, and Marcus (not their real names) for nearly two weeks, viewing a total of twelve apartments, missing two good ones only by minutes, and waiting six days for an application to never be approved, I decided I needed to branch out and look at other options. On Thursday morning, I expanded my parameters on Craig's List to include apartments as high as $1,700 (from my previous limit of $1,600). I figured, if it was the right place, I would be willing to pay more for it. Suddenly a whole new wealth of listings appeared, many in areas which previously had little to none listed.

It was while doing this new search that I found a rather an ad describing a quaint little rent stabilized studio on Horatio Street in the West Village. The ad went into great detail about the apartment and painted quite a lovely picture. The ad was so wordy, it was a bit intimidating, but my curiosity was peaked and I called. I spoke with the broker who made it clear that this was not a fancy place, and that I should keep an open mind, and that I can see it at 2:00pm.

I arrived in the neighborhood early and walked around in stunned amazement at the idea that I might be able to live in very neighborhood that Jane Jacobs lived in when she wrote "The Death and Life of Great American Cities", the most important book on urban studies ever written. (Its #39 on the National Review's list of the 100 best non-fiction books of the 20th century.)

Sarah (not her real name) arrived on time and lead me up four flights of stairs to an apartment that was tiny, yet amazing. I knew within seconds that at a rent stabilized price of $1,630, I wanted this place, and thus began the application process. As I was filling out the application, Marcus called and said he had a nice studio ($1,740) on W 16th street and 7th Avenue, and could show it at 3:00pm which was about half an hour away. I told him I would be there (still not knowing the situation at this place) and continued to fill out the application. At this point, Sarah called Sylvia (not her real name, but a very fitting one) the landlady and began to read off what I had written on the application. In a surprise twist, it turned out that the rent was actually lower than advertised. The real rent is $1,527 a month (yes, you read that correctly). It was listed with a higher rent to show up in querries over $1,600 on Craig's List. So after a few minutes, Sylvia checked my credit (it's golden), and took down a few more bits of info... She asked if I was straight (I'm not), she likes the gays and told me I would fit right in... and I got the apartment. Sylvia told me to come to their offices in Midtown on Friday morning to sign my lease and pick up my keys.

As for the other guys... (I did meet up with Marcus at 3:00 for that studio on 16th, but I informed him that I had put an application in on another place.) Ultimately, what they were showing me just didn't come close to what I ended up with. That said, I have nothing but good things to say overall about my experience with them. Marcus especially spent a lot of time working with me, he was very professional and I felt fortunate to have such a decent person on my side. (I will gladly give you their real information upon email request.)

So, now to the apartment itself (see pictures below). The building supposedly dates back to the 1880's, and was built with the typical four apartments per floor. The broker said it was a sailors flop house, which given that it close to the Hudson, there may be some truth to that. I did some checking online and found out that there were building permits issued by the city for renovation including electrical, plumbing, and such issued in 1934, which fits perfectly with the interior. My unit is on the top floor (the exercise will be good for me) in the back of the building overlooking the backs and backyards of the buildings on the neighboring street. There is little privacy but being on the top floor, I have tons of light and open sky to compensate for all the windows on the bottom half of my view (see pic above). I have a fire-escape running across the entire back wall which can be a mini terrace. There is a back garden for the residents to use. They keep the garbage cans back there as well so they aren't out front like most Manhattan apartment buildings. Only on trash day will I have garbage out front.

I have a non-working fireplace and lots of built in shelving, a decent sized clothing closet (3'x3', this is New York after all) and a pantry/linen closet. The bathroom is from the 1934 renovation and features the original 19th century skylight (which is fabulous!). The kitchen... Well it is quite petite. The 1934 kitchen is in the little nook and is about 40 inches wide. It contains a sink and a stove. The refrigerator is housed in a peninsula built more recently by a previous tenant (who also built all the shelves and cabinets surrounding the fireplace) along with drawers (another rare find) and more cabinet space. The floors are original 19th century and in pretty good shape (except for the typical rotten flooring around the radiator). There is definitely a tilt to the entire place, but that is to be expected for this old of a space, and it is not unmanageable (unlike the wonky place I saw last Wednesday). There is also a slope to the ceiling, but that is due to the roof being directly above. My biggest challenge is that I left an apartment that was twice the size, and now I have to squeeze myself into one of the smallest spaces I have ever lived in. I am quickly realizing that the only way to make this work is to sell off most of my furniture and scale down. It will take a lot of effort, but I can do it.

I noted at the beginning that the significance of this location cannot be described, I can tell you a few of the things that make it important to me. Proximity is perhaps number one on my list. I am next to everything. I have seven subway lines within a short walk, easy access to Whole Foods and Trader Joe's on 14th Street, restaurants and night-life to die for, easy access to sunset views along the river walk on the Hudson. Neighborhood-wise... I have within a short walking distance (less than one and a half miles) the following areas; (all links open in new window) West Village, Meatpacking District, Greenwich Village, SoHo, Chelsea, Flatiron District, and the East Village. Click on any of these neighborhoods and you can see why this place is so special to me.

When I made the decision to move to New York, I wanted to have an apartment in Manhattan that give me the opportunity to walk out of my front door with my camera and easily access all that is New York City. I was hoping for a place south of Central Park, and kept my eyes on Midtown East because I thought it attainable. Well, I got more than I bargained for and right now I feel like the luckiest person in the world. Thanks for coming along on my adventure, I can't wait to explore the neighborhood photograph it and report on it...

Here are the promised pictures of the new place.

My living-room, bedroom, dining room

Looking back the other direction you can see the kitchen in the little nook behind the counter.

The non-working fireplace.

The kitchen (needs some work).

The 1934 bathroom (also needs some work).

And finally another shot of the main room.

It is a tiny jewel box of a place, but location will always trump space in my book.


The Hunt, Part VII (Signature Please)...

I signed a lease this morning and possess a new set of keys. I will write about it over the weekend and post a few shots by Monday.

Let me just say.... It is in Magic Land.


The Hunt, Part VI (Wonkyness, Not OK)...

Well now that it has been a week since I put in an application on the apartment I fell in love with, I feel as though I have been left at the alter with no explanation. Absolutely nothing has come of my application, and I must move on. But before doing so, I hadn't shared one primary detail (I so very much didn't want to jinx it) about this place and why I so very much wanted it. That detail was location. Location in this case was worth more than the apartment (although is was quite nice), and the sole reason I was willing to pay an extra hundred bucks over my budget. The apartment was located in Greenwich Village, just south of 14th Street and just west of Sixth Avenue. I would have been within walking distance of the world (as well as Whole Foods and Trader Joes), and had easy access to several neighborhoods. Quite simply, It was located in Magic Land. It would have been my ultimate Carry Bradshaw apartment, and I would likely have stayed there for years to come. Unfortunately, apartments in my price range in this area are a very rare breed, and I have had to let go of my fantasy of living in Magic Land for now. Maybe someday...

So, Yesterday I met up with Marcus and we went to look at a nicely priced ($1,500) unit on West 56th St near 9th Avenue. The block was not one of the more attractive ones in Hell's Kitchen, but that is to be expected. The apartment was a fourth floor walk up two room studio. As we were walking there, Marcus got a call about getting the keys to another place he had been working on since the previous day and he had the chance to get them in just a few minutes. So basically, we had a very brief time to look at the apartment on W56th, and my walk through produced two memories. The stairs in the building were weirdly out of alignment (coming home at 3AM, it could be difficult to navigate them, photo above) and the shower was large but kinda icky.

After a quick walk through at the place on 56th, we rushed back to the office a few blocks away where Marcus got keys to an apartment on Columbus Ave between 82nd and 83rd. Apparently this place was popular as we had two other agents go up on the train with us, and there was another person waiting to see it when we got there. So the five of us ascended the stairs to a third floor unit and when the door opened, it was beautiful! The main room had very high ceilings with a white painted brick wall (which I like), it was almost loft like. As I went back to investigate the bathroom and closet situation, I discovered to my amazement a real bedroom! Yes a bedroom about 10x12 in size with a window and a closet. WOW!!! Of course I signaled to Marcus that this was a keeper, and we headed downstairs as quickly as we could to call in and get the ball rolling. Marcus made the call, and before we got to the corner, he got a call back, the unit was gone. No surprise with a rent of $1,650. It was at least 500 square feet.

Well, once again, we just missed a place. We headed back to the office to check for more listings, and basically came up with nothing. I decided to head out to lunch, Marcus said he would keep looking, and that was that.

I went to lunch, and kept thinking about the first place I had seen and about the location and price. The location is pretty good, near trains, near the park, near all the 9th Avenue restaurants, and at $1,500, it really might be workable. If only I could remember the details. I decided I wanted to see it again, and this time I wanted a second opinion. I called my best buddy (and host) and he said he could be there by 6:20, I called Marcus and he said he would arrange to be there as well. I walked the neighborhood for an hour or so to get a feel for it. At first I wasn't sure about the block, there were some folks hanging around that made me question the block, like many other Manhattan blocks, just because it looks kinda scary doesn't mean it is.

Stefan (his real name) meet Marcus and I at 6:20 on the dot, and we proceeded to walk up to the fourth floor. Now I actually had the time to look the place over more closely. The shower was still icky, but I could probably have dealt with that... Same thing with the ickyness in the kitchen. The deal breaker was that while standing at the back of the apartment looking toward the windows, it became clear that the wonkyness of the stairs (photo above) leading up to the place translated into floors that were literally twisted. One side of the room tilted one way, the other side tilted the other way, a bucket of water would flow in an "S" shape. Not good. I began to have an uneasiness about the place and the real fear that the building could/would collapse made clear that I don't want to live there. I told Marcus I would sleep on it, and call him in the AM.

So, there we have it, nearly two weeks, and a dozen apartments... And still no home. I have the luxury of flexibility in my schedule, I don't know what I would do if I were working and trying to find a place.

So today, I am looking again... October first is next week. I will keep you posted as the saga continues.


Live Update

Blogging from midtown on my iPhone, I have seen two places so far
today. One was amazing and unfortunately taken by the time we finished
viewing it. The other... Well, it was just wonky.

We are trying to get into two other places this afternoon. I will post
more details later.

The Hunt, Part V (Maybe Not)...

Wednesday morning and still no answer. After speaking with Camille yesterday, we decided it was time to keep looking. I am going out with Marcus this morning to see several more places. I will post about them soon.


The Hunt, Part IV (Maybe This Time?)...

Well, as I write this, it is Monday night and time to catch you all up on the search.

Going back to this past Thursday, I got a call from Camille in the AM asking if I could get to an address within about an hour. She had a really nice studio for $1,700 ($100 more than my $1,600 budget) in Chelsea. I was hesitant at first (Not sure I wanted to live in Chelsea), but after she gave me the address, I said yes...

I arrived at the location to meet up with Marcus. The unit was another first floor overlooking the sidewalk, only there are stairs leading down to a lower level business so no worries about people walking up and looking in, and as you can see in the photo, there is a double set of bars on the window (window on the left in photo). The street is reasonably quiet, and quite pretty. Marcus buzzed the super and she let us into the unit. Well, it wasn't the largest unit I had seen, but it certainly was nice enough. I would guess 325-350 sq ft, it has three closets, and actual windows in both the kitchen and bathroom in the back of the unit. Having looked at eight other units the previous three days, I decided I would be happy here. Actually, I would be happier here than at any other place I had seen. So I told Marcus that I wanted to go back and put in an application.

We hopped on the subway and headed up to their office in Midtown. I spent the next hour filling out paperwork giving a cash deposit, and waiting for my credit report to come back. Now normally, there is an answer relatively soon... My credit came back golden (all those years of on time payments helps at a time like this), but it turns out that the person in charge of making the ultimate decision was unavailable due to the Jewish Holidays (Yom Kippur). Camille said she would let me know as soon as she did. I headed home to wait by the phone.

I got a call on Thursday evening from Camille letting me know that they have the application, and the decision makers assistant said it looks good, but I will need to wait it out, most likely until Monday. I spent the entire weekend trying not to get too excited, I don't want to get my hopes up only to be let down.

I spent the weekend recovering from a small bout of bronchitis (this is becoming a bit too regular). I am feeling much better now, and am thankful I didn't need to see a doctor for antibiotics.

This morning (Monday), I left a message, and Camille called back a couple of hours later to let me know the decision maker hadn't come in to his the office yet (his office is not the brokers office but the building owners office... Sorry if this is confusing), and to hold on and keep waiting. She said she would call as soon as she knew...

Well, I am still waiting and yes, the suspense is killing me. As of this writing on Monday evening, I do not know if I have it yet, and I am doing everything I can think of to avoid being completely consumed by the stress of it all. I just have to accept that I have done what I could, and it is out of my hands. I have to just let go.

To be truthful, there is more to reveal about this place and why it is so important to me to spend more than my budget for it (it is so worth the extra)... But, just like I am being held in suspense... So will you!

Stay tuned!


The Hunt, Part III (15 Minutes Late)...

(Buckle-up, it's going be a long post)
Just a few minutes before my noon meet-up at the brokerage on Wednesday, I came up from the subway a couple of blocks from their offices and had a voice mail on my phone from Marcus (also not his real name). Marcus said he was calling me at the request of Camille and had several addresses for us to go out and view today. I returned his call, we spoke briefly, met at the office and within minutes was headed out the door to see apartments.

The four properties on his list were all east side, and while he thought it best to start farthest north in Yorkville (Upper East Side) and work our way down, I saw that he had one in Murry Hill (Midtown East) and that I wanted to see that one first. Murray Hill has actually been my target area because it so centrally located. From there I can walk nearly anywhere. I also love it because it is an easy ride on the "6" train to Union Square where I can get to Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. Another nice thing about the area is the shorter distance to everything means smaller cab fares.

We arrive at a nice looking building on 29th between 2nd Ave and 3rd, and take the elevator to the top (5th) floor. Marcus opens the door, and I fall in love. The place is huge! At least 400 square feet and only $1,645 ($45 over my budget). It had a very large foyer/dining area, nice closets, a lovely kitchen with a pass through to the living room, and the windows overlooked the tree lined street below. Before even looking at the bathroom, I said "I want this place!" I spent another four or five minutes looking around and told Marcus I wanted to put in an application. We headed back downstairs, and he called the office to let them know we were headed back in to put in an application. He said clearly to me "Finding the right place is but the first half of the process, we still have to apply and get accepted" Those words are so true.

After quickly taking the subway back uptown to the offices, we got up to the street and Marcus had a voice mail on his phone. It was Camille letting him know that an application for that apartment had arrived fifteen minutes earlier and the apartment was gone. I was crushed. Just in the time we were on the subway, the place was gone. Marcus' words from a few minutes earlier hit home.

Well, we were less than a block from the office so Marcus suggested we go upstairs and look to see what else there may be in my target neighborhood. The harsh reality is that with my meager budget of $1,600 (which is a lot of money to me), the average Manhattan studio pushing $2,100 and a vacancy rate of less than 1%, my chances of finding a place in an area I want to be is slim to none. When we went back upstairs and I sat with Marcus and did a search on their database (one of the largest in the city) there was just nothing. NOTHING. So I reluctantly agreed to see a place in Yorkville on 90th btwn 1st and 2nd. As we were getting ready to go see it, Camille came over with another listing in Murray Hill. I was elated.

We decided to go see the Murray Hill property and then head up to Yorkville to see the one we previously had planned to see. After repeating the exact same subway ride we had done only minutes before, we landed at 31st btwn 3rd and Lex. Wow, what an area... We get to the building and it is a lovely brownstone with a gorgeous red door. To get to the apartment though, we needed to go down to the basement door, and ring the first buzzer. This is when the weirdness begins. The apartment is located on the first floor, but to get to it, you first must enter the basement door, walk through an office which looked to be the private office for the landlord, then through another door, up a flight of stairs and at the top of the stairs is a small vestibule and two doors. We walk in, and the 12x18 room is dark. In one corner, the one and only window (facing north) is under a set of stairs outside, so the only light is filtered through the stairs. In the opposite corner there is very dark but glowing hallway which resembles a tunnel. Upon approach to the hallway, a bright light at the end beckons and turns out to be the kichen, a 5x5 affair with no cabinet space or any space really, it's only redeeming feature is the two large windows which let in tons of light that doesn't reach the rest of the apartment. Parallel to the long hallway is the bathroom. At about ten feet long, and only about 30" wide (seriously), it contains the toilet, sink and stall shower (no tub) all laid out in tandem with a window under the same set of stairs as the main room. To add insult to it all, I then found out the ample closet space is not in the actual apartment but just outside the front door in the little vestibule. It was ample in size, but not really secure except for a small section behind a locked door at the back of the closet. Now, I don't know about you, but generally, I like to keep my clothes and other hidden posessions inside my apartment, and not have to leave my home to go get a pair of undies after my shower.

To sum this place up... Walk downstairs and through a private office to go upstairs, a bathroom shaped like a hallway, dark foreboding main room, and closet outside of the apartment.... All for the sum of $1,700 a month! A hundred bucks over my budget. I don't think so. With that, we headed up to Yorkville to see the next place.

We arrived at 90th between 2nd and 3rd (close to 2nd, damn that is a long walk from the subway) to a building that was just plain. This apartment ($1,550) was located on the second floor, and was about as uninteresting as could be. It was also shockingly small for the neighborhood (they tend to be a bit bigger up here in the far northern reaches up the Upper East Side) with the main room being maybe 12x16. The deal-breaker (besides the location) was that the kitchen was covered in wall to wall tile of a color and pattern that only somebody from the former soviet republic could appreciate. I mean it was everywhere. I suspect this was to prevent you from hanging anything on the wall without a suction cup. The bathroom was just as bad. It was completely tiled everywhere but the ceiling in a weird blue/green/grey tile, the likes of I have never seen. (Do landlords ever think about the fact that people have to live in these places?) At that point, I was tired, and hungry and the only other places on Marcus' list were also in the Upper East Side, which I really don't want to live in. So, I said lets call it a day, and try again tomorrow.

We parted ways, and I headed back down to Murray Hill thinking maybe my just being there would open up opportunities (and there is a nice Cosi on 31st and Park with free WiFi). Sitting and eating my sandwich, I surfed Craigslist for new postings and came across an ad for a "Railroad 1 Bdrm" in Hell's Kitchen at 45th and 10th. (The apartment has retained it original detailed floors, high ceilings, commecial style kitchen, spacious rooms and unique French style bathroom arrangement.) I called the number and found out it was listed by a different broker at the same office as my broker(s). I then called Marcus and left him a message about seeing the place. I also called about another place having an open house that evening in the mid 50s near 3rd Ave. I told the lady that I would be there at six.

Fifteen minutes later, Marcus called me back, and said he got a showing for the Hells Kitchen place at 5:30, could I meet him there? I had a good feeling about this place, and felt it was worth the effort to get there, and skip the open house. (I did call her back and cancel.). I met Marcus a few minutes early, when I got there, he was on the phone with the other broker who was informing him that he was running late... 45 minutes late. Even though the building wasn't gonna win a beauty contest (see image above), I decided to wait it out, and Marcus agreed to wait with me. We hung out and chatted in the sun (He was a bit chilled), and waited.

Finally at about 6:30, the other broker was there as well as another person to look at the unit. Well, sadly it was a waste of time. The apartment was not a one bedroom, but a two room studio. And it also wasn't a railroad apartment (Well, it was when the building was built, but it was cut up into smaller units long ago). It had not retained it "original detailed floors", the "commercial style kitchen" meant that there were no cabinets, and the sink was a porcelain one from the 1920's, I never figured out what the "French style bathroom" meant, and spacious rooms and high ceilings are completely based upon an individuals perception.

Now, in NYC, for a room to be called a bedroom, it must possess three things; a door which closes it off from the rest of the home, a window in which you can obtain ventilation, and a closet. This two room sudio possessed all three of these things, but not in either of the rooms (in fact, the wall btwn the rooms was a more recent addition). The front room had windows, the back room (kitchen) had a closet, there was a door on the apartment. The deal breaker was that it on the first floor with garbage cans under the windows (the two windows on the left of the front door).

At that point I'd had enough. I was disappointed that I didn't get that first apartment, and I had seen enough dumps that I decided to call it a day.

Stay tuned, this saga is to be continued...


The Hunt, Part II (Ultra Spacious)...

To pick up from yesterday... The hunt began on Monday. I took bundles of cash out of the bank (because if you don't have a job like myself, you will need to pay at least six months rent up front) and carefully hid it in my bag (more on that later) knowing that if I hit upon the right place, I would need to have immediate money to ensure that it was mine.

I headed to Midtown to one of the more notorious brokerages (they have the most listings) fully expecting to feel slimy and dirty afterward. I didn't have an appointment, so on my way up to the office, I had my first encounter with a broker asking me questions. "Maria" (not her real name) said follow me, we will go look at properties today. We went back to her desk in an open office sea of other desks with dozens of other brokers in various states of activity and started the search. After several questions, discussion of my budget ($1,600) and the intervention of her "partner" (I will call her Camille), she had written down three places. She "checked out" the keys from the key keepers (with a 20' wall of keys behind them) and we were off.

We rode the subway up to 72nd and Broadway, and wandered up to 75th Street near Columbus (great area!) to look at a ground floor front unit ($1,650) in what was a brownstone. The building looked nice, but unfortunately I never got to see the unit. The tenant had apparently changed the lock, and we couldn't get in. Too bad... While I hate the idea of being on a ground floor (mostly for security reasons), this place was on a beautiful quiet block.

Next we took the subway down to 50th and walked over to a doorman building on about 48th between 8th and 9th. This is the one I wrote about yesterday (back of the building, second floor, 175 sq ft, $1,625) This place was such a sorry excuse for an apartment (it was worth perhaps $1,200 just because of the neighborhood), the realities began to settle in. This was going to be a hellish process.

The next place we went to was on 48th between 10th and 11th (outside of where I wanted, and a real schlep to the subway). It was actually within my budget ($1,550), and at an "Ultra Spacious" 275 sq ft, not completely out of the question (the location still sucked). We get there, take the modern elevator to the top (5th) floor and behold... a bright sunny apartment (see above photo). Now if you look at this picture closely you will see that the room is long enough, but if you look closer you will also see that it is quite narrow. Turns out the room is about 8 feet wide and 20 feet long. But the real deal breaker is that for some reason the building owner decided that a utility closet housing a hot water tank should be placed along the outside wall narrowing the room down to about six feet, rendering the space useless. Now I suppose if you were say 20 years old, slept in a twin bed, and had no real furniture, it could work. The only advantage this place had was that it had a rather nice view of the city from the large windows. Otherwise it was a joke.

I was now feeling even less enthusiastic at this point. Maria said she would call me the next day (Tuesday) at noon with an address to meet her at 12:30, we then parted ways.

The next day, I was running a bit late, and didn't get up to the street from the subway until about 12:15. There was no voice mail when I came up so I called and left her a message. She called me back in about five minutes, and said she was sorry but she couldn't go out until 4:30 ("Will that be OK?"). So instead of heading back to Brooklyn, I decided to hang out in the city and wander around. I ended up spending the last hour waiting in Central Park as it was a short walk to the brokers office, and when 4:30 came around, no call. I decided I would be a trouper and wait it out until 5:00, then head back to Brooklyn. At 4:50 Camille called and said she was sorry but Maria was tied up and couldn't get out. But, she had a property for me to go look at on my own but I needed to get there quickly.

This place (at $1,600) was on W 64th Street between Amsterdam and West End Ave. It was also located adjacent to the projects. Now NYC's public housing is nowhere near as horrendous as Chicago's public housing is, none the less, I wasn't sure I wanted to live directly next to it, nor did I want to walk alongside it every day. Call me a snob, but this was not the New York experience I wanted. Well it turned out that I got there at 5:08 and the super had already locked up and left for the day. I called Camille, who in turn called the building because the super had told her he would wait (which he didn't). He was gone, and the front desk person (not a doorman) wouldn't do anything about it. So, that was a wasted trip. Camille called me back and apologized (which I actually appreciated very much) for wasting my whole afternoon waiting around. She asked me to come in at noon the next day (Wed) and she promised she would have several more places for me to look at.

Stay tuned as this saga is to be continued...